Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is once again embroiled in crisis ahead of its forthcoming national election fixed for July 27 and 28 as the immediate past National Secretary of the Nigerian Association, Mr. Afam Osigwe has threatened to stop the conduct of the election in court over his disqualification as a presidential candidate.
The NBA has not been able to come out of the crisis that trailed its last national election which gave rise to a protracted legal battle between one of the presidential contestants, Joe- Kyari Gadzama (SAN) and the incumbent President, Abubakar B. Mahmoud (SAN).
The sad development is rearing its head again as Osigwe has vowed to take legal action against the Association over its decision disqualifying him from contesting for the office of the President.
He described his disqualification by Electoral Committee the of the NBA as ‘unlawful and unconstitutional. and said he was determined to seek redress in court.
The basis of his disqualification, according to the Electoral Committee, was by virtue of his alleged non- compliance with Section 8 (3) (a) (i) and Article 4 of the Third Schedule, NBA Constitution 2015.
But in a statement, in Abuja, made available to Daily Sun, Osigwe said such a section only exists in the Constitution known only to and operated by the ECNBA.
“It is, therefore, not difficult to appreciate why in the rush to do the bidding of its masters and perpetrate injustice, the Committee carelessly but recklessly relied on a non-exiting provision in our Constitution to ground me.
“The other provision relied upon by the ECNBA is “Article 4” (sic)[correctly cited as Paragraph] of the Third Schedule to the NBA Constitution. By it, the Committee questions my “good standing” as a member of the Nnewi Branch of the NBA.
“In my earlier appeal to the ECNBA, I had impeached the decision of the body to disqualify me based on what it described as “no satisfactory proof of my relocation to Nnewi branch…”
“Again for the record, I had submitted along with my nomination form, the following documents in proof of my membership of the Nnewi Branch of the NBA: a letter of good standing” signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Nnewi branch, receipt of payment of dues to Nnewi branch, teller evidencing payment of Annual Practice Fee as a member of Nnewi branch and voter’s list sent to the ECNBA by the Nnewi branch with my name clearly captured as No. 86 therein.
He said what is clearly a palpable admission of his membership of the Nnewi branch, “the ECNBA captured my name as No. 23518 in the final voters’ list published in the evening of 01.07.18.
“How the ECNBA still failed to see proof of my membership of Nnewi Brach is a matter that is beyond human comprehension.
“In any event, I have repeatedly maintained that by virtue of the provision of Section 9(2) of the NBA Constitution, the provisions of the Third Schedule have no relevance in the determination of the qualification or non-qualification of a person to contest election into a national office of the NBA.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I hereby state in clear and unequivocal terms that this unpopular, unlawful and reprehensible decision of the ECNBA is unacceptable to me and my teeming supporters. I reject it wholly and entirely.
“The decision has occasioned grave injustice on me and it clearly represents a miscarriage of justice. The image of the Association is now gradually being torn to shreds by the Electoral Committee.
“But as a social engineer and true democrat, I will leave no stone unturned and no stone unturned in order to ensure that the right thing is done by the ECNBA and this horrendous decision is reversed.”
While questioning the integrity of members of the Electoral Committee to disqualify him, Osigwe accused them of acting a script allegedly given to them by a clique with a mandate to exclude him from contesting at the election.
“For the avoidance of any doubt, let me state that this decision is not only arbitrary, it is high-handed, unfounded, unwarranted, unlawful, unconscionable, illegal, unconstitutional, capricious, null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
” It is a decision concocted and disingenuously honed by enemies of the Bar who are averse to progressive ideas. “They are prepared to stop at nothing to ensure that the NBA remains perpetually under their manipulative control.