Anger, Protest greets NBA nominations to the Supreme Court.

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NBA President AB Mahmoud SAN

The nomination by the Nigerian Bar Association of 9 senior Lawyers to be appointed into the Supreme Court Bench has been greeted with protest by some members of the Association.

At the Lagos Branch February meeting of the Association, held on Monday 13th ,  many members  of the Association expressed their anger and displeasure at the manner in which the nomination and shortlisting of  selected members was done. A source at the meeting told  that members were worried that a particular Cabal that has always taken all the benefits and privileges the Association has to offer has once again hijacked the Supreme Court nominations process. They queried why the time frame given for submission of interest was made unreasonably short for members to be adequately informed of it and  why the nominations of very familiar names  was rushed.

A member of the Branch who spoke to  on condition of anonymity wondered why the full names of all the applicants was not published and comments invited by members on all the applicants. He wondered what criteria the National Executive used in selecting the nominated members if not Bar political affiliations.

Pa Tunji Gomez

Leading the protest, a very senior member of the Association, Pa Tunji Gomez moved a motion to protest the way and manner the national NBA shortlisted names for appointment into the Supreme Court, that the branch should stage a protest because some of them may have bribed their way. He moved for the Lagos Branch of the Association to write the National Executive of the Association rejecting the nominations and requesting that a new and more transparent process be used.  Pa Gomez also wondered why practicing Lawyers should be appointed directly into the Supreme Court.

Contributing to the motion, another very Senior and prominent member of the Association, Chief Emeka Ngige SAN supported Pa Gomez motion and said that since the law allows appointments from the Bar to the Supreme Court, such appointment shouldn’t be rushed especially when it is known that the pronouncement of the Supreme Court is in itself, Law.

Chief Emeka Ngige SAN

Chief Ngige further stated that it takes more than 3 months to shortlist the names of applicants to the High Court, a lower court, and wondered why nominations was done for the highest court in the country in less than 3 weeks.

Another Senior Lawyer who spoke to on condition of anonymity blamed corruption for the non transparent way the nomination and shortlisting process was done.

“They hijacked the Supreme Court process, I mean the national NBA, They shortlisted only their cabal , They didn’t give adequate notice to allow more people to apply So,  it’s for  money bags, The corruption is everywhere”

Reacting to the motion, another senior member of the Association, Barrister Alex Muoka, advised the angry members to sheath their sword as the Branch should not be seen as being rebellious to the National Executive.  He advised that since the decision is already taken by the National Executive, the Branch should take it in good faith.

The Vice Chairman of the branch Mrs. Uche Ikwueme  who presided over the meeting in the absence of the Chairman, Mr Martins Ogunleye, seeing the anger at the meeting and the massive support Pa Gomez motion has, proposed an adjournment of the decision on the motion to March meeting of the branch. The proposal was out rightly rejected by majority members present at the meeting but the Vice Chairman nevertheless adjourned decision on the motion to March.

Pa Gomez and many members of the branch staged a peaceful walk out on the meeting to protest the Vice-Chairman’s unilateral decision.

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