The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has urged lawyers to suppport its reconcilliation committee to unite the Bar.
NBA’s immediate past president Augustine Alegeh (SAN) had set up a five-man committee to reach out to the aggrieved.
The committee is chaired by a former president Thompson Okpoko (SAN). Members include former presidents Mr. OCJ Okocha (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), former General Secretary Mr. Afro Fayokun and former president of Catholic Lawyers Association, Mr. Mbanugo Udenze (Secretary).
NBA General Secretary Mr. Isiaka Abiola Olagunju said the committee is expected to submit its report to the National Executive Committee (NEC) in November.
“The president wants to work with everybody. We need the contribution of every lawyer for the success of the association.
“Apart from the Okpoko committee, the new president Abubkar Mahmoud (SAN) has also constituted committees to resolve the problems in Abuja and Ikeja branches of the association,” Olagunju said.
When the Alegeh administration was inaugurated in Owerri in August 2014, it inherited a court case by a member against the Bar.
Mr. Seth Amaefula of the Lagos branch of the NBA and others sued NBA at the Federal High Court, Lagos, challenging what they described as arbitrary hike in practicing and conference fees by the Joseph Daudu ( SAN) and Okey Wali (SAN) administrations.
During his inaugural speech in Owerri, Alegeh annulled the election of the Governing Council of the NBA Section on Legal Practice (SLP) which had Mrs. Mia Essien (SAN) as chairman.
It was on the basis that their election did not follow proper procedure.
SLP members said Alegeh did not first constitute a NEC or obtain its approval before annulling the eleciton.
Dissatisfied, the members, including Mrs. Boma Ozobia and Mrs. Bunmi Ibraheem, sued Alegeh, Babajide Koku ( SAN) and others to challenge what they called an arbitrary abuse of power.
The suit sought declarations that Alegeh lacked the legal competence to do what he did. They sought injunctions against him.
Interim injunctive orders were obtained and duly served on him which he allegedly disobeyed. The matter is still in court.
Alegeh had also appointed Dr. Garba Tertengi (SAN) as the Chairman of the Constitution drafting Committee with the mandate to amend the constitution and produce Uniform Bye Laws for all the branches of the association.
One of the provisions of the constitution was that anybody who had contested for and held offices at any branch for two or more times is disqualified from contesting for any branch election for five years and anybody who had done so at national level was disqualified from contesting for any office at the national level until after 10 years.
The new constitution was adopted and passed into law in 2015 but was made to have a retrospective effect. This generated a lot of bad blood because 71 branches of the association were compelled to hold elections to comply with this provision but Alegeh enjoyed a full tenure of two years.
The new constitution also provided for Electronic voting on the basis of which the last election was held.
At the Federal High in Benin, a lawyer Mrs P. I. Iyomon sued Alegeh and NBA to challenge her forceful removal from office as the chairman of NBA Benin branch, having been elected in October 2014.
Following the alleged imposition of Ezenwa Anumunu as Abuja Branch chair, Mr. Victor Abasiakan-Ekim who was elected the branch chairman sued at the FCT High Court. He sought an injunction restraining Anumunu from parading himself as the Chairman of the Abuja Branch for having not participated in the election.
In Ikeja branch, there are three court cases against Alegeh and the NBA.
Adesina Ogunlana, who won the election, is seeking an injunction quashing the nullification of the branch election by the NBA NEC led by Alegeh. He secured an order of court, an interim injunction restraining the NBA from swearing in Dele Oloke as the branch chairman. Ogunlana also filed a second suit seeking to stop the defendants from breaching his right to fair hearing and to stop them from from proceeding on any disciplinary action against him pending the determination of his suit .
Also in Ikeja, Mr. Dare Akande sue Alegeh and others, challenging the purported election of Mr. Dele Oloke as the Chairman of NBA Ikeja branch.
On the presidency, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) sued NBA, Alegeh and others at the FCT High Court, challenging the irregulsrities and manipulation of the 2016 NBA election.
He is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining A. B. Mahmoud (SAN) from parading himself as NBA president.
Former NBA Asst National Publicity Secretary Mr. John Unachukwu is also in the FCT High Court contesting his disqualification from contesting the election when he emerged the sole candidate for the office of national Publicity Secretary.
Lagos lawyer, Mr. Olasupo Ojo is in the Federal High Court, Abuja contesting the validity of the NBA constitution and objecting to the registration of same by the NBA. He wants the 2016 constitution of the NBA voided for reason of not being registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
Chairman of NBA Lagos branch, Mr. Martin Ogunleye, Prince Basil Ikpenwa and Mr. Abioye Akerele are at the Federal High Court in Lagos against the CAC, Incorporated Trutees of the NBA and Alegeh challenging the validity of the unregistered 2015 constitution of the NBA.
Among others, they seek: “A declaration that by the provision of section 600 of the Companies and Allied Matters Act, 2004, “EXHIBIT B”; the amended Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association purportedly amended and adopted at the Annual General Meeting held in Abuja on 27th August, 2015 and pursuant to which the administration and affairs of the 2nd defendant has been, and is being conducted is null and void.”