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Akpata: ‘Do not hand over a divided NBA to your successor as it was handed over to you’

1. On the eve of the exit of former NBA President Paul Osoro in 2020, he withdrew an invitation extended to Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai to speak at NBA Conference scheduled to take place from August 26th to 29th, 2020 on ground of how the governor handled southern Kaduna crisis and other sundry accusations. But other serving Christian southern governors who were also accused of similar allegations were allowed to speak at the conference, and such caused a very serious rift within the NBA to the extent movement for registration of NNBA was kicked up which its processes were almost concluded. See https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/top-news/411860-over-5000-lawyers-have-shown-interest-in-new-nba-co-convener.html.

2. After the swearing in of Olumede Akapata as NBA President on August 28, 2020, at his inaugural speech, Mr. Akapata stated that “The Bar that I want to lead, henceforth, is one that is united on all fronts and that recognises that our diversity is, perhaps, our greatest strength. I plead with all Nigerian lawyers to bear this philosophy of unity in mind; as we commence a new journey together”. See https://nigerianbar.org.ng/inaugural-address-olumide-akpata-president-nigerian-bar-association-inauguration-nba-2020-2022.

3. About a week after his swearing in, Olumede Akapata invited northern bar leaders to a meeting where he pleaded with them to discard their idea of creating NNBA and subsequently a vote of confidence was passed by the northern bar leaders to his administration and he apologized to the aggrieved lawyers and promised to be just to all lawyers across the federation, this is what he said: “With due apologies to those who are offended we are going to address all issues amicably. As lawyers, we will not be involved in anything that will break up our country. Where our country is going wrong, we as lawyers will give the light. We are here to build Nigeria and not to destroy it. All is well at the NBA. If there are still anyone that is aggrieved, we will reach out”. See https://www.sunnewsonline.com/nba-crisis-northern-lawyers-disown-new-nba/.

4. However, from several committees set up by the NBA President and his recent unfortunate Statement condemning extra-judicial killing of Deborah Yakubu without condemning her blasphemy against our noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW), coupled with postponing of NBA-SPIDEL Conference 2022, scheduled to take place at Sokoto between 22nd-26th-May, 2022 without contacting the branch, it is apparently clear that the NBA President has engaged into an act capable of accelerating the breaking up of the NBA or at least hand over a more divided NBA to his successor contrary to his promise to northern bar leaders during their vote of confidence.

5. Going through the committees set up by President Akpata, for example in February, 2022, the NBA President set up the 2022 NBA-AGC Technical Committee on Conference Planning, out of 17 members (including 5 Ex-Officio) there is only and only one northern Muslim member, see https://thenigerialawyer.com/nba-sets-up-technical-committee-on-conference-planning-2022-appoints-tobenna-erojikwe-as-chairman/, NBA Electoral Committee, see https://thenigerialawyer.com/2022-elections-nba-president-akpata-inaugurates-members-of-nba-electoral-committee/, the recently NBA sponsored 70 delegates to attend ICC Conference, see https://www.lawyard.org/news/icc-conference-nba-sponsors-70-delegates-for-attending-icle-trainings/ etc. Any reasonable person would definitely conclude that northern Muslims lawyers are not only marginalised in affairs of NBA but also discriminated.

6. Moreover, the recent statement issued by NBA President, which inter-alia contains condemnation of gruesome murder of Deborah Yakubu who insulted Noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and postponing the NBA-SPIDEL Conference 2022 scheduled to take place at Sokoto between 22nd-26th-May, 2022 was received by many Muslim lawyers with great shock, embarrassment and disappointment.

7. From the President’s statement one could understand that he put reliance on social media speculations shared by notorious enemies of Muslims and Islam who hid under the human rights activism and formed opinion on what transpired in Sokoto instead of making personal enquires in order to have a first-hand information of what really happened and whether the security situation in Sokoto warrants postponing the NBA-SPIDEL conference.

8.That going through the comments made on Muslim lawyers’ social media platforms, the NBA President’s Statement, is a complete insult and demeaning to Muslims generally and Muslim lawyers in particular due to the following reasons:

a. That the ground upon which the postponement of NBA-SPIDEL Conference 2022 was predicated was both provocative and insensitive to the psyche of Muslims generally and Muslim lawyers in particular. The Statement reads as follows: “that the 2022 NBA-SPIDEL Annual Conference be postponed not only for the safety of our conferees and guests, but as a mark of respect for the memory of the slain Miss Deborah Yakubu”.

b. That the President, Nigerian Bar Association in his statement relied on speculations and social media fake news instead of at least calling the Hon. Attorney General of Sokoto State or consulting the NBA Sokoto Branch as to the level of investigation and nature of charges filed against the suspects. See paragraph 3 of the Statement where it stated that: “we note that some arrests have been made by the Nigeria Police and that the suspects are now being prosecuted. We are, however, worried by yet-to-be confirmed reports reaching us that the suspects have been charged with mere breach of public peace in an episode that cut short Deborah’s life in her prime. The NBA is strongly opposed to a banalisation of the situation, and if these reports are true, then we call on the Sokoto State Government to immediately rethink its prosecution strategy and file charges that truly reflect the gravity of the situation.” It is regrettable the President allowed himself to be used by Islamophobic agents.

c. That two serious crimes were committed in Sokoto, to wit: blasphemy and extra-judicial killing of blasphemer, however, the statement of the NBA President, has for six times mentioned Deborah Yakubu condemning her murder but lamentably failed to for even once make reference to the terrible blasphemous remarks she made to the personality of our noble Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
d. The intentional dead silence of the NBA President over the horrible murder of a Muslim woman along with her three children by Christian terrorists in Anambra State on Sunday 22nd May, 2022 has clearly confirmed to us the true colour of the NBA President.

9. Finally, while I am urging the NBA President not hand over more divided NBA to his successor as it was handed over to him by his predecessor, I condemn in the strongest terms her insult to the Prophet Muhammad SAW which resulted in the unfortunate incident.

Professor M. I. Sa’id,
Principal Partner,
Mansur & Mansur Attorneys,
No. 20, Waziri Abbas Road, Sokoto, Sokoto State.
Email: [email protected]

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