Jul 19, 2020

NBAAGC2020: Through The Years With The NBA At This 60th Annual General Conference Anniversary




Preceding the onset of colonialism and subsequent introduction of English-type courts by the British, the concept of Law, settlement of dispute, or conflict resolution and justice was not unknown to what was to become Nigeria (1)

Before the fusion of the Southern and Northern territories in 1914, the territories consisted of politically and legally independent tribes which had set-in-place mechanisms for addressing conflicts, such as mediation, adjudication, reconciliation, and negotiation as well as cross examination, which offered great prospects for peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationships post-conflict than the modern method of litigation settlements in law courts (2)The English Legal System was introduced first to the Lagos colony of Nigeria in 1863. Pursuant to Section 71 the Supreme Court Ordinance of 1876, a person could only qualify to practice law in Nigeria if they have been called to bar or admitted as solicitors in England, Scotland or Ireland (3)

 

Christopher Alexander Sapara Williams was the first qualified indigenous lawyer called to the English bar in 1879, he later became Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association in 1900. Although this was prior to the formal establishment of the Nigerian Bar Association, history has it that lawyers in Nigeria had already been organizing themselves and holding meetings periodically to deliberate on issues or matters of interest and matters pertaining to the legal profession (4). The Legal Profession is one of the oldest professions in modern Nigeria (5).

Although legal practice in Nigeria dates as far back as the 19th century, it was only until about five decades ago, precisely 1959, that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) came into being (6). The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is the non-profit, umbrella professional association for all lawyers who complete and meet all the licensing requirements for admission to the Bar in Nigeria. The Nigerian Bar Association has 125 active branches across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. The current president of the Nigerian Bar Association is Paul Usoro, SAN. 



Below is a list of chairmen of the Nigerian Bar Association before 1959:

S/N

NAME

DATE

 

Christopher Sapara Williams

1900 -1915

 

Sir Kitoyi Ajasa

1915 - 1937

 

Eric Olawale Moore

1937 - 1944

 

E.J. Alex Taylor

1944 - 1950

 

Sir Adeyemo Alakija

1950 – 1952

 

Jubril Martin

1952 – 1959












Although legal practice in Nigeria dates as far back as the 19th century, it was only until about five decades ago, precisely 1959, that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) came into being (6). The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is the non-profit, umbrella professional association for all lawyers who complete and meet all the licensing requirements for admission to the Bar in Nigeria. The Nigerian Bar Association has 125 active branches across the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. The current president of the Nigerian Bar Association is Paul Usoro, SAN. 






Following the formal establishment of the Nigerian Bar Association, the title of leadership of the Bar changed from Chairman to President. Below is the list of Presidents, who had similar authority to the former Chairmen:

 

Frederick Rotimi Williams

1960 – 1968

 

Peter Thomas

1968 – 1969

 

Chief B.M. Boyo

1969 – 1970

 

Chief Richard Akinjide

1970 – 1973

 

Chief Adebayo Ogunsanya

1973 – 1974

 

Dr. Mudiaga Odge

1974 – 1975

 

Dr. Nwakanma Okoro

1976 – 1978

 

Chief B.O. Benson

1978 – 1980

 

Chief Adetunji Fadairo

1980 – 1982

 

A.N. Anyamene

1982 – 1984

 

Prince Bola Ajibola

1984 – 1985

 

Ebele Nwokoye

1985 – 1987

 

Alao Aka-Bashorun

1987 – 1989

 

Charles Idehen

1989 – 1991

 

Chief Clement Akpamgbo

1991 – 1992

 

Priscilla Kuye

1991 – 1992






Between 1992 to 1998, the Nigerian Bar Association had no president. The national body of the NBA was thrown into a state of abeyance as a result of the leadership conference crisis which occurred in Port-Harcourt (7). Following the awakening of the NBA in 1998, the presidents of the NBA were:

 

Chief T.J.O. Okpoko, SAN

1998 – 2000

 

O.C.J. Okocha, SAN

2000 – 2002

 

Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN

2002 – 2004

 

Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN

2004 – 2005

 

Prince Lanke Odogiyo

2005 – 2006

 

Olisa Agbakoba

2006 – 2008

 

Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN

2008 – 2010

 

Joseph Bodurin Daudu, SAN

2010 – 2012

 

Okey Wali, SAN

2012 – 2014

 

Augustine Alegeh, SAN

2014 – 2016

 

Mahmoud Abubakar Balarabe, SAN

2016 – 2018

 

Paul Usoro, SAN

2018 till date








The Nigerian Bar Association aims at ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights, the rule of law and good governance in Nigeria. The association concerns itself with the process of imbibing and respecting the dictates of democracy and the enforcement of judgements, especially by government agencies. The NBA Court Boycott of 2006, under the leadership of Lanke Odogiyo, is a befitting illustration of the influence of the association. The boycott was a protest against the contempt and ridicule of the rule of law by politicians, persistent disobedience of court orders and the violation of fundamental rights of citizens (8). The boycott was a huge success and one of the many victories of the NBA. In the words of Lawal-Rabana, when the Bar talks, the nation listens.







This topic will be further discussed at the opening plenary session of the NBA Annual General Conference scheduled to hold on Wednesday, 26th of August, 2020. Please join the discussion to learn more of the victories and successes of the Nigerian Bar Association. panelist include the NBA President, Paul Usoro SAN 




 

References

1. Taslim, Elias. The Nature of African Customary Law. 1956.

2. Methods of Conflict Resolution in African. Ajayi, Adeyinka Theresa and Buhari, Lateef Oluwafemi. 2014.

3. Afe, Babalola SAN. Repositioning Legal Education for National Development (1). 2019.

4. Peters, Ifeoma. List: NBA Presidents from Inception till Date. 2018.

5. Thomas, D. O. The Legal Profession in Nigeria at a glance – History, Nature and Regulations. 2017.

6. David, Olayinka A. Ibadan and the Beginnings of the Nigerian Bar Association. 2019.

7. Richard, Ahonaruogho. Rebirth of NBA after 1992 Port Harcourt conference crises, learning from history or repeating it. 2020.

8. A, Lawal-Rabana R. The Nigerian Bar Association and the Protection of Rule of Law in Nigeria .

 


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