The EXCO of the Nigerian Bar Association Abuja Branch led by its able Chairman, Ms. Hauwa Shekarau today, paid a courtesy visit to Musa Idris, the Director General/Chief Executive of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA).
The Chairman in addressing the DG of NOSDRA thanked him for accepting their courtesy visit and stated that the EXCO has it on its agenda to reach out to critical stakeholders that are important in the work that the Branch does and NOSDRA identifies as one of such stakeholders.
She added that the NBA is an association of lawyers who are called to the practice of law and it is a treasure group because it is made up of professional people who promote the rule of law which its major and cardinal principle.
The Chairman further stated that the purpose of the courtesy call by the Branch is to introduce the EXCO of the Branch and to let the Agency know that the Branch would like to be partners in progress with NOSDRA being that the NBA is a very versatile organisation and critical stakeholders in the justice and law reform sector.
Ms. Shekarau stated that she is aware of the work that NOSDRA does as it impacts positively on the environment and Nigeria. In her words, “there is a lot that NBA and the Agency can do together in the promotion of the mandate of the Agency that bother rule of law, law reform and legislative advocacy”. This, she said is why the branch would like to have a good relationship and strike up a partnership that will be mutually benefiting.
Ms. Shekarau also solicited the support of NOSDRA in the building project of the NBA Abuja Bar Centre which is an important agenda under her tenure. She added that the Bar Centre will be a lawyers house which will hosts people who are concerned with the development of the society. The Chairman also requested that the Agency hosts one of the NBA Abuja Branch meetings which will be an opportunity for NOSDRA to meet with the members and make ppresentations and sensitize and create awareness on what NOSDRA is doing and how lawyers can support the growth and development of NOSDRA.
In his response, the DG, NOSDRA expressed his happiness about the visit by the EXCO and stated that he is highly impressed by the purpose of the visit and that shows that the EXCO knows what it is doing.
Mr Idris stated that the area of advocacy is an aspect that the Agency would like to really partner with the NBA. He added that the advocacy vis-a-vis the Amendment to the NOSDRA Bill which was passed into law in 2006, it was observed that there were some grey areas that needed to be worked on. He expressed his dismay that to this day the Amendments are yet to be made having faced setbacks and challenges from the Oil Producers Team Section of the Lagos State Chambers of Commerce and Industry (OPTS) on issues ranging from usurping of power, overburden and how to get extra funding for oil spills that occur outside the areas of operation.
He further stated that these issues have caused setbacks that bring misconceptions about the Agency and these are things that people need to be made aware of. He added that when it comes to putting some of these issues before the Courts there are areas that the Lawyers engaged in matters and even the judges are not fully familiar with environmental issues. In his words ” adjudication on environmental matters is still a major problem for us and the Agency would be happy to partner with the NBA in this area”.
The DG said that the Agency would like to host a workshop for the judiciary so that the NBA Abuja branch can anchor the event and deliver papers to sensitize the judiciary on what is required when considering environmental matters laid before their various courts.
He further craved the indulgence of NBA Abuja Branch to lay emphasis on the challenges facing the Agency when carry out advocacy on its behalf.
On the issue of the Abuja Bar Centre, the DG, NOSDRA stated that the agency will give its support within the limits of its powers. He also accepted to host one of the NBA Abuja Branch meetings and that the modalities should be communicated to the Director of Legal Services of the Agency.
The Chairman of the Branch, Ms. Hauwa Shekarau assured the DG, NOSDRA that the branch is willing and ready to support the Agency in achieving its mandate through its Legislative Advocacy Committee and the Committee on Inter-Agency Relations.
The Secretary of the Branch, Prince Adebiyi Adetosoye in giving the vote of thanks expressed gratitude to the DG, NOSDRA for hosting the EXCO and for accepting to partner with the Branch.
He also stated that the courtesy visited has given the NBA Abuja Branch EXCO the opportunity to understand better what the Agency does.