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Body Of SAN Sets Up Committee To Audit NBA Elections, Group Condemns Move


The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), has set up a Committee to audit the national elections of the Nigerian Bar Association for the years 2016, 2018 and 2020.

The BOSAN meeting which held over the weekend was presided over by the first female Senior Advocate, Mrs Folake Solanke.

At his inaugural address, the President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata had announced the setting up of an Electoral Audit and Reforms Committee to audit the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections and recommend reforms to guide future elections.

But there are those who believe that this procedure is wrong as it should have been the decision of the National Executive Committee of the NBA especially as Mr Akpata is the beneficiary of the flawed elections.

Channels Television gathered that BOSAN feels equally concerned about the outcome of the last three elections and wants the committee to embark on a fact-finding mission to unravel what happened so that the NBA can have credible elections going forward.

Some negative reactions have, however, trailed the move. A statement by a group, Open Bar Initiative insists that BOSAN’s move to audit the elections is only because a non-SAN emerged as President of the Bar.

In the statement signed by the convener, Silas Onu, the group called on the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to desist from its attempt to audit the 2020 NBA Elections as it amounts to an attempt to supervise, meddle and undermine the NBA.

The statement further says that “the entire membership of BOSAN is less than 600 and as such, they aren’t in any position to act or speak for the over 120,000 lawyers in Nigeria.

The Open Bar Initiative concluded by saying that it is set to take BOSAN to court if it insists on acting unilaterally in ways that undermine the core purpose and responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association.

In a swift reaction, a member of the BOSAN Audit Committee, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), debunked insinuations that the BOSAN committee was set up to rival the audit committee set up by the President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata.

Adegboruwa said the setting up of the BOSAN commuter was a unanimous decision of the body with no ill motive or foul play in mind.

According to him: “the insinuation of alleged foul play is totally unwarranted, being a deliberate attempt to twist the narrative of the BOSAN meeting, with the sole aim of blackmailing the noble men and women of the Inner Bar, into silence.

He also said all stakeholders in the legal profession are working towards a solution to the perennial complaints following the experiences with electronic voting and it is, therefore, not outside BOSAB’s mandate as lawyers to help the Bar to chart a way forward in this regard, in collaboration with the NBA and other relevant stakeholders.

See the full responses of the Open Bar Initiative and Ebun Adegboruwa’s response below:

Our attention has been drawn to the sinister activity of a group known and referred to as the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), an independent incorporated trustee, with no connection to the NBA whatsoever, as it constitutes itself into a supervising body of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Today, they plan to announce a committee of that body to audit the just-concluded NBA Election. It is evident that many Senior Advocates who personally felt defeated by a non-SAN are now working overtime to supplant the Nigerian Bar Association with a group formed only for the SANs.

This is not the only overbearing activity embarked upon by the group without any authority from Nigerian Lawyers.

They have also constituted themselves into the drafters of the proposed amendment to the Legal Practitioner’s Act and therein attempting to give the body a statutory flavour.

This attempts to undermine the Nigerian Bar Association simply because a Non-SAN is the current President by promoting another platform that will speak for and on behalf of lawyers is unfortunate and hereby condemned.

It cannot stand and must be resisted by all well-meaning Nigerian lawyers.

Senior Advocates, like Young Lawyers, have the right to come together under a forum that is subject to the Nigerian Bar Association. However, incorporating an independent body with the aim of surreptitiously taking over the core responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association is, sadly, demonstrative of the rot that some of these Seniors have brought to this profession.

The only reason for such a body is to show a distinction between “ordinary” lawyers and the “extraordinary” Senior Advocates, who have now surpassed the level of being called lawyers, or so we imagine.

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, being an independent incorporated trustee has no business whatsoever in meddling with NBA Election under any guise and should discontinue any attempt to so interfere forthwith. They can organise an election for their preferred candidates to lead their own body and it won’t be our business at all.

Also, the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria is not known to the legal practitioner’s Act and has no place in the proposed amendment of the said Act. If they have any input to make, it should be routed through the recognized body of lawyers, the Nigerian Bar Association. They cannot constitute themselves as a body acting for or on behalf of lawyers.

Their entire membership is less than 600 and as such, they aren’t in any position to act or speak for the over 120, 000 lawyers in Nigeria. They are to desist from further usurpation of responsibilities that does not fall within their purview.

We are resolved to drag that body to court if it insists on acting unilaterally in ways that undermine the core purpose and responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association.

We know that not all Senior Advocates subscribe to the objectives of this body and therefore call on the very respected Senior Advocates of Nigeria, properly so-called, to dissociate themselves from this attempt to undermine the Nigerian Bar Association simply because a Non-SAN is presently the President.

Thank you.

Silas Joseph Onu, MCIArb
Past Publicity Secretary,
Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja Branch.
&
Convener, Open Bar Initiative.

——————————————————————————————————

COMMITTEE TO AUDIT NBA ELECTIONS

My attention has been drawn to a news item currently circulating, to the effect that the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, BOSAN, has set up a parallel Committee to audit the national elections of the Nigerian Bar Association for the year 2016, 2018 and 2020. The said report suggests that BOSAN may have done this in order to undermine the Committee set up by the NBA for the same purpose.

I attended the meeting of BOSAN held on September 5, 2020, as a bona fide member of the said organization, which is duly registered under the relevant laws of Nigeria for the protection of the interests of its members, as permitted under section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

I was nominated along with other distinguished members of BOSAN, for a national assignment, as a patriotic member of the legal profession in Nigeria. It was a unanimous decision of BOSAN, with no ill motive or foul play in mind. The meeting was presided over by the first female Senior Advocate, Mrs. Folake Solanke, who sacrificed her time for the said meeting that lasted well over four hours, at well over 80 years of age, for the common good of all.

All stakeholders in the legal profession are working towards a solution to the perennial complaints following our experiences with electronic voting, it is therefore not outside our mandate as lawyers to help the Bar to chart a way forward in this regard, in collaboration with the NBA and other relevant stakeholders.

The insinuation of alleged foul play is totally unwarranted, being a deliberate attempt to twist the narrative of the BOSAN meeting, with the sole aim of blackmailing the noble men and women of the Inner Bar, into silence.

Personally, I am embarrassed that a meeting held to discuss the progress of the Bar and indeed Nigeria, is being bandied as a gang up, even when no official statement or communique has been issued by the executive council of BOSAN.

I verily believe that those spreading this falsehood are enemies of the Bar, who are out on a sadistic mission to pit the NBA against BOSAN, without any justification whatsoever, given that both bodies exist to complement each other.

I’m concerned that the good reputation of patriotic Bar leaders is being maligned recklessly on the altar of Bar politics, or else I cannot fathom the reason why anyone should lose sleep over attempts to build a united, strong and virile Bar.

From available history, BOSAN has never been in rivalry with any NBA Exco; it has been in existence before the new Exco assumed office and it will continue to partner with all NBA Excos for the progress of the Bar and Nigeria at large.

Personally, I offer to work with all stakeholders within the Bar, including the present leadership of the NBA, for the common good of the legal profession and our country, Nigeria, as I do in other national issues.

Thank you.

Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
Lekki, Lagos.
06/09/2020

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