No One Hates The Silk -By Jonathan Agbo, Esq.

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The current attempt to lay the blame for every sentiment expressed against Senior Advocates of Nigeria at the feet of the President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Olumide Akpata is unfortunate to say the least and is an attempt to re-write history. The truth remains that before the emergence of Olumide Akpata as president of the NBA, there had been discontent against many holders of the rank. The discontent was not borne out of hate for the rank but the perceived aloofness of many holders of the rank . I do not believe that people hate or dislike senior lawyers, especially holders of the rank just for taking the rank. Facts exist to establish this. Mazi Afam Osigwe SAN, before he took silk had expressed a desire to run for the office of president of the NBA. He would have won by a landslide had he contested the election. After he took silk, he did not lose support simply for taking the silk and I can confirm that many lawyers draw inspiration from respected holders of the silk till date.

 



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However, the discontent that had crept into the profession snowballed into full blown anger after a senior lawyer and silk, Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, wrote a letter, penultimate the election that produced Olumide Akpata as the current president of the NBA.

In that letter, he specifically made the following assertion: What I hear is unannounced but very powerful and potent revolutionary moves by our junior colleagues who are very much in larger numbers to wrestle the office of the President of the NBA from the rank of SAN. That in my view will be unfortunate for the rank…. it will be great failure of leadership to surrender leadership to the outer bar when there are able and willing Senior advocates.

The letter did the damage. The election of that year (2020) was simply a response to the perceived disdain for the outer bar. Olumide Akpata was only a beneficiary of the moral outrage that followed that letter.

Upon assuming office, one of the first things Olumide Akpata did as president was to unite the bar. He has been at the forefront of tackling headlong, the hydra headed challenges that face the profession today. He set up various committees and appointed Senior advocates to lead them. The Chairman of the Welfare Committee is the President Elect. He is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria. If it were true that Olumide Akpata engineered disdain for the silk, J.G Taidi, a Non silk would have won the election. People chose Y.C. Maikyau SAN instead. It is the same universal suffrage that produced Olumide Akpata that produced Y.C. Maikyau SAN. That alone proves that nobody hates the silk. It is the view of many holders of the rank, that non-silks are less of lawyers that non-silks detest. No amount of umbrage against the person of Olumide Akpata will change that. The division, in my view will only widen unless concrete steps are taken to arrest the situation. Blaming one man for an offence he did not commit is injustice. No one hates the silk.


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