Monday, December 2, 2013

NBA, Sagay Caution Jonathan against Sacking Lecturers

The Abuja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and
constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay, Monday condemned the federal
government's recent directives to vice-chancellors to re-open the
universities just as they cautioned President Goodluck Jonathan
against carrying out the threat to sack university lecturers who
failed to resume by tomorrow.
The association also disclosed that it had withdrawn the licences of
nine lawyers across the country over cases of ethical misconduct.
Speaking in Abuja at the opening of the Law Week of the Abuja Branch
of the association (Unity Bar), its Chairman, U.M Yaman, faulted the
government's resort to threat to end the industrial dispute with the
Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU).
He said: "This is not the first time we have heard threats from the
government. During the military era government severally threatened to
sack lecturers if they don't call off strike.
"But we need to be realistic, lecturers have a right to go on strike
and government has the right to employ those who they want. But the
university sector is a peculiar one because we need experienced
lecturers. How do you replace the hundreds of professors of the
universities? About five universities in this country have hundred
professors. So how do you replace them?"
According to him, this is not the time to threaten the lecturers,
especially at a time when government is close to striking a deal with
He said: "I think the best thing for government to do is to look for
an agreeable settlement with ASUU. Also we want to appeal to ASUU that
you cannot continue strike indefinitely; there must be an end to
strike. If somebody has made an offer and which the public is
beginning to see that government has shown genuine interest to end the
strike, I think ASUU ought to meet and reconsider its position in the
interest of students and the nation."
Also speaking, NBA President, Mr. Okey Wali (SAN) announced that the
association had derobed nine lawyers noting that the NBA Legal
Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) would hear cases against
30 other lawyers this week.
Wali, who was represented by the NBA General Secretary, Emeka Obegolu,
raised the alarm over increasing number of petitions bordering on
discipline and ethics of the profession against lawyers and expressed
commitment to weed out the bad eggs in the profession.
In his remarks, the Chief Judge of the Abuja High Court, Justice
Ibrahim Bukar, praised lawyers for their commitment to good leadership
and the entrenchment of rule of law in the country.
He appealed to the bar to support the bench in attaining the
independence and impartiality of the judiciary as a necessity for rule
of law.
In a keynote address with a theme "Law, Leadership and Socio-Economic
Transformation", a former Commander of the United Nations
Multinational Peacekeeping Force in Angola, General Chris Garuba,
noted that several people and groups occupying political positions
in the country were not serving the interest of the people.
Also speaking on the face-off between the university teachers and the
federal government, Sagay rejected the threat by the president to sack
those who do not resume work by tomorrow.
Sagay, in his speech at a luncheon organised by Government College
Ughelli Old Boys' Association Lagos branch, said: "There is no
question about who is guilty or innocent. We concluded an agreement in
2009, the federal government reneged on that agreement.
"All ASUU is asking for is that the federal government fulfils the
part of the 2009 agreement that it had reneged on. Why does it take
five months for someone who has broken a contract to agree to fulfil
its part?
"If the federal government was an individual, it would have been taken
to court and would have been found liable and it would have not only
paid the money owed, but also paid interest for that period."

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