*Says NBA Lagos, A Leading Branch In Advocating Human Right Causes
*Says 2019 NBA Lagos Branch Dinner Generated Over 20 Million Which Was Expended On Members’ Welfare

The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, Ikechukwu Uwanna as reacted to the statement of Bayo Akinlade Esq deriding the forthcoming annual dinner being planned by the NBA Lagos Branch, stating that it was a product of bad faith which has caused Mr. Akinlade not to get his facts rights.

In a statement, the NBA Lagos Branch Chairman setting the record straight noted that the NBA Lagos Branch has a very vibrant Human Rights Committee (HRC) and Programme, which on numerous occasions has championed tons of human rights enforcement cases.

Uwanna, made this remark on Sunday while reacting to a report by the former Chairman NBA Ikorodu branch and for past Assistant Secretary of the Lagos Branch, Bayo Akinlade.

Akinlade had alleged that the branch lavishly spent the sum of N30 million Naira on a branch dinner.

“ In 2019, I was informed that the Branch spent some 30 million Naira, I wrote about it but it seemed that its leaders didn’t get it.

“How can you spend that much on a 4 hour event?.

“I was shocked and decided to do the math… Divided 30 million by maybe just 250 attendees in a 4 hour period… How much did each person spend per hour?…. 30k per hour is you answer! what was the probative value of the money spent? Zero ”

“It was very disheartening to see that the NBA Lagos branch cannot even raise substantial funds to enable it’s members to respond to human rights violations, and that most of its committees that work to implement the core function of the NBA constitution do not have the funds to operate effectively. This, according to him, makess him wonder “what all those big and influential lawyers in the Lagos Branch stand for.”

Below read his full statement

I read the statement published by The Nigerian Lawyer blog, credited to Mr. Bayo Akinlade, a former chairman of the NBA Ikorodu Branch, deriding the forthcoming annual dinner being planned by the NBA Lagos Branch.

Ordinarily, I would not respond to the publication given the fact that the NBA Lagos Branch reserves a right to decide how to spend its funds as budgeted and approved by its members but since it has now become an annual ritual for Mr. Akinlade to criticize the very responsible members of the NBA Lagos Branch, I consider it necessary to set the record straight.

It is important to note that the NBA Lagos Branch has a very robust Human Rights Committee (HRC) and Programme. Indeed, the administration of the NBA Lagos Branch (building on the work of past administrations) has elevated the discourse on human rights and supported its Human Rights Committee in achieving the objectives of the NBA. The HRC has in the past year conducted an audit of inmates in Ikoyi Custodial Center. Over 200 inmates were interviewed and matters litigated in various courts.

The NBA Lagos Branch HRC has also developed a Human Rights Scheme (the first of its kind by any Branch of the NBA). The comprehensive NBA Lagos Branch Human Rights Scheme has now been adopted by the Branch to address the Human Rights challenges we are faced with daily- in a systematic way.

To commemorate the International Human Rights Day, the HRC is set to engage principal stakeholders in the administration of justice, through a platform called Stakeholders’ engagement dialogue series, culminating in a world-class summit on the 13th of December 2022 to create awareness on Human Rights issues.

It is uncharitable for Mr. Akinlade to denigrate the efforts of over fifty (50) volunteers of the NBA Lagos Branch HRC who are working tirelessly to ensure that the NBA Lagos Branch fulfills its mandate to society to uphold the human rights of members and citizens of Nigeria.

The glamorous yearly dinner of the NBA Lagos Branch is an age-long tradition. Members, Law Firms, and Corporates who find value in the hosting of this annual event donate to fund the event. We inherited this tradition from our past administrations one of which Mr. Akinlade served as Assistant Secretary many years ago. This tradition beyond its social value is another opportunity for the members of the NBA Lagos Branch to network in a very congenial atmosphere, exchange ideas, knowledge, and develop capacity for the year ahead. It is also a business development event for the Branch.

Interestingly, every branch of the NBA (including the Ikorodu Branch under Mr Akinlade’s leadership) hosts an annual dinner or similar event. We are not aware that Mr Akinlade has stopped wining and dining in his Branch, office or household because he would rather use the funds to address human rights abuses.

The 2019 Dinner, which Mr. Akinlade referred to in his uncharitable publication generated a surplus of about N20million, which the Branch judiciously utilized to sponsor over 100 of its members to obtain training and CIARB certification in arbitration, provide COVID-19 palliatives for thousands of young and mid-level lawyers during the COVID-19 lockdown, subscribe members to a Health Insurance Scheme and fund other welfare projects for our members. Of course, Mr. Akinlade’s bad faith won’t let him get his facts right.

The NBA Lagos Branch is committed to a well-rounded capacity and welfare development of its members; that is why issues of Health Insurance, Mental Heath, Soft Skill Training, Mentorship, and Job placements amongst others have been on its front burner and we will continue to address these issues. Indeed, the perennial issue of remuneration of lawyers which the NBA NEC during the Olumide Akpata administration addressed by approving a comprehensive report is receiving attention from the NBA Lagos Branch and the Branch  Executive Committee has resolved to recommend that the Branch should set up a TaskForce on Monday 14/11/22 to adopt and implement the new remuneration regime which will largely change the face of the legal profession.

Our assurance to Mr. Akinlade (and any who may share his unfortunate views) is that the NBA Lagos Branch will continue to raise the Bar and do its best to ameliorate the societal issues bedeviling the Legal Profession.

Ikechukwu Uwanna
Chairman, NBA Lagos Branch

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