By; Buhari B. Bello, Jos.
The President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) Augustine Alege, SAN has cautioned Lawyers against defending any suspect on corruption trial and warned them not to make up case for suspect, saying that “as a lawyer you are expected to defend the case of your client based on the available fact presented by the prosecuting council.
He made this known while welcoming participants to the NBA National Executive Council (NEC) currently holding at Crest Hotel, Jos.
“If NBA discovered involvement of any of its members in such deal, the association will not hesitate to subject such member to disciplinary action.
“NBA has zero tolerance for corruption. We are ready to cooperate with federal agency in the anti-corruption fight to kill corruption before corruption kills the country. We will only insist that the anti-corruption fight be done on the premise of rule of law”.
The NBA chair said that “the rights of corruption suspects must be respected on the bases that such suspect is presumed guilty until the end of trial. Government should try as much as possible not to condemn any suspect guilty before he is tried.
“NBA believed strongly that the anti-corruption war can be won on the premises of law, anything contrary to that will not be in the interest of justice and the nation. There should be fair trial for all suspects” he said.
“NBA President will stand solidly behind the federal government to fight suspected treasury looters and instill financial discipline in the government spending” he assured.
The association, he added has concluded plans to organized a workshop purposely to enable NBA make a critical review of the role of its members in the election petition tribunal so far.
According to him, “the workshop is to seek a way to enhance effective dispensation of election matters in subsequent elections.”
On the role of the judiciary at the election petition tribunal across the country, the NBA President applauded the efforts of the judiciary for their role “but expresses deep regret over the situation where the courts gave conflicting judgment”.
He said, “The judiciary has indeed lived up to expectation in spite of the conflicting judgments in few cases, the NBA therefore recommend thorough investigation into such cases and whoever is found to be involved in such judiciary error should be sanction accordingly”.
Alege informed member at the meeting that the next national election of the body expected at the third quarter of the year will be conducted using electronic voting system.
“We are not going to close down the courts as a result of going to a particular point to cast your votes, this time around we are going to cast our votes from the comfort of our homes and offices.
“Members should ensure they are within internet network area at that period for you to be able to cast your vote” he warned.
The President also expressed the interest of the association to intervene in the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) pending at the National Assembly for over a decade.
He therefore called on the federal government to take necessary steps towards preventing the continuous depreciation of naira against the dollars in capital market.
According to Alege, “It is a worrisome trend to NBA that the value rate of the naira continued to fall against the dollars almost on daily bases.”
“With the way the rate is going, there is the general fear that, if nothing is done to check it, very soon it will be N1000.00 to a dollar.
“This trend is extremely dangerous to national economy, something must be done to check it. NBA is therefore calling on the federal government to rise up to the challenge and stop further depreciation of the nation’s currency against the dollars. This trend cannot be allowed to continue, something must be done by the federal government to stop it” he said.