A new body of lawyers, the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA), has notified the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, of its existence.

The new association said its formation, last Thursday, followed the alleged failure of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to uphold national unity in its recent decisions.

Last Thursday, two Kaduna-based lawyers – Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman – announced the NNBA’s formation, following NBA’s withdrawal of an Annual General Conference (AGC) invitation to Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, among other grievances.

They informed the AGF of their plans in an August 28 letter signed by Ibrahim as Convener 1 and Suleiman as Convener 2.

The letter, seen by The Nation, reads: “We are pleased to inform you of the formation of a new Association of Lawyers as above captioned.

“The formation of the new Association has become imperative and expedient especially flowing from the activities, disposition and most recently, the decision of the Nigerian Bar Association-NEC (National Executive Committee), which apparently failed to take into consideration our national interests and particularly do not promote the unity of our indissoluble country, Nigeria.

“Sir, the New Nigerian Bar Association believes in the ideals that bound our country together as echoed in our National Anthem: ‘The Labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.’

“You are, however, to be further informed that work is in progress with regards to all the nitty-gritty of the formation of an association such as this to which we shall keep you updated.”

Both men had said they and other like-minds were consulting with “very senior lawyers of Northern Nigeria extraction and those practising therein with the view to constituting the (board of) trustees and for purposes of fixing a date for the formal inauguration of the association”.

But some lawyers from or practising in Northern states offered divergent views on the move.

While two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) – Mallam Yusuf Ali (SAN) and Rafiu Lawal-Rabana (SAN) – sued for unity, Jibrin Samuel Okutepa (SAN) and The Arewa Young Lawyers’ Forum told journalist that the Constitution is on the side of the new association.

Also, NBA President Olumide Akpata has set up an Electoral Audit and Reforms Committee to audit the body’s 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections.

The committee, headed by Ayo Akintunde (SAN), is expected to also recommend reforms for future electoral systems and processes.

Akpata, who was sworn into office for a two-year term last Friday, stated this yesterday in a series of tweets on his Twitter handle.

The NBA is facing threats to its unity, following unresolved issues on the credibility of its national officers’ elections on July 29 and 30, 2020.

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