Enang stresses importance of parliamentary lawyers



AS far as the newly appointed Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang is concerned, lawyers who hone their skills within the nation’s parliaments deserve to be accorded a special place in the society.

Speaking to The Guardian shortly after the inaugural meeting of the parliamentary lawyers forum at the National Assembly complex in Abuja, he expressed concern that not much recognition is accorded lawyers who are involved in the business of legislation in the nation’s parliaments.

Enang who was Chairman of the Senate Committee of Rules and Business in the 7th Assembly, explained that the parliamentary lawyers forum was formed to enhance law making process in the country.

Enang who is a co-convener of the forum said, “The essence of this forum is to make sure that lawyers in the legislature either as Senators, members of the House of Representatives, members of the House of Assembly, staffs of the Assemblies either as legal advisers to legislators, to committees in the legislature that they get on top of their games in terms of what they are expected to do and that they update their skills and that their work should speak for them so that when the legislation are made, it would show that they are made by the legislature.

“It would be seen to be clear of impurities. There would be no need that after the legislature passes a Bill, the legal draft men, legal department need to redraft the Bill although that is a contentious issue. It is also to raise awareness and standing that legislative practice is an arm of legal practice. It is to make everybody know that the laws that are being interpreted even by the Supreme Court is made by the legislature.

“And so the legislator and legislature are supposed to be highly cerebral. We started last year and it is going on and on. Our laws are made by the legislature but when it is being practiced, you will hear a practitioner being celebrated that he is so knowledgeable in the law. But the issue is who knew the law more first? It is the legislature and the legislators.

“So even in the practice of the law, the lawmaker is not at all rated, ranked and not at all taken into consideration. In fact it is taken as if the law is drafted from heaven and given to the practitioners to practice. So we had to start this forum to raise public consciousness in the work of the legislature to drum it down that the constitution, the ICPC Act, the EFCC Act, the Electoral Act, the Evidence Act – all the laws of whatever nature which people practice and become celebrated. It is unfortunate that the lawmaker is not being celebrated and is taken that he is here to make money and is of no intellectual content.”

A member of the House of Representatives, Nkem Abonta who is also a co-convener of forum expressed support for the on-going campaign against corrupt practices in the polity.

Saying there was the need to reform the criminal justice system to expedite dispensation of justice, he expressed support for the establishment of special courts to handle cases involving corrupt persons in the polity.

Continuing, Abonta who is the highest ranked lawyer in the National Assembly said, “It is very normal to have special court in every dispensation. Parliamentary lawyers and support in the anti graft war: This is a parliamentary lawyers association and the best way to help the government is to encourage good sound legislations that could bring development. That is what we can do; legislations in all areas. The parliamentary lawyers association is to improve the capacity of her members, legislators to come out with good legislations that would bring about development in the country.

“We are talking about criminal justice reform. It is a whole lot sector. It encompasses from the courtroom, from the trial, from everything like the amount of time and everything. Even the police are involved; even the court itself is involved; even the attitude of the prisoner is involved. It is a whole lot of thing. So it is not peculiar to legislation. So we are trying to also reform the police.

“The police Act was enacted in the 50s. Is it still relevant today?  So it is a whole lot of reform. So also is the Prison Act. There is still the issue of who runs the prisons. Are we going to also decentralise the prison? You can see this is the inaugural meeting where the state parliamentary lawyers and their colleagues at the federal level are meeting.”

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