Since I read the article by Sammy Etuk, I have pondered the rhetorical question and I have come to the conclusion that our duty as lawyers is to find answers to questions posed by well meaning colleagues, and in attempting to do so, X-ray the obvious answers and the not so obvious, interrogate the historical perspectives and employ facts in my bid to answer the question.
Let me start by stating the obvious:
1. The first article and the subsequent rejoinder are all seeking to address the cardinal issue of who should be the NBA President 2018-2020 which has been zoned to the South East by operation of the NBA constitution and the EBF guidelines.
2. These are trying times when Nigeria is already divided along ethnic, religious and get political lines and it happens that NBA needs now, more than ever before, a unifying factor as a President who has the ability to bring everybody together under one United and indivisible voice of advocacy for the rule of law and accountable good governance.
Having said this, the case of NBA Abuja Branch is a case in point. Over the years, the branch successfully zoned and rotates the office of Chairman of the branch among the three zones recognized by the NBA, Viz East, West and North. When it is the turn of each zone, the office is given to the different ethnic nationalities within the zone in order to give all interested groups a sense of belonging and in the true spirit of the “Unity Bar”.
This was how Mr. Desmond Yamah from Edo state became Chairman when it was zoned to the West and Mr. Agada Elachi from Benue state became Chairman when the office was zoned to the north.
This of course is recent history and one may well ask what relevance it bears on the issue under consideration.
Since the inception of the Unity Bar, all the Chairmen produced from the Eastern Bar are from the south East and they include; Chief Ikechukwu Ezechukwu, SAN, E. C. Ikeji Esq., Chief Jude Okeke (now Justice Okeke), Mazi Afam Osigwe ,to mention a few.
This is where the narrative gets interesting. In 2016, when it was the turn of the east to produce Chair of NBA Abuja branch, the majority of the Bar decided that it was the turn of the South South part of the Eastern Bar observe as Chairman and the mantle fell on Mr. Victor Abasiakan Ekim who enjoyed majority support to defeat other candidates. But alas, that was not to be as Mazi Afam Osigwe, in his trademark ethnic and tribal bias, cause to sponsor his classmate and friend, who happens to be from the South East and who did not contest the election against the efforts of some leaders of the South East to address historical imbalances and enthrone equity in political representation. That was how a regime that introduced the uniform bye laws for branches supervised the rape of the same bye laws.
Afam Osigwe was quick to forget that he became the General Secretary of NBA from the platform of the Eastern Bar Forum which forum is sustained by equitable distribution of political offices to reflect our diversity. He used the same office to truncate an opportunity presented by the leaders of the Bar in Abuja to address our diversity and that led to the intractable crisis bedevelling the once United “Unity Bar”.
The rest as they say is history.
WHO IS DIVIDING THE BAR?
WHO HAS A TRACK RECORD OF DIVIDING THE BAR?
WHO WILL BENEFIT FROM A DIVIDED BAR?
Your guess is as good as mine.
(Former Chairman, Yenagoa Branch.)
★This was sent to Afam Osigwe.We are still awaiting Afam Osigwe’s reply.His reply shall be published by us.