Fresh Crisis Hits Body Of Benchers As New Chair, Awomolo Is Accused Of Dictatorship

A fresh crisis is brewing within the Body of Benchers, the apex regulatory body for the legal profession in Nigeria, as the new chairman, Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, is accused of unilaterally reconstituting all committees without the customary approval of the Board.

 Awomolo’s decision to dissolve all existing committees and appoint new members, allegedly bypassing the established protocol of seeking Board approval, had elicited strong reactions from members, with some likening his actions to those of a dictator.

 One prominent committee affected by this action is the Membership Committee, which Austin Alegeh SAN headed.

Alegeh, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), was appointed for a three-year term under the tenure of the immediate past Chairman, Honourable Justice Mary Peter-Odili.

Awomolo’s decision to disregard this and other ongoing appointments has sparked considerable discontent among members, our correspondent reliably gathered. 

Irked by the unilateral action, Alegeh wrote a protest letter dated May 2, 2024, to the Secretary of the Body, complaining about the illegality of Awomolo’s steps and demanding a reversal our correspondent reliably learnt. Nonetheless, this protest has reportedly been ignored by Awomolo, who has refused to reverse his actions. 

However, speculation suggests that Awomolo’s actions may be fueled by anger over the Membership Committee’s previous refusal to approve his wife, Chief Mrs Victoria Awomolo SAN, as a member of the Body of Benchers. 

It will be recalled that there was stiff opposition to the emergence of Chief Awomolo as Vice Chairman of the Body Benchers by the NBA who had instead put forward Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN as its preferred candidate as approved by its NEC. 

The Body eventually approved his appointment after the intervention of well-meaning members including the then Chairman Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN. 

Many members have threatened to have a showdown with Awomolo at the next meeting of the Body with some said to be contemplating legal action against him and the Body.  

Our correspondent also gathered that the next meeting of the Body of Benchers has been fixed for 27th June 2024 and promises to be a very heated session.

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