Don’t Surrender Leadership of The Bar to Non-SANs, Chief Awomolo Urges Past NBA Presidents

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Asiwaju S. A. Awomolo SAN, has in a memo to the past President of the Nigerian Bar Association Chief T.J.O Okpoko called on past NBA Presidents and indeed the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria to ensure that the leadership of the NBA is not surrended to a non senior advocate.

In his memo, Chief Awomolo had noted that the need for senior members of the profession to hold on to power is to avoid a repeat of what happened in Port Harcort in 1992 which paralyzed the Bar Association for six years.

“You  have never failed  at all  public speeches  at  formal  functions  to extol  the virtue  of leaders  past and present of the NBA.  Legal  profession  is  one of the oldest,  most  respected and revered professions  in  this  country.  Lawyers  by culture   and  ethics   cherish   rank and  seniority.   You   will  recall   sir  that  Dr Mudiaga  Odje, SAN  (of  blessed  memory)  Past  President of the Nigeria  Bar Association,  at the Jos Plenary  Conference in  1998  called and challenged  the members  of the Inner  Bar,  to take hold  of the leadership  of the Bar to avoid the occurrence of what happened in  Port  Harcourt in 1992 that paralyzed  the Bar  Association  from  1992–1998.  Since  you became the  President  of the reformed NBA  in   1998,  and to avoid  what happened in  Port  Harcourt  in 1992,   all    successors   to   the  office   of  the   President   have  been Senior Advocates of Nigeria.”

He also noted that this is to ensure that the virtues of integrity, respectability and good names are maintained in the noble profession.

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“The gains  are enormous both at national  and international  fora.  NBA  is  not just a  social  club  or ordinary society,  it is  a  conservative  professional  body with  strong ethical  values  of seniority,  integrity,  respectability  and good name as  core values to   the profession for leadership position not wealth or other primordial sentiment.”

“Since the death  of Chief Richard  O Akinjide,  SAN  you are the most active Senior,  Past President of the Bar and one of the surviving senior members of the Inner Bar who has good knowledge of the  culture  and values of the Bar.  I believe you cannot afford to look away or be unconcerned about the future and the leadership  of the NBA.”

He requested that a meeting of past NBA Presidents should be called to enable them do whatever it is within their powers to ensure that the office is preserved.

“With   respect,   I       believe  you  need  to  urgently call   a   meeting  of the  Past Presidents of the NBA  and do all within  your powers to preserve the integrity, honour and  respectability  of the  Office  of the  President  of the  NBA. In recent  time,  unfortunately  the  Government  did   a   grave damage to  the integrity of the office of the NBA President, by initiating criminal prosecution against the holder of the office of the President.”

“What I   hear is unannounced but powerful and potent revolutionary  move by our junior  colleagues  who are very much in  larger  numbers  to  wrestle  the office of the NBA from the rank of SAN.  That in my view will be unfortunate for the rank. To the members of the public  a  ridicule  of the rank and office of the President of the NBA.  We can see  other professions who followed   our precedent of putting their first eleven  to  lead   their Associations.  You  may have noticed  that the member of the inner  Bar  do not contest  for the office of Chairmen of over 120  branches Nation  Wide.”

“I   very sincerely bless God, the most High and most able   father,   who gave me and other committed  and dedicated members of the legal  profession, from all the branches to revive and restore the Bar Association  back to life after its  “death”  from 1992–1998  following the inconclusive Annual  Bar conference in  Port  Harcourt.”

“Permit  me the modesty of saying  that:  God in  His  infinite  mercies  gave you the opportunity to lead the Bar Association after my time as Chairman  of all Chairmen  and Secretaries  of the then 44  branches.  It  is  on record that you and your team performed excellently well  as leaders of the foremost professional   Organization   in   Nigeria.   You,   courageously  as   a   SAN   and President of the Bar,  looked  at the powers that be directly in the face.  You asserted  your rank and  leadership  of the  Bar  at  NJC and other  fora.  You successfully conducted election of officers and handed over to another Senior Advocate of Nigeria.   The Bar has since then been  led  by SAN.”

Sir,  I    am of the strong belief that you must do your best to keep the tradition of the rank and seniority that helped  you and all  those who came after you. It will   be a  great failure  of leadership  for the  Senior  Advocate to  surrender leadership to outer Bar when there are willing and able  Senior Advocates.”

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