Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, has been relieved of his membership in the National Judicial Council (NJC), authoritative sources have confirmed .
The decision was communicated via a letter to the incumbent NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN, signed by the Chief Justice of Nigeria and NJC Chairman, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola. He cited Mr. Akpata’s recent involvement in partisan politics as reason for the termination.
Sources close to Mr. Akpata indicate he was taken aback by the decision and believes it is beyond the powers of the Chief Justice of Nigeria to unilaterally remove a member of the NJC on grounds of political involvement.
His camp argues that this prerogative lies with the individual member. They cited the example of former NJC member and Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, who voluntarily resigned his role in 2015 to pursue his political ambitions .
While said to be deeply troubled by the turn of events, Mr. Akpata is reluctant to escalate the matter out of immense respect for the Chief Justice. However, should an amicable resolution not be reached internally, legal redress may be sought in the courts.
The move comes on the heels of Mr. Akpata’s open aspiration to contest the upcoming Edo State gubernatorial elections. During his tenure as NBA President he had past run-ins with the Body of Benchers over governance issues. He is also seen as belonging to the reformist faction of the NJC.