The Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria, CLASFON, has observed with dismay the worsening state of insecurity leading to constant kidnapping/abduction of students in the Northern part of the country.
The lawyers lamented that, “the alarming increase in banditry, kidnapping, and communal clashes have occasioned unquantifiable human and material losses and displacement of indigenous communities.”
In a communiqué issued at the end of its physical and virtual President-in-council meeting by Arome Okwori and Olatunji Omole, National President and National Secretary of the fellowship respectively, it noted that, “The recent kidnapping/abduction of students in Kankara in Katsina State, Kagara in Niger State, Jangebe in Zamfara State, and students of the Federal College of Forestry, Mando, Kaduna State, is worrisome.”
It observed that the security apparatus of the nation appears to be either overwhelmed or incapacitated to deal with these criminal activities which have emboldened criminals, thus making crime attractive to youths.
CLASFON, therefore, called on the security agencies, especially the newly appointed Service Chiefs to immediately rise to the situation and halt the continuous upsurge in crime and criminalities in the country, and protect the lives and the livelihood of Nigerians.
It viewed the agitations for secession, formation of regional security outfits, issuing of eviction orders to non-indigenes by some non-state actors, blockade of food supplies, among others coming from different regions of the country as the consequences of the general failure of governance in the country.
The lawyers enjoined the federal government to rise to the occasion to ensure justice and fair play in all its dealings, to quell these agitations and ensure genuine concerns raised by these agitators be looked into sincerely and addressed by the government, while urging agitators to sheathe their swords and embrace dialogue.
It noted that though the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 in Section 10 states categorically that Government of the Federation or of a State shall not adopt any religion as State Religion but lamented that the realities on ground do not reflect this cardinal principle.
“The policies and appointments by the Federal Government have continued to favour a particular religion to the detriment of others. State Governments have formulated policies that directly promote one religion over and above others. The Hijab controversy currently going on in Kwara State is one clear instance of the arbitrary use of state policy to promote a particular religion,” the lawyers observed.
CLASFON also observes with dismay what it called the bastardisation of due process and violations of the laws of the country by the Federal Government, in the unlawful elongation of the tenure of offices of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Inspector General of Police, and the Corps Marshall of the Federal Road Safety Corp, whose respective tenures of office had elapsed.
The lawyers said, “We commend the courageous citizens of Nigeria who have gone to court to challenge this affront on the rule of law. CLASFON urges the Federal Government to as a matter of urgency retrace its steps, by allowing these retired officers to vacate their respective offices immediately.”
On the judiciary, the lawyers expressed worries that the independence of the Judiciary is likely to be compromised if the process of judicial appointments becomes a subject matter of public outcry and political interference, calling on the appointing authority to ensure that merit, justice, and fairness is not compromised and the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 is strictly adhered to.
CLASFON, therefore, observed with dismay, the controversy generated by the recent shortlisting of judicial officers for consideration for appointment as Justices of the Court of Appeal submitted to the National Judicial Council (NJC).
The lawyers observed, “Of particular interest is the concern expressed that of all the candidates shortlisted from the 19 Northern States of the Federation, no Judge of the Christian faith is included in the Priority List contrary to the spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as Amended).”
CLASFON commended Professor Ben Ayade, the Governor of Cross Rivers State, and the Cross River State House of Assembly for the resolution of the impasse in the State Judiciary which had hitherto and unnecessarily stalled the smooth running of the Cross Rivers State Judiciary due to the refusal of the State House of Assembly to confirm the most senior judge of the State, the Hon. Justice Akon Ekpeme as the substantive Chief Judge of the State.
It decried the situation in Gombe State where the Gombe State Governor and the State Judicial Service Commission have persistently refused to send the name of the most senior judge in that state i.e. Hon. Justice Beatrice Iliya to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for consideration of His Lordship’s appointment as the substantive Chief Judge in the State.