The ‘Northern Lawyers’ and NOUN Law Graduates conundrum

By Malachy Uzendu

Northern lawyers, who last week, announced the founding of New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA)” have set a new agenda. The conveners, Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman, are extremely smart lawyers. They expressed unparalleled sadness that their Man-Friday, Nasir el-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State, was diss-invited among other guest speakers, at the conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

They are piqued that human rights activist, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu Esq, penned down strong and convincing petition chronicling what his group considered as extreme human right violations, either allegedly carried out by the governor by himself, through his cronies, or that received his tacit approval, and these were of dangerously bloodletting magnitude. These lawyers who said they are from the core North, indicated that it’s NNBA would soon be inaugurated as an independent body.

But, they were clever by half. They pretended to be propelled by patriotic zeal to stand up in defence of Alhaji el-Rufai. They claimed that the actions of the NBA diss-inviting el-Rufai split their soul, their heart, their spinal cord, and that the North have been hit with a tornado akin to an intercontinental ballistic missile.
I am wondering the kind of folks citizens Ibrahim and Suleiman are as they never lifted their fingers in protest or to pen down anything before now, even as thousands of their self-acclaimed Northern folks were being mowed down by Islamic terrorist groups (Boko Haram, the other terrorist group called Ansaru, Islamic State of West Africa, Fulani Herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits, etc, etc).

These two self-acclaimed Northern patriots never for once before the el-Rufai disinvitation, called for the split of NBA or other groups they belonged to, even as seversl of their brothers and sisters of Northern extraction from Adamawa, Borno, Taraba, Kano, Kaduna, Yobe, Zamfara, Katsina, Plateau, Benue, Nasarawa, Bauchi, Kwara, Sokoto, Niger and Nasarawa states, were being cut down both in old age and in their prime, their buildings razed and their farmland overrun by criminals, while people from affected areas have remained homeless for years, taking refuge under less than human conditions, at the several Internally Displaced Persons Camps.

They see nothing wrong in the extremely terribly bad road network spanning across the Northern and other parts of the country.

They see nothing wrong in the gangsterism being masqueraded as election in the Northern and other parts of the country, with most recent example of the last governorship election in Kogi state. Edo state governorship election is loading, while I eagerly await if Ibrahim and Suleiman would do anything to prevent our Professors from putting shame on their professorial pedigree and academics in general by their shamelessly lending themselves to electoral infamy. Let’s hope those professors will not ask for light, extra light; ruler, longer ruler; water more bottles of water. Shameless people! Still wondering what they told their children and students after those infamous outing.

I hope Ibrahim, Suleiman and others treading their path are clear headed and their intellectual acuity very much in tact even as our judiciary are gradually degenerating, making itself a laughing stock, with all manner of inexplicable judgements reeled out from the bench of Magistrates Courts up to the Supreme Court. These two Mr. Right see nothing wrong with the plethora of judgments bereft of justice that are gradually becoming the norm, most unfortunately, in Nigeria’s judicial system.

They see nothing wrong with so-called national security gradually, but steadily, taking precedence over the rule of law. They see nothing wrong with Nigeria steadily turning to a Banana Republic, with systematic but gradual dissecretion of the sacred principle of electoral franchise which emphasises one-man-one-vote; one-woman-one-vote; one-youth-one-vote, being replaced by manipulated results compiled from ghost polling/collation centers, yet accepted by both the electoral umpire and the courts.

It will be appropriate at this point to remind Ibrahim, Suleiman and their membership of NNBA that there are over 1,800 law graduates of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), many of who are of Northern extraction, who are unscrupulously denied admission to the Nigerian Law School to complete their studies and enrolled as Advocate and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. These are men and women who have successfully completed prescribed courses and participated at Moot Court Internship Programmes, garnering laurels at both national and global championhips severally. These are men and women, who did no other than that they chose to study law at the NOUN. For years, the ambition of these folks to adorn wig and gown, signature regalia of Nigerian lawyers, have been put on hold by persons, some of who obtained mere diploma certificates at law or got their LLB through evening or night law programmes, or even through outright correspondence courses. Some of those denying NOUN law graduates opportunity to study at the NLS have doubtful secondary school certificates, parading affidavits in lieu of certificates and even photographs or attestation of having enrolled in one of such institution. Some of them do not know the difference between a driver, captain and pilot.

Since citizen Ibrahim and Suleiman understands the dynamism and strategy of splitting professional bodies, could they also deploy this pedigree and harass the living dead on the Council for Legal Education, which seem not bothered or touched by their consciences that they pinned down the future and desires of these NOUN graduates to practice law.

They should remind their folks at NBA who recommended the tokenism of admitting NOUN law graduates to the Nigerian Law School for Bar Part 1, to have a rethink, except they are saying that the courses offered at Bar Part 1, which is to teach law graduates of foreign universities the principles of Nigerian Law and associated courses, and which NOUN law graduates had successfully passed, and now pronounced to be of a lesser quality. What all those denying NOUN law graduates from proceeding to the NLS are saying is that National Universities Commission (NUC) had applied lesser standard in accrediting NOUN to mount a law programme. They are also giving a nod that any institution could so illegally do and fleece innocent Nigerians of their money. And this unfortunately, is not the case. Let citizen Ibrahim and Suleiman be hereby put on notice. NOUN law graduates need your help. Don’t deny them this as it has proven that you can with panache split any organisation, institution you dare put a toga of indiscretion on. The NBA which you had pulled out from, the Body of Brothers and the CLE have committed same offence of indiscretion against the law graduates of NOUN. They should be split so that the conforming part will allow NOUN law graduates complete their studies and be called to the Bar, whether the Nigerian Bar or split Bar which your good selves will comand.
I did mention that Ibrahim, Suleiman and their folks are clever by half. And I mean every word of this assertion.

Otherwise, why would they, imbued with their acclaimed sense of patriotism, look the other way while the NOUN Law graduates are being harangued around and about? Why would they pretend that all is well even with the putrid stench emanating from the National Assembly where mind boggling sleaze by people entrusted with the management of public fund, are daily being exposed for stupendous stealing, making the ordinary folks develop epileptic seizures.

Are these guys not poked by their consciences that even some of the principal officers of NASS could be begging Nigerian folk exposing corruption to “please put off your mic”?
Should Ibrahim, Suleiman and their pretentious gang who claim to love the North like “tomorrow no dey”, kindly join forces with Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Goddie Uche (SAN), Johnmary Jideobi, Esq, Vincent Otaokpukpu, Esq, Kevin Emeka Okoro, Esq, to mention but these few among lawyers already called to Bar and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Northern, Southern and Middle Belt Forum (NSAMBF), Ohanaeze, and Afenifere, to restore positive consciences back to the membranes of our political, judicial and economic leaders, as well as persons at the commanding heights of the tiers of government.

I think they can do better if they worry about discretion of justice, equity, fair play, true federalism, accountability, rule of law and good conscience now pervading all levels of governance, than just pursuing the narrow path of mobilising unsolicited army of sympathisers for el-Rufai, who left several in sorrow and pain as FCT Minister.

Soon, Nigerian journalists will ask Ibrahim and Suleiman: “who is bankrolling this project? ” And I pray they don’t react like my friend, Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, who took after the peacock and was made to eat the humble pie. Fani-Kayode behaved on the opposite attitude of the proverbial short peaked or peakless bird whose palm kernels were cracked by the benovalent spirits. He chose not to be humble, and was brought to his knees. Even his half-harted apology and pleadings to be forgiven smirks of putrid arrogance and self centeredness.

Since Ibrahim, Suleiman and their ilk understand the dynamism of system splitting, they would be failing in this self-assigned crusade if they fail to lead their Northern gentlemen of the Bar in leading a boycott of our courts, until the CLE rescinds their obnoxious human rights violating decision of unjustly excluding law graduates of NOUN from the one year BL programme at the NLS. If they fail to act now, they would have exposed that perhaps, somebody is bankrolling that vomit in support of el-Rufai.

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