The crisis bedeviling the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), may not be over soon. Besides the North forming its own splinter group, the highest number of lawyers in the current NBA are South Westerners, and may likely split from the national body currently running the affairs of lawyers.
It could be recalled that South West Lawyers’ Forum, a.k.a Egbe Amofin, while protesting the outcome of the last leadership elections, said it may likely lead its members elsewhere, if the election that produced new president, Olumide Akpata, is not voided.
Egbe Amofin, whom supported the candidacy of Deacon Dele Adesina (SAN), alleged electoral fraud and demanded cancellation of the entire election.
Responding to the petition from Adesina who lost the presidential contest to Akpata, a member of the Outer Bar, the Trustees, led by a former president of the association, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, regretted the shortcomings of the poll, but pleaded with the petitioner to accept the outcome in the “larger interest of the NBA.”
However, with the refusal of the Trustees to cancel the election, Adesina and Egbe Amofin have yet not stated their next line of action.
Niyi Akintola (SAN), a leader of Egbe Amofin, who signed the Forum’s disavowal and threat to form a new lawyers’ association, told Sunday Tribune at the weekend that the Forum would meet this week to discuss the developing issues within the association.
Akintola bewailed the crisis rocking the association, adding that the leaders of the Bar in the South West are monitoring the situation and will make their decision known soon.
In the midst of protests, lawyers from the South West floated name and logo of a new association labelled, Nigeria Lawyers’ Association (NLA).
Femi Falana (SAN), is another eminent lawyer from the South-West not opposed to the split.
Falana had released a statement immediately after the contentious election, condemning the exercise including its results, insisting that membership of the NBA is not compulsory.
On the other hand, a descendant of longest-serving presidents of the association, Chief Ladi Rotimi- Williams (SAN), is against factionalisation, and maintained that if it must happen, it should be in a larger context.
He said: “First, I don’t subscribe to NBA being split. We met it as NBA when we became lawyers and it must remain, except the country itself is split into parts and it is not happening.
“I believe in an election someone must win and whoever loses should approach the tribunal or court. Two, (Olumide) Akpata is part of the greater Yoruba nation outside the South-West, so he is one of us. Three, Yoruba themselves are not united.”