*Condemns Purported Formation of Splinter Lawyers’ Association
*Says Warri Branch Fully Committed To The Unity And Oneness Of the NBA
*Says Belligerent Members Must Be Dealt With To Forestall Other Breakaway Groups

The Warri branch of the Nigerian Bar Association has written to the National President of the Association, Mr Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau SAN OON over the purported creation of a splinter Association known as THE NIGERIAN SOCIETY OF LAWYERS (NSL), calling for members responsible for festering the new society to be meted with appropriate disciplinary sanctions.

The branch made this call in a letter signed by its Chairman, Chief Oghenero Okoro, and the branch Secretary, Sylvester G. Ediagbonuvie Esq, and dated 4th November, 2023.

According to the branch, it decided to reject the new society in totality because it is a critical stakeholder in the NBA structure dating back to the 1960s.

The letter read in part, “First, our Branch is a critical stakeholder in the Nigerian Bar Association. This is because, it was one of the Associations of lawyers, which joined other similar Associations from Lagos, Ibadan, Benin, Onitsha, Enugu, Calabar, Sapele, Kano, Jos, Aba amongst others, to form the Nigerian Bar Association, in Lagos, sometime in 1959/60, with the co-ordinating selfless efforts of Alhaji Jubril Martins, of blessed memory.

Secondly, our branch has produced some of the past presidents of the Association, namely; Dr. Mudiaga Odje, SAN, OFR, of blessed memory and Chief Thompson Onomigbo Okpoko, SAN, OON, and very recently, Mr. Olumide Akpata, a former member of the Branch, but now of Lagos Branch.

By virtue of the two reasons above, the Branch and its members have contributed immensely in the formation, growth and development of the Nigerian Bar Association over the years or since its inception.

Furthermore, when the Association was embroiled in a self inflicted crisis from 1992 to 1998, arising from the inconclusive and/or controversial election of its officers at the Annual General Conference at Port-Harcourt, Rivers State, the Branch and its members were also amongst the stakeholders who worked tirelessly, to resuscitate the Association from the throes of death, which efforts culminated in the Annual General Conference, held in 1998, at Abuja”.

The letter strongly reiterated that the NBA is only statutorily permitted and recognized body for lawyers in Nigeria, as the court has also upheld, and experienced dismay at attempts to create a parallel body for lawyers.

“Suffice it to say that, in view of the fact that the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap. L11, L.F.N., 2004, imbues the Nigerian Bar Association, as the sole or exclusive body of lawyers in Nigeria, a fact, which was recently given judicial imprimatur in Suit No. OB/27/2020: BEN OKOLO VS. THE INCORPORATED TRUSTEES OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION, our Branch views the recent attempt to create a splinter or rival group or association, known as Nigerian Society of Lawyers (NLS), by some members of the NBA, as not only illegal, but inimical to the interest of the Association. This is because, the splinter or rival association, is intended to cause divisiveness within the rank or membership of the NBA.”

The branch further expressed worry at the fact that, some senior members and/or former officers of the NBA, such as Mr. Nimi Walson Jack, a former General Secretary of the Association, are alleged to be in the forefront of conceiving, promoting, applying, registering and peddling the said splinter or rival group. According to the branch, “These are members of the NBA, who have enjoyed and continue to enjoy some privileges from the NBA. The promoters of the splinter group have apparently taken this route, because, they or their friends have been unsuccessful in their quest to occupy some offices in the Association. The perfidious and belligerent acts of these members of the NBA are not only antithetical to the lofty aims and goals of the NBA, but have ridiculed the NBA not only nationally, but globally.”

They further informed the NBA President of the unanimous condemnation of the action during the October monthly general meeting of the branch, and the recommendation for disciplinary measures against those found involved in the process. According to the letter, if the principal actors in this action are nor dealt with sufficiently, it may give impetus to other belligerent tendencies within the Association.

“It is the light of the above, that the Branch, at its monthly general meeting held on Sunday, 30th October, 2022, in Warri, Delta State, unanimously condemned in its entirety, the attempt to establish or register or the registration of the splinter or rival association by some members of the NBA, in flagrant breach of relevant laws clothing the NBA, with relevant statutory flavour.”

They added, “In the same vein, the Branch by resolution, also called on the leadership of the NBA, to as a matter of utmost urgency, bring before the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Association, the actions of these members who are associated in one way or the other, in the formation of this splinter group, including its officers, with a view to seeking disciplinary measures against them, in line with due process. We believe that if these acts of belligerence by some members of the Association are not dealt with decisively, many more splinter groups will emerge from the Association, and this will portend grave danger for its continued existence and relevance.”

Please, be assured of the total support and commitment of every member of the NBA, Warri Branch, in your efforts to reposition our dear Association, promote the Rule of Law and confront injustice nationally.

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