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Northern Lawyers Disowned NBA Splinter Group

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*Declare Support for One United NBA
*As Akpata assures of an all inclusive bar

Ayode Awal

Threats of forming a Northern splinter New Nigeria Bar Association (NNBA) may have hit the rock as Northern lawyers from 40 branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on Wednesday declared their support for a one United NBA.

Following the withdrawal of a letter of Invi to Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, as Guest Speaker at the just concluded AGC

A group of aggrieved northern lawyers had last week claimed to have exited from the NBA and reportedly formed a splinter New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) following the withdrawal of Invitation of Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, as Guest Speaker at the just concluded Bar Conference

The splinter group spearheaded by Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman had accused the NBA of bias, amongst others.

They had written a letter to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami SAN, informing him of the formation a new NBA and explained why it was formed.

However lawyers from the zone at a media briefing in Abuja dissociated and distanced themselves from the new NBA, stating that the NBA cannot be polarized along ethnic or religious divides.

Speaking at the end of its stakeholders meeting with the National Officers of the NBA held at the NBA headquarters in Abuja, the northern lawyers, while distancing themselves from the splinter group, urged members 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 is realized.

The stakeholders meeting was facilitated by two Senior Advocates of Nigeria from the north, Mr Yunus Ustaz and Mr Elisha Kurah and 40 branch chairmen of the NBA.

However the communique reached at the end of the meeting was read by Kurah SAN, who is also the Acting Chairman of Arewa Lawyers Forum.

He said, “We the undersigned individuals, who are Chairmen of the various branches of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) that make up the Northern Geopolitical Zone as defined in the NBA Constitution 2015 and other senior members of the Bar have today Wednesday 2nd September 2020 in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, met with the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata and the National Officers of the NBA.

“We have unanimously agreed to support his leadership of the NBA and we hereby restate our allegiance to the NBA and disassociate ourselves from the “New NBA” or any splitter group whatsoever making the waves in recent weeks as a new association or body of lawyers in Nigeria.

“We understand that the NBA has historically and in recent times been fraught with several challenges but we are indeed assured that the 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.

The northern lawyers said they were gratified to hear the NBA President during his inaugural address restate that the Bar he wants to lead henceforth is one that “is united on all fronts and which recognises that our diversity is our greatest strength”.

They therefore urge all lawyers of the northern geopolitical zone, including those behind the establishment of the NNBA and all legal practitioners in Nigeria to come together to support Akpata and the new national officers to ensure that they deliver on all their core mandates.

The Northern lawyers in addition commended the new leadership of the NBA for having the meeting with them as one of their first official acts after their inauguration last Friday, which according to them is an indication of the value they place on the need for an all-inclusive Bar.

Earlier, National President of the NBA, Mr Akpata had reiterated that the NBA remains one and was not split along ethnic or religious lines.

He assured that necessary steps would be taken to heal wounds caused by the NBA election and the Annual General Conference.

“At the 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”, he said.

He further reiterated his commitment towards making the NBA better and also building a stronger nation, adding that lawyers will not be in the vanguard to break up the country.

“Where our country is going wrong, we as lawyers will give the light. We are here to build Nigeria and and not to destroy it.

“All is well with us in the NBA and we are doing well. If there is still any group aggrieved, we will reach out to the group. Our ability to sumount challenges make us leaders. We will remain focused because expectations are high.

“We in the NBA will speak loud to support the teeming people of this country on issues affecting them”, he added.

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