NBA Conference Incident Investigation Committee has submitted its final report on the disturbances that occurred during the 62nd Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA). The Chairman of the Committee, Olawale Fapohunda SAN, made the presentation of the 50 paged report at the meeting of the National Executive Council of the NBA which held in Birrin Kebbi, Kebbi State from 22 – 24 March 2023.
Fapohunda in his presentation, while giving an overview of the report said while there cannot be any possible justification for the unruly conduct of any member of the NBA, a key finding of the Committee is that the delay in the delivery of Conference Bags to the NBA and the consequential inability of the NBA to hand over bags to a large number of conferees were mainly responsible for the disturbances during the Conference. He said the conduct of those members involved brought shame and embarrassment to the NBA specifically and the legal profession generally.
The Learned Silk further stated that the Committee found that the decision of the NBA to engage Antochie Limited as the supplier of the Conference bags, was a fundamental error. He also said that the due diligence that was undertaken before the engagement of the company was at best ineffective. He further said the Committee noted an apparent mis-understanding between the NBA and Antochie Limited, of the terms, conditions, duties and responsibilities of both parties to the contract and that this was an important contributory factor to the disturbance.
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According to Fapohunda, “there is now an urgent need for the NBA to take practical steps including continuous awareness to reverse the culture that attaches priority to conference bags over and above working sessions of AGC” . According to him ‘Indeed it may now be necessary to determine whether the amount spent on procurement of conference bags should not be used to develop the content and quality of working sessions of the Annual General Conference”
On the Identification of persons responsible for vandalization and looting, Fapohunda stated that his committee regrets the non-cooperation of members of the Bar particularly those who witnessed the vandalization and the looting. Fapohunda said ‘It is indeed a matter of concern that despite several public notices, members refused to come forward with any information that could have assisted the Committee identify those lawyers that brought shame to the legal profession. This lack of cooperation in many ways hindered the work of the Committee and is responsible for delay in submitting this final report’
Fapohunda said that based on independently obtained video recordings, the Committee identified 12 persons who were shown to have actively participated in the march that led to the vandalization and looting of the accreditation center. He said the names and pictures of these persons have been included in the report for the further determination of appropriate next steps by the NBA National Executive Council.