Conflict in North East: NBA president appeals to stakeholders to moderate their utterances

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, OON, SAN, FCIArb (UK), has once more reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian Bar Association in protecting and promoting the human rights of internally displaced persons in the North Eastern part of Nigeria and other remote areas in Nigeria. This was made known at the opening of the training workshop for Nigerian lawyers on the legal rights and protection of internally displaced person in North-East Nigeria that was held at the intentional training institute, Maitama FCT Abuja, on Monday, the 12th day of February, 2018.

The program which is organized by the Nigerian Bar Association in conjunction with the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council of England and Wales with funding from Role UK and UK Aid is geared primarily at equipping NBA members with the tools necessary to aid them in the provision of pro-bono legal services to Internally Displaced Persons in the North East Region. The president in his remarks stated that the Nigerian Bar Association has received support from the Dangote Foundation which has made it possible for them to bring in participants from the North East and indeed from across the country to Abuja as against the earlier plan to host training somewhere in the North East.

He stated also that the Nigerian Bar Association has, as part of its public interest engagements prioritized the Conflict in the North East Region and the Niger Delta. According to him, back in August 2016, he announced the establishment of two task forces to coordinate the NBA’s intervention in both regions which to him, is making considerable impact in these areas. The NBA president noted that there are indeed many cases of human right abuse due to the conflict in the north east, thus there is a dare need to solve the problem with all that is needed to achieve it.

His words:

“The insurgency has led to near collapse of justice sector institutions particularly in parts of Bornu, Yobe and Adamawa States. The NBA cannot remain aloof to the situation. To rebuild the justice system and to offer assistance the victims of the insurgency is a major component of the humanitarian intervention that is much needed in the North-East Region. We are therefore determined to contribute the little we can to address these problems.

We are grateful that the Bar Council is offering us this support in training our members to be better able to assist the victims of this conflict.”

“The Nigerian Bar Association is taking a keen interest in these areas and we are working to support conflict resolution and prevention and offering support to the victims. Recently, I led a team of our members to Benue State to show our concern over the rising conflict in the State between Herdsmen and Farmers which has led to killings, reprisals and displacements especially of women and children. We are putting together our report which will shortly be made public. However, I wish to appeal to all Stakeholders and especially political, religious and community leaders to show moderation in their utterances and to work towards building compromises so as to deescalate tension and to seek long term solution to the crisis.”

Speaking further, the NBA president stated that much has already been put in place to solve the problem. According to him, the NBA is also involved in trial observations.

“Only yesterday, a team of our members led by the 1st Vice President of the NBA, Mr. Caleb Dajan, left for New Bussa in Niger State on trial observation mission at the resumed trials of the Boko Haram suspects. We are also currently working with other Civil Society groups with the Support of MacArthur Foundation to develop a transitional justice legal and policy framework for Nigeria learning from the experiences of other African Countries. All of these work require training of our members which we hope to intensify in the coming months.” he said.

He therefore thanked Kirsty Brimelow QC, the Chairperson of the Bar Human Rights Committee and her team as well as others for the partnership put in place in achieving the desired goals.

“I am delighted that the Bar Council will be partnering with the NBA in equipping our members and sharpening their skills to undertake these major interventions which we are certain will aid the promotion and protection of human rights and access to justice across the country. These trainings will therefore continue and we hope to reach as many of our members as possible. I am happy that the Bar Human Rights Committee of Bar Council is willing to assist us in this regard. Indeed, at the end of this ceremony, as testimony to this, we will be signing an MOU that will commit both the NBA and the Bar Council Human Rights Committee to promote our long term engagements”, he added.

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