June 11, 2024

BoB crisis: Twist as ex-S’Court Justice Mary Odili disowns ex-NBA chief, Alegeh

Justice Odili

Justice Mary Odili

By Ise-Oluwa Ige

A former Justice of the Supreme Court and immediate past Chairman of the Body of Benchers, BoB, Justice Mary Odili has disowned the appointment of a former President of Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, as the Chairman of BoB’s Appointment Committee.

Justice Odili, in a letter dated June 3, 2024, and addressed to her successor, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, said she was not aware of the appointment as claimed by the Secretary of the Body of Benchers, Daniel Tela.

The letter sighted by Vanguard, reads: “I have just got a copy of the letter signed by Tela, Secretary, Body of Benchers on the above titled subject dated March 28, 2024.

“It is with great shock to read the content of the letter which in effect means that I,  as outgoing Chairman of the Body of Benchers, authorised the said appointment.

“I could not have embarked on such an appointment of Alegeh, SAN as Chairman of Appointment Committee for the following reasons:

“I had made it known to the administration that I had no interest in reconfiguring the Appointment Committee during my tenure.

“I could not have embarked on such a process on the day I chaired the last meeting of my tenure, which meant that the appointment would not be presented to the House for approval before the letter to the candidate.

“I would not have entered into the restructuring of the Appointments Committee without reference to the vice-chairman with whom I worked as a team.

“I am placing above views on record to clarify the situation which is clearly an embarrassment to me and yourself, Chairman of Body of Benchers.

“Therefore, I urge that the anomaly should be rectified and my person removed from being part of the said appointment of Alegeh, SAN as chairman of the Appointment Committee.

“I want to, therefore, categorically state that I did not make that appointment,” she added.

BoB is the legal body of practitioners of the highest distinction in the legal profession, which is responsible for the formal call to the Bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners as well as disciplining of erring lawyers.

The Appointment Committee is one of the key organs of BoB which vets nominees for membership of the august body.

Awomolo took over the leadership of BoB from Justice Peter-Odili on April 1, 2024 and reconstituted some of the BoB’s committees including its Appointment Committee hitherto headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal,  Justice Umaru Abdullahi, having done two terms which expired in February 2024.

Awomolo,  upon assumption of office, had directed the body’s Secretary, Daniel Tella to issue letters to the new members of the Appointment Committee with Prof. Yusuf Ali, SAN, as its chairman.

But following the appointment of Prof. Ali, SAN, as the new chairman of the Appointment Committee, former NBA President, Mr. Alegeh, went before a Federal High Court, Lagos, to seek an order for Chief Awomolo to recognise him as the authentic chairman of the Appointment Committee.