The Nigerian Bar Association is an association of lawyers that is a non-profit making and non-governmental organization. The Association was registered under the Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act as incorporated trustees. The Association’s aims and objectives are as contained in Section 3 of its Constitution. However, the most surprising thing is how some lawyers as members of the Association which has branches across the Federation have turned the Association and its affairs to a platform for business as usual rather than to serve humanity. This paper is of the view and aims at remembering those persons that the Association is not for such business as usual where you make money rather it is for service to humanity.
The Nigerian Bar Association is supposed to be an association of lawyers who are ready to serve humanity and for God’s and humanity’s sake alone. However, the reverse has always or majorly been the case. Some lawyers see the association as an opportunity to amass the wealth and the funds of the members. Some of the leaders or chairmen have been reported by one aggrieved member or executive member or the other of sidelining them just in order for those chairmen to be able to embezzle the funds of the branch or of the association at the national level without other executive members being aware. If truly there is no skeleton in the cupboard, why then the shadow leadership?! Why can there be no transparency?! To worsen the situation, some aspirants of some offices in the NBA have made a diplomatic and smart way of campaigning by saying that there are some friends somewhere who have supported them or who have advised them because of some charismas that those friends have seen in them! Those aspirants need not be told that they have been disqualified by virtue of such campaign no matter how they have clothed the campaign! Campaign is campaign! Let those friends of other aspirants be aware that campaign is prohibited and even worse still, the leadership of the association through its electoral committee has not removed the veil of campaign or by the constitution of the association. Therefore, members should not be allowed to regard the constitution as a mere paper and act on their own whims and caprices! Section 9(2) of the NBA Constitution, 2015 (as amended in 2019), is clear on the Election into the National Offices and by 2nd Schedule to the said Constitution, one of those acts that disqualifies a candidate in an election is ‘The publication, printing or distribution of any campaign material, gifts and any form of souvenir whatsoever by a candidate or his supporter(s) is hereby prohibited and any candidate who contravenes this provision shall be disqualified from being voted for’. It is my humble submission, with due respect, that the rising ‘some friends have advised or supported or called an aspirant to service’ etc, is a form of campaign! Also, those friends are nothing but the aspirant’s supporters and not more! Also, it is a way of publicly putting the aspirant to the public as a contestant! Furthermore, that act is a form of nomination of that aspirant for election! Also, it is even worry-some that it is this aspirant who even disseminates and publishes the said publication by himself! I am of the view, with due respect, that the opposing aspirant should have known by now that he has an evidence (documentary) as to why his opponent should be or ought to be disqualified from contesting in the election by the Election Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), come the year 2020, the ground being unlawful campaign by his opponent either by himself or by his supporters, as definitely, those who are your supporters are also your friends! Furthermore, paragraph 2.5. of the 2nd Schedule to the Constitution has provided for the date, at least, 42 clear days before the election date, by which nominations of candidates must be received! Why the hurry to nominate in November, 2019, when the election is to hold in the month of July of the year of election of the Association or at such time and place as may be ratified by the National Executive Committee?! See: paragraph: 2.5. (ii) of the 2nd Schedule to the Constitution. Even, as of the moment, there is no preliminary notice of election of the 2020 election year sent to all the branches yet, as provided for by paragraph 2.5 (i) of the 2nd Schedule to the Constitution!
Furthermore, I am of the humble view, with due respect, that there should be investigation on financial crimes of all heads of leadership of the NBA at both the national and the branches for thorough scrutiny as to discovering those who have rather than use their office to serve have rather used it as business as usual! This will bring about transparency and accountability! I know very well that Lawyers’ Network Against Corruption (LAWNAC) is on its way to fishing out any of those NBA leadership that must have taken the advantage of the office that they hold to embezzle and breed corruption thereby destroying the Association!
Corruption in the NBA is a way of destruction! The wealth in the NBA at all levels should rather be channeled towards capacity building of young lawyers and to build confidence in the public about lawyers! How are we concerned as to how some of the members of the NBA have breached the trust that the public or their clients have in them?! Some members (especially seniors) capitalise on the so called ‘cabal’ who are not ready to serve humanity but are ready to do the business as usual with the NBA office and then, become incapable of championing the aims and objectives of the Association, to commit atrocities and those evil-doing lawyers would always get away with their unethical conducts!
Finally, it is important for me to remind myself (as the Assistant-Secretary of the NBA Abuja Branch- the Unity Bar), the entire executives of the NBA Abuja Branch (the Unity Bar), all other executives of all the Branches of the NBA and the National Officers that the Association is and should be used to serve humanity defined as members of the Association and the public interest and that political office should not be used for business as usual as whatever we do today, we shall account to God Almighty now or later! Whether we are Muslims or Christians, we must know and always remind ourselves that corruption is an abomination and is unacceptable and prohibited by God Almighty!
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