The Bar Must Play an Active Role in Sustaining Our Democracy’– Olumide Akpata
“Democracy only thrives when the Rule of Law is respected”..
Templars’ Senior Partner and past Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association – Section on Business Law (NBA – SBL), Olumide Akpata felicitates all Nigerians, particularly the members of the legal profession, on the occasion of this year’s Democracy Day.
In a statement issued this morning, he said “This is a day set aside to commemorate our beloved country’s return to democratic rule and today’s occasion marks 21 years of uninterrupted democratic governance, the longest ever in our history. It is a testimony to our resilience as a people that despite the many challenges that have held us back, including the contemporary threats posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), we have continued on the slow but steady march towards great nationhood.
“Democracy only thrives when the rule of law is respected. While governments at all levels have the duty to ensure the sustenance of democracy in Nigeria, it is our collective duty as a Bar, and indeed Nigerians, to speak out in instances where our democracy is undermined. Disrespect of court orders, unlawful detention, harassment and illegal removal of judges, lack of independence of the judiciary all undermine our democracy. The Bar must play an active role in sustaining this hard-won democracy. The labours of our heroes past and democracy martyrs like Chief M. K. O. Abiola, should not end up in vain.
“In addition to these, Democracy is about protecting of civil rights, liberty and justice. At a time of widespread abuse of citizens’ rights by security agencies, recurrent stories of sexual violence against women and girls etc., the Nigerian society yearns for the legal profession to rise to the occasion to protect the rights and liberty of the citizens. As lawyers, we must give them reasons to believe in us again and reassure them that we are still the conscience of the Nigerian society.
“As we celebrate today, I urge us to take some time to reflect on the journey so far whilst celebrating the strides that we have achieved. But most importantly, today gives us the opportunity to renew our commitment to become a better democratic and egalitarian society where the rule of law is upheld without fear or favour.
I wish everyone a safe and pleasant holiday.”
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