With the onset of colonialism in Nigeria and the establishment of the courts, the English system of adjudication set in with the English trained lawyers who were either barristers at law, solicitors or both. In 1866, the first lawyer was enrolled in Nigeria. The first indigenous lawyer, Christopher Sapara Williams, was enrolled in 1888.
Ever since the lawyers have always met as a group especially in Lagos the then capital of Nigeria. The association of lawyers was referred to as the Nigerian Bar Association and was headed by a leader called ‘Chairman’. They Chairmen from inception were:
- Christopher Sapara Williams (enrolled January 30, 1988)(1900 – 1915)
- Sir Kitoye Ajasa (enrolled on August 14, 1903) (1915 – 1937)
- Eric Olawole Moore (enrolled February 10, 1903) (1937 – 1944)
- J. Alex Taylor (enrolled September11, 1905) (1944 – 1950)
- Sir Adeyemi Alakija (enrolled June 17, 1913) (1950 – 1952)
- Alhaji Jubril Martins (enrolled 1926)(1952 1959) After the 1960 Annual General Conference, the leader of the Nigerian Bar Association was changed from “Chairman” to “President”. Chief FRA Williams, Q.C. was elected president and the vice-president went to his co-contestant, Chief GCM Onyiuke Q.C.
The Lagos Branch was at that time the only branch of the NBA in existence.