Say split not solution to problems in the Bar
By Henry Ojelu & Onozure Dania
Some lawyers have faulted the claim by the conveners of New Nigerian Bar Association, NNBA that over 5000 practitioners have registered to become members of the new association.
One of the conveners of the new NBA, Abdulbasit Suleiman had yesterday said that more than 5,000 lawyers have registered to join the newly-formed association.
But lawyers who spoke to Vanguard challenged the co-convener to publish the names of lawyers who have joined the association insisting that forming a new body is not the solution to the problems in the NBA.
Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kenneth Ahia in his reaction noted that it is possible 5,000 names have registered with the association but highly improbable that those who registered are lawyers.
On his part, Abiodun Owonikoko, SAN, said it is not possible to verify the claim by the new association. He said, “It’s not possible for me to verify that claim and I don’t think it’s helpful to promote such endeavors.
Is it a registered body? And are there two Bars in Nigeria? We have only one BAR; only one law school , and every lawyer has a right of audience as legal practitioner everywhere in Nigeria regardless of his / state of origin , religion , ethnic group or physical address of his/her practice.
Former 2nd Vice-President of NBA, Monday Ubani in his reaction said, “5000 lawyers in a country with over 200,000 lawyers? I do not only doubt the claim, I also doubt the possibility of a parallel NBA without adhering to process and procedure to bring that into existence.”
Chief Morah Ekwunoh noted that despite its claim on membership cannot supplant the NBA which is a creation of law.
According to him, “No doubts, freedom of association is cast in iron and steel, in section 40, Chapter 1V, of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the New NBA under reference, notwithstanding it’s professed numerical strength, cannot, in law, supplant or torpedo the NBA under the leadership of Olumide Akpata, since the latter enjoys great statutory flavours clearly lacking in the former, being a creation of law.
Also reacting to the issue, Ige Asemudara said, “I don’t know who these conveners are. I also don’t know what is called the New NBA. As a matter of fact, I don’t know one single lawyer in Nigeria who has dissociated himself from the NBA.
As lawyers, we know how not to be associated with an association. If you form a new NBA or a new association of lawyers by whatever name called, are you going to form another one again when a crisis erupts?
Another lawyer Sonnie Elimihe pointed out that for a new NBA to emerge there must be an amendment to the legal practitioners’ act. “There is nothing like the New NBA.
NBA is not a religious organization that somebody can just wake up and set up. The Nigerian Bar Association is governed by laws and statutes. For there to be any other body known as New NBA, the legal practitioners’ Act must be subject to Amendments,” he said.
Prince Adesola Abimbola in his reaction said the time and reason for the emergence of the new association was wrong. He said, “They have a right to form their association under the constitution but the time and reason seems not to support their action.
We have ICAN and ANAN. But what has changed? Until NBA follows ICAN in electing its officers we shall continue to have problems.”
Destiny Takon said the conveners of the new association should be treated with ignominy. “My take is to treat the said conveners with ignominy because this sort of discussion even helps to award undue significance or regard to the sad and dumb idea of dividing the NBA in Nigeria,” he said.