Dr. John Oluwole Akintayo is the Chairman of the Ibadan Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). A well beloved law teacher of the University of Ibadan, he was also the Secretary to the Committee raised by the Egbe Amofin Oodua to have a consensus candidate for the office of President of Nigerian Bar Association in its election due for later this year. He discussed with The Jurisconsult on the sort of person who should emerge as the next President of the NBA and how the Egbe Amofin arrived at the adoption of a consensus candidate, among other issues.
Are we correct to say that you are the first academic to lead the Ibadan Bar?
That is largely correct but it also depends on how you define an academic because some past Chairmen have gone ahead to become academics after leading the Ibadan Bar.
How far have you gone in executing your programmes for the Ibadan Bar since you assumed its leadership?
One of our objectives is to make the Bar to be more inclusive: we have been able to attract the participation in the affairs of the Bar not only legal practitioners, but also corporate lawyers and government employed lawyers.
Another of our objectives is to have a Law Library, effort is still ongoing on this. Chief Richard Akinjide made a promise to us in this regard and we are keeping in touch with his family.
We are developing a Law List in the form of a data base of all Lawyers belonging to the Ibadan Bar. Our deadline is February this year for lawyers to submit their particulars for the take off of the data base Law List.
We have been assisting the Young lawyers’ forum through continuing legal education.
We are engaging with the Oyo State Government, an example of which was that we participated in the public hearing in the House of Assembly.
We are also interacting well with other Bar Associations in Oyo State. We take an active role in Egbe Amofin Oodua.
We have made the Ibadan Bar Disciplinary Committee more active. The purpose of that Committee is to see whether issues could be resolved among us instead of taking such issues to the National level.
We have had to sink a new bore hole for the Bar Centre and completed the Centre’s Gate House. We did the 65th Anniversary of the Ibadan Bar and it has been acclaimed as most successful even though it was not part of our manifesto.
What implication would the invasion of the Court last year by the DSS to arrest Sowore have on the rule of law and the independence of the Judiciary?
The legal profession and all by standers are agreed that it was an assault on the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law. I believe everyone has learnt their lessons. But it’s of concern that those responsible have not been identified and punished. It’s when you have abnormalities like this that you really know the strength of the law. Such a thing never happened during the military administrations and you would expect that in a democracy, we would even have better experience. It shows the DSS as an organisation that did not know the limits of their powers. First, it was the National Assembly they invaded, then the Judiciary.
Do you think that we have been having adequate response to the question of violations of Court orders from the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in recent times?
The primary responsibility lies with those who obtained the order to secure enforcement of orders but where there is publicity, I think the national NBA has not done badly.
Some people have been looking at the sort of leadership of the NBA provided by Alao Aka-Basorun during the military era and have been wondering whether that would not be the type of leadership required to meet the current challenges?
Each era presents its own challenges. You don’t even need to go as far back as Alao Aka-Basorun. In recent times, one can mention Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo; our own Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN (now Governor of Ondo State). They led the Bar with credit. It appears that those who had been great leaders of the NBA had been practitioners, the likes of Chief Rotimi Williams, Chief Richard Akinjide. There is no doubt that we need a virile Bar because the current Buhari administration needs to be put in cheek. We are hoping to have those who are not just transactional lawyers as President and leaders of the NBA from the next election. We are hoping to have as leaders those who believe that the Bar Association is more than just a professional association, those who realise that the whole country is looking up to the NBA to ensure that the country does the right things.
You are the Secretary of the Egbe Amofin Oodua Committee that recommended the adoption of Deacon Dele Adesina as consensus candidate for the NBA Presidency in the forthcoming Bar elections. Was there any agreement or commitment from the aspirants before the Egbe went into this issue?
Yes, at the October 26, 2019 meeting, the aspirants committed to accepting whoever the Egbe adopted. The Committee wrote the same letter to all of them, asking for their CVS. Apart from the salutations, the letters have exactly the same contents. It was only Dr. Ajibade SAN who did not respond. He was raising certain issues with the letter.
Can you name the aspirants that consented to this process?
Aare Muyiwa Akinboro, SAN, Mr. Awoniyi Alabi, Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN and Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN. I am aware, of course, of the aspiration of Adesina Ogunlana but he does not subscribe to the Egbe Amofin Oodua.
Would there be sanction for any aspirant who refuses to abide by the Egbe’s decision?
Talking about sanction, there are legal sanctions and moral sanctions but I don’t think anyone is thinking about sanction. There is freedom of association under our Constitution. But I really hope there would be resolution before the election.