Effiong Bob… In honour of commitment to better Nigeria
The book is written in honour of Senator Effiong Bob. The title of the book covers areas of interest and concern to every Nigerian, especially as we contemplate and reflect on May 29, 2015 and beyond. Fittingly, the book is entitled Law Making, Good Governance and Administration of Justice in Nigeria. I can hardly think of anyone uninterested in its field of coverage. The book is colossal in volume and content. Its diameter is on traditional scaling, 11 by 8 inches, on hardback cover, by every standard, a big book.
Part I contains ten chapters. Chapters one and two are succinct narratives by Sam Akpe on the life and times of the subject matter. By my modest count, they are not mere life narratives, but transformation narratives used to construct a theory of cando. Nothing is impossible to do for the man of courage, integrity and service. It is a moving picture of how Senator Effiong Bob, born into the enterprising family of Ete Dickson of Ikot Ekwere Ubium community. Like the Germans would say, “work sets you free,” Senator Bob, learnt that useful lesson at youth. His father was an industrialist by present count. He owned a local palm oil mill. It was thus tradition in the family to wake up at what hour and for what purpose? Can you guess? Page 9 tells us” at 2 am, first for family devotion. Soon thereafter, for the family to prepare fire for boiling the palm fruits for the workers who would arrive to start work at 4 am. What did this teach the young Bob? The virtues of honesty, hard work, industry, love for God and neighbour. Senator Bob, you had a great beginning. We are not any surprised for what you are today.
Even though he was every count proficient in commercial law, having won the Chief Chris Ogunbanjo prize for the subject, he did not choose legal practice in the metropolis of say Lagos, Port-Harcourt or Kano, but he chose to settle near his people. He practiced law at Eket in Akwa Ibom State as far back as 1985. For a moment stop to think: how commercial would Eket have been in 1985? Hardly commercial, you say? Yes. But that was where he pitched his camp. It was from there that this “community lawyer” rose to become Councillor in Nsit Ubium LGA, Deputy Speaker of Akwa Ibom State, and Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State, and latter as Senator representing Akwa Ibom North Senatorial District. Nothing is truly impossible with the man of vision, Senator Bob, whom the book celebrates.
Chapters three, connects the underdevelopment of our otherwise rich Nigeria to corruption. It is next followed by a graphic demonstration of this in the litigation process that culminated in jailing James Ibori in the United Kingdom. It encourages a structured anti-graft drive. It may well be time to rethink possible judicial review or sanction or both on judicial officers and prosecutors who could not identify even prima facie corrupt evidence against Ibori in Nigeria. Chapter six picks up good governance issues with the judiciary.
Chapter seven the writer connects good governance with our electoral system and democracy. It is followed in chapters eight and nine by an analysis of section 308 of the Constitution on immunity clause. Chapter ten, ends part one. It examines a few Supreme Court decisions on how proper service should be effected on corporate entities.
Part 2 is on Administration of Justice. It has three chapters, eleven to thirteen. Essentially they centre on good governance and the judiciary, especially in the context of prison conditions, access to justice and oil pollution litigation. Part 3 is on the Constitution and Human Rights. As to be expected, it holds 15 chapters, spanning from chapters fourteen to twenty eight. It mostly deals with matters of impeachment processes, land reform under the Land Use Act, participatory democracy, rule of law, justiciability of directive principles, trade union, feminism and children protection.
Part 4 is on Arbitration. It contains 6 chapters, chapters twenty-nine to thirty-four. All matter connected with arbitration is discussed. Very interestingly, chapter thirty-three discusses the place, nature and status of native arbitration in our jurisprudence.
Part 5, is on general discourse related to good governance. It is a mixture of discussion on corporate models, consumer protection, prosecution of inchoate offences and international law. The book is by every count a must read first for lawyers and then for all interested in good governance and development of Nigeria.
• Festus Emiri is a professor of Jurisprudence and Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Law School
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