Ijebu-Ode branch chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mojeed Ganiyu, has urged the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) to consider qualified lawyers who practise outside state capitals for appointment as Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).
He said over the years, SANs have mostly been appointed from among lawyers based in state capitals, to the disadvantage of those outside.
Ganiyu said every good lawyer must not be based in the capital, adding that practising in other cities does not imply being less knowledgeable.
To him, every qualified lawyer should get the rank irrespective of where they are based.
Ganiyu spoke on the sidelines of a reception organised by the branch in honour of their patrons, Messrs Kunle Kalejaye and Kunle Ogunba, whose withdrawn SAN ranks were restored.
Kalejaye was stripped of his rank after being accused of exchanging text messages with a judge during the 2008 governorship election litigation between former Osun State governors Olagunsoye Oyinlola (who he represented) and Rauf Aregbesola.
He challenged the LPPC decision up to the Supreme Court, which ruled in his favour and restored his rights and privileges.
For Ogunba, the LPPC withdrew his rank last January 11 following a petition by Honeywell Group.
But, the NBA cleared him of the allegations on two occasions, following which the LPPC restored his rank and privileges eight months later.
The branch chairman said Ijebu-Ode would take producing a home-based SAN as their next major project, in addition to building a befitting secretariat.
“We have lawyers who are qualified for the rank, but the politics associated with it is not in our favour. We have noticed over the years that SANs emerge from state capitals.
“We don’t practise in a state capital. It is not because we are deficient in knowledge, but because the politics is such that favours certain groups of people.
“But we have taken it as a project. We want to grow somebody who is based here to ensure that his name is also on that rank. That will be a collective project for everybody. But merit-wise, we’re 100 per cent qualified.
“We have lots of lawyers based here who are very good. You heard the SANs (in their remarks) saying that Ijebu-Ode is the home of advocacy. And that is the truth,” Ganiyu said.
The branch chairman said the event was organised to celebrate the restoration of Kalejaye and Ogunba’s ranks.
“The two SANs are sons of the soil, left and right. They’re Ijebu proper. They are also very supportive patrons of the Branch. They are both very humble and philanthropic.
“When they were removed from the list of SANs, it was not their problem alone. It was our branch’s problem. Without the two of them, our branch is incomplete.
“So, we were in prayers with them. When they triumphed, we felt it a duty as a branch to honour this two illustrious sons of the land who are SANs.
“It is to celebrate with them for having their prestigious ranks restored. That is why we are gathered with our elders, traditional rulers and members to celebrate them.
“We are not here to apportion blames to anybody. Both see it as God’s making. So, since God helped them to go through the challenges and to triumph, we should celebrate them.
“The two of them are gentlemen to the core. They are good ambassadors of the branch. We thank God,” he said.
Ganiyu expressed optimism that the Branch would soon get a befitting secretariat.
“As we speak, we have laid the foundation within the high court premises. We’re trying to gather resources so that we can make it a reality. It’s doable, and we’re going to do it,” he said.
A former chairman of the branch, Mrs Kemi Oshisanya, during whose tenure Kalejaye and Ogunba became patrons, described them as proud sons of Ijebuland and unique individuals.
She said they were not only supportive of the branch during her tenure, but are pillars of support to members of the branch.
Oshisanya, Chairperson FIDA in Ogun State, thanked God for the honourees, adding that God was on their side.
“Their victory has to do with their personalities. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers him out of them all. We pray that this glory and victory will last forever,” she said.
Former NBA First Vice-President, Mr. Justus Erhabor, praised the branch for organising the event and commended the bar leaders for finding time to attend.
He said Kalajaiye was a pillar of support to him when he was chairman of NBA Ilesa branch.
Erhabor encouraged members to always participate in Bar affairs and emulate the examples of the leaders especially at this time the legal profession is passing through difficult times.
“For the first time in the history of the profession, the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the President of the Bar are facing corruption charges. It is really a challenging time for the association,” Erhabor stated.
A Bar leader, Chief S. A. Odumosu, described the occasion as special.
“This is a special day for us because we had prayed and God answered us . The elders encouraged us to continue to pray for them so that they would triumph and eventually they have triumphed. They are gentle and humble,” Odumosu stated.
President of Ijebu-Ode Club, Gbenga Ogunba, thanked the organisers for their foresight in putting the programme together.
He expressed great joy that the two were honoured for their contributions to the development of the legal profession and the branch.
The Kabiesi of Ilese-Ijebu, Elese of Ilese, His Royal Majesty Oba Obayomi, commended the branch for honouring their patrons who are sons of the soil.
He encouraged the younger members of the Bar to emulate them and grow to become prominent members of the profession as well
“Look at these people, they are like us, from this village. Aspire to grow. Let us practice law according to the ethics of the profession. It is worthy of us to celebrate ourselves. You are our shining examples and we are looking up to you,” Obayomi said.
At the event chaired by D.B.O. Okuboyeji were Otunba O. A. Mamora, Rev. Fr. E.O. Ajayi, Balogun Adesegun Adebayo, Adeniyi Lawal, Bisi Adulazeez, among others.