Abdulbasit Suleiman, a New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) co-convener, says more than 5,000 lawyers have applied to join the newly created association.
The NNBA was established after the controversy that followed Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna’s dis-invitation as a speaker at the NBA’s just concluded annual general conference.
In a Monday interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Suleiman said the Governor’s dis-invitation was not the reason for forming an NBA party.
He addressed the audience: “We, the Convener of the current NBA, are not fans of the el-Rufai. But since you invited the Governor, let’s hear from him- for him to answer our questions before taking any action against him.
“Some people have written a petition against him, without giving him a fair hearing. That goes against our slogan of upholding the rule of law. What we have not done. El-Rufai did not get the chance.
One of the reasons for forming the new organization, Suleiman said, is that the NBA is run by a “cabal” that does not care for the interests of the broader lawyers community.
“There are many explanations for creating the current NBA but the first is that a few cabals are hijacking the NBA,” he said.
“NBA activity is merely circulated among a few entities. We have more than 200,000 registered members in Nigeria but I can authoritatively assure you that the NBA helps fewer than 100 individuals.
“Most of us don’t get NBA benefits. We pay our duties, we follow all the rules and regulations but our advantages and interests are not protected.
Suleiman said the group ‘s intention is not to create division but to create an NBA competition.
“We are not dividing the bar. We are trying to form an association to create a competition for the NBA,” he said.
If we have two or more, there will be competing. If we look at developed countries, they have more than one lawyers’ associations. Why must we restrict ourselves to one.”
Sulieman also said the group will go to court if it faces opposition from the “bigwigs” in the profession.He also denied the allegation that the group is being sponsored saying “we are ‘bankrolling’ ourselves, we are like-minds, no one is sponsoring us”.
“We are still counting as I am speaking with you now. We have over 5,000 members who have registered with us and we are still counting. Starting tomorrow, some state governments will receive our letters and notify them of the formation.