The 12th National Conference of the Catholic Law Students Association of Nigeria tagged Ojo Agba 2017 with the theme, The Church: Awakening Moral Consciousness in the Dynamics of Societal Laws which held between 8-12th of November, 2017 at the Kogi State University, Anyigba ended successfully on Sunday, 12th November, 2017 with a renewed zeal by the delegates at the conference to remain part of the family.
The Catholic Law Students Association of Nigeria (CALSAN) is a body of all Catholic Students of all Faculties of Law in Nigerian universities, whose aim is to indoctrinate the imprints of Catholicism into the Nigerian legal system and promote the spiritual growth and well being of members based entirely on the teachings of Jesus Christ as professed by the Holy Catholic Church; to help students reflect on what it means to be a Catholic lawyer and to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church as it affects the legal profession.
The association is recognized and approved by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria, with a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Kumai Bayang Aka’ahs JSC as grand patron with chapters in all law faculties of Nigerian Universities.
The annual conference has a tripartite perspective of spiritual, academic and social growth.
In the spiritual realm, the conference afforded Catholic Law Students across Nigeria the opportunity to retreat from the distractions of life and reflect on the fountain of mercy of God who is ever ready and willing to receive all who turn to him.
The readings of the opening mass which was celebrated by the Chaplain of Kogi State University, Very Revd. Fr. Dr. John Abuh and concelebrated by other Reverend Fathers which coincidentally was the feast of the dedication of the Lateran basilica reminded all to rededicate themselves to the God who is love and compassion and ever willing to forgive our transgressions whenever we return to him so as to be sure to see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.
Delegates at the conference also visited and prayed at the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament of Holy Ghost Sisters Convent, Ankpa, Kogi State, that is, the place of the Bleeding of the Blessed Sacrament (which occurred on the 26th of February, 2016) and also prayed at the Grotto of Our Lady Mother of Mercy and Mother of the Universe which was erected at the request of our mother Mary after her stature in the chapel also bled blood exactly one month after that of the host, that is on the 26th March, 2016.
Delegates were led through these prayers by Very Rev. Fr. Godwin Obaje, the Chaplain of the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. Prayers were offered for private and individual intentions, families, academic endeavours, our schools and for our dear country Nigeria.
In the academic perspective, the conference featured lectures, paper presentations and symposiums on germane academic issues, ranging from leadership and meaningful contribution of youths in the Nigerian project, the abounding opportunities for legal practitioners in the entertainment industry in Nigeria and how the church can affect or reshape legalism.
The conference also deliberated through debates on topical issues such as same sex unions; abortion; in vitro fertilization, and independence of the judiciary.
On same sex unions, the stance of the Holy Catholic Church was restated to the effect that same sex unions are unfavorable environment for children and that the legalization of such unions is harmful to the society.
The catechism of the catholic church (2358-2359) holds that homosexuality and lesbianism are contrary to natural law and do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity and under no circumstances can they be approved.
On the issue of in vitro fertilization, the conference analyzed and found that it has enormous religious implications hence the teaching of the Holy Roman Catholic Church on the subject matter. The Church teaches that even though the Church pays great attention to the suffering couples with infertility, she cares for them and precisely because of this encourages medical research but that the Church does not permit the lure of the technology of artificial insemination and calls on couples to “cooperate with God in the creation of a new humanity”.
Catholic teaching prohibits in vitro fertilization, maintaining that a child has the right to be conceived in the marital embrace of his parents. The discourse was that IVF makes the child a commodity produced in the laboratory, and makes doctors, technicians and even business people part of the conception process.
The sperm used is usually obtained by masturbation, which the church teaches is immoral, holding that the Catholic Church’s view is that the child is a gift from God, not a right as contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2373 – 2379.
On abortion, the conference noted that the Catholic Church is “Pro-Life” and opposes all forms of abortion procedure whose direct purpose is to destroy an embryo, blastocyst, zygote or fetus, since she holds that human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. That from the moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
However, it does recognize as morally legitimate certain acts which indirectly result in the death of the fetus, as when the direct purpose is removal of cancerous womb. See Canon 1398 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.
On independence of the Judiciary, the conference noted that the constitution has amply made elaborate provisions with a view to ensuring judicial independence to insulate the judiciary against interference especially from the executive arm.
It was noted that a corrupt judge is the most wasteful indulgence of the community as even the Holy Bible tells us in Deuteronomy 16:18 to appoint Judges who will judge the people impartially. The Book of Amos 5:24 admonishes Christians to let justice flow like a river and righteousness like a never failing stream, which has become trite in law that justice be done though the heavens fall expressed in the roman maxim “Fiat Justitia ruat caelum”. The conference noted that only an independent judiciary guarantees this.
In the social perspective, the conference afforded all the delegates the opportunity of interaction and cross fertilization of ideas and making of new friends without ethnic barriers as the delegates were drawn from every part of the country. The conference also provided delegates with the opportunity of showcasing Nigeria’s vast and beautiful cultural heritage, which depicted our unity in diversity.
It also featured a beauty pageant, which saw to the emergence of a Mr. CALSAN from University of Jos, and Miss CALSAN from Kogi State University.
Also at the conference, there was a John Cardinal Onaiyekan National Football Competition between Team CALSAN A and Team CALSAN B with players of each team drawn from all universities at the conference, and the game ended in a Two goals to One (2-1) in favour of Team CALSAN B.
As it is a sine qua non of the legal profession, there was also a dinner to climax activities of the 4day event, which culminated into a general assembly. The general assembly is the highest organ and decision making body of the Association where crucial matters of the Association are discussed and new officials also elected.
At the general assembly the Grand Patron of the Association, Justice Kumai Bayang Aka’ahs JSC who was unavoidably absent sent his goodwill through a former National President of CALSAN, Mr. Philip Tsado.
At the end of the general assembly, the following persons were elected to run the affairs of the Catholic Law Students Association of Nigeria for the next one year.
Miss Kosi Umeh from Enugu State University of Science and Technology was elected National President. Mr. Emmanuel Gabadi from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Vice President. Mr. Vincent Onuh from Kogi State University was elected the National Secretary, while Mr. Paul Ordam from Benue State University was elected the Deputy National Secretary.
Others elected include Mr. Dennis Nnamani as Treasurer from Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Mr. Victor Panda Agazie from Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (formerly Anambra State University) as the National Public Relations Officer, while Mr. Michael Kenechukwu from Enugu State University of Science and Technology was elected Prayer Secretary and Mr. Odufuwa Oluwatobi from Obafemi Awolowo University elected as the Financial Secretary and Mr. Paul Alloy from the University of Jos elected as the National Provost.
In her acceptance speech, the first female National President thanked CALSAN and promised to leave CALSAN better and more united than she found it with the help of God.
The 12th National Conference may have come and gone, but its impact in the lives of CALSANites cannot be measured.
Mr. Msughter Paul Michael Ordam
Deputy National Secretary