Northern lawyers from about 40 branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), have rejected the formation of the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) and declared support for a one united NBA.
Led by two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) from the north -Yunus Ustaz and Mr. Elisha Kurah – in conjunction with 40 branch chairmen of NBA, the lawyers from the northern zone dissociated themselves from NNBA, pointing out that NBA could not be polarised along ethno-religious divides.
Rising from a meeting in Abuja on Wednesday, the northern lawyers distanced themselves from the splinter group and charged northern lawyers and all legal practitioners in the country to rally round the new NBA leadership led by Mr. Olumide Akpata, to ensure that the original aspirations of the body are achieved.
“We the undersigned individuals, who are chairmen of the various branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that make up the northern geo-political zone as defined in the NBA Constitution 2015, and other senior members of the Bar have today, Wednesday, September 2, 2020, in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, met with the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata and the national officers of NBA.
“We have unanimously agreed to support his leadership of NBA, and we hereby restate our true allegiance to NBA and disassociate ourselves from the ‘New NBA’ or any splitter group whatsoever making the waves in recent weeks as a new association/body of lawyers in Nigeria.
“We understand that NBA has historically and in recent times been fraught with several challenges, but we are indeed assured that NBA under the leadership of Mr. Olumide Akpata will surmount these challenges and birth an all-inclusive Bar that will work for all lawyers in Nigeria regardless of any part of the divide one may belong,” read a communique issued at the end of the meeting.
The northern lawyers recalled Akpata’s inaugural address, where he stated that the bar that he wants to lead henceforth is one that “is united on all fronts and which recognises that our diversity is our greatest strength.”
Thus, the lawyers appealed to their northern colleagues, including those behind the establishment of NNBA and all legal practitioners in Nigeria to come together to support Akpata and the new national officers to ensure that they deliver on their core mandates.
Akpata had earlier assured that NBA was one and was not split along ethnic or religious lines.
“At NBA, we remain one, united and indivisible bar. We have not split along ethnic or religious lines. As lawyers, we disagree and agree.
“We will learn from past mistakes. Only those who refuse to learn from past mistakes are doomed. Due apology would be rendered to those offended.
“Where our country is going wrong, we as lawyers will give the light. We are here to build Nigeria and not to destroy it.
“All is well with us in NBA and we are doing well. If there is still any group aggrieved, we will reach out to the group. Our ability to surmount challenges make us leaders. We will remain focused because expectations are high.
“We in NBA will speak loud to support the teeming people of this country on issues affecting them,” Akpata declared.
It would be recalled that after the withdrawal of a letter of invitation to Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, as a guest speaker at the recently held NBA Annual General Conference, a group of aggrieved northern lawyers last week announced the formation of NNBA as a splinter group.