*Faction led by core north calls self “New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA)”
*Group keeps mum on law graduates of NOUN
By Myke Uzendu
The rankle which crept into the ranks of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) following the decision of the National leadership of the body of learned professionals to diss-invite the controversial Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir el-Rufai, took a dangerous twist as a faction led by lawyers from the core North indicated that it would soon be inaugurated as an independent body.
A statement signed by two Northern lawyers who are the Conveners, Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman, stated so.
The new group said its decision was informed by the recent developments in the NBA following their disagreement over el-Rufai.
But the group, which projected itself as puritan, however made no comment on the fate of over 1,800 law graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) who were denied admission to the Nigerian Law School (NLS) in spite of passing all prescribed examinations like their counterparts in other universities in the country.
The NNBA, which said it is pro-North, did not say a word on why they decided to keep mum while their Northern brothers and sisters who graduated in the Law Faculty of the NOUN should be denied admission to the NLS even when several others with certificates from foreign universities, which did not pass through the accreditation grills of the National Universities Commission (NUC), were being admitted into the NLS, raising questions on their claimed Puritanism and human rights posture.
In a statement, the group noted that the recent rumblings from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is leaving much to be desired within the ranks of Concerned Lawyers especially from Northern part of the country.
The group stated that, “what has been happening recently has exposed the inability of the NBA to manage and contain the heterogeneity of it’s members as well as their various interests. It’s penal powers has been deployed discriminatively on the basis of ethnicity and regionalism.”
They said: “As a body of Lawyers who have undergone training towards ensuring the promotion and protection of Human rights and liberties, the NBA is supposed to live above sentiments, regionalism and discrimination on any basis and of any kind.
“Therefore, the NBA cannot afford to be seen not to be upholding the rights and freedom of its own members if at all, it should be seen to be practicing what it preaches.
“As the Hausa saying goes: *Idan Kura tana maganin zaho, ta yi ma kanta*(If Hyena has cure for diarrhoea let her use it for herself).”
It noted that the NNBA has been observing the activities of the NBA “we all looked forward to joining with high hopes before being called to the Nigerian Bar, forcing idiosyncrasies of few on the majority of its members especially in recent times.
No wonder, NBA NEC, which is the highest decision-making organ of the Association failed to uphold the fundamental principles of fair hearing which in itself, is the fundamental aspect of Rule of Law, on the allegations against the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai as were contained in a petition by Chidi Odinkalu Esq, a long time foe of His Excellency and a Lawyer of Eastern extraction, but the NBA failed to extend the same treatment to Southern invitees who were also petitioned and are also alleged to have committed similar or more human rights abuses than those alleged against Mallam El-Rufai.”
According to the group, the
NNBA feels that, lawyers, as professionals like doctors and accountants should have more than one association regulated by the General Council of the Bar.
“The Legal Practitioners Act (LPA) which regulates the legal profession in Nigeria did not establish the NBA.
“In fact, the NBA was established as an Incorporated Trustee by Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
“It is no longer gainsaying that a group of Lawyers can freely join any lawful Association for the protection of their rights and interests as Lawyers and citizens of Nigeria pursuant to the above cited Section 40 of the Constitution.
“Even Section 1of the Legal Practitioners Act, which seemingly conscripted all Lawyers in Nigeria to Mandatory Membership of NBA is, for all intents and purposes, at loggerheads with Section 40 of the Constitution which makes the former null and void and of no effect whatsoever,” the group stated.
They stated that “some Lawyers of like mind and duly called to the Nigerian Bar have decided to form NNBA with the aim of protecting their interests as encapsulated under Section 40 of the Constitution”
The NNBA said members of the group have commenced consultations with very Senior Lawyers of Northern Nigeria extraction and those practising therein with the view to constituting the Trustees and for purposes of fixing date for formal inauguration of the Association.