Former Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has charged lawyers in parliament to champion rule of law and the causes of the Nigerian masses.
Ekweremadu also called on Nigerians to elect more lawyers into the legislature, describing legal practitioners in parliament as assets of inestimable value in ensuring quality laws, probity, and smooth discharge of parliamentary functions at all levels of government.
The lawyer-lawmaker stated these in a keynote address entitled “The Lawyer in Parliament: A Catalyst in the Legislative Process”, which he delivered at a virtual event to mark the 82nd birthday of former Member and Speaker pro tempore of the House of Representatives, Chief George Uwechue, SAN, Monday evening.
While describing Chief Uwechue, also a former Chairman of the Nigerian Body of Benchers, as a legal and political colossus, Ekweremadu said the life of the celebrant showed that one could be a successful lawyer and lawmaker at the same time.
He said: “Let me call on Nigerians to see the need to elect more lawyers into the various levels of the legislature given the value they bring to bear on the parliamentary business.
“But importantly, we, as lawyers, need to equally show more interest in politics, especially the legislature. Nobody will come to your house to elect you into the parliament without you first showing interest, starting with identifying with your people and their needs.
“To my colleague lawyers already in parliament, this is equally an opportunity to appeal for character excellence, diligence, resourcefulness, and ingenuity as lawyers who are privileged to serve as legislators. Like Caesars’s wife, we must live above board. We must be in the vanguard of anti-corruption.
“We must be insistent on good governance. We must be strong in the advocacy for the rule of law and independence of the judiciary. We must be knights fighting for the cause of the ordinary people of Nigeria in our various legislative Houses.
“As the engine rooms and brainboxes of our parliaments, we must at all times ensure the smooth running of our respective parliaments and give Nigerians reasons to believe that we will always navigate the country out of every trauma and out of every uncertainty”.
He emphasised that lawyers, by their training and ethics of their profession, were best positioned to discharge the mandate of the parliament as stipulated in Section 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
“The core function of the parliament is lawmaking. The other associated functions, depending on jurisdiction, include confirmation of executive nominations or appointments, oversight of the other arms of government, consideration and approval of expenditure, ratification of treaties.
“These functions require a certain level of knowledge, experience, and exposure to accomplish”, he stated.