A Life Bencher and former Attorney General of Plateau State, Mr. Edward Pwajok SAN has alleged that the recent reconstitution of the Body of Benchers committees may not be unconnected with the refusal of the Appointments Committee to approve the appointment of the wife of the Chairman.

It is recalled that Body of Benchers Chairman, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN recently reconstituted the elite body’s committees.

In a letter obtained by CITY LAWYER, Pwajok who was until the controversial reconstitution a member of the Appointment Committee and the Special Duties Committee, rejected his recent designation as a member of the Finance Committee.

Unleashing a can of worms, the former Attorney General stated that “Already tongues are wagging that the Chairman took umbrage at the Appointments Committee because his wife’s name was on the list that we did not approve. While I hold the Chairman’s wife in the highest esteem as a reputable Lawyer who is worthy of being appointed a Bencher and will not vote against her if she is duly nominated, is the Chairman’s action not fuelling suspicion particularly if she is nominated to join the Body during his tenure?” 

In the letter dated May 17, 2024 and addressed to the Secretary of the Body of Benchers, he stated that “I must put on record my suspicion that the reconstitution was motivated by the decisions of the Appointments Committee earlier this year in not approving the nominees of the immediate past Chairman as Life Benchers and Benchers. Is it a mere co-incidence that the only member who survived the ‘reconstitution’ was the only one who supported the lists of the past Chairman but all the others including the respected (Committee) Chairman, Rtd, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, a past (Benchers) Chairman were removed.”

Continuing, he asked: “Is it now an offence to insist on abiding by the Rules of the Body of Benchers? Is this reconstitution meant to punish the Chairman and Members of the Appointments Committee, to serve as a deterrent to subsequent members of that committee to become a rubber stamp to automatically approve the decisions of the Chairman, even if they violate our Rules?”

He also stated that there are “loud complaints on the lop sidedness (sic) in the composition of the Committees,” adding that “six out of twelve Committee Chairmen are from the same ethnic group with the Chairman. Is this not a violation of Federal Character principles enshrined in our Constitution which the Body of the highest distinction in the legal profession is supposed to uphold?”

Pwajok warned that the crisis may “constitute existential threats to the Body,” saying: “May I with humility and every sense of responsibility advise that we do not take the stability of the Body for granted.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN was the first to lampoon the reconstitution exercise, vowing not to relinquish his position as Chairman of the Appointments Committee. He has now dragged Awomolo and the body to court on the matter.

The leadership of the body is yet to respond to the flurry of attacks against the reconstitution exercise.

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