The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) just finished its 63rd yearly general conference and issued excellent resolutions in its communiqué about national harmony, security, economy, and rule of law. But behind that lies a fetor of disunity among its national executive officers that pre-dates the current leadership and showing no signs of abating, writes JOSEPH ONYEKWERE.

That there is disunity among the NBA national officers is not a secret, but how and when such visible disagreements will end for members of the noble profession, is perhaps the conundrum waiting to be disentangled.

As disclosed by the President of the NBA, Yakubu Maikyau during its general meeting in Abuja, at the heart of the imbroglio is the quest to access the funds of the association by some of the executives who believe that getting elected into national office is an opportunity to enjoy free funds.

During the tenure of Paul Usoro (SAN), he had open disagreement with the General Secretary, Mr Jonathan Taidi, who accused him of an attempt to “fleece” the association millions of naira, saying that he “blocked” the alleged scam. Some of the executive members backed him, but Usoro vehemently denied any wrongdoing.

Also, in the time of the immediate past president, Olumide Akpata, the General Secretary, Joyce Oduah took him on. When it festered, the NBA suspended her on grounds of gross misconduct. The suspension came after an emergency meeting was held by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the Association. She challenged the suspension in court and was restored.

Earlier between 2012 and 2014 during the tenure of Joseph Daudu (SAN), the treasurer at that time, Mrs Funke Oluyede also had some bouts with him.
All those are beside the electoral conflict that has perpetually dogged the association and threatened to disintegrate it, such that the Nigerian Law Society (NLS), whose principal officers are senior members of the NBA, now exists.

Yet again, national officers last two weeks, expressed discontentment over the leadership of Maikyau, whom they accused of lack of transparency in the management of the affairs of the Association. Those who are unhappy are national treasurer, Mrs Caroline Ladidi Anze-Bishop; 2nd Vice President, Mr. Clement Ugo and the 3rd Vice President, Mrs Amanda Demechi-Asagba.

Firing the first shot, Mrs Anze-Bishop, who refused to endorse the audited account of the Association, said: “The report was prepared without my knowledge or involvement in anything. I have complained severally on August 15, 2023 at the National Executive Committee meeting in the presence of every national officer.

“The president said he does not require the consent of my office to run the financial affairs of this association in an exco meeting. Therefore, if that is the path he has decided to follow, respectfully, I am not the fit and proper person to stand before you and sign any financial document or stand here and give you a financial report.

“The NBA treasurer is not a member of the finance committee, stabilisation fund committee or any committee that has to do with the finances of the organisation. How then can I carry out my job?”

Continuing, she stated that financial memos were not passed through her office, but through the general secretary for presidential approval. The treasurer said it does not align with her conscience to endorse the financial report because she was never involved or informed about how they were arrived at, adding that the figures were unknown to her.

“I will not disrespect you by standing here to give you unknown figures because I do not know the true financial position of this association,” she declared.

Similarly, 2nd Vice President complained of being sidelined, while the 3rd Vice President asserted that decisions are being made without collective input.

In his response, the NBA president fires back, accusing the officers of intending to rip-off the association, adding that their intention was to put him at odds with his colleagues for simply blocking them from frittering away lawyers’ funds.

Maikyau, said that 3rd vice president and others expected him to pay from the Association’s money for two weeks stay at a hotel after the conclusion of a press briefing attended by national officers, but he simply objected to it.

“I know what it means for lawyers in rural areas to put together their bar practicing fee and after we have been elected for two years, the Association will now be fending for national officers,” he said, adding that he did not embezzle NBA money.”

Maikyau said some national officers sent him messages about going for the International Bar Association (IBA) conference in France and wanted him to pay for their membership, registration and other expenses but he declined. He presented a memo of the expenses the Association would have incurred had he approved the requests, which is N79, 710, 820 million.

According to him, he pays from his pocket to honour courtesy calls by public officers, even when he attends such with his aides. In addition, Maikyau said he also declined to give out loans to secretariat staffs who are in need but prefer to give from his personal funds.

“Financial reports that the treasurer has refused to sign is not prepared by me, but auditors. If there is any reason we have degenerated to this point, it is because of my respect for NBA funds,” he said, adding that some members of the executive have not forgiven him for refusing to share N40 million, which is part of the N50 million he received from undisclosed donor, in the name of the association unknown to any of them, but later informed them about it after deducting N10 million expenses incurred by officers during NEC meeting in Kebbi State.

Maikyau insisted that he would never approve money for any frivolous journey or hotel expenses in the name of the NBA. “If you are an elected national officer, you don’t live off the association. Go and do your work, when you are needed, you come and serve the Association.

“Volenti non fit injuria (to a willing person, it is not a wrong). You are the one that signed on to serve, so don’t complain that you don’t have time for your work.

“Some of the national officers including the 3rd vice stayed two weeks in a hotel paid from the bar practicing fee and also given per diem of N30,000 every day for the period that she stayed behind, and wanted me to pay, I said I will not pay,” he declared.

Vocal lawyer, Olajide Abiodun, said the internal wranglings have become a source of concern to lawyers, as they threaten the association’s unity, effectiveness, and reputation.

To address these issues, he said, it is crucial for the NBA to consider reforms that balance power, establish transparent governance processes, and promote collaboration among executive committee members.

“Only by addressing these challenges head-on can the NBA continue to fulfill its vital role in the legal community and society at large,” he said.
According to him, one of the key issues contributing to these disputes is the significant power vested in the office of the NBA President.

The President, he noted, wields considerable authority, which, if not managed effectively, can lead to a perception of authoritarianism and exclusion of other executive committee members. His words: “Calls for reform have emphasised the need to balance the powers of the President with checks and balances to prevent potential abuse.

“Recent incidents, such as the Treasurer’s revelation of her duties being taken over, underscore the dissatisfaction among executive committee members. These conflicts extend beyond financial matters, revealing deeper issues related to decision-making processes, authority distribution, and teamwork within the NBA leadership.

“While the accusations against the NBA President don’t directly involve financial misappropriation, they raise questions about financial transparency and accountability. The lack of clarity regarding the association’s financial status adds complexity to the ongoing disputes.

“It’s imperative for the NBA to establish clear financial processes and ensure that financial reports are accessible to all executive committee members.”

Abiodun warned that the recurring internal wranglings have the potential to tarnish the Association’s reputation because lawyers and members of the legal community expect the NBA to exemplify professionalism and sound governance.

“Prolonged disputes and power struggles can erode public trust and confidence in the organisation, affecting its ability to advocate effectively for legal matters and serve its members,” he declared.

For former NBA chairman, Ikorodu branch, Adebayo Akinlade, the squabbles have been there for many years, and it shows that the NBA can no longer keep the structures that it currently has.

Lawyers, he said, should not be driving the administrative aspect of the association, but should be left to professional administrators where the lawyers are elected to oversee the job.

According to him, the NBA is too big for nine lawyers to run the whole administrative process, adding that it has become imperative to allow other law societies to exist.

“NBA has outlived its time because when it was created, it has probably less than 500 lawyers and now we have almost a million lawyers and the association can no longer hold the space of legal parties and the profession in entirety.

For Abdulaziz Chuba Ogbui, a lawyer, the NBA cannot effectively play its role of checking excesses of government and powerful people against the downtrodden if its divided due to in- fighting.

“They should close ranks not just for the Association’s interests but for the society, especially the ordinary people who look up to them as their voice. The opinion of the NBA on any burning issue is usually weighty and government does not take such views for granted,” he stressed.

Pointing out the reason for the brawl, Lagos based lawyer, Wahab Abdulah said majority of the executive members have their own political groups or camp which form the basis of which they campaigned and win election.

He argued that the moment a member of a team wins an election and another team or their members fail, those who are in majority, particularly, the office of the president will harbour some ill feelings among themselves. Abdulah noted that money and personal ego, oftentimes contribute to the endless crisis.

Human rights lawyer, Toluwani Adebiyi stated that the defence put up by Maikyau was an eye opener to the shameful fact that 99 per cent of public office seekers in Nigeria are not seeking office to serve or make sacrifices, but with eyes on public money to embezzle and indulge in other calculated self-interests.

“On the President’s decision to spend his personal money in undertaking or carrying out official responsibilities, Chief Obafemi Awolowo did something familiar as Premier of Western Region by riding in his own personal car, living in his personal house and maintaining them while in office with his personal resources.

“He didn’t receive furniture allowance, no killing of two cows per day with government money, no going to government organised parties with girlfriends branded as PA’s and compensated from government purse, but what we have today, is a complete reverse of such uncommon sacrificial and selfless service.

“On the other hand, if other executive members decide not to spend personal money to execute official responsibilities approved by the Association, they have not committed any sin, because not everybody can be like Awolowo,” advised.

He called for prudence in the management of the Association’s funds, adding that the undue advantage and excessiveness of executives mentioned by the President is a direct reflection of the decadence of the present-day society.

“It is quite unfortunate that Maikyau finds himself among strange beings, with different thinking and focus, they cannot work together in the same boat. It is quite sad and unfortunate,” he lamented and commended him for disclosing the N50 million and refusing to share it despite pressures from his executive members.

  • Culled from THE GUARDIAN newspaper

To join our CITY LAWYER ROUNDTABLE on WhatsApp, click here 

To join our Telegram platform, click here 

COPYRIGHT 2022 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to Join us on Facebook at and on TWITTER at To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email or call 08138380083.

All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.