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Aggrieved northern lawyers exit NBA, form new association — after el-Rufai snub

Some aggrieved northern members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) have pulled out of the group; alleging that the legal body is biased.

The lawyers say they have constituted a new group called New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA).

This is a fallout of the controversy that ensued after the NBA withdrew its invitation to Nasir el-Rufai, the Kaduna state governor, following a petition against the governor.

Some lawyers had kicked against the choice of the governor, saying the invitation is a “reward for misrule” and alleged that el-Rufai has abused the rights of Nigerians on several occasions.

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Another group of lawyers had also called on the NBA to withdraw its invitations to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers state, as speakers for its annual conference — but the request was turned down.

The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) described the NBA’s action as a declaration of war.

In a statement, the new association said recent developments within NBA have generated increased concern which necessitated their withdrawal from the association.

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It said the incidents have “exposed the inability of the NBA to manage and contain the heterogeneity of its members as well as their various interests”.

“Its penal powers has been deployed discriminatively on the basis of ethnicity and regionalism,” the statement read.

“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 practising what it preaches.

“The New Nigerian Bar Association have been watching the activities of the NBA, an association 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.

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“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.”

The new association said NBA mandatory membership is against the provisions of the constitution which recognises freedom of membership of every association, as provided in section 40.

The lawyers said their interests are no longer taken into consideration in major decisions of the NBA hence the formation of the new association.

“A cursory chronicle of the membership composition of major organs of the NBA would reveal lopsided representation despite having large numbers of lawyers from all parts of the country and especially northern Nigeria who have diligently paid their bar practising fees and have distinguished themselves in the legal profession,” it read.

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“The New Nigerian Bar Association feel 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 the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

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“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 1 of the LPA, 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.”

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8 comments
  1. History 101:

    El Rufai v NBA

    Do you know that in 2008, Prof. Maurice Iwu’s invitation as a Guest (not even a Speaker) to the NBA Annual General Conference of that year was withdrawn because of a protest from a cross section of Lawyers, due to his unremorseful and very poor handling of the 2007 general elections as the then INEC Chairman?

    Do you know that no sectional, partisan, religious or ethnic group threatened boycott of the AGC as a result of the de-invitation of Prof. Iwu?

    Let’s not divide the bar instead support NEC’S collective Vision.

    Long live NBA, long live the bar.

    Let them go if they to, after all they are quota charge and bail lawyers.

    When they need real lawyers, they know where to find them

    1. Kayode that’s true they can go after all all cases in nigeria courts are handled by southern lawyers . Those from the northern region have never been to court or won cases in nigeria

      1. When are going to learn to respond to issue base on the substance rather than on religion, ethnic and social difference in this country?.

  2. Northern Nigeria lawyers want to form a new NBA? I guess what they can form is Northern Lawyers of Nigeria (NLN), which will be very inferior to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in the very same way the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) is very inferior to ICAN (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria). I never for once consider it proper in the first place to allow lawyers who were admitted to read Law in Northern Nigeria Universities with IJMB results to be allowed to attend the Nigeria Law School because IJMB is extremely inferior and made for the North.
    Most in the North often end up taking the Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB), an Advanced Level, nine months program run and moderated by Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) after failing WAEC Advanced level examination several times. I remember a Deputy Registrar at the University of Ibadan sometime in 1982 telling a young man, who said he has 12 points and he wants to read Law at Ibadan to show her his certificate, which turned out to be from IJMB, to forget it. She said IJMB is inferior and as such not accepted at Ibadan. That was the first time I heard about IJMB, a Northern Nigeria shortcut for Hausa-Fulani who barely made 3 credits in WAEC School Certificate Examination to cutting admission corners in Nigeria.
    As was typical Nigeria and with the North in control, IJMB is a federal government program meant to offer a back door to the North. How do you give direct entry admission to students who spent just nine months for a program that takes 2 years when you go through WAEC? It will be great to see these half baked lawyers who really do not deserve membership in the NBA form their own association of mediocre lawyers. Their association will not thrive any better than ANAN and they will continue to practice law in the North and the FCT where mediocre lawyers and judges from the North dominate and pollute legal practice in Nigeria.

  3. This split is fine with me. If we cannot split in whole, let us begin to split in bits.

    No sane human will see the killings in Sounthern Kaduna and be happy with it.

    The only group that are happy and supporting the genocide in Kaduna and middle belt cannot be different from the ‘splitters’.

  4. Honestly, the emergence of NNBA is absolutely unnecessary. In as much as we preach “One Nigeria”, come to think of it; which region benefit the most from the implementation of Federal character and catchment area policy as far as the legal profession and the study of law respectively is concern?

    I feel the North need to think deeply and truly reflect if the deinvitation of El-rufai is for the collective interest of NBA and Nigeria at large. For crying out loud, let them consider the substance of the deinvitation rather than bragging for a dead end.

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