The newly elected president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, should elevate the Bar’s role in defining the delivery of justice in Nigeria, Access to Justice, an advocacy group, has said.
In a statement Sunday, the group said public confidence in Nigeria’s justice institutions is possibly at an all-time low and references to the stature of justice institutions is unflattering internationally.
“Mr Akpata must ensure that the Bar is not anymore a bit-part player in the scheme of things, but an important lever in shaping policy – both national and judicial – in things affecting the administration of justice and the rule of law,” said Joseph Otteh, executive director, Access to Justice.
“Mr Akpata must raise the bar of the Bar’s influence in resisting tyranny and abuse, safeguarding human rights, and resisting a government’s oft push towards authoritarianism and despotism.”
Mr Akpata emerged the 30th NBA president on Friday, defeating two senior advocates to clinch the top position.
Mr Otteh said had the NBA pulled its weight well in the recent past, it would have served Nigeria better and stood in the gap for citizens who were bewildered by the impunity of government.
“He should lead the Bar to seek constitutional reforms that put the Nigerian people, their dignity and welfare, – and not simply our politicians – at the centre of governance, strengthen the fiscal independence of the judiciary and ensure that Nigeria’s judiciary and legal professionals are accountable for the delivery of efficient and effective judicial and legal services.
“We wish him Godspeed.”