Parallel Association: My Suspension dictatorial, can't stand in assembly of lawyers, ex-NBA scribe
Says: "This infamous resolution would win a gold medal in the coven of dictators.. "
The crisis rocking the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) continues to deepen as its ex-Secretary General, Nimi Walson-Jack, has described his recent suspension as unlawful, dictatorial and a return to the dark age of socialism and communism when Governments sanctioned and jailed lawyers for representing persons whose activities were considered contrary to those of the political leadership.
Walson-Jack, in a statement, said that in paragraph 2.1(e) of its Communique issued on 15th December 2022, and signed by Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, and Daniel Ka-ayii Kip, its President, and Assistant General Secretary, respectively, the NBA stripped him of privileges as past General Secretary and suspended from being a member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Association.
He alleged that the NEC of the NBA has colluded with the leadership to punish him for representing persons whose activities are contrary to the interests of some persons in leadership positions.
He said: "This infamous resolution would win a gold medal in the coven of dictators, not in the assembly of lawyers in defense of democracy and the rule of law. It is an affront to the right of lawyers to represent the diverse interests of their law-abiding clients."
The former Secretary General of NBA said, "The leadership of the NBA, by its resolution, breached the Constitution of the NBA, my fundamental right to a fair hearing, and the right of my Clients to Counsel of their choice. The President of the NBA was the accuser, persecutor, prosecutor, and Judge in his cause.
"It is interesting to note that a weighty issue like the suspension of a past General Secretary from the decision-making body of the Association, was not listed on the Agenda for the Meeting, which was circulated in the morning of the meeting. I was neither informed of any complaint against me by any person, Lawyer, or non-lawyer nor asked to respond to any complaint or allegation bothering on my representation, as a Solicitor, of the interests of my clients, the promoters of a new Law Society who are citizens of Nigeria and distinguished Lawyers.
"In the haste to condemn, the leadership of our Bar Association acted without observance of the basic procedure of listening to the other party. The President and the NEC did not invite me and did not hear from me before taking a decision that has tainted the image and reputation of the NBA. No opportunity was given to me to make a presentation before a penalty for a non-existent offence was imposed on me. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no provision in the Constitution of the NBA that prohibits a Lawyer and member of the Association from supporting, advocating, defending, promoting, or representing the promoters for the establishment of another Association of Lawyers in Nigeria. No offence was committed in my representation of the promoters of a new Law Society distinct from the NBA. "
The statement further said, "The Right of every person to Counsel is a fundamental principle of the Rule of Law enshrined in global conventions, treaties, protocols, national legislation, and Rules of Professional Conduct. By Rule 24(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) 2007, a lawyer in Nigeria must accept any brief, provided that the appropriate professional costs are paid or agreed upon.
"The Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers adopted 07 September 1990, by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba, recognize the need for adequate protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which all persons are entitled, and requires that all persons have effective access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession. Access to lawyers and legal services is guaranteed. All persons are entitled to call upon the assistance of a lawyer of their choice to protect and establish their rights and to defend them. "