The African Bar Association (now AFBA) was established in 1971 by a group of progressively minded lawyers as a federation of National Legal Associations. The association as a professional body sought to bring together independent legal professional bodies and individual lawyers in the different regions of Africa to exchange opinions and experiences in a friendly, informal and intimate atmosphere mainly for the pursuit and achievements of varying but common professional objectives.
The African Bar Association has a Constitution and the objects of the constitution guarded its functions. The first President of the African Bar Association was Dr. Rodger M. A. Chongwe of Zambia who later became the Attorney General of Zambia.
At inception, the African Bar Association lacked a permanent secretariat and so the headquarters was moved from one member country to another. This made its programmes of action difficult. A permanent secretariat for the association located at Plot 2031, Olusegun Obasanjo Way, Wuse, Zone 7, Abuja was built at a full cost to the Federal Government of Nigeria in fulfillment of their pledge at the 6th African Bar Association Biennial Conference (1991) and handed over to the Association in January 1995.
With the secretariat in Abuja, the African Bar Association became the foremost International Association in Africa with 19 member bar associations and law societies, themselves representing over 100,000 lawyers.
National legal associations which were members of the AFBA:
The Secretariat had international status and enjoyed a unique corporate existence. It was not subject to the control of any government, national or international organization and its premises, property and independence was guaranteed and protected until the political crises in Nigeria in the mid to late 1990s when the then Military Government took over the Secretariat which it promised to release back to the association.
Membership of the executives was geographically spread in the continent. Founding membership is made up of the following who are the outgoing executives of the African Bar Association.
The Regional Representatives/Coordinators for the Association were
Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo Esq West Africa
Over time, the African Bar Association, AFBA as it is now known has become a veritable platform for individual lawyers in Africa although national legal associations can join the governing board.
A new Exco is being inaugurated and has already commenced discussion with the Nigerian Government for the return of the secretariat, the association works out of Lagos as its temporary secretariat.
The founding membership of the AFBA is described below:
- Mr. C.I. Idehen – Nigerian – President
- Mr. Josef Joof – Gambian – Vice President
- Mr. Eric N’gmaryo – Tanzanian – Secretary-General
- Mr. Paul Ado-Gyamfi – Ghanaian – Assistant Secretary-General
- Mrs. Harriet Sikasote – Zambian – Treasurer
Past Members of the Nigerian Committee of the African Bar Association charged
with managing the affairs of the Association were thus:
- Mr. C. I. Idehen – President
- Chief Debo Akande S.A.N – Member
- Mr. Yinka Fayokun – Member
- Miss. Ngozi Orakwe Nwachukwu
- Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo – Secretary
- Mr. G.O.C. Owo – Member
- Mr. Richard Ahonarugho – Member
- Alhaji Ibrahim Ismaila – Member
- Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu – Member
- Chief Afe Bablola S.A.N – Member
- Mr. Fred Agbaje – Member
- Mrs. Helen Prest-Davies – Member
- Miss Did Odigo – Member
- Chief Kunle Uthman – Member
- Mr. S.A. Asagba – Member
- Mr. Johnny Okonkwo S.A.N – Member
- Alhaji Ibrahim (Jam Jam) – Member
- Chief Chris Okolie – Member
- Mr. Obafemi Adewale – Member
- Miss Onaiwu Evbuomwan – Member
Members of the Interim Executive Committee inaugurated 16th Feb. 2015
- Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo (Nigeria) – President
- Mr. Dev Eriah (Mauritius) – Vice President
- Mrs. Flaviana Charles (Tanzania) – Secretary General
- Nyamordi Ochieng-Nyamogo (Kenya) – Director of Protocol and Publicity
- Mrs. Obele Akinniranye (Nigeria) – Deputy General Secretary
- Sternford Moyo (Zimbabwe) – Chairman, Human Rights Council