Barrister Bukar Alhaji Waziri is the chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Biu Branch, in Borno State. He speaks on the challenges facing legal practice in the state occasioned by the insurgency and how the judiciary can help the president fight corruption.
How has insurgency affected legal practice in the state?
Legal practice in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, at this time of insurgency is very poor, coupled with the fact that the state witnessed various proclamation of state of emergency by the government under Goodluck Jonathan.
Practice is only centered and confined to Maiduguri Metropolitan Council (MMC) out of the 27 local government areas in the state. At the height of the attacks by the Boko Haram, courts were closed down for months due to the attacks in different parts of the state. In fact, at a time, courts were operating skeletal services. Most senior lawyers relocated their law firms out of Maiduguri due to the activities of insurgents which made litigation to be minimal in Maiduguri. Some of our colleagues were killed by the insurgents.
How do you think that the Bar and the Bench can help President Buhari win his ongoing war against corruption?
The Bar and Bench have a key role to play in helping the president in the fight against corruption. If you remember at the recently held NBA conference in Abuja, the president recognised that lawyers need to play a key role in helping to curb corruption and the president solicited for our support in this regard. The judiciary cannot be left out in the change currently going on the country, so I think the Bar and the Bench are willing to assist the president in war against corruption.
What is your take on the clamour for abolition of SAN title?
My opinion on this is simple, I do not believe in scrapping of SAN title because it encourages young lawyers to work hard to attain that position, through hard work and prudent practice.
Do you think National Assembly members who are lawyers should be given opportunity to vie for the position of SAN?
I do not believe that they should be allowed because SAN title is attained through excellent legal practice in various courts of law in the country. Some of these lawyers in the National Assembly have not been practicing law since their call to the Bar, so why should they be given a SAN title?
How would you assess the efforts of the National Judicial Council to sanitise the third estate of the realm?
The National Judicial Council (NJC) and, of course, the judiciary as third arm of government, has been doing its best but I think more needs to be done. I think the judiciary should be properly funded for it to carry out its primary assignment, most especially in the area of discipline, appointments and elevation of judges.
What is your opinion on quest by the president to use special courts to prosecute corruption cases?
This is an excellent proposal by president Buhari, as it will help in speedy dispensation of justice, especially as it relate to trial of corruption cases.