Crisis is brewing in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as some members have accused the national leadership of plan to use the electoral committee to disqualify candidates perceived to be popular and not in its good books.
They alleged that to achieve this goal, the NBA Electoral Committee has gone ahead to insert clauses in the guidelines that are inconsistent with the NBA Constitution.
In a petition to the NBA Electoral Committee by a former publicity secretary of the Zaria branch of the Association, Saidu Abubakar, he threatened to go to court if the Committee fails to remove the said requirements, as according to him it will impinge on the integrity of the NBA electoral process.
According to Abubakar, “My decision to write this open letter to the Electoral Committee was prompted by a worrisome much publicised notice from the (ECNBA) directing all lawyers to furnish their branch with copies of the current annual practicing fee and branch dues teller/receipts, email account and phone numbers. Branches are mandatorily required to do this on or before May 11,2018.
“My worry was further heightened by part of the notice which stated that these details are necessary to enable lawyers vote in the NBA election. I have carefully searched through the NBA Constitution for the legal basis for the requirement but could not find one,” he added.
The petitioner further pointed out that Paragraph 2.3(d) of 2nd Schedule of NBA Constitution, 2015 does not empower ECNBA to issue such a guideline.
“The paragraph merely requires the ECNBA to publish “the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote in conjunction with the National Secretariat of the NBA at least twenty eight (28) days before the date of the election.”
He noted that ECNBA can only request branches to furnish it with the names of their members who have paid their Branch Dues as and when due.
“Paragraph 2.2(f) of 2nd Schedule of NBA Constitution empowers all members of the Association to vote at the general election for National Executives, provided that such members must belong to a branch and must have paid both their Practicing Fees and Branch Dues as and when due and are duly registered to vote at that election.
“There is no legal or logical basis for requiring lawyers to submit copies of Annual Practicing Fee tellers to their branches as NBA has a comprehensive record of all lawyers who paid their Practicing Fee as and when due.
“All lawyers who paid BPF did so with their branch code which clearly records them as belonging to specific branches.
“Take Notice: Therefore, that if ECNBA does not rescind this decision, I shall proceed to court to challenge this obnoxious and unconstitutional requirement. Time is of essence,” Abubakar warned.
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