Gadzama’s Endorsement: Does Can Taking Desperation Too Far?
By Jonathan Agbo
HOTPEN – Barely eight days to the commencement of the NBA National Officers’ election, news broke that the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has canvassed support for the emergence of Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama SAN as the next president of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). While it is hoped that the news is not true or at best represents attempts to garner support through underhanded means, if true then it portends danger for the legal profession at large.
There is no gainsaying that the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is a religious body. The NBA on the other hand is a professional association that is made up of members with different religious persuasions. Some amongst us are avowed atheists. It will therefore amount to a mockery of our association for anybody to seek the support of a religious body that is not in any way affiliated to the NBA in the upcoming elections.
Lest I am misunderstood, any contestant can seek the support of different bodies so long as they play direct role in the association. But to drag in total strangers into NBA elections is, to say the least, a strike below the belt. This is more poignant given that all the contestants for the offices are acclaimed Christians. Y.C Maikyau SAN is a Christian and so is J.G Taidi. How would these contestants view any such endorsement by CAN. Are they less important to CAN? When did outsiders begin to audaciously interfere in the affairs of the NBA? Is this the new normal?
Lets not forget that Nigeria is steeply divided along religious and ethnic lines. CAN is about to set a dangerous precedent, the consequences of which can only be better imagined for us lawyers.
In my view, seeking the support of religious bodies, in a desperate bid to to secure victory in the upcoming elections is a clear indication that the aspiration is not about service. More surprising is the fact that supporters of the beneficiary of this vendorsement gleefully celebrate this and wildly share it in social media space. It matters little to them that they may have unwittingly unleashed a Frankenstein monster that may consume us all. Their Machiavellian deludes them in believing that all is fair in war and the end justifies the means. Let me warn however that the bird will come home to roost if this is allowed to pass.
To think that a candidate who wishes to lead NBA, the non-profit, umbrella professional association of all lawyers admitted to the Bar in Nigeria, would not only introduce religion into NBA politics but also invite CAN to meddle in its election, shows how low some of us are prepared to sink. NBA that has been praised in recent times for really recovering its voice is now about to be dragged into a religious quagmire. Imagine what would have happened if one of the candidates or the other candidates were Muslims or sought the endorsement of Muslims or even other Christian bodies. This is indeed a sad day for the NBA. Involving religious bodies that have nothing to do with lawyers qua lawyers, is one dangerous path we must NOT tread. We must commit ourselves to keep religion and other divisive issues out of NBA. No candidate for the office of NBA President should not be lectured about this.
No matter how I blame CAN for interfering in NBA’s issues however, the real blame goes to the person seeking its endorsement. It is to me, an indication that he does not expect to win a fair contest.
There is precedent for the current shenanigan however. It is this same type of desperation and breach of Rules of Professional Conduct that was brazenly displayed in the case of PETER ORNGU & ORS v. DR. ALEXANDER GAADI & ORS (2016) LCN/9235(CA). In that case His Lordship Lawrence Igwe AGUBE, JCA said concerning him: “It was rather the Learned Senior Counsel for the Applicant who in spite of warnings and disclaimers by the Judgment-Creditors, proceeded in a manner smacking of patent breach of Rules 27(4) and 29(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, hijacked a case which from inception had been commenced and completed up to Appeal and execution and without Notice to Ocha P. Ulegede Esq. of Counsel for the Judgment Creditor/Respondent proceeded to file Garnishee proceedings on the promptings of Charlatans and indeed this Application which to my mind is brought in utmost bad faith”. His Lordship, equally stated concerning CAN’s beloved candidate, J-K Gadzama SAN’s conduct which the court found to be despicable: “ I agree totally with the Learned Counsel for the Respondents/judgments Creditors submission on the despicable role played by J. K. Gadzama, SAN who some of us regard and should be seen as a role model. He has either wittingly or unwittingly been goaded by unscrupulous gold diggers who are wont to exploit the unfortunate plights of the Judgment Creditors who were the actual victims of the soldiers invasion since 2001 have found themselves resulting in some of them being maimed for life apart from the destruction of their property and loss of dear ones”.
The office of the president of the NBA is not a personal project and should not be seen as such. Olumide Akpata has shown that the NBA can be useful to us all. We are currently basking in the Euphoria of what this administration has done. Anybody who wishes the legal profession in Nigeria well cannot afford to bring divisions into it because of personal ambition. The Bar is independent, autonomous, non-religious and very professional and must remain so. We already have enough problems to contend with. Religion should not be one of it.