Stakeholders canvass public interest lawyering
Stakeholders in the legal profession have called for the entrenchment of public interest lawyering in Nigeria. They made the call at the 2019 annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest & Development Law (SPIDEL) in Aba, Abia state.
Themed “lawyering in public interest”, participants agreed that it is desirable to focus law on issues that border on public interest and development. NBA-SPIDEL chairman, Dr. Paul Ananaba (SAN) said Nigerian legal and judicial framework is hopelessly outdated and needs an urgent review to meet current challenges.
According to him, the essence of the conference was to appraise, review, discuss and chart a new course about how the NBA as the leading civil society in Nigeria should serve the people and the country.
Also chairman of the NBA-SPIDEL planning committee, Mr. Ikeazor Akaraiwe advocated the use of the courts and responsible social media to advance the interest of the public and development of Nigeria, saying, “public interest and development advocacy and litigation is why Nigeria escaped the long night of military dictatorship.” NBA National President, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), who described public interest lawyering as a process of legal empowerment aimed at capacity building of everyday people towards using the law and institutions to bring about social change, stressed its importance and appropriateness in view of the nation’s present challenges, which include incessant kidnapping, violation of human rights by security agencies, mismanagement of public funds etc.
He said that Nigeria should have laws that promote development and that lawyers must ensure that the development of legal instruments for the implementation of socio-economic policy objectives should not portray them as antagonists against the acts and policies of government but as social crusaders who make social justice and equality their priority. He acknowledged the choice of lawyers by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for appointments as Chief Press Secretary, Chief of Staff, Director General of the State Marketing and Quality Management Agency, commissioners (for Justice, Agriculture and Lands), Permanent Secretaries, local government chairmen, advisers, assistants and others.