A caretaker committee in the Abuja chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association instituted by the NBA president, Abubakar Mahmoud, has continued to function despite a court order halting its activities, Ezenwa Anumnu, a lawyer has said.
Mr Anumnu, the chairman of the Abuja NBA, said the committee members have been parading themselves as the leaders of the Unity Bar – as the Abuja NBA is known – in disobedience to the court order.
According to Mr Anumnu, the 2018 annual law week being organised by the committee under Mr Mahmoud’s chairmanship, is an act of illegality.
“It is unfortunate that this kind of thing is coming from the national leadership of Nigerian Bar Association who should lead the way in ensuring that justice is done,” Mr Anumnu said in a statement on Sunday.
“Lawyers should serve as examples to the larger society when it comes to obedience to court orders and rule of law in the country.”
For more than two years, the Abuja NBA has been engulfed in crisis as factional chairpersons emerged after both Mr Anumnu and Victor Abasiaka laid claim to the leadership of the group.
At an NBA NEC meeting in Aba, Abia State, in March last year, the leadership unanimously resolved to remove Messrs Anumnu and Abasiaka as factional chairmen of the Abuja branch.
The factional leaders were also barred from participating in a fresh election to be conducted by a caretaker committee appointed by Mr Mahmoud.
A few days later, Mr Anumnu filed a suit before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory seeking an order restraining the caretaker committee from putting into effect the resolutions made at the Aba NEC meeting, including conducting an election.
He also sought an order of court directing the defendant to restore him to his position as chairman of the Abuja branch of the NBA pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Mr Anumnu further sought an order restraining the defendant or its agents from denying him access to the exercise of the powers and duties of the chairman of Abuja NBA.
The defendant in the suit is the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association.
In June, 2017, U.P Kekemeke, the judge, granted the order restraining the defendant or its agents or “the purported caretaker committee” from putting into effect the resolutions made at the NEC in Aba.
The judge also granted the order restraining the defendant or the caretaker committee from conducting any election at the Abuja branch pending the determination of the substantive suit.
Mr Anumnu said it is disappointing that Mr Mahmoud would ignore the court order despite being “a major beneficiary of the rule of law, having been ousted as NBA President by the valid and subsisting judgment of Hon. Justice J. Tsoho of the Federal High Court Abuja in April 2017 and is currently on appeal while status quo is currently being maintained in his favour by members of the Bar.”
Mr Mahmoud did not respond to PREMIUM TIMES’ request for comments.
When contacted on Sunday night, he requested that the questions be emailed to him. He is yet to respond to the email more than 24 hours later despite being sent a reminder.
“If the leadership of the NBA is selecting which court order to obey and which one to disregard, disparage and disobey; then the nation’s judicial system is in trouble,” Mr Anumnu said.
“And, by using underhand tactics to foist helplessness to our judicial processes, they are simply setting bad precedents and saying goodbye to the observance of the rule of law and freedom in our society.
“The politicians in the country are also watching what is happening in the temple of justice and would follow suit, as we match towards 2019 General elections.”
The Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, is scheduled to deliver the keynote address at the 2018 Abuja NBA week but Mr Anumnu said he stands the risk of contempt of court if he goes ahead to grace the event being organised by the caretaker committee.
The opening ceremony of the NBA Abuja law week holds on June 5.
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