The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has made good its threat to punish its members who promoted an alternative association called Law Society of Nigeria (LSN).
It suspended its former General Secretary, Nimi Walson-Jack as a member of the NBA National Executive Council (NBA-NEC).
Walson-Jack is a Solicitor to LSN’s promoters.
But Walson-Jack protested his suspension, saying it violated the NBA Constitution and also breached his right to fair hearing.
The NBA had in a communique issued at the end of its last quarterly NEC meeting in Abuja last year resolved to sanction “all members of the Bar seeking to promote or register a new lawyers’ association, whether using a new name or an old registered, Law Society of Nigeria (LSN).
“NEC particularly resolves that a Past NBA General Secretary, Mr. Nimi Walson-Jack who acted as a solicitor to the promoters of the new law society be stripped of his privileges as past General Secretary and consequently, be suspended from being a member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Association.”
it also said it had begun steps to de-list the LSN at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
The LSN’s emergence last October threatened to end the NBA’s 89-year monopoly.
Its executive members are Kunle Ogunba (SAN), President; Mr Nimi Walson-Jack, Vice President; Mr Abdulqadir Alhaji Sani, Secretary; Mr. Olasupo Ojo, Welfare Secretary; and Mrs Chioma Ferguson, Treasurer.
Others are Mr. Douglas Ogbankwa, Publicity Secretary; Mr Zara Umar Yakubu, Financial Secretary; Mrs Alice Ogaku Awonugba, Assistant Secretary; and Mr Hassan Sheriff, Assistant Publicity Secretary.
Walson-Jack, in a statement seen by The Nation, faulted both the process and substance of arriving at the NBA resolution sanctioning him.
According to him, the NBA was “anti-Rule of Law and earned our previously esteemed Association a place in the hall of infamy of dictators and anti-Rule of Law elements who abound in mushroom organizations across Nigeria and the World.”
In his view, the NBA-NEC “has no power to suspend, expel or remove a statutory member like me unless the Constitution is amended, an exclusive preserve of the Annual General Meeting.”
He added that “The leadership of the NBA, by its resolution, breached the Constitution of the NBA, my fundamental right to a fair hearing, and the right of my Clients to Counsel of their choice. The President of the NBA was the accuser, persecutor, prosecutor, and Judge in his cause.”