"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws." - Plato The widely acclaimed irresponsible action of some Lawyers from Rivers State yesterday at the Abuja International Conference Centre (ICC), during the Nigeria Bar Conference has the trappings of self imposed amnesia, political thuggery, and lawlessness.
According to media reports, the Lawyers where hell bent on destabilising the conference on the grounds that former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi was the Co - Chairman of the programme, because according to them, he was responsible for the over one year lock down of courts in Rivers State.
Amnesia refers to the loss of memories, such as facts, information and experiences. People with amnesia also find it hard to imagine the future, because our constructions of the future depends on the information available to our mind. Amnesia can also be self imposed, whereby an individual intentionally discards or suppresses certain information in his or her mind for selfish reasons. From the foregoing, one can comfortably say that those Lawyers who shamelessly disrupted the proceedings of the NBA Conference are suffering from self imposed amnesia.
Here is my reason: Expect for certain disgruntled political dramatis persona, any sane person who was in Rivers State during the saga of NJC and former Governor Amaechi's banter, will agree with me that the lock down of courts was not the handiwork of Amaechi, rather it was the impunious demonstration of presidential might by the Jonathans, in the affairs of a Federating Unit. In summary, the unnecessary contention arose because of the imposition of a particular candidate for the position of Chief Judge of Rivers State on former Governor Amaechi by the NJC, as against the normal and legal procedure where the Governor is empowered by law to appoint the Chief Judge, on the recommendation of the NJC. And as far as I know, the word "recommendation", is not a synonym for imposition.
Another reason why the courts where shut down was because Judicial Staff at one time went on strike in protest against the bombardment of several courts in Rivers State. The obvious state of insecurity in the state, is also the main reason why the Rivers State Election Petitions Tribunal is sitting in Abuja instead of Rivers State. Therefore it baffles my mind how Lawyers who are supposed to be enlightened people, have decided to misrepresent facts because of political alliance. So many people, including Lawyers and notable Nigerians have strongly condemned the actions of the so called Lawyers.
According to Governor Adams Oshiomhole: “This is the height of irresponsibility, lawyers shouting like touts. My privileges have been violated, the rules of the professional conducts thrown to the dust bin. I could not differentiate between the touts in motor park Benin City and the lawyers”. One Lawyer angrily stated that the noble profession is not for militants, and that Lawyers ought to argue out their cases before a court of competent jurisdiction or public opinion, rather than to resort to lawlessness.
In order to maintain the sanctity of our Judicial system in Nigeria, political thuggery must not be allowed to find its root in the noble legal profession. The Nigerian Bar Association must as a matter of urgency investigate and sanction those Lawyers who participated in the lawless disruption of a lawful event.
Solomon Okocha writes from Abuja, Nigeria. You can also follow him on Twitter @Okocha_info.