Mandatory Membership of NBA Unconstitutional – Ben Chukwuemeka Oloko
Yesterday, being 6/8/2020, I filed a suit in the Enugu State High Court, Obollo-Afor Judicial Division challenging the mandatory membership of Nigerian Bar Association by all legal practitioners in Nigeria. I sought 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.
I also sought 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.
I further sought 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.
I filed the suit because I believe the legal profession is to set the standard in upholding the rule of law in Nigeria and indeed globally. 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.
Find attached a copy of the originating summons.
The suit will be heard upon resumption after the annual vacation.