A students’ group, Alliance of Nigerian Students Against Neo-liberal Attacks (ANSA), has rejected the choice of Mike Ozekhome (SAN) as a contributor by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at the forthcoming Gani Fawehinmi Memorial Symposium tagged ‘Fawehinmiism, The 14th Edition”.
The group made its position known in a statement signed by Mr. Adeyeye Olorunfemi.
ANSA said it considers the choice of Mr. Ozhekome as an unforgivable insult to the memory of the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, adding that it ridicules all that the late human rights lawyer/social crusader represented and stood for.
“We forthwith hold that individuals whose political lifestyle and deeds have enormously contributed to the immeasurable ruin and aggravated hardship of Nigerian masses have no business discussing the conditions upon which the impoverished masses would be liberated,” said ANSA.
It explained that it found it shocking that Mr. Ozekhome has been invited by the Ikeja Branch of the NBA as a contributor to the theme ‘Federalism, Restructuring and Good Governance: Striking the Balance”.
“We are appalled at the choice of Mike Ozekhome among the pool of intellectually sophisticated and pro-masses legal practitioners such as Messrs. Femi Falana (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Jiti Ogunye, Malachy Ugwummadu, Femi Aborisade and other frontline human rights lawyers, who have shown over time to be worth their salt in the not so Herculean task of using the legal system, however moribund, to advance the cause of the oppressed,” stated ANSA.
The group noted that Mr. Ozekhome has been using the legal system to defend politicians accused of corruption.
“You would recall that this self-acclaimed human rights lawyer had, in time past, defended the anti-poor and corrupt politicians such as Ayodele Fayose, Olisa Metuh, Madam Patience Jonathan and even the lawless lawmaker and Senate President, Bukola Saraki, whose 8th National Assembly is peopled by characters who passed only N50 billion into the education sector and N51 billion into the health sector, whereas it mobilized about N125 billion to feed the greedy stomachs of its 469 members,” ANSA said.
The group further said that the measly funding of education, arbitrary fee hikes and poor welfare conditions are attributable to the ineptitude of the ruling class whose interests Mr. Ozekhome represents. ANSA added that over 45 student activists, who fought against poor funding of education, have been illegally rusticated with neither the NBA nor Mr. Ozhekome lifting a finger to help.
Whereas said the students’ body, the late Chief Fawehinmi famously stood in defence of politically victimized activists and spent his entire lifetime fighting all the type of people Mr. Ozekhome defends.
ANSA called on the NBA to withdraw the invitation to Mr. Ozhekome and if that does not happen, wants the NBA to be ready to face lawful protest over its choice to ensure that the late crusader’s name is not rubbished by the presence of elite-supporting figures like Mr. Ozekhome.