Mandatory Membership of NBA, Unconstitutional – Lawyer Tells Court, wants BPF increment, Stamp & seal declared illegal
An Enugu based Legal practitioner, Mr. Ben Oloko, has dragged the trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to a high court sitting in Enugu.
The suit filed Yesterday 6/8/2020, at the Enugu State High Court, Obollo-Afor Judicial Division is challenging the mandatory membership of Nigerian Bar Association by all legal practitioners in Nigeria.
Mr. Oloko is seeking among other reliefs, a declaration that NBA being a purely private association owing its existence to no law, cannot compulsorily draft legal practitioners into its membership upon call to the Nigerian Bar.
Mr. Oloko wants a declaration that the increment of the Annual Practising Fee for legal practitioners unilaterally by NBA is unlawful and therefore a nullity, hence, Annual Practising Fees remains as it was prior to the illegal increment in 2012 by virtue of the Legal Practitioners (Bar Practicing Fee) Notice, 2002.
He further wants an order restraining the NBA from producing and/or issuing stamp and seal to legal practitioners as same is tantamount to usurping the statutory functions of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court who is authorised by the Legal Practitioners Act, 2004 to keep and maintain an up to date roll of all legal practitioners in Nigeria and publish same at least once every year hence staving off quacks and fake lawyers.
Speaking on the motive behind the suit, Mr. Oloko told BarristerNG that he filed the suit because he believes that the legal profession is to set the standard in upholding the rule of law in Nigeria and indeed globally.
According to him, Compulsory associations are antithetical to the spirit and letters of section 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). Every person has a right to choose whom he associates with and automatic membership of NBA upon call to the Nigerian Bar detracts from this trenchant constitutional right.
The suit will be heard upon resumption after the annual vacation.
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