NACL: Promoting the rule of law

By Adewale Kupoluyi

A unique opportunity was given to members of the National Association of Catholic Lawyers (NACL), Ibadan Province, to present a progress report of its activities by putting on the table, the association’s vision and mission at both the national and provincial levels, based on positive ideals to move the NACL forward. The progress report, which was jointly signed by the NACL Provincial Protem President, Mr. Michael Agbolade and Provincial Protem Representative, Magistrate Franca Olaiya, was presented by Agbolade to church leaders. According to the Protem Provincial Chairman, the report covered a period of one year from 2023 to 2024, and was delivered during the last meeting of the Catholic Bishops of Ibadan Ecclesiastical Province, held in Ibadan, Oyo State, which comprise Ibadan Archdiocese, Ilorin, Ondo, Oyo, Ekiti and Osogbo dioceses.

Agbolade said that at the inauguration of the association in Ibadan in 2015, the activities of NACL had centered around Ibadan Archdiocese until the plenary meeting of the Bishops in Ibadan 2023, noting that “We were challenged then by our Bishops to make the association to operate and function effectively in the Archdiocese of Ibadan and dioceses of Oyo, Osogbo, Ekiti, Ondo and Ilorin. We took the bull by the horn with the support of St. Augustine Pastoral Regional Institute (SAPRI), Ede and organised a provincial summit tagged ‘Ede 2023′, which was facilitated by V. Rev. Fr. Joseph Aladejana, with the approval of the Regional Chairman of the Institute, Archbishop Alfred Adewale Martins, with the Bishop of Osogbo, Bishop John Oyejola giving the permission to host the meeting having sent his goodwill message through the Director of SAPRI”.

He disclosed that the NACL summit brings together Catholic lawyers and judicial officers to champion a common goal, stating further that the body invited representatives of lawyers in the Ibadan Province, Abeokuta, Ijebu-Ode and Lagos Archdiocese for the event while three dioceses sent their delegates from Ibadan, Ekiti and Ilorin. At the end of the gathering, the protem officers issued communique on the decisions taken that had already been widely published. The officers, who are to be in office till the year 2026, are the President, Mr. Michael Agbolade; Secretary, Mr. Ekene Luke Mbam; Financial Secretary, Mr. Thomas Layi Obisesan; Public Relations Officer, Dr. Adewale Kupoluyi; Provincial Representative, Chief Magistrate Franca Olaiya; while the National Legal Adviser is Mr. Kelly Ogbe.

Agbolade appreciated the support given by the President of the Provincial Laity Council, Mr. Bernard Salako alongside the Chaplain, Rev. Fr. Paul Akinyode. At the national level, he reported that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) had appointed a National Chaplain for NACL, Rev. Fr. Joseph Ilorah, and that at the provincial level, Hon. Justice Peter Olabisi Ige, JCA (Rtd) is now the National Trustee from the Ibadan Archdiocese while Mr. Titus Ashaolu (SAN) is the Provincial Patron from the Ilorin Diocese, saying all the appointments had been communicated to the NACL National President, Hon. Edward Ogar, which is to be ratified soon. Agbolade used the occasion to congratulate Bishop Anselm Pendo Lawani on his consecration as the new Bishop of Ilorin Diocese and wished him a successful tenure to shepherd the flock entrusted to his care by the church. The Provincial President had informed that great efforts were put in place since 1994 to bring practitioners of law, who are Catholic members, under one body in view of what operates within the umbrella body of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and and other bodies that Catholic lawyers belong to.

Such groups, he said, should be officially notified about the existence of the association and they should be carried along. He revealed that potential members can be recruited from paralegal officers, policemen and journalists, among others. On the legal profession and practice, Agbolade said NACL should provide any existing opportunities for members when it comes to appointments, promotions, and business openings, to serve as a good source of membership recruitment and that, “the association shall cooperate with the ecclesiastical authorities of the Province and be dedicated to the cause of the Catholic church in the promotion of the gospel message of salvation. It shall promote love, unity and progress among all people in Ibadan Province, Nigeria, and the whole world”, he said.

The need for synergy was equally highlighted, and that for the aims and objectives of NACL to be achieved, there is the imperative for such an active synergy in the Provinces of Ibadan as well as Lagos; being close to Ibadan Province. This would make it possible for the archdioceses and other dioceses to assist others to be more active. Agbolade did not end his message without expressing his profound appreciation to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Ibadan, Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel ‘Leke Abegunrin, and other Bishops for their outstanding contributions to the development of the association over the years. The National Association of Catholic Lawyers (NACL) is dedicated to upholding justice by bringing together Catholic lawyers, judicial officers, and paralegal from across the country to work towards a just, equitable society as well as promoting the rule of law in Nigeria.