The Bench and Bar, weekend, kept aside legal practice to engage one another in a keenly contested Charity/Novelty football match that heralded the activities of this year’s Nigeria Bar Association Annual Conference holding in Abuja.
The Bench, captained by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Mahmoud Mohammed, defeated the Bar, led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) 4-1 in the match played at the Old Parade Ground Sports Complex, Abuja.
Interestingly, before the march commenced, no fewer than three ambulances were strategically stationed on the field of play.
Supporters’ club bands made of personnel from both the Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) and the Supreme Court took the game to another level as they drummed to ginger up players.
The charity novelty match had international dimension to it as Dr. Willy Mutunga, the Chief Judge and President of Supreme Court, Kenya, was also on the field.
The first goal of the match was scored by Justice Ishaq Bello, Chief Judge (CJ) Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, before the chief justice, Mohammed, doubled the lead with a spectacular goal.
Abubakar Maidama, the executive secretary of the National Judicial Institute, made it three for the Bench.
Not enough, Justice Adejumo, President, National Industrial Court, made it four for the Bench.
The consolatory goal for the Bar was scored late into the match by Ibrahim Mark, a former general secretary of the NBA.
Speaking to newsmen after the match, the chief justice said that the game was fantastic, adding: “That is how it should be. The Bar and the Bench should complement each other in the administration of justice and legal practice as it has been demonstrated today. I have gained a lot by keeping fit.
“There is a need for unity in the profession so that Nigeria will be a better country. I enjoyed it. Most of us should participate in sports. I also participated during the opening ceremony of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in 1962.”
The CJN expressed hope that the novelty match would be made an annual event.
On his part, Dele Adeshina said the football match epitomised the cordiality between the Bar and the Bench, adding: “This is an exceptional period when we have the opportunity of interacting informally, because this is a regulated profession. We look up to them in the court as “My Lords” while in the court we present our cases but outside the court we have been able to show again that the Bar and the Bench are one. We are all lawyers.
Justice Adejumo described the game as an exercise, fun and togetherness between the Bar and Bench.
Chief Niyi Akintola, on his part, described the socialisation as “a good outing.”
According to Taiwi Taiwo (SAN), the march has produced a platform for the Bar and Bench to rub shoulders, adding that health is wealth.
He advised lawyers to take exercise seriously
The NBA President, Austine Alegeh, (SAN), was also present at the venue.
Other renowned legal luminaries who featured on the side of the Bench were Justice Tanko Mohammed (JSC); Justice Okoro (JSC); Justice Adejumo, President, National Industrial Court (NIC); Justice Ishaq Bello, Chief Judge, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High court;
Justice Ibrahim Auta, Chief Judge, Federal High Court and Justice Nasiru Ajala, Chief Judge, Kogi State.
The rest were Barrister Danladi Halilu, Executive Secretary, National Judicial Council (NJC); Barrister Ahmed Gambo Saleh; Abubakar Maidama,
Executive Secretary National Judicial Institute (NJI); Hajiya Bilikisu Bashir, Executive Secretary, Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC) and Ayo Ogunwumiju of the FJSC.
The Bar had in its fold for the charity football match.
Some renowned lawyers comprising Chief Joe Gadzama (SAN); Deacon Dele Adeshina (SAN); Chief Niyi Akintola (SAN); Garuba Tetengi (SAN); Mai Kyau (SAN).
Others were Ibrahim Mark; May Agbamuche, Editor ThisDay Lawyer; Lady “B” and Barrister Dele Oye,
The Chairman of the NBA Conference Planning Committee (CPC), who coordinated the event.