The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has faulted the claim by Steve Sun that the NBA has no power to set up an online payment portal for the purpose of paying Bar Practicing Fee (BPF).
In a statement issued by the Publicity Secretary of NBA, Mr. Kunle Edun, the NBA noted that Mr. Sun’s argument is totally misconceived.
It would be recalled that Mr. Steve Nwankwo (Steve Sun) had on Wednesday, 20th February issued a statement suggesting that the NBA acted ultra vires its powers by setting up the online portal. Read here.
Reacting to Steve Sun’s claim, the NBA has set the issues straight and addressed every point raised by Mr. Steve Sun.
According to the NBA;
“The premise on which he builds his argument is that Section 2(3) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap L11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 (“LPA”) mandates the payment of the BPF “to the Registrar (i.e. the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court)” and he believes and posits that the payments of the fees through the NBA Online Payment Portal detracts from those provisions.”
Mr. Edun noted that payments through the online portal still goes to the Supreme Court of Nigeria through its Access Bank Account; “With great respect to Steve Sun, he is wholly mistaken in his arguments and assumptions. The Bar Practice Fees, whether paid online through the innovative NBA Online Payment Portal or in the old tedious manner of visiting the Bank Branches and lining up to make the payments, all get paid into the same Access Bank Account Number 0000976716 whose Account Holder is “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF)”. For emphasis and the avoidance of doubt, the Bar Practice Fees that are paid through the NBA Online Payment Portal do not go to any account other than the afore-specified “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF)” account.”
He further stated that creating the online portal was an innovation that is aimed at facilitating efficient, stress-free, technology driven payment.
“What the NBA has done through its online payment portal is to facilitate an efficient, stress-free, technology-driven payment process of the BPF and other NBA related payments, for the benefit and comfort of our members, and this is to the knowledge of the Supreme Court Chief Registrar and the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation, both of whom are members of the NBA. There is therefore nothing ultra vires or incompetent howsoever in the innovative online BPF payment method that has been introduced by the NBA. Indeed, this innovative payment facilitation by the NBA is not any different from the role the NBA has always played from time immemorial in encouraging members to make their BPF payments on time.”
He further noted that both payment platforms co-exist and are available for lawyers to choose from.
“Finally, we must point out that the inconvenient and manual BPF payment method has not been scrapped; it co-exists side-by-side the online payment system for members who, for one reason or the other, may wish or opt to make their payments the old-fashioned way. Both payment methods are legitimate and legally competent, and they all go to the same purse i.e. Access Bank Account Number 0000976716 titled “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF)”.”