By: Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.
The Leaders of the Nigerian Bar Association some times can be very funny.
Recently ,the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria-President Mohammedu Buhari signed into Law the Executive Order 10 giving the Judiciary Financial Autonomy and by extension full Independence. The Nigerian Governors’ Forum whom the issues does not concern as they are neither Lawyers nor Judges ,got the President through his Chief of Staff to suspend the implementation of the Executive Order .The Nigerian Bar Association kept mum .
In another development, there is almost a Constitutional Crisis as some Justices of the Court of Appeal from across the Country ,recommended by the National Judicial Council (NJC) to be appointed into the Supreme Court ,have not had their names sent to the Senate for confirmation as provided by Law ,for no just cause and the Nigerian Bar Association is also keeping mum as if everything was ok.What then is our Function as an Association if we can not meet our basic duties that in one way or the other affect the smooth running of the Court System and by extension the Welfare of our Members. Mr. President of the NBA,this Article contains naked truths you may not want to hear ,but our Association as one of Lawyers should thrive on truth ,which is the bedrock of any progressive Society.
Instead of the NBA to insist on the Rule of Law on the issues enunciated above , they are interested in setting up illegal caretaker Committees from purported Appeals to illegal Appeals Committee unknown to the NBA Constitution known as the Unified By Laws .
What use is the Nigerian Bar Association if it can not ensure its call Mandate which is “Protecting the Rule of Law “.How can you Protect the Rule of Law ,when you can not ensure the Independence of the Judiciary and ensure that the Appointment of Judges and Justices are insulated from undue Political Interferences.
The Current NBA Executive at the National Level has failed and failed woefully in the quest for Independence of the Judiciary and Protecting the Judiciary against Political Interferences unknown to our Laws. The relationship between the Bar and the Bench is like that between the Chicken and the Hen and the Bar is our fortress against Executive Recklessness and even Judicial Impertinence .
The Major reason Bar Officials are elected is to ensure that interest of Lawyers and the Law are protected to the utmost .
Lawyers thrive in Litigation. There can never a level playing Field in Litigation, with out the Independence of the Judiciary and a Judiciary where the appointment process for Magistrates/Presidents, Judges and Justices are with out political Interference. An Independent Judiciary is the fulcrum upon which an impartial adjudicatory system rests. We discuss about pedestrian issues like an Online National Conference scheduled to be held in a State that has a notoriety for infractions on the Rule of Law with brazen impunity,against helpless and hapless Citizens, which we do not even condemn in the face of cogent evidence butressing same.
We have lost our voice as the conscience of Society, we now even behave like political parties breeding factions of our dear Association all across the Country ,leaving with us a hugely divided Bar .
The Paul Usoro Administration will go down in History in the NBA as the Administration that factionalized the NBA Nation Wide ,dissolving democratic structures and putting their unpopular cronies as care taker Committee Members who even now run their Branches as conquered territories.
Truth be told all is not well with the NBA .We are in deep crisis and animosity nation wide .Mr. President if you leave the NBA ,kindly ask yourself this pertinent question ,”What will I be remembered for “.We Remember Austin Alegeh SAN For the introduction of Stamp ,completing our National Secreteriat to a reasonable extent and the democratisation of the Electoral Process at the National Level ,where every Lawyer can now vote online from the comfort of their homes or office ,what will you remember for sir ?
Do situate the answer in the context of your conscience sir and find that you need to do a reality check before you leave Office ,else the rest will be History.
“When you protect the Rule of Law while in Office ,the Rule of Law will Protect you, while you are out of Office. “
About the Author: Douglas Ogbankwa Esq is the immediate past Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Benin Branch .