Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says the plan to carve a faction out of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will not work.
Following the controversy that trailed the withdrawal of invitation to Nasir el-Rufai, governor of Kaduna, as a speaker at an NBA conference, some aggrieved lawyers indicated interest to leave the association which they accused of bias.
They later announced that they had floated the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA).
However, speaking at the virtual annual general meeting of the NBA on Friday, Ozekhome said most members of the bar will resist any attempt to form a parallel association.
He said people are “trying to knock the head of NBA members against each other by introducing religious and ethnic connotations to a mere innocuous dis-invitation of my very good friend, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.”
“For those trying to form an alternative Bar, please, let me use the oxymoron, make haste slowly, don’t go that way,” he said.
“When the tongue and the teeth disagree, inside the same buccal cavity, with the teeth biting the tongue, they sooner than later settle because they need each other for the tongue to help to speak up and for the teeth to help to masticate the food that the tongue itself will enjoy.
“So, drop all these issues of trying to form an alternative bar. Whether you call it New NBA or progressive NBA, it’s not going to work.
“The progressive forces in this country within the bar, the elders of the bar, most members of not all, senior advocates of Nigeria who know where we are coming from will resist it.”
He said if one faction is formed by aggrieved northerners, soon lawyers from the south, east and west would also want to create their own faction of the bar.
“The reason is that when you begin to create a different bar, let’s say for example northern bar or new bar, the people very soon are going to start calling for southern Nigerian army, southern Nigerian navy, western Nigerian air force, eastern Nigeria tax authority, midwest maritime authority,” he said.
“We will begin to hear of southern Nigeria NNPC, Central Bank, where are we heading to, that is nothing but balkanization of Nigeria. God forbid Afghanistan, God forbid USSR, God forbid Sudan, God forbid Ethiopia, God forbid India-Pakistan and Bangladesh. God forbid another Nigeria-Biafra pogrom.”