Two senior lawyers have dragged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN to the Lagos High Court following a ban on the activities of NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) by Maikyau.

The claimants are Mr. George Nwabunike of NBA Lagos Branch and former NBA Ota Branch Chairman, Mr. Isaac Ogbah while the defendants are Maikyau and the Registered Trustees of the NBA.

According to processes obtained by CITY LAWYER, the claimants are seeking “A declaration that the President of the Nigerian Bar Association does not have the power or right to direct the affairs of SECTION ON PUBLIC INTEREST AND DEVELOPMENT LAW (SPIDEL) or Order the Section ‘not to undertake any engagement with any third without prior consultation and permission from me as the president’ as contained in a letter dated 31 January, 2024 addressed to the Chairman of Section on Public Interest and Development.

“A Declaration that it is only the NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL of the Nigerian Bar Association that can regulate the affairs of the Sections of the Nigerian Bar Association after reviewing their reports at Annual General Meetings of the Nigerian Bar Association.”

Also, the lawyers are seeking “An Interlocutory Injunction restraining the Defendants from taking any step or action to render nugatory this suit or any part thereof pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice.”

They are also praying the court for “A Perpetual Injunction restraining the president of the Nigerian Bar Association from interfering with the activities of SECTION ON PUBLIC INTEREST AND DEVELOPMENT LAW (SPIDEL) OR ANY OTHER SECTION of the Nigerian Bar Association.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that the defendants have been duly served with the processes. However, the Lagos State High Court is yet to fix a date for the hearing of the case.

According to the claimants, the issue for determination by the court is “Whether by the relevant Sections of the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015(as amended in 2021) and the Uniform Bye-Laws of the association as well as to wit; Sections 9, 17(1) of the NBA Constitution, Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Articles XI(c), XI(h), XXI, XXII, X(b) and X(c), among others of the Uniform Bye-Laws of the NBA, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association can interfere with the activities the activities of the Section on Public Interest and Development Law of the Nigerian Bar Association.”

In an accompanying 22-paragraph affidavit, Nwabunike stated that efforts to challenge the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in court over its classification of lawyers under the SCUML scheme proved abortive as the NBA President did not approve litigation.

His words: “That the next thing we were informed was that the Nigerian Bar Association President informed them that he will resolve the matter without going to court. Till now, we have not seen any resolution.”

He also stated that the same fate befell the plan to sue Evercare Hospital Lekki and Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) over the death of Lagos lawyer, Mrs. Ijeoma Oparanozie, saying Maikyau also refused to approve the planned litigation.

CITY LAWYER recalls that Maikyau had barred the NBA-SPIDEL from proceeding with its activities, including public interest cases instituted by the section to challenge some actions of governmental agencies.

The section had also urged the court to force the NYSC to revoke the certificates that were granted to Culture Minister Hannatu Musawa and music promoter Kenny Ogungbe for allegedly running foul of the National Youth Service Corps Act.

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