The Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday said the adoption of an autonomous flag, coat of arms and anthem by Bayelsa State, and some other states in the country, was illegal.
Equally condemned as unconstitutional by the NBA was the recent declaration of independence by Ogoniland.
Outgoing NBA National President, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, stated the association’s position on the developments while addressing journalists in Abuja, ahead of the 2012 NBA Annual General Conference, which comes up between August 26 and 31.
The recent moves by Bayelsa State and the people of Ogoni have been interpreted in some quarters as acts of secession.
The NBA President said, “It is unconstitutional for any section of this country to break away or take any action that suggests that it wishes to secede from the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“There is no constitutional provision that allows for a flag other than the Nigerian flag, or any anthem other than the national anthem.”
He quickly clarified that there was nothing wrong with a state adopting a slogan or jingle to promote its unique qualities but stressed that when such a move suggests self determination, then it becomes illegal.
Daudu said, “What I have in mind is when you go ahead to declare that you have a right to self determination. When you have a jingle extolling the virtues of your state there is no problem with that.
“When it is promoting the culture and traditions of the state, that is permissible.
“But when the language used is self determination, that is secessionist.
“We must draw a clear line between the things that extol the virtues of a state and actions that promote self determination.”
Bayelsa State, the home state of President Goodluck Jonathan, recently announced that it would roll out its flag, coat of arms and an anthem.
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson, in a statement by his Press Secretary, Daniel Iworiso-Markson, also said the flag, coat of arms and flag would forge a common identity for the Ijaws.
The governor said nine other states include Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Ekiti, Kwara, Cross River and Rivers – had taken similar steps.
The introduction of a new anthem, coat of arms, new school uniform and other emblems by governor Rauf Aregbesola of the Action Congress of Nigeria in Osun State led to a face-off between state government and the Federal Government.
The Federal Government accused the governor of attempting to effect the secession of the state from the country.
It will also be recalled that the people of Ogoni in Rivers State, had, on August 2, 2012, declared political autonomy.
Daudu at the news conference also dismissed the allegations of electoral fraud made by a presidential candidate in the recent NBA national elections, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN.