Disapproval of Lawyers Protest: I Respectfully Disagree Sir – Ogunlana Replies AB Mahmoud
The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch, popularly known as “Tiger Bar” has reacted to the admonition by the NBA President AB Mahmoud SAN that the branch should shun street protest and adopt a more dignifying method of social activism.
Below is the response of Mr Ogunlana.
THE LEGAL PROFESSION IN PRESENT DAY NIGERIA :ATTITUDES, PERSPECTIVES OF ENGAGEMENT IN SOCIAL CHALLENGES.
At the National Executive Committee meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association in March 2008 , I as CHAIRMAN of the NBA IKEJA BRANCH ,cognomened the TIGER BAR, pointed out to the NEC, that the internal reforms and reorganisation being planned by the NBA leadership and which was consuming its energy will prove useless should the Association neglect effective intervention in the grave problems of the society.
Quoting the ancient Romans , I asserted ‘ THE LAWS KEEP SILENT, WHEN THE GUNS BOOM’ . I illustrated my point with the very unsafe and notorious terrorist infested swathes of the Sambisa Forest wondering what court could hold THERE and which counsel, no matter how sage, could display any legal prowess in that hell? My submission did not appear to go down well with the presiding officer of the meeting , to wit, the NBA PRESIDENT , who considered my comments as denigrating of his labours at repositioning the NBA
Just a couple of days ago, the NEC of the NBA held again , this time in Kano. Between March 2018 and May 2018 , a lot of important social developments affecting the security, liberty and economy of Nigerians happened, . The grave issue in Lagos state was the attempt of the Lagos state government to impose a horrendous tax regime on the Lagos populace called the LAND USE CHARGE LAW 2018 where CRAZY extant and HUMONGOUS assessment of property tax being in most cases over 1000 percent increment over rates are demanded from the people through a legislation that brazenly mocks legality and constitutionalism .
The Tiger Bar under our leadership championed successful mass opposition to this governmental recklessness and oppression using direct muscular SOCIOLOGYISM Creatively while evading and shunning the conventionalism of JUDICIALISM which in our cogitative sobriety, appear at this stage of the struggle , unripe and inadequate.
However at our latest NEC meeting, the leader of the Bar , nation wide , gave the thumbs down for our approach and methods of confronting the horrors of our realities as entities in Lagos state . According to the President , the Tiger Branding of the IKEJA Bar is unacceptable and that the Bar is not a platform akin or same to trade or labour and students unionism or a civil society body and should not be used their type of activities .
I most respectfully DISAGREE with the NBA PRESIDENT s view ..
According to the Presnba, NBA, is strictly a lawyers professional body and as such cannot be an engine or tool or platform for social activism . I understand the presidents comments as an admonition and a belief that demonstrations, protests, marches , pamphleteering, holding of rallies gets and all other forms of pressure tactics and interventions are activities unsuitable for legal practitioners in their capacity as legal practitioners and as such conduct incompatible with their status and standing as legal practitioners. If my understanding of the Presidents position is what he actually meant, I hereby and forthwith confirm my ardent disagreement with same for the following reasons.
Firstly, the Presnbas position assumes that dissent via physical expressions, no matter how peaceful , orderly and disciplined is untoward for a LAWYER for it lowers him in the eyes of others. More or less saying that Gentlemen don’t carry placards or demonstrate or vocalize their disagreement in manners on the lane if agitation . To me, such views reflect nothing more than a wrong , aristocratic , feudal philosophy calculated to protect the interests if the privileged class and position by restricting vigorous articulation of contrary views to a status quo.