Akintola SAN is on His Own – Egbe Amofin
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Chairman of the Yoruba Leaders Forum (Egbe Amofin Oodua), Isiaka Olagunju, has said that the Yoruba cannot abandon the Nigerian Bar Association.
Olagunju said this while reacting to comments by the Yoruba Lawyers Deputy Leader, Niyi Akintola, SAN, on the unruly actions of some lawyers at the just concluded NBA Conference.
Akintola, in an interview on a radio program in Oyo State, had said when the outgone NBA president, Olumide Akpata, took over the affairs of the NBA, the Egbe Amofin Oodua “took a unified position that would not dignify” Akpata.
According to Akintola, there was no Supreme Court Justice that attended the NBA conference, except those who betrayed the trust of the forum.
But Olagunju, in a chat with Judiciary Watch, on Tuesday, said he was not aware the group took such decision.
He said, “I am not aware of that decision. However, Chief Akintola is entitled to his opinion, and I was not in the meeting. By the record you can get from Akpata’s administration, you can see that Yoruba lawyers played prominent roles. There are quite a number of Yoruba lawyers who chaired some committees, even the election was led by a Yoruba man.
“I was at the NBA conference, Professor (Folake) Solanke was there, Lateef Fagbemi, Mallam Yusuf Ali, Dr Babatunde Ajibade (all Senior Advocates of Nigeria), several leaders and elders in Yoruba land were at the conference. So I am not aware, because I didn’t receive any handing over note to say that the Yoruba Lawyers Association should not participate in any of the NBA’s indices.
“It is our bar; Yoruba are the cutting edge of the NBA, how could we abandon the house that we have built?”
Ifedayo Adedipe, SAN, a member of the association, asked to be counted out of such an agreement if it ever existed.
The lawyer said the Yoruba Leaders deputy leader spoke for himself “and maybe people who attended such a meeting with him.”
He said, “I can tell you for free that any attempt at dividing the association along ethnic, regional or religious grounds, is bound to fail. It is a purely professional body, and while I recognize the right of people to hold views, I do not think it would be helpful to say that a regional body would be set up to say that whomever the president at one point or the other would not be supported for whatever reason.”
Disagreeing with Akintola’s position, Seyi Wemimo, SAN, stated that the legal luminary should have gone further to say what would have been done better had Egbe Amofin supported Akpata’s administration.
He said, “The reality is that Akpata has already finished his term, and I don’t know whether if the Egbe Amofin group had supported him, we would have seen any greater performance.
“Again, as the president of the bar, Akpata is supposed to be independent-minded. Despite what Egbe amofin may have held, he (Akpata) succeeded in becoming the president of the bar, which shows that the body did not have any remarkable influence on the outcome of the election.”