Many lawyers have taken to social media channels to protest the over 600 per cent hike in this year’s Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference (NBA-AGC) fees.

Aside from some young lawyers under the aegis of “Decent Fees” who recently launched an online petition against the fees approved by NBA National Executive Council (NBA-NEC) at its recent meeting in Yola, most lawyers who spoke on the 2024 fees have nothing but harsh words concerning the increment.

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Chairperson of the NBA Annual General Conference Planning Committee (AGCPC) Oyinkan Badejo-Okusanya had yesterday presented the proposed AGC rates to NBA-NEC for approval at its meeting in Yola.

But as soon as news of the increment hit the social media, lawyers began to dissect the figures, arguing that the fee schedule does not align with current economic realities.

It is recalled that while the Early Bird rate for young lawyers during the 2023 AGC was as low as N7, 500 for lawyers who met the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements, the rate has jumped by nearly 700% to N50,000. Lawyers of 10-19 years post-call will pay N75,000 as Early Bird rate as against N36,000 last year, indicating about 100% increase, while lawyers of 20 years and above post-call experience enjoy perhaps the most marginal increment of a mere N5,000, paying N100,000 as Early Bird rate as against N95,000 paid last year.

Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Attorneys-General and Benchers will pay N250,000 as Early Bird rate as against N190,000 paid during the 2023 AGC. Magistrates also witnessed a marginal increment of about 25% in their rates from N50,000 to N75,000 while Judges/Khadis will pay N100,000 as against N75,000 paid last year. Virtual attendance was free for young lawyers in 2023 but will cost N5,000 this year.

While the young lawyers argue that AGC committee heaped more burden on them than senior lawyers by the over 600% increase in their fee, others say the parlous economy does not justify the sharp increments.

Commenting on one of the lawyers’ WhatsApp forums, a lawyer wrote: “Wow! The AGC 2024 Registration fee for Early Bird is so high concerning the nature of things in the country.”

Responding, another lawyer wrote: “The fees should be looked into …. We all know that most young lawyers can’t cough out such amount of money, being that most of the firms do no pay or pay little… If they don’t want the young lawyers to attend they should simply say it… Then imagine fare to Lagos, Hotel accomodations (sic), other miscellaneous… It should be reviewed pls. Come to think of it, we paid Bar dues already… So why the heavy amount? 50k +130 flight (35k bus)+20k hotel (cheap one oo) lol for 4 days o.”

While another commentator quipped that “Is good when you marry two wife you will know which is best,” another lawyer noted that “They actually considered the situation of the country, then they decided the burden should be on you and not on the association. That’s exactly what the government does, they increase your taxes and bills once the going gets tough. No difference! Just a bunch of self-serving greedy leaches calling themselves leaders.”

Waxing philosophical, another commentator wrote: “What good had the YC administration done for lawyers? What value has he brought to the profession? This is how he wraps up his rule? With this grand extortion?”

Fiery blogger Felix Ashimole attempted to defend the new rates, saying, “But NEC Members approved it! So hold your NEC Members responsible. But there is over 45% inflation rate between last year and now!” 

Yet another commentator however fired back, saying: “That is why the person that proposed the budget that executed last year own (Mazi Afam Osigwe) deserves Aka (applause). It is what the committee proposed that INEC approved.”

Harping on transparency, another lawyer wrote: “NBA should declare to us all the donations from individuals, government of local, state and Federal. Also that of NGO’s, foreign bodies and companies for the conference.”

A ranking Bar Leader who spoke to CITY LAWYER on condition of anonymity said: “There is war in the platforms. In fact, if I dare defend Badejo (-Okusanya) again they will eat me raw.”

Though the AGCPC Chairperson had informed NBA-NEC that the increase was due to the current 30 % national inflation rate, many young lawyers argue that their rate should not have shot up by almost 700% as against the 30% inflation rate.

Below are reasons given by signatories for signing the online petition by young lawyers. It remains to be seen whether the NBA will effect a downward review of the rates in view of the groundswell of protests against the rates.

Asogwa Ferdinand
The amount attached for this years confrence (sic) for young lawyers is highly insensitive

Wonder Ajibobola
Most young lawyers in Nigeria earn below 50 thousand naira month, which is actually way too small considering the economic situation of the country. The least the association can do is to give young lawyers a soft landing.

Frank Eze
The Conference fees is elitist

Ekundayo Oluwafemi
The amount required to pay is too high and I don’t have the capacity

Emmanuel Nwafor
I want the NBA to look in to the conference fee and also consider the economy of Young Lawyer, so that they will have the sense of belong and share joy with our seniors, as we learn along…

Fasasi Sodiq
I’m signing this because of the outrageous amount of NBA conference fee for lawyers which I find ridiculous. In a sane clime the conference supposed to be free. Some of this lawyers are still suffering to find their footings. Now a platform designed for network turned to an extorting spree…

Leonard Abah
The fee is unreasonably Outrageous and the reasons attributed for it are not good enough

Ledua Zor-Akekue
I am a young lawyer and want attend the conference, but with this current fee I will not be able to attend. This fee is obviously high for a young lawyer.

Mmaduabuchi Okeh
The fee is harsh and beyond the reach of many young lawyers

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