The Christian Lawyers’ Fellowship of Nigeria, CLASFON, has expressed sadness over the refusal of President Muhammadu Buhari to change the Service Chiefs in the face of the monumental collapse of security and a near total breakdown of law and order.
CLASFON said it was alarmed by the widespread insecurity in the land, with daily reports of killings and incessant kidnapping by bandits and terrorists.
The quarterly meeting of the President-in-Council of CLASFON said, “The nation is plunging into a state of complete anarchy with the recent reports of kidnapping of Police Officers and other security personnel for ransom, the recent killing of the APC chairman of Nasarawa state in Lafia and kidnapping of Pastor Polycarp Zongo of the COCIN Church on his way from Jos, Plateau state to Gombe in Gombe State.”
The lawyers urged the federal and state governments to take urgent steps to secure the release of Pastor Polycarp Zongo and other citizens in the hands of terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements, adding that concrete measures must be put in place to secure the safety of lives and properties of all citizens.
A communique signed by Arome Okwori and Olatunji Omole, National President and Secretary, respectively, noted that after much deliberations on the state of the judiciary nationwide by the participants, they commended President Muhammadu Buhari for nominating eight new Supreme Court Justices to the Senate for appointment after a prolonged initial foot-dragging.
“It is our hope that the appointment and swearing in of the Justices will translate to speedy dispensation of justice at the apex court of the land and clearing of the huge backlog of pending cases,” the lawyers prayed.
The lawyers expressed their disapproval to the undue political interference in the appointment of Chief Judges of States, especially in Cross River as it affects the appointment of Justice Akon Ikpeme and in Gombe State on the appointment of Justice Beatrice Iliya, alleging that though eminently qualified and as most senior Judges in both States, they have both been sadly sidelined on either ethnic, gender or religious grounds.
It commended the stance of the National Judicial Council on both cases and hoped the right things would be done in the end.
The lawyers also observed with dismay the delay in the assignment of cases and fixing of dates for cases filed in the various courts nationwide, its negative effect on cases and the erosion of public confidence in the judicial system.
It noted that the intriguing and embarrassing circumstances surrounding the appointment of the Chief Judges of Cross Rivers and Gombe states have brought to the fore the urgent need to evolve beyond tribal, religious or gender sentiments and to focus on factors bordering on merit, efficiency and equitable considerations.
The meeting called on both state Governors to heed the voice of reason and do what is right in order to secure the independence of the Judiciary in their States.
On the #EndSARS protests, the body commended the federal government for directing the establishment of various Judicial Commissions of Inquiry to investigate allegations of human rights abuses by the disbanded SARS Police Units and notyes with sadness the attempt to freeze the accounts of alleged #EndSARS sponsors.
It condemned the wanton destruction of public and private properties by hoodlums who took advantage of the #ENDSARS protests and condoled with those who lost their loved ones, properties and their means of livelihood.
The participants called on the federal government to urgently de-escalate tension by unfreezing the bank accounts of the perceived sponsors of the youths protests and create a more conducive environment for victims to come out freely to ventilate their grievances before the various Judicial Panels across the states.
On the ASUU strike, the participants expressed concern that after over eight months, the universities and other public tertiary institutions in the country are still closed down with an army of anxious and agitated youth at home and roaming the streets.