President Muhammadu Buhari has said that the security of the country cannot be sacrificed on the altar of rule of law where national interest is threatened.
President Buhari while declaring open the 2018 Annual General Conference (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA emphasized that where national security and national interest clash, the rule and individual rights must take a second place.
He said the rule of law can only be practiced optimally in a peaceful environment. On the fight against corruption, the President said the federal government was determined to bring to book those who looted the national patrimony of the country, adding that his government was committed to the fight against culture of impunity and greed in its quest to ensure transparency and accountability.
He further said as a result of his administration’s quest for transparency and accountability, the country’s foreign reserve had increased.
President Buhari while declaring open the conference with the theme: “Transition, Transformation and Sustainable Institutions” said, “Given the enormity of the challenges we inherited and the yearnings of a citizenry earnestly desirous of a new way of running national affairs, our first challenge was to transform our country speedily into a society where impunity in the management of national resources would be replaced with a culture of accountability and transparency.
We needed to deploy our resources to address our common needs rather than the greed of a callous few.
In order to achieve this, we have had to disrupt age-old assumptions and unsettle ancient norms in the management of our national patrimony, as you have all witnessed in the last three years.
While we have made appreciable progress in several sectors, including public awareness of the need to challenge the corrupt and the brazen in our midst, we have also learnt useful lessons on the dynamism of our society.
“However, elements within every society, including some lawyers, can equally become unduly resistant to change, even where it is proven that such change is to serve the interest of the larger society. At worst, corruption fights back”.
He called on the NBA to partner with his government in order to address the challenges confronting he country. While describing the association as a prime stakeholder in national affairs, he charged the body to ensure national cohesion and unity of the country.
In his speech, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, emphasized the independence of the judiciary which he said was relevant to the sustenance of the nation’s democracy. “With the independence of the Judiciary, it can be bold to play its role without fear or favour”.
He called on politicians to conduct themselves lawfully so as not to endanger the peace and stability of the country.
The President of the NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, said the NBA remains deeply concerned that our transformative journey to a stable prosperous country remains hampered by the absence of strong accountable and sustainable institutions.
He said, “We are convinced that our huge potentials either as a country or as a continent, cannot be unleashed until we overcome the challenge of institution building.Rule of law and democracy can only be guaranteed or anchored on strong institutions built on clear, fair and transparent processes with predictable outcomes”.