NBA is usurping powers of body of benchers, says Akinlade
The former chairman of the Ikorodu branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Bayo Akinlade has declared that the NBA is working to usurp the power of the body of Benchers in the new amendment it seeks.
This, according to him, is being done in the proposed amended Legal Practitioners Act (LPA), whose sections 13 and 14 suggest that one can only practise law after being issued a practice licence by the association, and all documents must bear a stamp which can only be obtained from the NBA.
He noted that the aforementioned sections have its implication, which is that the Body of Benchers may have to call to Bar, but the NBA-NEC determines if you remain one.
Akinlade expressed concern that the NBA, which is a voluntary association of leaders who serve only a two-year term would indirectly become a compulsory association and will now decide who practices as a lawyer.
According to him, amending the two sections is very worrisome and in some ways confusing because the Body of Benchers whose membership comprises the most respected and distinguished in the legal profession would become a cosmetic body, while “the NBA that has become a political platform with some questionable characters will now determine the legal practice trajectory.”
He said: “The profession had suffered from poor NBA leadership over the years and yet we want to immortalize the same freewill association by giving it such powers.”
He, therefore, urged the body of Benchers to remove any clause that will give the NBA powers it does not deserve.
“NBA is registered as a voluntary association and should remain so. The future of this profession should be protected, our dignity and integrity must also be preserved and only the Body of Benchers can be trusted with this responsibility,” he stressed.
But the president of the NBA, Olumide Akpata said when the NBA came up with a draft, the Body of Benchers objected to some things and called for harmonization, after which both bodies agreed on the document being circulated.
According to him, the draft document is still being reviewed by both bodies and therefore, should not be a source of worry for anyone.
His words: “NBA came up with a draft bill of the LPA. The Body of Benchers was not happy with it. So, it called for harmonization. The document, which Akinlade is complaining about, is a harmonized. It is not the NBA document alone, but for both the NBA and the Body of Benchers. As a matter of fact, the draft is still being reviewed.”
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