Human rights advocate, KABIR AKINGBOLU pens a rejoinder to a recent fierce attack by NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana on leading human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN 


Recently, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, the embattled former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, said that whoever takes Mr Femi Falana SAN, serious despite his many inconsistencies, is not serious. This statement undoubtedly is too sweeping and uncalled for given the antecedents of Mr. Ogunlana himself, especially as it relates to his bellied anger or long seated acrimony against the learned silk and his ordeal as a former NBA Ikeja Branch chairman whose tenure is being x-rayed by the EFCC.

May I start this piece, riding on the shoulder of a popular Yoruba aphorism that says “Aifele kebosi ni o je ko see jo”, meaning “failure to distinctly and carefully raise alarm is what makes it impossible to dance to”. I have read carefully the write up of my very wonderful learned Senior, Adesina Ogunlana Esq, whom I adore greatly, one, as a powerful dresser, and secondly, as a fearless and courageous advocate. My first close encounter with him was sometime in 2013 when I filed Suit No. ID/459M/13; Kabir Akingbolu v. Registered Trustee of the Nigerian Bar Association and 1 Anor.; challenging some of the brazen anomalies in the NBA, especially, the high handedness of the J.B. Daudu led administration of the NBA then. We met at the Bar Centre Ikeja and he gave me very useful hints while encouraging me to go ahead. Also, I was one of the few people who joined him to take placards to protest and demonstrate in front of the International Conference Centre (ICC) Abuja, the venue of the conference of the NBA that particular year. For these, I know he is no doubt a brave lawyer.

However, going through Mr. Ogunlana’s write up under reference, I must confess, that most times, in fact, from the word go, he strayed from the point in question and indulge in diatribe on matters not in contention. Although, I must admit that he never pretended that he abhors some ill feelings against the innocent SAN, for his refusal to defend him when he was allegedly being persecuted by the National body of the NBA, whereas he (Falana) agreed to fight a similar cause for Mr. Bayo Akinlade. I shall come back to this later in this discourse.

Furthermore, Ogunlana, has indubitably and frontally accused Falana of being inconsistent in his views and this he pigeon holed in his failure to defend him while he defended Akinlade in similar circumstances according to him. Secondly, he alleged that Falana’s membership of Egbe Amofin is inconsistent with his real personage of being a PAN AFRICANIST AND NATIONALIST in Nigeria. Thirdly, he miffed at Falana’s outrage and warning that imminent danger of balkanization looms in NBA and fourthly, he posited that Falana in one breath condemned Caretaker Committee for any troubled NBA branch and in another breath supports Caretaker Committee.

Before delving into all these issues, I want to point out for the purpose of my earlier proverb that if Mr. Ogunlana’s write up and mood is well captured, one will clearly deduce the pretentious dexterity beneath the velvet of his utterances. Unfortunately, to worsen the situation, he lacked the proper style to hide his sentiments, thereby making his sweeping position too subjective and opinionated. If he had come out to tell the truth expressly that he was angry with Mr Falana only because he failed to defend him on the corruption or theft allegation of 20,000,000= naira belonging to the NBA, levelled against him (Ogunlana), one would have perfectly understood where he was coming from or where he was going but his faulty logic at presenting his argument gave him away as no one but a mere blackmailer seeking attention for relevance by using a personal issue as a national issue.

May I say for the record, that Mr. Falana, that I know as a policy, does not defend people with shady character and has maintained this for long. Thus, one cannot understand Mr. Ogunlana’s pain that he failed to defend him on allegation of corruption by changing his long standing principle against corruption. It is a known fact that after losing the control of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Ogunlana has since formed the so called Radical Agenda Mavement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA) to polarize the Ikeja Bar Association along radical and conservative lines. He has not succeeded because members of the NBA see him as a man of questionable character and motive. Thereafter, if Mr. Ogunlana is not accused of balkanization and inconsistencies, I wonder if same lies in his mouth. It is common knowledge that Mr. Adesina Ogunlana is a former Chairman of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association. While he led the association he was alleged to have stolen about N20 million from the lean purse of the branch. As he had no explanation for the criminal diversion of the money he is currently standing trial before the Lagos High Court for stealing. Instead of facing his trial Mr. Ogunlana has been seeking attention in a questionable manner. That was why he sought to contest for the post of the national president of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Of course Mr. Ogunlana was disqualified on the ground that he is not a lawyer of good standing. He sued the Association over his disqualification at the Lagos High Court and sought to stop the recently concluded conference of the Association. His case was dismissed as he could not convince the court to set aside his disqualification. Having lost the battle to stop the conference he decided to attack Mr. Femi Falana SAN. Earlier before this ignoble step, he (Ogunlana) filed an action at the High Court seeking to stop the recently concluded 60th annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association but failed woefully as his case was thrown out pronto.

It is also said, that “ti eru ba pe nile, alajobi lo ma nbu” (when a slave has too much freedom, he disrespects the freeborn).
When Mr. Ogunlana was a student at the Lagos State University, (LASU) he was expelled as a law student for his unruly behavior. Mr. Femi Falana filed a fundamental rights case for him at the Lagos State High Court sitting at Ikeja. He won the case. The University appealed against the judgment but Mr.Falana pleaded with the then VC of lasu, the late Professor Jadesola Akande to withdraw the appeal, pleading with the VC that as a mother she should help the young boy by not appealing so as to protect his (Ogunlana) future. The professor was touched by the Mr. Falana’s down to earth and compassionate approach and graciously granted Mr. Falana’s request. Hence, Ogunlana was able to graduate and go to the Nigerian Law School to become a lawyer. At that time, Falana was consistent and Ikeja High Court was not his backyard jurisdiction, whatever that means to ogunlana. Until recently, Ogunlana had always acknowledged the vital role played by Mr. Falana in his life. He has suddenly turned round to accuse Mr. Falana of filing a fundamental rights application for Mr. Bayo Akinlade when he was suspended indefinitely as the Chairman of the Ikorodu branch of the NBA by the NBA under the leadership of Mr. Paul Usoro SAN. Mr. Falana has every right to do this more so that under our law, indefinite suspension is illegal, making his case different from Ogunlana’s.

On Falana being a member of Egbe Amofin, I submit that the NBA is divided into regional blocks. It is not contradictory for Mr. Falana, a Nationalist and Pan Africanist of note to belong to Egbe Amofin. What is more? We have the Eastern Bar Association, Arewa Lawyer’s Forum, as well as Mid West Bar Forum. Three weeks ago, Mr. Falana had contributed to the debate on the “Limit of Compulsory Membership of Nigerian Bar Association”. In that article Mr. Falana had condemned the rigging of NBA elections by a cabal of lawyers and warned that it could lead to the bulkanisation of the body. This is a statement of fact and not an unpopular prophecy because there is now the budding New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) as warned by Falana.

On appointment of Caretaker Committees, this is provided for in the NBA Constitution and Mr. Falana has not criticised the appointment of caretaker committees to man crisis ridden branches of the NBA. He has however condemned the moral right of the national officers of the NBA whose own elections were manipulated through e-fraud to set up Caretaker Committees for branches.

Before I am done, one more thing is very shocking. Ogunlana contemptuously referred to the High Court Division of Ikeja as the backyard jurisdiction of Femi Falana, SAN. I submit most respectfully, that this is not the kind of statement to be credited to a serious lawyer.
In fact, Mr. Falana had filed a suit for Ogunlana at the same Ikeja High Court and won for him. But the court has now become Mr. Falana’s backyard jurisdiction because a legal victory was recorded there for his arch enemy, Mr. Bayo Akinlade.

Ogunlana also insulted the immediate past Chairman of the Ikeja branch of the NBA, Mr. Dele Oloke who enjoyed the support of the majority of the members including all the Senior Advocates in the branch. Apart from insisting on probity Mr. Oloke completed the secretariat of the branch which was abandoned by Ogunlana. The N20 million allegedly diverted by Ogunlana would have completed the project. That singular achievement by Mr. Oloke has rubbished the tenure of Ogunlana. That is the basis of his anger against Mr. Oloke.

Finally, sir, if I have referred to any issue which you know better than I do, kindly know that I have only addressed the issue from my own point of view and never intended to attack or denigrate you in anyway. I only do this to keep to the Yoruba adage that we need to respect our elders. That being the case, I submit that Mr. Falana is a Nationalist and a consistent Social Crusader of note who tells the truth without fear or favour no matter whose ox is gored. Thus, as yorubas, we must respect the elders; and thankfully, you candidly acknowledged in your piece that he is not only a nationalist but a Pan Africanist. Therefore, a man of this stand, deserves all the due reverence from us as young members of a noble profession.

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