Bar Human Rights Committee Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC, Membership Secretary Grainne Mellon and Executive Officer Amanda June Chadwick attended the 58th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association at the invitation of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud, OON, SAN. Ms Brimelow QC also spoke at the conference at the plenary session on Wednesday on Rule of Law and Security.
The Conference, whose theme was “Transition, Transformation and Sustainable Institutions,” brought together more than 10,000 lawyers from across Nigeria to discuss the role various stakeholders can play in ensuring peaceful and successful transitions, as Nigeria prepares for its upcoming Presidential election in early 2019. The Conference focused on “how transitions are handled in critical spheres of human endeavours and the strength of institutions to withstand the shocks that may be incidental to change.” Speakers at the conference included the President of Nigeria, His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, the President of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and the Former President of Nigeria, His Excellency General Abdulsalami A. Abubakar (rtd.) GCFR.
A key area of discussion at the conference was the opening remarks by President Buhari regarding the rule of law and security in Nigeria. In her remarks on Wednesday, BHRC Chair Kirsty Brimelow QC called his remarks “dangerous” and “deeply troubling” and the importance of the rule of law. “The test of the functioning of the Rule of Law is in the most difficult cases. The greater good requires that the law is applied to the cases where there the most reviled are being tried. Hard cases make good law. The graver the accusation, the more we need to be vigilant that human rights are protected.”
Ms Brimelow QC then spoke with CNBC Africa about the remarks, the work of the Bar Human Rights Committee and the important role that lawyers can play in the development of Nigeria.
During the Conference, BHRC also had the opportunity to meet with the President-elect of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, as well as key stakeholders working in Nigeria.
Also in attendance was Naomi Barnard, Programme Manager of Rule of Law Expertise UK (ROLE UK) to meet with the Nigerian Bar Association. ROLE UK has been a key supporter of BHRC’s recent projects in Nigeria including a training programmes for NBA lawyers on the rights and protections of IDPs in North East Nigeria and on environmental rights and alternative dispute resolution in the Niger Delta region. ROLE UK has also provided support for BHRC to attend the NBA Conference.