The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) says its members will continue to offer free legal services to persons arraigned for participating in the just-suspended nationwide strike.
“All those defending persons arraigned as a result of their participation in the strike action should continue to offer their services Pro Bono Publico to such affected Nigerians,” the NBA President, Joseph Daudu, stated in a statement on Tuesday.
He urged the government to view the protests that visited the sudden withdrawal of fuel subsidy as spontaneous and not a politically-motivated response.
“The level of suffering that would be visited on Nigerians of all walks of life is indescribable and the protest was the only way of expressing worries and disapproval over and with the policy,’’ he said.
Mr. Daudu said that the NBA, in line with the reduction in pump price of petrol by the Federal Government, had no option but to support the stance of the organised labour in suspending the strike.
He explained that the action was for the sole purpose of facilitating comprehensive negotiations on the subject matter between the Government and Nigerians.
“It is hoped that normalcy in the nation’s economy, which the suspension will engender, will pave way for genuine negotiations on various issues,’’ he said.
“We deeply commiserate with the families of all persons slain in the course of their legitimate expression of dissent and or disagreement with the policy in issue.
It is hoped that adequate remedies due and payable to their families will be one of the main points for discussion before the Belgore Commission or Panel,’’ he said.
Mr. Daudu said that there were many unanswered questions relating to certain critical issues of good governance, accountability, transparency in government.
“It is hoped that these and other serious issues will be tabled before the Belgore Panel and that access thereto will be assured to all stakeholders,’’ he said.
The NBA chair said that the NBA recognised that the government had an overwhelming responsibility for the provision of peace, order and good government.
“In the realisation of that prime objective, it is empowered to take steps recognised and approved in democratic societies.
“However Federal Government should at all times treat all Nigerians, irrespective of their differences, as one united by our diversity,’’ he said.