*NBA President Akpata’s letter to BOB Chair, Olanipekun SAN
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata, has complained about some of the controversial inputs of the Body of Benchers on the Bill that seeks to amend the Legal Practitioners.
In a letter addressed to the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, Akpata gave reasons why their should be harmonious relationship between the NBA and the BOB and why the roles being sought to be usurped by the BOB may not augur well for the legal profession.
He said majority of members of Body of Benchers are busy. He gave example with the fact that some are Judges/Justices, Governors, Attorneys-General, politicians, old etc. According to him, their engagements may not allow them prioritize or focus on the affairs of the Body of Benchers.
Some controversial provisions were smuggled into the Bill including the proposal to designate the General Council of the Bar – the body statutorily charged with the general management of the affairs of the NBA – as a Committee of the BoB and therefore indirectly confer on the BoB supervisory powers over the NBA
The Bill also contained an express provision empowering the BoB to create a Caretaker Committee to take over the affairs and finances of the NBA whenever a dispute among members of the National Executive Council (NBA-NEC) makes it impossible or impractical for the NBA-NEC to manage the affairs of the NBA.
Amongst the provisions smuggled into the bill in spite of objections was the definition section of the Bill, where “the Nigerian Bar Association” was defined to include the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association or any other Body incorporated for the governance and management of the Legal Profession. Meaning, the sought to sneak statutory recognition of other associations of legal practitioners in Nigeria into the LPA.
The Bill also contains provisions that seek to transfer, from the NBA to the BoB, powers and responsibilities including the issuance of annual practice licenses and stamps and seals to legal practitioners.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters has stood down further consideration of the Bill to allow the BoB and the NBA to attempt a further harmonisation of their positions.
NBA’s best efforts the differences between NBA and BOB are still irreconcilable, and that the BoB is determined to impose its version of the Bill on the NBA.
Urges Chief Olanipekun to use his good offices and unique position, as a past President of the NBA and the current Chairman of the BoB, to resolve the issue in the interest of the progress of the legal profession in Nigeria.
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