BY IKECHUKWU NNOCHIRI
ABUJA – The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, yesterday, said it would not participate in the proposed National Conference, except the federal government, agreed to include more lawyers in the process.
In a statement it issued in Abuja Friday, NBA which is the umbrella body of lawyers in the country, said it received with utmost disappointment, the statement credited to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, which requested the association to nominate one delegate to the upcoming National Conference.
In the protest letter signed by its National President, Chief Okey Wali, SAN, NBA, argued that “In view of the fact that so many legal issues will be addressed at the National Conference, it is only fitting and proper for the umbrella association of all lawyers in Nigeria, the NBA, to have more than one delegate at the National conference.
“This is an area we are supposed to possess enormous expertise and will definitely add a lot of value to the process. We do not want to think that our expertise is neither appreciated nor welcome. This is not glory seeking, this is about adding value to the process, because the good of this country, is the good of the Bar and so we are determined to give whatever is needed to make our country great.
“We do not believe that the single slot given to the Nigerian Bar Association will be impactive enough, and so, we request that you, please, reconsider the one slot offer to the Nigerian Bar Association, as we regrettably will be unable to accept that offer. We hold it in your favour that this may very well be an oversight and that the Federal government will have no difficulty in revisiting the issue”, it added.
Besides, Wali, SAN, contended that “NBA is a membership based professional and legal organization of all Lawyers in Nigeria with 104 branches across the 36 states and Abuja, organized into various practice sections, fora, institutes and committees. The Nigerian Bar Association speaks for the legal profession, that is, the Bar and Bench.
“Over the years, a National Conference of this nature has been one of the imperatives that define the priorities of the Nigerian Bar Association, infact, it was a past President of the Nigerian Bar Association; the Late Alao-Aka Bashorun, that first called for a National Conference and since then, the Nigerian Bar Association has been in the forefront of the National Conference discourse.
“To demonstrate our seriousness and commitment to a successful National conference, we had on the 7th of January, 2014 set up the Nigerian Bar Association National conference committee under the Chairmanship of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, with a Senior Advocate of Nigeria as the Secretary (the only committee or forum or section of the Nigerian Bar Association with a Senior Advocate of Nigeria as secretary).
He added, “We write to place on record our dissatisfaction with the list of conference delegates, particularly, when put against representations from some other organizations and bodies: Elder Statesmen – 37 delegates; Retired Military and Security Personnel – 18 delegates; Traditional Rulers: – 13 delegates; Retired Civil Servants: – 6 delegates; Labour Representatives: Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC – 12 delegates; Trade Union Congress, TUC – 12 delegates; The Organized Private Sector: NECA – 2 delegates; MAN – 2 delegates; NACCIMA 2 delegates; NESG – 2 delegates.
“Nigeria Youth Organisations: National Youth Council of Nigerian – 6 delegates; National Association of Nigerian Students 6 delegates; “other” (Outstanding Youths & Role Models) 6 delegates; Women Groups: National Council Of Women Society – 12 delegates; Market Women Association – 6 delegates; FIDA – 2 delegates; NAWOJ – 2 delegates; WINBIZ – 2 delegates;
“Political Parties: Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, – 2 delegates; All Progressives Congress, APC, – 2 delegates; All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, 2 delegates; Accord Party,AP – 2 delegates; Labour Party, LP, – 2 delegates; Religious Leaders: Christian Leaders – 6 delegates; Muslim Leaders – 6 delegates; Civil Society Organisations – 24 delegates;
“Nigerians in Diaspora: Europe – 2 delegates; America – 2 delegates; Africa – 2 delegates; Asia – 2 delegates; Middle East – 2 delegates; People Living with Disabilities – 6 delegates, Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria, – 2 delegates; Nigeria Guild of Editors, – 2 delegates; Nigeria Union of Journalists and the – 2 delegates; Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria – 2 delegates; Socio – Political/ Cultural and Ethnic Nationality Groups 15 delegates.”