NBA Election 2022: Chief Gadzama, SAN Halts Plans to File Petition until NEC Ratifies Reconstituted Appeal Committee

Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN has vowed not to file any petition at the reconstituted NBA National Election Appeal Committee (NBA-NEAC) until NBA President, Olumide Akpata’s action is ratified by NBA National Executive Council.

In its letter dated Thursday, August 11, 2022, the Gadzama Campaign Team outlined as follows:

The President,

Nigerian Bar Association,

NBA House, Plot 1101 Mohammadu Buhari Way, Central Business District, Abuja.

Attention: Mr. Olumide Akpata.

Dear Sir,

RE: STATEMENT OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE NBA ON THE RESIGNATION OF MEMBERS OF THE NBA NATIONAL ELECTION APPEALS COMMITTEEE

We write further to our correspondence of Tuesday, July 26, 2022 (hereto attached as “Annexure 1”) and your statement on the subject as captioned above, dated Tuesday, August 2, 2022 (hereto attached as “Annexure 2”).

You may kindly recall that on Tuesday, July 26, 2022, we wrote a letter, which I co-signed in my capacity as the Director General, J-K Gadzama Campaign Team, addressed to your good self, Mr Olumide Akpata, in your capacity as the NBA President, with the NBA National Election Appeal Committee (NBA-NEAC) in copy. In our said letter, we expressed reservations on the constitution of the NBA-NEAC on grounds of non-neutrality of some of its members, and further cited the refusal of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) in allowing for an independent forensic election audit which would examine the election/result logs and the platform for the 2022 NBA National Elections of Saturday, July 16, 2022.

In response to our letter, you may further recall that members of the Mrs. ‘Funmi Roberts led NBA-NEAC, through a correspondence dated July 30, 2022, virally circulated, and addressed to your good self as the President of the NBA, have now resigned. I have also read your statement, dated August 2, 2022, in respect of the resignation of the members of the defunct Mrs. Funmi Roberts-led NBA-NEAC and your consequent reconstitution of a new NBA-NEAC whose membership is drawn from some of the most distinguished legal practitioners our Association can boast of, headed by Chief Godwin Kanu Agabi, SAN.

However, as we have previously stated in our correspondence of July 26, 2022 to your goodself, the pending unavailability of an independent forensic audit report and/or election logs have further rendered the possibility or otherwise of a Petition to the NBA NEAC rather herculean, if not impossible. For emphasis, it prima facie appears that in the absence of a forensic audit of the elections result and/or provision of election logs particularly that of the presidential result, there can be no material facts to bring before the NBA-NEAC which is a fact-finding Committee. Therefore, we are presently impeded in bringing material facts before the NBA-NEAC. Indeed, it is trite law that availing of all necessary facilities for making one’s case is one of the hallmarks of the tenets of fair hearing.

Moreso, while the instant reconstitution of the NBA-NEAC is commendable, may we firmly reiterate that under section 14 (1) (L) of the NBA Constitution 2015 as amended in 2021 (“the Constitution”), the NBA-NEAC is listed as a Standing Committee and thus, by section 14 (3) (1) of the Constitution, the NBA-NEAC shall be constituted by the President of the NBA, subject to the ratification by the National Executive Council (“NEC”). Therefore, it follows that the reconstituted NBA-NEAC requires the prior ratification of the NBA-NEC as a condition-precedent to assume office and duly execute its functions within the mandate of the Constitution. For ease of reference, s.14(1)(L), s. 14(2)L and 5.14 (3) (1) of the Constitution are hereunder reproduced:

  1. Committees

Standing Committees

(1) The Association shall have the following Standing Committees:

a. Judiciary Committee;

b. Law Reform Committee;

c. Rule of Law and Human Rights Committee;

d. Ethics and Disciplinary Committee;

e. Legal Education Committee:

f. Dispute Resolution Committee;

g. Welfare Committee;

h. Finance Committee;

i. General Purpose Committee;

j. Secretariat Management Committee; k. Appointment and Remuneration Committee;

  1. National Election Appeal Committee:

m. Branch Elections Appeals Committees:

n. Sections Election Appeal Committees, and

o. Such other committees as may be created, from time to time by the National

Executive Council or the Annual General Meeting.

14(2)L

National Officers’ Election Appeal Committee:

Shall receive and resolve electoral complaints and disputes arising from the election of National Officers and the election of the representatives of the Association in the General Council of the Bar.

14 (3) Membership of Standing Committees

The Committees shall be constituted by the President subject to ratification by the National Executive Council;

a. The Chairman of each Committee shall be a member of not less than 10

years post call while the Secretary shall be a member of not less than 5 years post-call;

b. Each Committee shall present a written report to the National Executive

c. Such other committees as may be created, from time to time by the National Executive Council or the Annual General Meeting.

14(2)L

National Officers’ Election Appeal Committee:

Shall receive and resolve electoral complaints and disputes arising from the election of National Officers and the election of the representatives of the Association in the General Council of the Bar.

14 (3) Membership of Standing Committees

The Committees shall be constituted by the President subject to ratification by the National Executive Council;

a. The Chairman of each Committee shall be a member of not less than 10 years post call while the Secretary shall be a member of not less 8 years post call.

c. The decisions of each Committee shall be taken by a simple majority provided that the Chairman or Presiding officer shall have a casting vote in the event of equality of votes. Further, the levity visited upon the petition dated 6. May, 2022 (“the Petition”) hereto attached as “Annexure 3”, addressed to the ECNBA by Mr. Tochukwu E. Ohazuruike, is a cause for grave concern. The Petition was not considered on its merit and this leaves much to be desired. Of substance, the Petition was hinged on the ground that one of the NBA presidential candidates, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN is not constitutionally qualified to contest for the office of President in the 2022 NBA National Officers’ election due to his failure to meet the eligibility criteria of not less than two years membership of NEC at the time of nomination, mandatorily required under section 9(3)(c)(i) of the Constitution and page 1 of the ECNBA’s Preliminary Notice of Election dated 17. day of Mar., 2022. The Petition also made copious references to verifiable minutes of NEC meetings and signed attendance lists within the period of 2018 to 2020, confirming that Mr. Maikyau, SAN was absent for three consecutive meetings by virtue of which he automatically lost NEC membership at the time under reference pursuant to section 8(8) of the Constitution. And that such period of Mr. Maikyau’s non-membership of NEC cannot be reckoned with for purposes of computation of time as NEC member for his nomination, qualification and participation in the 2022 NBA National Officers’ election, held on the 160 day of July, 2022. The Petition also averred that assuming that Mr. Maikyau had not absented from three consecutive meetings under the Mr. Olumide Alcpata led NBA dispensation, Mr. Maikyau, SAN has still not and could not have met the NEC eligibility criteria of not less than two years between the timeframe of August, 2020 to the 15th April, 2022 deadline for nomination of candidates which is barely 20 months and thus less than the requisite two years. Thus, the NEC membership of Mr. Maikyau, SAN under the Olumide Akpata led NBA does not also meet the minimum two years’ requirement of NEC membership as stipulated in the Constitution.

The issues raised in the said Petition, prima facie, are plausible grounds for disqualification and their veracity should have been explored and not waived aside on the basis of technicality. It is more so considering that the response given by Mr. Y.C. Maikyau, SAN (Annexure 4 attached hereto) is a confirmation/admission that, indeed, he was absent from three consecutive NBA-NEC meetings. Furthermore, having due regard to paragraph 2.2(d) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution, an aspirant to the Office of the Presidency of the NBA has to be from a section/geo-political zone in the geographical zone where the Presidency is zoned, in this case the North for 2022 NBA election, in compliance with the constitutional rotation requirement. Owing to the fact that previous Presidents of the NBA have emerged from the North West and North Central geopolitical zones of the Northern Zone in times past, the import of section 9(3) of the Constitution and paragraph 2.2(d) of the second schedule of the Constitution on the 2022 NBA general election is that it is only the North Eastern geographical zone in the North that is yet to produce the NBA President, and therefore only candidates from the North East are eligible to contest the 2022 NBA Presidential election in view of the rotational principle enshrined in paragraph 2.2(d) of the second schedule to the Constitution. This line of thinking represents the clear and mandatory provision of the Constitution.

There is therefore a clear testimony of the incompleteness of the electoral process, which makes it unfair, unfree, non-transparent and non-credible. Consequent upon the foregoing concerns and considerations, our candidate, Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN, will not be filing any Petition before the NBA-NEAC save the following prayers are immediately considered and granted:

  1. That an independent forensic audit of the NBA National elections of July 16, 2022, including but not limited to election logs, be mandated and conducted forthwith particularly that of the presidential election.
  2. That the instant reconstitution of the NBA-NEAC be ratified by the NBA-NEC in accordance with S.14 (3)(1) of the NBA Constitution, as a condition-precedent to assuming office and duly executing its functions within the mandate of the NBA Constitution.
  3. Any other relief(s) that is conducive or pursuant to, or necessary for the attainment or realization of reliefs 1 and 2 above.

While it presently seems that the legal profession in Nigeria is sitting gingerly on a ticking time-bomb, may I ultimately reiterate that the leadership of the Bar has an all-important statutory, legal, professional and moral duty to ensure the protection, promotion and defence of the unity, indivisibility and indissolubility of the Bar in Nigeria which has been glaringly bedevilled by too many a crisis in recent times.

In hoping that our instant prayers will be expeditiously considered and granted, please do accept the assurances of our deepest professional regards.

Thank you.

Yours faithfully.

Chief C.P. Oli Director-General,

Joe-Kyari Gadzama Campaign Team)

11/08/2022


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