The Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA) extends warm season’s greetings to all lawyers in the country and members of our noble association, the Nigerian Bar Association.
As we celebrate Christmas today and as the year 2020 winds up, the occasion provides us the opportunity to reminiscent about 2020 and also reflect about the imminent new year 2021.
The year 2020 has been a trying one for our legal profession, the entire Judiciary and our dear country, Nigeria. We first witnessed the imposition of lockdown at the face of the outbreak of the COVID-19 disease. As an organization, we were of the view that the disease was not of pandemic proportions in Nigeria.
Despite this glaring reality, our courts were shut down for months. This has sapped considerably into the financial health of many lawyers, with a sizable majority of members of the Nigerian Bar Association being litigators.
We also conducted a presidential campaign with our Chairman, Adesina Ogunlana running as presidential aspirant to the office of the Nigerian Bar Association. We argued vociferously across the branches that we visited and fora that we spoke that the Nigerian Bar Association cannot be okay if Nigeria is not okay.
Our aspirant was purportedly disqualified by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association on the basis of not having Letter of Good Standing, after being denied same by the then Chairman of his Branch despite meeting all the requirements. We have filed a suit in Court to determine whether a Chairman of a Branch can deny anyone of Letter of Good Standing after meeting all requirements thereto.
While we await judicial pronouncement on this issue, we also welcome the disposition of the winner of the NBA 2020 Presidential Elections, in person of the incumbent President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata to carry out Electoral Reforms in the NBA. We call for total overhaul of the electoral system in the Association.
Almost as if we are prophets, we have been confirmed correct by the turn of events after the inauguration of the Olumide Akpata-led administration of the NBA. Less than three months after the inauguration, the Nation was gripped with an iconic mass movement made up of mostly young people under #EndSARS. In rare display of courage, the scourge of police brutality was denounced by mass street protests.
It took the heavy repressive machine of the state, the Nigerian Army to put down the uprising in a manner that can only be compared to the Hobessian prototype, brutish and nasty. The Lekki Shooting, the Lagos Massacre and the Nigerian Killings that occurred on October 20, 2020, leaves memories of sorrow, tears and blood.
The post-EndSARS carnage that took place also left its toll on the Judiciary.
In Lagos State in particular, an entire section of the Lagos Division of the High Court of Lagos State was razed down. With Lagos being the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, the Lagos Division of the High Court of Lagos State is the heartbeat of adjudication of the most voluminous commercial and civil disputes.
While we commend the regular issuance of press statements by the Olumide Akpata-led NBA national leadership, real action is now urgently needed to halt the ailing state of the Nation. The current pack of political officeholders need to be thoroughly engaged by the NBA.
The Kankara Boys’ abduction has brought the despicable level of insecurity to the fore. While the call for action by the service chiefs or in failure of same for them to resign by the Olumide Akpata-led NBA administration is in order, only practical mass mobilisation can force the hand of government to do the needful.
As we prepare to enter 2021, we call on the Olumide Akpata-led NBA administration to go beyond press statements, conference speeches and dinner talks, and engage the political authorities at all levels on the pathetic state of insecurity, rotten state of education and battered state of the economy. This will involve walking the talk by organising court boycotts and the street protests. The respective Branches of the NBA in different states needs to be empowered to hold the political authorities in their respective states accountable.
As we head towards 2021, a fresh declaration of restrictions are being made on the basis of the claim of government that we have entered “second wave” of COVID-19, without genuine statistical and scientific basis to confirm same. With a Federal High Court judgement to the effect that legal services are essential services, it behoves on the Nigerian Bar Association to rise up in defence of the legal profession and the Judiciary in this period.