Human rights’ activist, Chidi Odinkalu, has berated the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL), Monday Ubani, over his statement on the killing of a female student of the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto State.
Odinkalu- a former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, described Ubani’s statement as a “gratuitous insult to a traumatised people.”
Ubani had earlier quoted to have said in a statement that
“it will be preposterous for someone who is a lawyer to be suggesting that we should cancel our conference that is billed to take place in Sokoto because of the acts of law breakers in the state. The barbaric act was not authorised or approved by the State Government to our knowledge.
“It is absolutely wrong for our colleagues without locus to be calling for boycott of the conference when the state government that is hosting is not complicit in this heinous crime unless there is evidence to the contrary. ”
But in a statement on Friday, Odinkalu blasted his fellow lawyer (Ubani) for being more concerned about the SPIDEL conference billed to hold in Sokoto State rather than the tragic killing of the Christian female student by the Muslim mob in the state.
Odinkalu stated that the contents of Ubani’s statement were beside the point and the “other parts are gratuitously insulting.”
According to him, “It seems clear his statement is more focused on saving a conference, which can take place anywhere, or on NBA politics, which is unending rather than on valorising human life and responsible government.”
Odinkalu who was supposed to participate in the SPIDEL conference also announced his decision to cancel his participation.
He noted that “If his (Ubani) comparison with Owerri & Imo State was meant to make any point, it fails. I would oppose the scheduling of any such conference by the NBA or any of its organs in Imo State right now without thinking twice about it and with a clear conscience. That part of his statement I found both cheap and self-defeating.”
He berated Ubani for saying that he sent a text message to the Sokoto State Governor over the incident while still emphasising on the scheduled SPIDEL conference.
“So, MoU sent an SMS to the state governor – who, by the way, was characteristically out of the state when this happened & did not see fit to return immediately. And he says that the state government did not do the killing, as if anyone said it did. That is worse than setting up a proverbial straw-man in order to demolish it.
“If all that MoU has done is send sms to the state governor & HAG, he sadly fails to get the point about this. You mean, all that bloviating evidence on the face of his statement was done in order to convey the point that he has sent a mere SMS to the state governor?! And on the back of that he accuses colleagues of lacking “locus” whatever that means.
“The reality is life has lost meaning in Nigeria. SPIDEL was set up to defend the meaning of human life in Nigeria. I know because I did. In case my brother does not recall, the guarantor of life under our constitution is not the state governor. It is the president. I may have missed it but I am yet to see what the President or Federal Govt has said about this incident. Nor has MoU said that he sent an sms to the President or to Abubakar Malami, since, in his view, an SMS is all that this incident requires. But an SMS addressed to the wrong recipient is not an SMS at all.”
According to Odinkalu, “We do not need to be lawyers going to a conference in Sokoto to care about pre-Neanderthal killings of Nigerians anywhere in Nigeria. His line about people lacking locus is a gratuitous insult to a traumatised people.”
The human rights lawyer said that based on what he just heard from the leadership of SPIDEL, “It is clear to me that they do not get the significance of this issue. I am now convinced that I will be unable to accept an invite to participate in the SPIDEL conference.
“So, I, Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, am cancelling my participation. I will, in addition, actively campaign against the meeting. Everyone has to take their own decision. The SPIDEL leadership has taken its decision. I have taken mine. This is a matter of conscience,” he held.