A splinter professional body of Nigerian lawyers with the name, New Nigeria Bar Association (NNBA), has emerged.
NNBA’s formation is a fallout of the crisis rocking the original body, Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, occasioned by the latter’s disinvitation of Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai as speaker to its ongoing annual general conference, which polarised lawyers.
In a statement by conveners of the NNBA, Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman, both members of the Kaduna branch of NBA, the group said wide consultation had started across northern Nigeria with senior lawyers to actualise the formation of the new association.
It reads in part: “Members of this association 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.
“The inaugural date of the association being apolitical and geared at taking and protecting the interests of lawyers of like minds shall be communicated.
“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.
“What has been happening recently has 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.
“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).
“The New Nigerian Bar Association have been watching 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.
“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 group said NNBA members, gleaning from the above Constitutional provision feel their interests were no longer taken into consideration in major decisions of the NBA.