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Court stops Awomolo from removing Alegeh as BOB crisis gets messier

The crisis rocking the Body of Benchers (BOB), the apex regulatory body for the legal profession in Nigeria, has taken a different twist as the Federal High Court in Lagos has issued an interim injunction restraining Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, the Chairman of the body from removing Austin Alegeh SAN as Chairman of the BOB Committee on Appointments.

The ruling, delivered by Honourable Justice Lewis Allagoa, came in response to a 50-paragraph affidavit submitted by Alegeh.

Justice Allagoa granted Alegeh’s request to prevent Awomolo from making any changes to the leadership of the Appointments Committee.

However, the court deferred a decision on the prayer to restrain Awomolo from acting as BOB Chairman until later, pending a notice to the Chairman.

This legal battle follows Awomolo’s controversial move upon assuming the BOB chairmanship, where he allegedly unilaterally dissolved all committees and reconstituted them without consulting the larger body.

Alegeh wrote a protest letter dated May 2, 2024, to the Secretary of the Body, complaining about the illegality of Awolomo’s steps and demanding a reversal but the Chairman allegedly ignored the letter and recently warned Alegeh not to disrupt the operations of the Appointments Committee.

“The ongoing crisis is a source of embarrassment for the Nigerian Bar which is responsible for calling lawyers to the Nigerian Bar,” a senior member of the BOB said.

“This situation may disrupt the upcoming call to bar ceremonies. Awomolo is also involved in another controversy with the Body of Senior Advocates (BOSAN), who have accused him of creating an illegal parallel body. Several other Benchers and lawyers have threatened to join Alegeh’s lawsuit to seek the removal of Awomolo for gross violation of BOB regulations.”

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 is worth recalling that there was stiff opposition to Chief Awomolo’s emergence as Vice Chairman of the Body of Benchers by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which had instead put forward Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN as its preferred candidate, as approved by its National Executive Committee (NEC).

After intervention by well-meaning members, the Body eventually approved Awomolo’s appointment, including then-Chairman Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN.

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