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NBA suspends NEC member over breakaway association

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The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has carried out its threat of punishing its members who formed and promoted an alternative association called Law Society of Nigeria (LSN).

ItGeneral Secretary, Mr. Nimi Walson-Jack, has now been suspended as a member of the NBA National Executive Council (NBA-NEC).

Walson-Jack is a Solicitor to LSN’s promoters.

But reacting, Walson-Jack said his suspension was illegal, arguing that it violated the NBA constitution and infringed on his right of 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 name, 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 taken 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 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.”

According to him, 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.”

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