The Supreme Court of Nigeria has stated that a member who was recently appointed by Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN into the NBA Public Interest Litigation Committee is not a lawyer.

In a letter obtained by CITY LAWYER and dated January 12, 2023, the apex court stated that “We have checked our records and the name DOUGLAS OGBANKWA cannot be found on the Rolls of Legal Practitioners kept in the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”

Ogbankwa, a prolific writer and former Publicity Secretary of NBA Benin Branch, was until recently the Publicity Secretary of the break-away Law Society of Nigeria (LSN). He has since resigned his position with the embattled association.

He was at various times appointed by the President of the African Bar Association (AfBA), Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo as the Director of Strategic Communications as well as Coordinator of the Law Student Internship Programme of the association.

Aside from being a member of the NBA Editorial Committee and a Team Lead of the NBA College of Rapporteurs, Ogbankwa was until recently the Chairman of NBA Benin Branch Bar Police Monitoring Committee. He is the Founder of Benin Writers’ Society.

Titled “RE: REQUEST FOR CONFIRMATION OF THE NAME DOUGLAS OGBANKWA ON ROLL OF LEGAL PRACTITIONERS IN NIGERIA,” the letter from the apex court stated that “The said DOUGLAS OGBANKWA is at liberty to come forward with his call to Bar Certificate and Qualifying Certificate for enrolment.”

Continuing, the Supreme Court stated that “If he has changed his name, he is expected to come along with a duly stamped deed poll and all the requirements for change of name in the Supreme Court.” The stamped letter was signed by one Henrietta Aduwak Akyang on behalf of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hajo Sarki Bello.

Ogbankwa however told CITY LAWYER that the Supreme Court got it wrong, adding that he was duly called to the Nigerian Bar in May 2007.

He wondered how he could have been appointed by the NBA to sundry committees without due diligence, saying that would be “an indictment on NBA leadership.”

Ogbankwa vowed that he was called to the Nigerian Bar as “Douglas Onyebuchi Aguguom,” adding that personal reasons forced him to change his surname to Ogbankwa, “which is my grand-father’s name.” He told CITY LAWYER that he had duly effected a change of name at the Supreme Court, and wondered why the apex court would disown his name on the roll.

His words: “I was called to the Bar in May 2007. My Supreme Court Number is 055406. My Call to Bar name is Douglas Onyebuchi Aguguom. I effected a change of name due to personal reasons. I have paid Bar Practising Fee with ‘Ogbankwa;’ Is it not the Supreme Court that receives Bar Practising Fee? I have processed my stamp with ‘Ogbankwa;’ I have several Court of Appeal judgements with ‘Ogbankwa.’

“I nominated Pius Oiwoh who was cleared to run for the office of NBA General Secretary in 2022. As you are aware, both the nominator and nominee must be equally qualified for the nominee to receive ECNBA clearance.

“The NBA appointed me into its College of Rapporteurs as well as member of the NBA Editorial Board. I was recently appointed as a member of the NBA Public Interest Litigation Committee.

“The name Ogbankwa was on the NBA Voters Register for 2018 and 2020. It is politics that made them to revert my name to ‘Aguguom’ in 2022. I do not also know why the name is listed under the ‘International Diaspora’ category on the NBA website, moreso as I do not have control of the NBA portal.”

He told CITY LAWYER that NBA has an “arrangement” where a member can process stamp and pay Bar Practising Fee with different names once he could show proof of change of name at the Supreme Court.

CITY LAWYER investigation showed that while “Douglas Ogbankwa” does not exist on the NBA “Find A Lawyer” portal, one “Aguguom Douglas” with Supreme Court Number 055406 is listed under “International Diaspora” category. Also, while “Douglas Ogbankwa” is listed on the NBA Voters Register for 2018 and 2020, no such name exists in the 2022 Voters Register. However, “Douglas Onyebuchi Aguguom” with Supreme Court Number 055406 is listed as a member of NBA Benin Branch.

CITY LAWYER investigation also shows that “Douglas Ogbankwa Law Firm” was registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) on August 19, 2020 with its principal business activity as “Legal practice and consultancy services.” The proprietor is listed as “Douglas Onyebuchi Ogbankwa.”

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