The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the recent heightened agitations by individuals, groups and organisations calling for the violent breakup of the nation, stressing that Nigeria must remain united.
The association expressed its concern over the situation in a statement by its President, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, adding that the difficult economic times are a direct product of the failure of successive governments to diligently tackle the myriad of challenges bedeviling the nation.
“Some have advocated secession of certain parts from the country; others have called for some ethnicities to be excised and some others have even gone to the extent of issuing what they call “quit notice” against some ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
“These advocacies have been characterized by deeply hateful and hurtful speech on all sides, incitement, tendentious and unguarded comments and war mongering all designed to attack the resolve of the Nigerian people to live in peace, mutual respect and harmony.
“The Nigerian Bar Association rejects these tendencies unequivocally and condemns all such threats to the sovereign existence of Nigeria and the peaceful co-existence of our communities.
“Admittedly, the content of these messages do not represent the views of most Nigerians, who remain peace-loving.
“The NBA is concerned, nevertheless, that these acts of hate speech threatening secession, war and violent breakup of the country have been allowed to persist to the point where they are now creating fear and anxiety amongst the people of Nigeria and sending panic signals to our neighbors and the international community.
“They have, in addition, shaken investor confidence in our country, contributing to slowing down economic and social activities.”
The NBA, however, reaffirmed its belief in unity and sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria saying “we believe that the peoples of Nigeria, irrespective of diversities of identity, face common and shared everyday challenges and desire a stable and secure country based on justice, equity and the rule of law.
“The NBA is convinced that our various peoples have consistently shown the capacity and desire to live together in a federation under democratically elected government, which alone can guarantee the conditions for addressing the imperfections that ail our country.”
As part of solutions to the situation, the association therefore appealed to media houses, publishers, broadcasters, opinion leaders, politicians, faith and community leaders, intellectuals, social media influencers and on-air personalities (OAPs) to exercise responsibility and utmost professionalism in the content they publish or distribute through their platforms.
It also urged Nigerians to “unite in isolating and shaming opportunists that have decided to put the co-existence and well-being of our people at risk for their narrow ends.”
Such a step according to the association would further affirm the resolve of the Nigerian people to live in peace and harmony under a democracy founded on justice, equity and rule of law.
The NBA went ahead to commend the steps taken so far by the Acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in “dousing tension and restoring public confidence in the peaceful coexistence of Nigeria”.
It, however, urged Osinbajo to broaden the base of consultation to involve pan-Nigerian groups.