The speaker of Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, Onofiok Luke, has called on human rights activists and top lawyers in the country to speak up against what he described as “apparent misgovernment in the country”.
Mr. Luke said the nation was in dire need of courageous people to speak up against poor leadership.
While the same activists spoke against misgovernment a few years back, he said there seemed to be a conspiracy of silence in the face of even a worse leadership crisis in the country.
The speaker barred his mind to members of the Young Lawyers’ Forum of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, who were in Uyo for a summit on Thursday.
“We have a great challenge facing us today as future leaders of this country. In the last eight years when things were wrong, we had senior lawyers who would hit the streets shouting and making demands in the name of human rights activism,” he said.
“Yet the same things which happened in the last couple of years are happening today, and even taking worrisome dimensions but there seems to be a conspiracy of silence.
“What we find today is that people become activists when political situations don’t favour them. But when they are on the side which favours them, they feign ignorance of harsh realities.
“I want to thank our learned senior colleagues, who still stand to condemn things which are wrong, not minding political affiliations. This is why, till tomorrow, we respect the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi.”
He urged the young lawyers to take the challenge of building the nation by standing up for what is right no matter what interests are at stake.
He also invited them to join hands to create a bipartisan arrangement to save the country from an imminent catastrophe.
“If some senior lawyers took banners to protest against fuel scarcity some years back and there’s still same fuel scarcity today and they are not protesting, then there’s something wrong,” he said.
The lawmaker also criticised what he called the “unbecoming lawlessness” of security agencies in the country.
He appealed to senior and respected activists within the legal profession not to relent in speaking up against the sad situation.
“We have a situation where security agencies in the country like the DSS, don’t respect the law, and then our senior lawyers are not talking. We need to rise and talk now,” he continued.
“We are in support of Mr. President’s fight against corruption; we are totally in support. But we are not in support of a situation where people who are saddled with power don’t respect court orders.
“I am in government today and this is the same voice I carried as the student union government president and this is the same voice I carried as the pioneer speaker of the Nigeria Youth Parliament; and even now that I’m in government, this is the same voice which I carry.
“I tell you that what is wrong is wrong. My charge, especially to those who have taken up the role of advocates for humanity is to toe the path of honour. When a thing is wrong, say it is wrong.
“I charge you today to rise to your responsibility. It is only through our voices that we can correct anomalies and build a nation that we can call our own. Many are being killed day after day and we are not talking. It could have been any of us. So we should rise and talk as young lawyers.”
Mr. Luke thanked members of the 2016 National Summit of the Young Lawyers Forum of the NBA for selecting Uyo as venue for their meeting.
He said “We have had uncommon transformation; right now we are looking at sustainable development. What we do at the level of the legislature is to make laws for the sustainability of the development which has happened in the last eight years in government.”