The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has set up standing committees on 20 thematic areas including the judiciary, human rights, anti-corruption, among others.
The President of the body of Nigerian lawyers, Olumide Akpata, announced this in a statement shared with journalists on February 28.
Mr Akpata, who took over as the 30th NBA President on August 28, 2020, said the announcement was part of activities to commemorate his six months in office.
According to him, the committees, with over 300 lawyers drawn from various NBA branches across the country as members, would help to undertake and fully implement his administration’s programmes.
Mr Akpata, elected for a two-year term, said the committees would serve “for the duration of my term in office”.
He noted that section 12 of the NBA constitution “establishes 11 Standing Committees and provides their terms of reference” but added that the constitution “also empowers the National Executive Committee (NEC) to constitute Ad hoc Committees to deal with issues and matters as circumstances may dictate.”
He added, “However, I believe that the constitutional mandate given to each of these Committees is of such significance to our profession that they must be set up.
“In this regard, we have set up the Standing Committees as well as Ad hoc Committees with terms of reference that covers several thematic areas that require urgent intervention if we are to realise our resolve to build an association that works for all.”
He said while a number of the committees had commenced work, some others would just be taking over.
He added, “It is my expectation that through the concerted efforts of the National Officers, our Branches, our Sections, the various organs of the NBA and these Committees, the NBA would be able to implement its programmes and realise its immediate goals, which include – the welfare of the members of the association; law, and reforms in the administration of justice advocating for better working conditions for lawyers; creating sustainable professional development structures; reforming the institutional and governance processes of the NBA; running an inclusive bar that recognises the variety of opinions within the Association; advocating for the independence of the judiciary, promotion of the rule of in Nigeria; and above all, the need to lay the foundation for the modern practice of law in Nigeria.”
The committees are:
Judiciary Committee: It was set up to “ensure a systemic and coordinated approach to dealing with the judiciary, and to ensure a continually improved bar and bench relationship”. The committee with 15 members is chaired by Babatunde Ajibade, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), and co-chaired by Ade Okeaya-Inneh, SAN.
Welfare Committee: It was constituted to implement a workable healthcare insurance scheme and negotiate an upward review of benefits under the NBA Life Assurance Policy with the association’s insurance policy provider. The committee comprising 15 members is chaired by Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, and co-chaired by Emeka Ozoani, SAN.
Renumeration Committee: This committee is to ensure that NBA members have better working conditions and earn decent wages. The committee which is made up of 15 members is chaired by Anthony Nwaochei and co-chaired by Seyi Olawunmi.
Legal Education Committee: It was set up to drive the association’s mandate of promoting and advancing legal education in Nigeria as stipulated in the NBA Constitution. It also comprises 15 members with Dakkas J. Dakkas, as the chair, and Damilola Olawuyi, as co-chair. Both are professors of law and SANs.
Human Rights Committee: The NBA President said the #ENDSARS movement and the COVID-19 pandemic had significantly brought to the fore need for the NBA to be at the forefront of the fight to defend fundamental human rights in Nigeria.
He also noted that there were reports of unlawful arrests and detention, extrajudicial killings and other forms of human rights violations across the country. He said while the NBA under his watch had in keeping with the association’s motto of ‘Promoting the Rule of Law’, it “has not relented in its quest to ensure that it remains the leading watchdog organisation in Nigeria.
He said “to better institutionalise our approach”, the Human Rights Committee was set up “to drive the NBA agenda of promoting and protecting the Rule of Law and respect for the enforcement of fundamental human rights”.
While Mike Ozekhome, SAN, is the chair, John Aikpokpo-Martins is the co-chair of the 15-member committee.
Law Reform Committee: This committee was set up to help the NBA quickly intervene in the legislative and law space in Nigeria. The committee, comprising 15 members. is chaired by Mohammed Dele Belgore, SAN, and co-chaired by Ehiogie West-Idahosa.
Public Interest Litigation Committee: This committee was responsible for the filing of NBA’s suit challenging “the unconstitutional extension of the tenure of the Inspector of General of Police beyond that provided under the Police Act 2020.”
The association encourages its members to approach the committee with issues of public importance that require the NBA’s intervention through litigation. The committee made up of 15 members is chaired by Charles Mekwunye, and co-chaired by Olumide Ayeni, SAN.
Anti-Corruption Committee: The committee was set up to help the NBA actively support the fight against corruption, as a duty to the society. The 15-member committee is chaired by Babajide Ogundipe, and co-chaired by Paul-Harris Ogbole, SAN.
Disciplinary Committee: It was set up to investigate cases of complaint of professional impropriety or other misconduct against members of the bar and to make appropriate recommendations. Made up 15 members, it is chaired by Yunus Ustaz Usman, SAN, and co-chaired by Funke Aboyade, SAN.
Future of Legal Practice Committee: The committee will facilitate a significant improvement in the quality and standard of the legal services that lawyers render to 21 st century clients and lay the foundation for the desired future. The committee with 15 members is chaired by A. U. Mustapha, SAN, and co-chaired by Adeoye Adefulu.
Secretariat Restructuring Committee: The committee is to help the NBA entrench and institutionalise the ideals of a more professional and member-friendly national secretariat which run in an efficient manner and will ensure that certain administrative matters are left to competent career NBA staff. The committee comprising 15 members is chaired by Joe Abah, and co-chaired by Desmond Yamah.
Digital NBA Committee: The committee, said to be closely related to the restructuring of the secretariat, is to help the association to achieve its goal of digitising “most of our processes at the NBA and build a formidable platform that will allow for an easy and seamless interface between our members and the Association”. It also comprising 15 members with Basil Udotai, as the chair and Rotimi Ogunyemi as the co-chair.
Electoral Reform and Audit Committee: The committee announced by Mr Akpata on the day of his inauguration is to make recommendations on how to make future elections of NBA controversy-free. The committee, according to the NBA President “is already in the process of recommending reform measures to ensure that complaints about the NBA electoral process are significantly minimised.” It is made up of 12 members and it is chaired by Ayo Akintunde, SAN, and co-chaired by Mike Igini.
Finance Committee: The committee is saddled with the responsibility of preparing annual proposals for consideration by the National Executive Committee, exploring ways and means to raise funds for the association.
Additionally, developing a framework that will make it easier for lawyers to access finance at concessionary rates for their capital expenditure and working capital purposes in order to enhance their practices. Also made up of 15 members, the committee is chaired by Olaseni Adio, SAN, and co-chaired by Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu.
Dispute Resolution Committee: The committee is constituted and empowered to resolve disputes between members of the association and will be supported to carry out its functions as outlined in the NBA constitution. It is made of 15 members and it is chaired by Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, and co-chaired by Nella Adem-Rabanna, SAN.
Editorial Board: The Editorial Board will produce a reputable journal for the NBA for the promotion and advancement of legal education, continuing legal education, advocacy and jurisprudence. The committee has 15 members and it is chaired by U. U. Chukwumaeze and co-chaired by Peter Akper. Both are professors of Law and SANs.
General Purposes Committee: The committee, which has already been inaugurated, is established by the NBA constitution and charged with the responsibility of screening prospective candidates for the award of the rank of SAN in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act and performing other specific functions that may be assigned to it from time to time. It is made of 15 members. While it is chaired by Kpajie Nnamdi Ibegbu, SAN, it is co-chaired by Albert Akpomudje.
Sports and Recreation Committee: It is tasked with the responsibility of organising sports, recreational and wellness programmes and activities for members across the country. It comprises 15 members with Yahaya Maikori designated as the chair and Cecilia Ugbuji as the co-chair.
Technical Committee on 2021 Conference Planning: The committee is tasked with the responsibility of delivering a world class Annual General Conference (NBA-AGC) for our Association in August 2021. The committee made up of 30 members has Victor Frank-Briggs as the chair and Akin Ajibola as the co-chair.
Constitution Review Committee: The committee is charged with coming up with a holistic review and amendment of the NBA constitution that can stand the test of time. Made up of 15 members, the committee is chaired by Yussuf Asamah Kadiri, SAN, and co-chaired by Afam Osigwe.