2017 will never be forgotten in the history of the Nigerian Legal Community as the year in which the Federal High Court gave a judgement nullifying the 2015 NBA Constitution after the legality of the constitution was challenged in court by Olasupo Ojo Esq., for failure of being registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in line with Section 598 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 1990.
Although the case is currently on appeal before the Court of Appeal, it is not disputable that the executive body of the NBA still believes in the 2015 Consitution as the document that incorporates the general ideology of the NBA hence the act of registering it with the Commission while the document still remained challenged in court. However, how many Lawyers know how the 2015 constitutition was adopted? This will sum up the essence of this report. So, seat down, relax with perhaps a cup of tea or maybe coffee, as TheNigeriaLawyer gives an expository report of how the 2015 constitution which is sometime tagged ‘the instrument of controversy’ was made or adopted.
AND IT CAME TO LIFE:
The instrument came to life at the 2015 Annual General meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja on Thurday, 27th August, 2015. The instrument had been drafted by the Constitution Review Commitee that was set up by the then president, Augustie Alegeh SAN and headed by Dr. Garba Tetengi SAN as Chairman and Agada Elachi Esq as Secretary.
The meeting was called to order by the President, Augustine Alegeh,SAN at 10:30am, with the NBA Prayer read by Anthony Ani,Esq., a former Attorney- General of Enugu State.
Amongst the agenda of the AGM was the Officers Report which included the voting on the new NBA constitution.
The General-Secretary, Mazi Afam Osigwe reported that the draft of the proposed Constitution was circulated at the Sokoto NEC Meeting and also forwarded by e-mail to all Past Presidents, Past General Secretaries and Senior Advocates of Nigeria . He as well reported that the hard copy of the draft Constitution was also circulated to all branches as well as those meant to receive same and that the notice of voting on the new Constitution was given to all Branches. The highlights of the proposed Constitution was read out, which include:
- To introduce e-voting for NBA elections.
- To allow only members who pay practice fees before March 31, to vote in the elections.
- To introduce a Uniform Bye laws for all branches.
- To keep up with the modern trends and practices.
- To limit what a candidate can do in respect to campaigns.
The procedure for the voting on the new constitution is that only delegates are entitled to vote. Each branch was allowed a minimum of 10 delegates. Notice was sent to the branches to constitute their delegates. Branches were entitled to an extra member for every 100 members that pay practicing fees on or before 31st March. The Branches that were yet to constitute their delegates were allowed to do so before the voting. Also the newly created Branches of Barnawa and Udu were alowed to vote.
Voting on the new NBA constitution commenced after which the result was announced. The result shows that the “No” votes were 123 in numbers, “void” votes, 5 in numbers and the “yes” votes a total of 462. A summary of the result goes thus:
- “No” votes: 123
- “Yes” votes: 462
- Void: 5
- Total votes cast: 590
- Total valid votes: 585
- Total accredited voters: 1696
- 2/3 of the total valid votes required to pass the new Constitution: 399
- 1/3 of the total valid votes required to defeat the new Constitution: 198
After voting, the constitution was adopted following a special resolution having met the required votes needed. The resolution was to the effect that upon the majority votes casted, the Constitution immediately took effect. The resolution was dated the 27th day of August, 2015, and signed by the then President, Augustine Alegeh, (SAN) and Mazi Afam Osigwe as General Secretary. The meeting formally ended at about 6.15pm the same day.
Oops! It’s obvious that the New Constitution was not fanned by all delegates as a total number of one hundred and twenty three (123) the first three numbers, refused the new birth of a constitution for the Association, but being that spirit of democracy lies in the wordings of CAMA and the NBA guidelines itself, the 462 delegates’ votes had the day.
I guess you now have a perfect idea of how the 2015 NBA constitution came to be? Although, some may have their reserves about the instrument, it is crystal clear that there were some positive innovations ushered into the letters of the instrument which to an extent will reshape the administrative garment of the Association.
But before you drop your cup of coffee, be guided that there was no saving or transitional provision in the constitution, and that there were a total of 25 rapporteurs at the conference as witnesses to the making of the Constitution.