Going by the election guidelines released by the NBA Lagos Electoral Committee under the Chairmanship of Mr. Ayodele Akintunde, SAN, the NBA Lagos is going to poll on 28th June 2019 to elect new Executives that will steer the affairs of the Premier branch for another two years as the incumbent regime under the Chairmanship of Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom is gradually coming to an end. From what is presently on the ground, the election is going to be very interesting. The lawyers who are interested in taking part in the electoral race have obtained and submitted nomination forms to the Electoral Committee which fixed 20th May 2019 as deadline for the submission of nomination forms.

According to the Electoral Committee, the elections will be conducted electronically. The social media is now playing big role in the campaigns by the aspirants who have been going about soliciting for the votes of members of the branch. From the available information ,three (3) candidates who have stepped forward to contest for the position of CHAIRMAN are Adebola Olarotimi Lema, Bolatumi Animashaun and Omoyemi Akangbe; for the position of VICE CHAIRMAN are Chuks Nwana, Bode Omoboriowo and Okey Ilofulunwa; for the position of SECRETARY are Tochukwu Chukwumerije, Moshood Abiola and Obinna Okereke; for TREASURER is Foluke Olamiposi Akinmoladun; for FINANCIAL SECRETARY, I have not seen anyone showing interest; SOCIAL SECRETARY are Ayo-Ponle Adefowoke Olubusola and Gloria Egeonu; WELFARE SECRETARY is Anthonia Enitan Eke; for PUBLICITY SECRETARY ,I have not seen anyone showing interest ; for LEGAL ADVISER are Dumgbara Nda Smart Torbari, Ihesiulo Marcus Ebenezer and Harry O. Ukaeji-Ofor; for PROVOST is Florence Ekwutosi Chijioke –Duru while Ifeoma Cathrine Ben.and Hammed Bakare.are vying for the position of ASSISTANT SECRETARY.As at the time of publishing this write up ,I have also not seen candidates vying for the position of the two NEC representatives reserve for the past Chairmen and Vice Chairmen.

The above mentioned aspirants are as seen on the social media declaring their interests in the race.Those that will actually run the race are those that eventually scale through the screening of the Electoral Committee when it brings out the final list of the successful candidates that are eligible to contest. From all indication, the positions of CHAIRMAN, VICE CHAIRMAN, SECRETARY and LEGAL ADVISER are going to be keenly contested as three (3) candidates are contesting for each of these positions. The position of the Chairman is going to be the greatest race of all as the three contestants are serious determined to take the Premier’s Throne. The three (3) contestants vying for the position of CHAIRMAN are all very formidable but from the opinion poll being conducted LEMA seems to be in the lead ahead of other two contenders who can equally not be underestimated in the race. LEMA has been seen by many lawyers as a Bar Politician who for some time now has established himself as a “Kingmaker” within the Premier Branch and was deeply involved in installing some Chairmen in the branch. Lema’s decision to run the race for the Premiership Throne has been seen by some as a Kingmaker aspiring to be the King.

When Kaduna’s El-Rufai decided to write his autobiography, he referred to himself as an “Accidental Public Servant”, and as if to borrow leave from El-Rufai’s book title, Lema also once referred to himself as “Accidental Secretary of the Premier Branch”. How did this happen? When the late Babatola Apata died in active service to the bar in 2014, the position of General Secretary of the branch became vacant for a bye election. Lema was one of the contenders that came out to run in that election which I later captured in THE BRIEFCASE, a Newsletter I ran during my tenure as Publicity Secretary of the branch as follows:

“Mr. Adebola O. Lema is now the Secretary-General of the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos (Premier) Branch having won the bye-election conducted on 9th June 2014. The other two candidates who earlier showed interest in the race for succession were Mr. Bode Omoboriowo and Mrs. Obele Akinniranye. But in what some people perceived as the conspiracy of the men folk against the women folk (don’t mind the saying that there is no lady in the profession) Omoboriowo stepped down for Lema to battle the contest with Akinniranye who actually gave a very good fight. In the result eventually announced by the Premier’s Jega in person of Ayodele Akintunde, Esq. , Akinniranye scored 75 votes, while Lema scored 89 votes to emerge the winner of the bye-election. One was highly impressed by the maturity and sense of sportsmanship displayed by the two contenders as they both shook hands and embraced each other upon declaration of the result. While welcoming Mr. Lema on board, we urge him to do everything possible to justify the confidence repose in him by the branch members.”

The similarity of the above narrative with the forthcoming 2019 NBA Lagos Elections is that an “Iron Lady” is equally involved this time around in the midst of two gentlemen. Bolatumi Animashaun, the incumbent Vice Chairman has come out to dare the duo of Adebola Olarotimi Lema and Omoyemi Akangbe for the position of Chairman. Animashaun is in the race to prove the point that: “what men can do, women can do better”. The last time a lady courageously ran the race for the NBA Lagos Chairmanship was when Toyin Basorun ran against Taiwo Taiwo. From the present situation on the ground and looking at the determination of the three contenders the “Men folk’s conspiracy against Women folk ” may not work this time round as the likelihood of any candidate for the position of the Chairman stepping down for another is very thin except miracle happens at the eleventh hour. While Lema and Animashaun may have been old horses in the NBA Lagos electoral races, another candidate that should not be underrated in the forthcoming race is Omoyemi Akangbe who perhaps is joining the electoral race for the first time.

The campaign for the election is becoming more interesting day by day as the candidates for the various positions are now rolling out their agendas for the premier branch. In NBA politics, I can say without fear of any contradiction that the only agenda that can fly is that of the Chairman at the Branch level and that of the President at the National level except the Chairman or President exercises his discretion to buy into the agenda of any executive member. In reality, the NBA politics is all about the tyranny of minority. Analyzing the agenda of other vying for other executive positions rather than that of those vying for Chairmanship is nothing but a waste of time. In rolling out his agenda, Lema has made an undertaking “to consolidate and improve on all the good initiatives of the past administration to deliver a branch of our dreams”. He has promised further that his tenure will focus on Welfare; Continuing Legal Education (CLE); Public Interest and Protection of Human Rights; Bar, Bench and Legislature’s Relationship; Bridging the Gulf in the Relationship between the National and the Branch; Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF) and NBA Lagos Bar Centre.I once saw Lema reading the book titled: “From Third World to First” written by the great late Singapore Leader, Lee Kuan Yew who led his country independence from Malaysia to become one of the rare developed countries within a very short time in the world today. The Lema’s agenda and its fulfillment to the letter would surely prove to us how much he has learnt from Lee Kuan Yew‘s Singapore Phenomenon. With all his promises, will Lema prove to be the Premier Bar’s Lee Kuan Yew?

Omoyemi Akangbe has also released what he called the 8 Visions that include ; Creation of Career Development Centre; Enhancement of CLE and Mentorship Initiative; Law Firm Mentorship Initiave ; Engaging Consultants on Practice Structuring; Health Insurance Scheme; More Effective and Efficient Judiciary; Clear Agenda for Young Lawyers and Effective Secretariat According to Akangbe on Judiciary: “ we will immediately constitute a Judiciary Relations Committee that will be made up of respected members of the Bar .The focus of this group would be to improve dialogue with the bench with a view to achieving efficient and effective service delivery on both sides. Specific attention will be paid to issue such as optimal case and time management via effective case scheduling and the adoption of a functional electronic cause list system all of which will be geared towards increasing the productivity of Lawyers and Judges and ultimately facilitating the speedy dispensation of Justice.” While I have not seen much difference on the agenda being presented by Lema and Akangbe, am yet to see the Animashaun’s agenda as at the time of prepare this write up except her profile as published by her with the caption: “Vote experience, vote continuity, commitment, passion & action”. Her profile is as be brilliant as the other two contenders. One thing we must all appreciate is the high level of maturity being displayed by these three contenders for the position of Chairman. Candidates for other positions are equally living up to expectation. This is an electoral race that must be run with the spirit of sportsmanship as all attentions are now focused on the Premier Branch on how the poll will go.

SOUTH AFRICA: WELCOMING PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA

Last week, I wrote about some African Dictators who have refused to embrace true democracy in their countries. South Africa by swearing in on 25th May 2019 Cyril Ramaphosa as her fourth newly elected President after the Apartheid has pledged commitment to the spirit of democracy in that country. Although Ramaphosa may not be a stranger to the South Africa’s Presidency, as took he over from President Jacob Zuma after stepping down from power. The victory of African National Congress (ANC) in the just concluded election has made him to retain the power as President of the country.According Ramaphosa after being sworn in:

“ Today our nation enters a new era of hope and renewal…The challenges of our country faces are huge and are real but they are not insurmountable .They can be solved and I stand here to say they are going to be solved.”

One of the problems that Ramaphosa must find a total solution to is that of some South African youths engaging in the madness of XENOPHOBIA. When they launched the attack sometime in 2015, I wrote in THE BRIEFCASE as follows:

“Not so long some youths in some part of South Africa engaged in what has become to be known as XENOPHOBIA meaning: ‘Irrational hatred or fear of strangers or foreigners’. The objects of this attack by the said youths are black Africans like themselves but who are from other African countries and Nigeria inclusive. The display of the madness was said to have been inspired by a controversial statement attributed to the King of Zulu who has seen the foreigners in their country as lice that must be removed from their heads.They not only inflicted body injuries on their victims, the said youths on rampage also looted shops and carted away properties belonging to those people they believed have come to take over the jobs that belong to them.They even killed.These youth have learnt nothing from the legacy of that great lawyer,Nelson Mandela who despite all he went through in the hands of apartheid regime never took any pound of flesh when he eventually emerged to lead the country as its President.The xenophobia recently inflicted in South Africa on foreigners particularly Nigerian people to say the least is irresponsible.Despite the involvement of the Nigeria as a country in the struggle to liberate the South African people from the Apartheid regime which eventually yielded positive result.For the citizens of South Africa to now turn against the citizens of those countries that helped and assisted them is nothing but an ingrate of the highest order.Another lesson for us to learn from the incident is that there is no place like one’s home,but the facts still remain that if the government of the various countries have created enabling environment for their citizenry there would not be any need for the citizens trooping to other countries searching for greener pasture.

With the promises made by Cyril Ramaphosa after being sworn in, one hopes that he will be bold and kind enough to call those South African youths to order to desist from such wicked act of Xenophobia.

REMARKABLE PRONOUNCEMENT ON COURT AND POLITICAL PARTIES

“The matter in controversy in the appeal is whether a court has jurisdiction to entertain a claim whereby it can compel a political party to sponsor one candidate in preference for another candidate of the self same political party. If a court could do this, it would in effect be managing the political party for the members thereof. The issue of who should be a candidate of a given political party at any election is clearly a political one to be determined by the rules and constitution of the said party. It is thus a domestic issue and not such as would be justifiable in a court of law.”

Per IRIKEFE, JSC (as he then was) in Onuoha Vs. Okafor & Ors. (1983) 14 NSCC 494

THE SETTLED PRINCIPLE OF LAW

On meaning of the word “election”

“It is trite law that the concept of election denotes a process constituting accreditation, voting, collation, recording on all relevant INEC forms and declaration of results. The collation of all results of the polling units making up the wards and declaration of results are therefore constituent elements of an election as know to law. “

See Igodo Vs. Owulo (1999) 5 NWLR (Pt. 601) 70 Pgs. 77-79; INEC Vs. RAY (2004) 14 NWLR (Pt. 892) Pg.123 Paras G-H; (2005) ALL FWLR (Pt. 265) Pg. 1071 Paras H-A

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26th May 2019

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