An Abuja-based lawyer, Max Ogar, has filed a legal suit at the Federal High Court (FHC) sitting in Abuja, seeking to stop the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) from restricting lawyers from filing processes on account of the use/non-use of the stamp introduced by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
Ogar inn the suit, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/714/2015, which has the Chief Registrar of the FCT High Court, the Attorney General of Federation (AGF) and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as defendants, is praying the court to restrain the NBA from further influencing the Chief Registrar to restrict the filling of process by lawyers in the Registry of the court pending the hearing and determination of the suit.
The plaintiff while giving the grounds upon which he filled his suit yesterday, said the General Council of the Bar, headed by the AGF which has the exclusive right to monitor and regulate the affairs of the Bar and legal practice in the country has not made any rule or regulation requiring the stamping of legal processes by lawyers.
He further stated that the Legal Practitioners Act has not vested the NBA with any power to impose the use of stamp on lawyers as a condition precedents for filing legal processes in Nigerian Courts.
The NBA, according to the Ogar, who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2003 has no power to make rules and regulations to bind legal practitioners who are not within it’s membership fold and that, no law permits the FCT High Court to implement the policies of the association.
In a 23-paragraph affidavit in support of the Motion on Notice, the plaintiff averred that there is no regulation by the General Council of the Nigerian Bar requiring the stamping of legal processes by legal practitioners and that the NBA, in the exercise of its powers over its members, introduced the stamping of legal processes by its members.
He said he is not a member of the NBA, which he noted is strictly optional and voluntary and that he does not intend to join the NBA now or in future, adding also that his admission to the Nigerian Bar by the Nigerian Body of Benchers was not subject to membership of the NBA or any other association.
“I am not subject to to any rules or regulations of the NBA, not being one of its members. I am obligated to complying with all rules and regulations governing the affairs of the Nigerian Bar as may be made by the General Council of the Bar and the Supreme Court of Nigeria”, he said.
Ogar, in the affidavit he deposed to personally said the public notice to all lawyers by the Chief Registrar of the FCT High Court informing them of the restriction on filing of processes in its Registry by lawyers on the basis of the NBA stamps has the capacity of compelling him to join the NBA against his will and wish.
He said there is no law entitling the Chief Registrar to enforce the regulations of the NBA, adding also that his client will suffer untold hardship if he is not allowed to file processes in court on their behalf.
It will be recalled that the lawyers’ umbrella body, NBA, in May this year approved seal and stamp to demonstrate its commitment to protecting members’ interest, the rule of law and its sustenance in the country.
The NBA boss, Austin Allegeh (SAN) said the introduction of the stamp was to ensure that its members’ interest were protected at all times.
The suit which was filed on August 19, 2015 is before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of Court 5 of the Federal High Court in Abuja