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Communique Issued by the African Bar Association At the Close of Her 2017 Annual Conference

African Bar Association, Association Du Barreau African

Communique Issued by the African Bar Association At the Close of Her 2017 Annual Conference Held From the 6th To the 10th Day of August 2017 At the Hotel Presidential, Port-Harcourt, Rivers State Of Nigeria

INTRODUCTION 

1, The 2017 Annual Conference of the African Bar Association was held at the Hotel Presidential. Port.Harcourt, Rivers State of Nigeria from the 6- to the 10′ day of August 2017, the theme of the Conference was “DISSECTING THE LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR DOING BUSINESS IN AFRICA”. 

2. The Annual Conference of the African Bar Association is a veritable platform for African Lawyers, Judges. Academics, and other stakeholders in the Legal Profession to learn, exchange ideas, retool, reflect upon and proffer solutions to the challenges confronting the Legal Profession, Administration of Justice, Rule of Law, Democracy and development in Africa.

1 The Conference was declared open on Monday 7 August 2017 by the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike CON AND The keynote speaker was His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. immediate past President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

4. The Conference received Goodwill Messages from The Hon. Attorney-General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abubakar Maier* SAN, the Honourable The Chief Justice of the federal Republic of Nigeria. Hon Justice W.S.N. Onnoghen, GCON and the Governor of Sokoto State of Nigeria, lam Excellency Rt. Hon. Arninu Waziri Tambuwal CFR.. the Secretary-General of the Ruling Party of Burundi, Gen, Evariste Ndayishimiye, the Attorney General of Sierra Leone, Mr. Joseph Fitzgerald Kamara, Dr. Elibrachy Bahielden, Vice President AFBA North Africa, Seydou Doumbia of Mali.

5. Also in attendance were the Deputy Governor of Rivers State, Dr Mrs, 1palibo Harry Banigo, and other members of the Rivers State Executive Council, the Tanzanian High Commissioner to Nigeria. Amb, Elias Mwandobo, the Vice President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association, Chief Charles Taku, the General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA) Mr. ‘slake Olagun(u Abide. Esq who represented the President of the NBA, A. B. Mahmoud, 00N, SAN, Honourable Judges.

Past President of the African Bar Association, Mr, Charles Idehen. Past Presidents of the NBA, Chief 0. C.’‘i Okocha, SAN and Mr. J.B Daudu, SAN who is the Chairman of the Governing Council of the African Bar Association, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo President of the African BarMsociation, Mr. Nyamodi Ochieng Nyamogo Senior Vice President and Mr, Ibrahim Mark, Vice President (Budget & Finance), Rhoda Nuni, Vice President, AFBA West Africa and other Council and Executive members of the African Bar Association, Athali Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, the Chairman, Nigerian Forum of the African Bar Association, Sir Celestine Omehia, GSSRS, former Governor of Rivers State, Chief Mrs. Josephine Anenih, former Minister of Women Affairs, Federal Republic of Nigeria. Senior Advocates of Nigeria, officials and members of the NBA, Lawyers. delegates and other participants from Botswana, Burundi, Cameroun, Canada, Egypt. Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Nigeria. Portugal, Sierra Leone, South Africa. & the USA. There where delegates from the Armed Forces. Police, Customs and Members of the Press.

CONFERENCE OVERVIEW

6, The 2017 Annual Conference of the African Bar Association consisted of an opening ceremony, nineteen (18) Parallel Sessions on different areas and interests touching on the legal and regulatory framework of business, two workshops and a Plenary session. Papers were presented by reputable speakers and experts on the various topics for discussion and participants made comments and asked questions. There were several receptions, luncheons, dinners, and musical extravaganza.

RESOLUTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

7, Upon due consideration of the papers presented, the comments and reports received at the conference The African Bar Association makes the following recommendations and resolutions:

(1) Africa lags behind other continents significantly in the ease of doing business in the region. To aggressively develop the African continent, the legal and regulatory framework for doing business in Africa must be examined evaluated as the ease of doing business in Africa is a sure way to promote economic development in the continent Without investment, the continent of Africa will be unable to develop as its massive natural resources will be nothing other than ‘dead capital’,

(2) Attracting investments should be top priority for Africa as investment is the food and oxygen that nourishes the economy and which will transform Africa’s natural resources into quality goods and services. There is therefore the need for governments in Africa to give attention to and work on improving the investment climate in the region as creating a business friendly environment is a sine qua non for investment and the growth of business which leads to development,

(3) Emphasis should also be placed on attracting investments in areas that benefit the larger populace of Africa and not just the extractive industries. Investment policies and contracts must be designed and structured to benefit the African nation.

(4) In sourcing for investors, governments must deliberately strive to encourage investment from local entrepreneurs. African countries must recognize the unique challenges and weaknesses of local entrepreneurs/investors and improve on them, Investment laws and policies must be designed and structured to benefit equitably both local and foreign investors.

(5) To make Africa a perfect investment haven for doing business, there is also need for political stability in African countries as peaceful co-existence on the African continent will promote trade and greater integration and shared vision among the countries in the region is a sure way to grow a more prosperous and humane Africa, All African nations are therefore urged to strive to ensure peace within their borders,

(6) In addition to peace and stability, democracy, strong institutions of government, a strong and

independent judiciary, predictability of Government actions/policies, and enforcement of the rule of law
are at essential to doing business in Africa and must be practiced to make Africa a perfect investment opportunity.

(7) Members of the legal profession must collaborate and integrate among themselves for a more vibrant legal profession centered on building an effective legal framework for doing business in Africa (8) Business activities impact Oil human rights for instance in cases of expropriation by governments, forceful evictions, inadequate compensation etc. This makes it necessary that due attention be paid to the impact of business practices on human rights in Africa, Many African countries do not have adequate laws and policies governing corporate accountability for human rights.

(9) The African Bar Association observes that there is sometimes lack of transparency in government acquisition and allocation of and in Africa. The association therefore urges African governments to enact laws for the orderly and transparent allocation or acquisition of land.

(10) To enhance business opportunities in Africa, there is need to ease the movement of persons and goods from one African country to another, To this end, African countries and regional bodies are urged to integrate themselves into regional economic blocs and to harmonise their immigration policies.

(11) African Countries must expedite and ease their judicial processes including judgment enforcement, Lengthy dispute resolution processes hamper business activities as they introduce uncertainty and push the citizens to self-help and turn away investors. To this end governments around Africa must obey court orders and pay damages or other compensation where required to do so by the courts.

12) Africa’s infrastructural and regulatory framework for trade is unstable and African countries are urged to improve on their infrastructure deficit and regulations

(13) The Conference received a report that the Nigerian Army has set up Human Rights Centers outside the Military Barracks across the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Conference commends the Nigerian Army and urges all Military and Security Authorities across the African Continent to emulate this example and courageous step: This is against the background of series of complaints of alleged Human Rights abuses by the Nigerian Armed Forces leveled against it by Local and International bodies.

(14) However. the African Bar Association wilt like to see Human Rights Centers that function optimally and in a way that it is well funded, with the right Personnel, appropriate investigative tools and its independence secured. In this regard, the African Bar Association will be willing to assist the Nigerian Armed Forces to attain these goals is order to meet with its Local and International obligations.

(15) The Conference also received reports of the arrest and detention of the President of the Tangayinka Law Society in Tanzania and mandated the Executive Committee of the African Bar Association to wade in, dialogue with the Government, secure the release of our colleagues if he has not been released and resolve all issues that led to this unfortunate situation.

(16) The African Bar Association observes the rampant disobedience of Court orders and judgments especially the Regional Courts and call on African Countries to respect. obey and enforce all municipal and Regional Court orders and judgments.

(17) The Association has observed with grave concern the human rights and dictatorial abuses perpetrated by the Government of the Republic of Cameroun on her citizens of Southern Cameroun and especially on members of the legal profession for calling for the enforcement of the Constitution of Cameroun that provides for a bi-lingual state.

Of particular worry is the arrest and illegal detention of judges, lecturers, students and the Vice President of the African Bar Association, in charge of Central Africa, Mr. Felix Agbor Nkongho. an advocate for human and people’s rights who was arrested without a warrant since 17 January 2017 and arraigned before a military tribunal on the trumped-up charges of terrorism, treason and other capital offences because of his political opinions.

The African Bar Association calls on President Paul Beta of Cameroun to respect the Constitution of Cameroun and immediately release Me Felix Agbor Nkongho and other illegally detained persons in Cameroun, to act ‘erisely, responsibly and in the interest of the citizens of Cameroun and to abide by the tenets of d e mocra cy and the rule of law.

APPRECIATION 

18. The African Bar Association is grateful to the Government and good people of Rivers State Nigeria for facilitating a wonderful and peaceful Conference. The Association noted the great strides in development being made in the state and commended His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike CON, Governor of Rivers State, for the giant strides.

The Association equally appreciates the presence and worthy presentation of the key note speaker, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, the immediate past President of the United Republic of Tanzania, whose paper ignited robust discussion. We also appreciate the various speakers that made the breakout sessions enriching in knowledge and delegates that attended all the sessions.

Signed:
Hannibal Uwaifo
President

Flaviana Charles 

Secretary General 

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