Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, on Sunday, August 30, lamented the current crisis rocking the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA); alleging that a cabal had seized the body, dictating its affairs as desired, including at branch level.
Falana made this assertion during an interview in Lagos; saying “Regrettably, the house has been turned upside down; once again, as its foundation is under serious attack from a cabal of bar leaders who have institutionalised
the biennial imposition of national officers through e-fraud elections.
“Even branch elections of the NBA are also manipulated with impunity by the same reactionary forces.
“If the NBA does not arrest the ugly development in a decisive manner; as soon as possible, there is going to be an implosion with dire consequences.”
Falana further reiterated the importance of ensuring “that the elections of the officers of the NBA are conducted in a credible and transparent manner while the affairs of the body are managed in a democratic manner.
“Otherwise, the Balkanisation of the NBA is a matter of time. After all, it has just been confirmed that only 18,000 out of the over 200,000 lawyers on the role of legal practitioners in Nigeria; participated in the just concluded controversial 2020 NBA election.”
Falana also commented on the withdrawal of the invitation to the Kaduna State governor to speak at the NBA conference.
He explained that the governor was rightly disinvited by the NBA; but “the leaders embarrassed Nigerian lawyers when they allowed other fellow abusers of the rule of law and violators of human rights; to address the 60th-anniversary conference of the NBA.
“On realising the discriminatory treatment meted out to el Rufai, the immediate past president of NBA, Mr Paul Usoro SAN was full of apologies. In principle, the NBA had disinvited Professor Maurice Iwu of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2008.
“So, a body may be compelled to disinvite its guest, but the grounds must be solid and not self-serving.
“By the way, the NBA could not have disinvited Governor Nyesom Wike, having regards to the investment of his government in the NBA.
“That was why he was made a life bencher by his friends in the echelon of the NBA. So, the NBA cannot afford to embarrass its own life bencher.”
Regarding the issue of the formation of the Northern Nigerian Bar Association, Falana said, “Let the promoters of the Northern Nigerian Bar Association challenge the NBA by defending democracy, human rights and public accountability.
“Let them undertake to defend people the rights of children to education. Let them be prepared to fight against child marriage.
“Lawyers who want to give the NBA a fight should be ready to join the human rights community; in promoting the socio-economic rights of the people through public interest litigation.
“However, let the defenders of the “united bar” of fraud continue to defend themselves. They will soon realise that the NNBA members are not alone in the planned balkanisation of the NBA on the grounds of fraudulent elections, financial malpractice, and dictatorship by a tiny cabal that has privatised the NBA,” he said.