The Body of Benchers has again ‘stepped down’ the nomination of immediate past Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata as its member, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Though the application by incumbent NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN came up for consideration at the benchers’ last quarterly meeting, the elite body resolved to ‘step down’ the application for the second time on the basis that NBA was indebted to it.

CITY LAWYER recalls that the application suffered a similar fate during the penultimate benchers’ meeting, with the body blaming it on the fact that Akpata’s curriculum vitae was not attached to the application. It was also hinted that lack of approval of the nomination by NBA’s National Executive Council (NEC) may prove a stumbling block.

While Maikyau has since secured NBA-NEC approval and submitted Akpata’s curriculum vitae to the Benchers Appointment Committee led by former Court of Appeal President, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, the benchers have again resolved to suspend consideration of the nomination until NBA fulfils its financial obligations to the body.

A source who is familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that Maikyau however countered the argument during the benchers’ last quarterly meeting.

He wondered why Akpata’s nomination was singled out for such ‘special treatment’ when two other NBA Representatives who were proposed at the same time had since been approved and resumed membership of the coveted body.

The benchers had earlier approved two other NBA nominees, Mr. Solomon Umoh SAN and Mr. Sule Usman Ogwu SAN. While Umoh is returning to the elite body, Ogwu joins the body as a new member. The duo were among the three names forwarded by NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN to the Body of Benchers for approval as NBA representatives.

Our source also stated that Maikyau queried why he was not contacted to redress any alleged indebtedness.

CITY LAWYER however learnt that the Body of Benchers Chairman, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN explained that the Secretary was unable to reach Maikyau, adding that communication on the matter would be delivered to NBA.

Some analysts however argue that Akpata’s chequered attempt to return to the elite body may not be unconnected with NBA’s bruising face-off with Olanipekun over alleged solicitation by a Partner in his leading law firm. Both Akpata and Maikyau NBA leaderships had stridently demanded Olanipekun’s recusal from the chairmanship post, even as NBA has dragged the alleged defaulter to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a complaint by former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN over an email from Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, allegedly soliciting to take over a brief his law firm was handling for SAIPEM SPA. Following his demand for an apology, Wole Olanipekun & Co apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner. NBA has since filed a petition against the embattled senior lawyer at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).

Meanwhile, one Mark Anthony has today commenced an online petition to compel the Body of Benchers to ratify Akpata’s nomination by the NBA.

In the petition sighted by CITY LAWYER, he stated that “Mr. Olumide Akpata is the immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association. He is a defender of human rights and a friend of the masses.

“During his tenure as NBA President, he stood against corruption and nepotism expecially (sic) the legal profession. This included calling out Mr. Olanipekun, SAN who is also the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, a body that calls Nigerian Lawyers to bar.

“In retaliation, Chief Olanipekun refused to approve Mr. Akpata’s nomination to the Body made by President Y.C Maikyau SAN.

“This petition is to enforce the recognition of those who will fight for the masses and the common man.

“Please add your voice and let’s make a statement!”

The petition has received about 30 signatories at press time.

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