Leading human rights activists have lampooned the Nigerian Bar Association President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN and the National Executive Council (NBA-NEC) for its decision to dissolve the Executive Committee of the Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL).

Meanwhile, CITY LAWYER gathered that there was a near-unanimous endorsement of the Mr. John Aikpokpo-Martins-led Executive Committee by SPIDEL members. It was gathered that the outpouring of solidarity was demonstrated especially on SPIDEL’s WhatsApp platform where the members vowed to resist the NEC resolution and newly appointed Caretaker Committee.

Signposting the defiance of nearly all but one SPIDEL member who spoke on the issue, fiery human rights activist Inibehe Effiong said: “Let the caretaker (committee) come and lead let’s see! Who are they going to lead?”

In a tweet which he made available to CITY LAWYER, former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu wrote: “While the interdiction of @nba_spidel remains pending at the High Courts of Lagos & Delta States respectively, @NigBarAssoc president, @YCMaikyauSAN, who is a party to both suits, chooses to endrun the courts? So much for #PromotingTheRuleOfLaw….!”

Leading human rights advocate, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN decried the sack of the SPIDEL Executive Committee, saying the dispute “should have been resolved by elders of the Bar,”

Speaking with CITY LAWYER, Adegboruwa said: “The discord between NBA and one of its Committees SPIDEL, is very unfortunate.

“The NBA exists for the protection and promotion of the rule of law and this is best expressed through its constant interventions in matters that directly affect the masses of the people.

“The dispute between NBA Exco and SPIDEL should have been resolved by elders of the Bar, especially the Board of Trustees, rather than the punitive decision of NEC that has further divided the Bar rather unite it.

“Given the state of the Nigerian nation presently, especially the challenges faced by lawyers all over, there is need to unite the various bodies within the Bar.

“Personality disputes between leaders of the Bar have no positive impact on lawyers generally and these disputes should be downplayed.

“The Bar should focus on issues affecting the Bar and the clients that they represent.”

A former Chairman of NBA Obollo-Afor Branch, Dr, Gerald Abonyi said the handwriting was all over the wall prior to the dismissal of the SPIDEL leadership. His words: “Some of us saw it coming; that type of show of power should not be found in the NBA whose motto is ‘promoting the rule of law’. The NBA is an association of lawyers; it is not a political party. We bond professionally and should depict that ethics at all times. Is the NEC resolution removing the leadership of SPIDEL and directing the withdrawal of all their matters in court not vindictive and taken to assuage the ego of Mr. President of the Bar? How then are we promoting the Rule of Law when the matter is subjudice.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that Justice Joe Egwu of Delta State High Court had ordered the claimant, former NBA-SPIDEL Publicity Secretary Godfrey Echeho to serve the court processes on the defendants by substituted means. While Maikyau was sued alongside NBA General Secretary, Mr. Adesina Adegbite “For themselves and as representing the members of the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association”), the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association was also joined as a defendant.

Justice Egwu while granting the prayer for substituted service held that “With regards to prayers No. 1 and 2 contained in the motion paper, the Defendants are hereby given seven days from the date of service of the enrolled order of this Honourable court to show cause why reliefs Nos. 1 and 2 contained in the motion exparte ought not to be granted.

“The return date for the Defendants to show cause is fixed for Monday the 4th day of March 2024 and the same date is also fixed for the hearing of the motion on notice.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that NBA was duly served with the court processes and enrolled order, a situation reportedly acknowledged at the NBA-NEC meeting by Adegbite.

Saying that a similar fate befell him in the hands of NBA-NEC, former NBA Ikorodu Branch Chairman, Mr. Bayo Akinlade wrote: “@⁨GCB John Aikpokpo-Martins,⁩ the NBA belongs to no man. I felt the heavy weight of NEC once …. I was disgraced out, not given the opportunity to speak or defend myself against those who raised motions against me. I was escorted out unceremoniously with my name tag removed from my neck to show that I no longer was a member of NEC and worst still, I was removed as chairman of my branch and NEC gave the chairmanship of my branch to another who was at the NEC meeting but wasn’t even a member.

“To say the truth, I had never been so humiliated, I had overcome the intrigues of some people in my branch, stood for elections 3 times in 2 weeks because members continued to still vote for me. I gave up even then and told my colleagues that I wouldn’t contest but they said that I must and I did only to be removed by NEC, by my colleagues in other states who didn’t know anything but just accepted what the president handed down as a verdict.

“I cried that day but I was relieved also. Ikorodu barely had up to 70 active members and I was coming from the global community …. I told myself that Ikorodu and NBA as a whole didn’t need what I had to offer.”

Reacting to the dismissal of the SPIDEL Executive, a senior lawyer and SPIDEL member Lillian Eronini, said: “It’s absolute crap. We voted the executives into that position. It is very irresponsible of the NBA president to caution SPIDEL on the activities that concerns public interest. What YC has done with his gang is totally unacceptable and disgusting to say the least. I am so ashamed of the actions of the stereotype NEC. Sad!”

However, Mr. Abraham Imoisili, another SPIDEL member, said: “It was easily foreseeable. There was no way the SPIDEL Executives were going to survive politically at the NEC Meeting. A wiser course of action on the part of the SPIDEL Chairman would have been to have a genuine parley with the NBA President with a view to getting his support for future SPIDEL activities.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the NBA-NEC had passed a resolution to dissolve the SPIDEL Executive Committee even as it appointed a five-member Caretaker Committee to oversee its affairs. The committee members are Mr. Steve Adehi SAN (Chairman), Mr. Ben Oji, Mr. Yakubu Philemon SAN, Ronke Adeyemi and Eva Amadi.

The NBA-NEC directed the committee to take steps to terminate all the public interest cases instituted by the sacked SPIDEL leadership while mandating the committee to investigate the erstwhile leadership to determine those funding the cases.

The council also approved the recommendation of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) that the National Officers Elections should be held on July 20, 2024.

To join our CITY LAWYER platform on WhatsApp, click here

To join our Telegram platform, click here 

COPYRIGHT 2022 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on “X” (TWITTER) at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER or for Special Features, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com 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 www.citylawyermag.com. 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.