The Federal Capital Territory’s High Court has taken up the case between the National Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association and Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack, a former general secretary of the NBA.
Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack, a former general secretary of the NBA, has filed a lawsuit in the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory to overturn the NBA’s resolution to deprive him of his rights as a former general secretary and, as a result, suspend him from membership in the association’s National Executive Council (NEC) because he served as a lawyer for the Law Society of Nigeria’s (now-renamed Nigerian Law Society) promoters.
Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack is requesting a declaration that the purported removal of his privileges as a former General Secretary and suspension from membership of the National Executive Council (NEC) by the NEC of the Nigerian Bar Association is unlawful, illegal, and void ab initio because it was passed in express violation of the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015 (as amended). This request was made in the lawsuit brought against the Incorporated Trustees of the NBA by Chief J-K. Gadzama,
In addition, Hon. Walson-Jack is requesting a declaration that the NBA resolution as stated in the communique signed by NBA President Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, violates the constitutional right to counsel of one’s choice, the current Legal Practitioners Act provisions, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 as it relates to the representation of Client by Legal Professionals, and Basic Principles on Legal Professional Conduct.
The suit seeks a declaration of the FCT High Court that the resolution and the purported suspension violate his right to a fair hearing as guaranteed by Section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, and Article 7 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Right Act.
Hon. Walson-Jack contends that he was neither informed of the allegations against him nor allowed to be heard before being tried for a non-existent offence by the persons who constituted themselves into Accusers, Prosecutors and Judges in their cause.
Amongst the declarations sought from the court is that it is not cognisable under the extant laws in Nigeria that a legal practitioner can be sanctioned for lawfully representing his clients and that there is no provision in the extant Nigerian Bar Association Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2021) prohibiting a legal practitioner and member of the Nigerian Bar Association from supporting, advocating, defending, promoting, or representing the promoters of the establishment of another Association of Lawyers in Nigeria.
Hon. Walson-Jack holds the position that in representing the promoters of a new Lawyers Association distinct from the Nigerian Bar Association, he did not commit any offence; instead, he was fulfilling his professional responsibility as a Lawyer.
The right of every person to counsel of their choice, which is a fundamental principle enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, the Legal Practitioners Act, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007, and other global instruments, is believed to be affected by the court’s decision, according to legal analysts, human rights practitioners, and observers.
The case will be heard on Thursday, May 18, 2023, at the Jikwoyi location of the FCT High Court.