NBA president warns lawyers against misconduct, insists no member bigger than association
President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has frowned at the action of some senior NBA members allegedly bent on whittling down the power and relevance of the association.
Akpata, who was speaking at a valedictory court session in honour of retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Ejembi Eko, said no person or organisation within the legal profession is greater than NBA.
In his address to the court, he drew the attention of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Tanko Mohammad, to the order of precedence adopted by the court in recent times, with respect to the delivery of addresses at valedictory court sessions and other ceremonial proceedings, wherein the chairman of the Body of Senior Advocates (BOSAN) is invited to speak before the president of the NBA.
Registering his displeasure over the procedure, which according to him is fast becoming the norm, the NBA president urged the CJN not to allow the Supreme Court to be used as a platform to ridicule the Bar.
He declared: “Whoever has attained any height in this profession did so because the institution of the NBA permitted and supported such an attainment and, therefore, no such person or institution is bigger than the NBA.”
Akpata noted that he was constrained to draw the attention of the CJN to “this unbecoming trend only after he had unsuccessfully engaged the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court in respect of the same subject matter.”
According him, the Chief Registrar appeared to have attempted to correct the order of precedence in preparation for the valedictory session. But she was apparently pressured by some unidentified lawyers to withdraw the programme of events, which had already been distributed, and alter it by placing the chairman of BOSAN before the NBA president.
Recalling a similar experience during two separate valedictory sessions held in the High Courts of Oyo and Lagos States, Akpata noted that the chairman of BOSAN was also invited to address the court before the NBA president.
He recalled: “In both instances, the representatives of the chairman of BOSAN, in the persons of Chief Folake Solanke (SAN) and Chief Tunji Ayanlaja (SAN), in due deference to the best traditions of the Bar, declined this invitation and invited the NBA president to deliver his address before them, noting that nobody from the Bar speaks before the NBA president.”
Akpata, who reaffirmed the commitment of the Bar to the protection of the judiciary and judicial officers, however called on the CJN, as head of the judiciary, to reciprocate this gesture by also protecting the Bar and ensuring it is not ridiculed or undermined by any persons from within the Bar or without.