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The acceptance speech of Asiwaju Adegbogyega Solomon Awomolo, SAN, FNIALS (FCArb) as Chairman, Body of Benchers

In his acceptance speech delivered on March 21, 2024, at the Benchers Hall in Abuja, Asiwaju Adegbogyega Solomon Awomolo, SAN, expressed gratitude for the honor bestowed upon him as the 52nd Chairman of the Body of Benchers and outlined key challenges and initiatives for his tenure.



The acceptance speech of Asiwaju Adegbogyega Solomon Awomolo, SAN, FNIALS (FCArb) as Chairman, Body of Benchers


The Immediate Past Chairman, Body of Benchers, Hon. Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, JSC (Rtd), CFR, Past Chairmen, Body of Benchers (here present and virtually), Life Benchers, Hon the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, CJN, GCON.

Distinguished members of the Body of Benchers.

This is the day the Lord has made; we are joyful and happy. I give glory, honour, and adoration to the Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth, the Most Merciful and Benevolent, for the grace of being alive today, to stand before this Body of eminent jurists and learned men and women, to deliver my acceptance of the great honour and privilege of being the 52nd Chairman of the Body of Benchers for the next 12 Gregorian calendar months.

Today’s honour is not due to my learning, might, or strength as an individual but to the goodwill all of you noblest in the legal profession, the importance attached to the letters of the law, and respect for the rule of law as opposed to the rule of might. I say this because I have known the significance of the rule of law in this matter since March 30, 2023.

Permit me to refer to Section 3 (1) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap 111 Laws of the Federation 2004, which created this Body and how it determined my tenure. Section 3 subsection (5) paragraphs (a)–(e) of the Act grants the Body autonomy and freedom to make its own regulation.

  • Indeed, Regulations 3 (1), (2) and (3) of the Body of Benchers provide thus; “3(1)Subject to paragraphs (2) and (3) of this regulation, there shall be the offices of Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Body.
  • The Chairman and Vice Chairman shall each hold office for only one year, beginning in April of the first year and ending in March of the next. Upon the Chairman ceasing to be Chairman, the Vice Chairman shall succeed him as Chairman for the following year.
  • Upon the Vice Chairman becoming  Chairman of the Body, as stated in the preceding paragraph, the office of the Vice-Chairman shall become vacant. It shall be filled by election by the members present and voting at a meeting of the   Body called for that purpose:

Provided that any election to the office of the Vice-Chairman shall be made in such a manner that in any year in which the Chairman is a member of the Bench the Vice-Chairman shall be a member of     the Bench.”


I was called to the Nigerian Bar, by the Body of Benchers under the Chairmanship of the late Chief Dr. G..C.M Onyuike, SAN on 7th July 1978. I shared the joy and  glory of that date with eminent Jurist like Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen , GCON  and Chief O.C.J Okocha,SAN, MFR both of whom are past Chairmen of this Body.

 In 1992, I was appointed the 1st Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Osun State (against my will) but through the goodwill of my mentor, Aare Afe Babalola, SAN, OFR. I bless God for his life and I acknowledge his investment in my life. God bless him.

In that position, I had the duty to attend, and indeed attended the meetings of the Body as a statutory member and from then actively participated in various committees and rose from the bottom of the list to the top. I became  a Life Bencher on 29th March 2007.

After my tenure as the Hon-Attorney General, the Nigerian Bar afforded me the opportunity of continued membership. As Chairman of  Chairmen and Secretaries of the 49 branches of the NBA throughout Nigeria then, I was made to be the face of the NBA in the Body.

You may be reminded that between 1992-1998, the Nigerian Bar Association ceased to be a legal Body having regards to the crisis at the Port Harcourt, Rivers State Conference, and the Legal Practititioners Amendment Decree No21 of 1994.

I worked with and enjoyed the confidence and support of past Chairmen and members like, Chief F.R.A Williams, SAN, CON, Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapha, GCON, CJN, Hon. Justice Mustapha Akanbi, CFR (former President, Court of Appeal), Dr. Mudiaga Odje SAN, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim SAN, CON, Hon. Justice M.L Uwais, GCON, (former Chairman and  Chief Justice of Nigeria), Hon Justice Saidu Kawu, JSC, Chief A.G.F Abdul Rasaq, SAN, Mrs Hariat Aderinsola Balogun, and Hon. Justice Timothy Oyeyipo,Life Bencher (the then Chief Judge of Kwara State)  and many others.

These great men of  the Body supported my tenure as Chairman of Chairmen and Secretaries who stood by me for the “resurrection and restoration of the Nigerian Bar Association 1996-1998.

I recall with joy in my heart that a number of past Chairmen  positively encouraged and  impacted on my membership of this Body by given me roles to play. They are Hon Justice M.L Uwais GCON, Mrs. Hariat Balogun OON, Hon Justice Salihu Modibbo Alfa Belgore GCON, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim SAN,CON, Chief (Dr.) G.C.M Onyuike, SAN.Hon. Justice Umaru Eri, (former Chief Judge of Kogi State), Hon Justice Umaru Abdullahi (former President Court of Appeal), Hon Justice Aloma Mariam Muktar GCON, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, Elder S.M Olakunri, Chief Mobolanle Ademola Ajomale, Hon Justice Mahmood Mohammed, GCON, CJN(Rtd),  and Hon Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, JSC (Rtd), CON.

Today I feel really honoured to be in the position they once occupied, one  that I longed to be. To these eminent Nigerians, I am very grateful. In all these, I thank the former Secretary Body of Benchers, Mrs. Sadiya Turaki (Life Bencher) for her support in all my assignments.


I see today’s ceremony as symbolic and an opportunity of a new call to service. I am not taking your love and goodwill for granted but I sincerely solicit your prayers and support for the next 12 months.

One must be honest to admit that the current public image of the Bar and Bench  in this Country is not at the height that it ought to be. Members of the public no longer trust the Bench and the Bar for justice. Decisions of courts no longer inspire confidence and trust.

The Body, in collaboration with other bodies in the administration of justice sector, has the duty to win back public trust and confidence. In the process of administration of justice, we need to strike  humble and conciliatory tone in the engagement with the members of the public. Justice, it is said is rooted in confidence.

 Corruption in every sense is unfortunately a tag attached to the judiciary. It is no doubt  uncomplimentary and embarrassing, but in public opinion, it is real. It then demands that  everyone of us in the discharge of our judicial functions, like the ceasar’s wife be above board.

 Another major problem facing the legal profession today is the gradual erosion  of discipline and non observance of the professional ethics contained in the  code of conduct of legal practitioners.

The practice of  law today has been thoroughly afflicted with the virus of ineptitude and indiscipline. In the last 4 years, this Body has admitted annually an average of five thousand lawyers.

Most of these lawyers went into the practice of the law without any opportunity of tutelage. There is need for a reform that will bring back the enviable status of the legal profession. The ongoing mentorship programme of the Body is a right initiative in this respect.

Let me acknowledge the good works of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee which has in the last few years  doubled its capacity and returns.  We demand for more.


There is currently efforts by the National Assembly to further alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). The draft of the Legal Practitioners Act approved by this Body has been forwarded to the office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and  Minister of Justice for presentation to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill.

 This Body has a very important role to play to ensure that its views  are reflected in the altered provisions of the Constitution and the Legal Practitioners Act. There was reported in the media yesterday of the proposed alteration of the Constitution  which would make appointment, discipline and removal of Judicial officers in the States, the prerogative of the Governors.

This move is alarming and will creates a threat to the indepence of the  Judiciary. The Body cannot be passive or ‘siddon’ look. The danger in this move is to take the Judiciary back to pre-1999. I respectfully propose a Committee  to put together the views of this Body for submission to the leadership of the National Assembly. I call for volunteers please.


I want to publicly and sincerely appreciate the leadership of the Hon Justice Mary Ukaego Peter Odili, JSC (Rtd), CFR in the last one year, when I assumed the position as her Vice Chairman. Her style of leadership is inclusivity and  consensus  decisions of most members on all matters.

The Chairman involved her Vice Chairman (me)in all the decisions affecting this Body and taken at plenary. The Vice-Chairman was not treated “as extra-tyre” to be rolled out to fill the punctured tyre. I thank her for kindness and respect for my person and position as Vice Chairman of this Body. I join other Benchers to congratulate her for a very successful tenure as Chairman. Congratulations my noble Lord.

I promise to follow her example in guiding the Management of the Body under the indefatigable Daniel Tela Esq, Bencher, the Executive Secretary of the Body.

There are a number of  projects begun by past Chairman, Hon Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, JSC (Rtd) which include the fire station, clinic and care centre for staff and visitors at Call to Bar Ceremonies,  provision of more security of the assets of the Body and  more access roads among others. These projects will be pursued vigorously within the next year under my watch as Chairman.


The success of any Chairman of this Body is dependent upon the cooperation of all the members irrespective of status. The leadership of the Bar Association is very crucial, and we solicit for the full cooperation of the leadership of the bar. I came from the bar, and I gave my all to the Nigerian Bar Association at different stages of my career.

It is very important that we acknowledge the invaluable contribution of the statutory members of the Body like Justices of the Supreme Court,  President of the Court of Appeal, Heads of Courts, Presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal , the Chief Judges of the States and Federal Capital Territory and the Attorneys General of  States. We need you in the match forward.

Permit me to say that your cooperation and support are required to sustain the Body. I particularly seek the support of your Lordships, Justices of the Supreme Court. Your contributions are needed as occupiers of the highest Bench in the Nigerian Judicial hierarchy. For the first time, the Supreme Court have full compliment of 21 Justices. We plead that you include the activities of the Body as part of your priority engagements.

Vice-Chairman Body OF BENCHERS

The Vice Chairman elected today is a man of high integrity, a very humble and unassuming leader in the legal profession, coming from the Bench as dictated by the Regulation quoted above.  I am certain I will be honoured to work with him as I know he will certainly contribute immensely to the progress of the Body. His many years at the Bar and latter years on the Bench will reflect in the progress of the Body


The wise man says “tomorrow is not in our hands but in the hands of the most High God”. I humbly leave it there and ask that He leads me by his grace, mercy and love.

The scripture says “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning”. I trust God that we will celebrate at the end of our tenure with testimonies of greatness and lofty achievements come 30th March 2025.

I am humbled and i pledge my all to serve the Body of Benchers.

Thank You.


21st March 2024

Related topics:

NBA Judiciary Ethics | Career Practice Public Interest | 

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