NBA Minna Branch Chairman’s Welcome Address

Welcome Address of the NBA Minna Branch Chairman at the Opening Ceremony of the Branch 2024 Law Week held at Idris Legbo Kutigi International Conference Center, Minna


The process of national development is multi-faceted with democracy occupying a central role. In this process, democracy can either better the lot of the greater majority or serve the narrow interests of a few individuals. This, however depends on the existence or otherwise of the rule of law and strong institutions to enforce the rule of law. The evaluation of any democracy as stable or unstable, depends squarely on the ability of people at all levels to access equal justice. In essence, peace, justice, and strong institutions form the foundation on which Nigeria can actualize its democratic goals.According to Andrew Jackson, “All rights secured to the citizens under the constitution are worth nothing but a mere bubble, unless guaranteed to them by an independent and virtuous judiciary.” If Andrew’s assertion is correct, it implies that the judiciary is the fire through which the metal of strong democratic institutions is forged as legal professionals, we have a great role to play in advancing democratic governance and promoting social justice. Democracy transcends beyond the legitimacy of votes; it is also about the rule of law- upholding the principles of justice and accountability. In this respect, the role of the judiciary in promoting rule of law, justice and accountability cannot be over-emphasized. The judiciary can thus be described as the life-wire of democracy.
Unfortunately, the judiciary is on trial, as it has been accused of exclusively working for the high and mighty in the society. While judicial corruption is an impediment to the administration of justice in Nigeria, it is unfair to allege that the judiciary only works for the rich.
There are many instances where powerful and influential people have been convicted in the courts for various offenses – indeed, some are still serving jail terms. In all democracies worldwide, access to justice is available to all, but it is not entirely free. More so, administration of justice is all about proof of allegations by cogent evidence as the court is not a father-Christmas that will hastily hand litigants their claims.Thus, litigants, especially claimants have a responsibility of proving their case to entitle them to reliefs sought. This makes litigation to be technical and often necessitates engaging the service of a lawyer with attendant financial expenses, except in Pro- Bono cases. However, some government institutions and nongovernmental organizations have been established to provide free legal aid to underprivileged Nigerians.
Hence, we urge the general public to jettison the notion that suggests justice is inaccessible to the poor in Nigeria.
In recent times, some quarters have begun to question the propriety of the role of the judiciary in the electoral process. For instance, I read an article written by a columnist who insinuated that three groups of people now determine our leaders in Nigeria: the voters, the lawyers, and the judges. While this may sound hilarious, it underscores the significance of an effective and independent judicial system in the quest for good govemance, especially at this moment when our nation is bedeviled with increasing threats of insecurity, corruption, and electoral malpractices.
The critical views and aspersions cast against the judiciary, on the account of adjudication on matters before it because of outcomes that are considered unfavorable highlight a great knowledge gap in the provisions of the Electoral Act on the part of the citizens.
This represents one of the major challenges confronting the justice system; people are vastly losing confidence in the judiciary partly as a result of ignorance. As I call on members of the NBA to continue to carry out sensitization exercises to enhance citizens’ awareness, we must understand that the role of the judiciary is simply to determine whether or not the conduct of the elections is in sufficient compliance with the law, and nothing else. This is without prejudice to a few instances where people have genuine concerns. However, We do not see the involvement of the judiciary in the electoral process as an unnecessary raid but as a strategic intervention to consolidate our democracy through enforcing the rule of law.
As Bar members, we are very concerned about these challenges because the administration of justice cannot take place in a weak judicial system.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is in demonstration of our commitment to Rule of Law and independence of the Judiciary that the theme of this year’s Bar week is captioned “MOVING FORWARD: HARMONIZING JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE AND PUBLIC CONFIDENCE FOR SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY IN NIGERIA.” This theme is geared towards having a robust discussion around these salient issues with the view to charting a way forward as they concern democratic development and the administration of justice.
On behalf of the Power Bar Executive Committee, I wish to welcome you all to this great occasion. We look forward to listening to your refreshing perspectives with the hope that they will provide informed insights that will help in shaping the future of democracy in Niger State and Nigeria as a whole.
Thank you and may God bless you all.

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