The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), yesterday warned the military and other security agencies against meddling into Nigerian politics, particularly in the forthcoming 2019 general elections.
President of the NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud SAN, who gave the warning at the launch of the NBA endowment fund in support of Access to Justice Interventions in the North East Region, said involvement of security agencies in the democratic process would be against the overall interest of Nigerians.
Mahmoud said: “I will like to caution that it is unpatriotic to seek to enlist military or security agencies in the ongoing political skirmishes.
“I also want to appeal to our security agencies and our Armed Forces to maintain their professionalism and abide by their constitutional duties and responsibilities”.
He expressed concern that Nigeria is facing major challenges of law and order and communal conflicts, noting that only few states are spared from the spiraling violence of insurgency.
The NBA President remarked that as the country approaches the election cycle, the challenges are likely to increase as recent events have clearly demonstrated.
Mahmoud reiterated that the Nigerian Bar Association is a professional non-partisan organisation, and therefore “will remain neutral between political actors”.
He added: “We remain firm on the side of the constitution and the rule of law. We will continue to demand that constitutional boundaries must be respected and maintained by all governments and all persons in authority.”
He assured that NBA is determined to continue to play its modest role in the various challenges facing the country.
The fund among other objectives will be utilized by the NBA to provide long term access to justice assistance in the north east region of Nigeria specifically granting financial assistance (scholarships and petty trade loans) to the surviving relatives of verified legal practitioners who have been affected by the insurgency in the Northeast.
Mahmoud posited that a spin off to interventions in the conflict areas was the realisation that promoting reconciliation and reestablishing the justice system in those communities will require a policy and legal framework for transitional justice in Nigeria.
The NBA according to Mahmoud is currently working with other civil society groups and other stakeholders in this area drawing from experiences of other countries in Africa.
In support of the fund, the chief launcher, Barrister Wale Babalakin, SAN, donated N10 million, while chairman of the occasion, Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto state gave N10 million.