Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack Sues the Maikyau-Led NBA, Seeks Declaration that Lawyers are not Liable to Sanctions for Lawfully Representing Clients

The dispute between the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association and one of its former General-Secretaries has ended up in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory. The former General Secretary, Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack, has filed a suit in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory challenging the National Executive of the NBA resolution stripping him of his privileges as past General Secretary and, consequently, suspending him from being a member of the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Association because he acted as a solicitor to the promoters of the new law society.

 

 

In the suit against the Incorporated Trustees of the NBA, filed by Chief J-K. Gadzama, SAN, the Claimant Hon Nimi Walson-Jack is seeking a declaration that the purported stripping of his privileges as past General Secretary and suspension from membership of the National Executive Council (NEC) by the NEC of the Nigerian Bar Association is unlawful, illegal and void ab initio, having been passed in express violation of the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2021).

Hon. Walson-Jack is also seeking, among others reliefs, a declaration that the resolution of the NBA as contained in the communique signed by the NBA President, Mr Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, is a violation of the constitutional right to counsel of one’s choice, the extant provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 as it relates to the representation of Client by legal practitioners, and Basic Principles on the Role of lawyers adopted on 07 September 1990 by the Eighth United Nations Congress on the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, Havana, Cuba.

The suit seeks a declaration of the FCT High Court that the resolution and the purported suspension violate his right to a fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right Act. Hon. Walson-Jack contends that he was neither informed of the allegations against him nor allowed to be heard before being tried for a non-existent offence by the persons who constituted themselves into Accusers, Prosecutors and Judges in their cause.

Amongst the declarations sought from the court is that it is not cognisable under the extant laws in Nigeria that a legal practitioner can be sanctioned for lawfully representing his clients and that there is no provision in the extant Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2021) prohibiting a legal practitioner and member of the Nigerian Bar Association from supporting, advocating, defending, promoting, or representing the promoters of the establishment of another association of Lawyers in Nigeria. Hon. Walson-Jack holds the position that in representing the promoters of a new Law Society distinct from the Nigerian Bar Association, he did not commit any offence; instead, he was fulfilling the professional responsibility of Lawyers.

Legal Analysts, Human Rights practitioners and Observers believe that the decision of the Court has implications for the right of every person to Counsel of their choice, which is a fundamental principle enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, the Legal Practitioners Act, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 other global conventions, treaties, protocols, and national legislation.

The matter has been assigned to the FCT High Court in Jikwoyi, and will come up on Monday, 15 May 2023.




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