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Impunity: Is this honourable of Nigerian Bar Association?

*When NBA refuses to obey Courts, can we sell Rule of law?

*Will Isiaka Abiola Olagunju obey court or rape her in the market place?

From Linus Aneke

Barely three days to the purported election for the post of Chairman and Secretary of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abuja branch, the crisis rocking the professional body has continued to be stoked by the General Secretary, Isiaka Abiola Olagunju.

The splinter group restrained by an Order of FCT High Court of the 9th day of March 2017, seems determined to continue to flout the Order of the Court which specifically restrains their action of going ahead with the purported election slated for 30th June, 2017, according to their released guidelines for election and campaign timetable.

At the heart of the present crisis is the failure of leadership of the President of Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. A B Mahmoud (SAN) whose seeming unresponsiveness and unwillingness to abide with the decision of the NBA’s Annual General Meeting, the highest decision making body of the Bar, has fuelled leadership tussle in the Branch. It is instructive to note that the AGM decision being flouted, is the same AGM at which Mr. Mahmoud was sworn in as President.

The President has purportedly set up a three-man caretaker committee to conduct elections in the branch, having banned current branch Chairman, Ezenwa Anumnu and Lawrence Erewele from contesting for any position.

Isiaka Abiola Olagunju General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)...will he respect the court?
Isiaka Abiola Olagunju General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)…will he respect the court?

The illegal caretaker committee is purportedly led by Caleb Danjan of NBA Jos Branch and the current 1st Vice President of the NBA. Other members of the committee are Mr. Mustapha Abubakar past Chairman Zaria Branch and A. Y. Musa past chairman, Kaduna Branch; all in clear contravention of the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution.

This action seems to have the blessing of the administration of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, who has made the Court premises, particularly the Ceremonial Court room, available to them to carry out the illegality already restrained by the Judge of the same Court.

This action seem to have further plunged the branch into crisis. Most lawyers wonder at the seeming desperation of Mr. Mahmoud who in his quest and bring down branch leadership of Ezenwa Anumnu is heralding the Nigerian Bar Association in what seems to be an onslaught against the judiciary in his continued image of one who has scant regards for established judicial process.

It is a notorious fact that the Nigerian Bar Association, whose motto has been “Promoting the rule of law” has taken a dangerous turn under Mr. Mahmoud’s leadership.

It has become obvious to all that the Nigerian Bar Association, which ought to be at the vanguard of the promotion of the rule of law in the country, has taken the opposite direction by the present administration; completely at variance with that noble objective of the Association.

You will recall that even while a motion seeking to restrain the action of Mr Mahmoud was still pending before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Mr. Mahmoud led the National Executive Meeting on the 2nd of March 2017 to purportedly remove Mr. Ezenwa Anumnu and Lawrence Erewele as Branch Chairman and Secretary respectively and then purportedly set up the Caleb Danjan led committee; which, inevitably, became dead on arrival, due to the unconstitutionality of such an action. An action which is solely aimed at overreaching the court.

In the first place, Ezenwa Anumnu’s leadership was ratified by the same Annual General Meeting of August 2016 that brought in the A. B. Mahmoud Administration.

The fact and record remains that it was Ezenwa Anumnu, as the lawful Chairman of Unity Bar, who moved the motion at the meeting for the emergence of A. B. Mahmoud.

Furthermore, the constitution and bye-laws of the NBA stipulates that caretaker committee members should be past Chairmen and/or Secretaries of the Branch, a vital condition, which Caleb Danjan and all members of his illegal Committee did not meet.

Secondly, the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, incensed by disobedience of its order restraining the action of the National Executive Committee, has ordered the National Secretary, Mr. Isiaka Olagunju to appear before it on the 29th day of June 2017; to show cause why the Order of the Court should be flagrantly disobeyed by setting up timetable for elections.

Members now wonder at the role of the Administration of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, in giving the ceremonial Court of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory as venue for the purported election as an accomplice in disobedience of Court Orders made by the selfsame Court; a fitting case of a man who in an attempt to spite his face, cut off his nose.

We call on the Chief Judge of Federal Capital Territory, who we still believe to be unaware of these set of facts, to use his good offices to swiftly arrest the desecration of the Judiciary and take this opportunity to act as a neutral party in the crisis, with a view to having an unbiased platform of resolution of the crisis by the court before whom it’s pending.

Recall that Mr. Anumnu who emerged Chairman of the branch sometime in June 2016, was sworn-in on 13th June, 2016. In fact, the National Executive Committee Meeting held in Benin, Edo state on the 16th June, 2016 acknowledged and gave legitimacy to Anumnu leadership and this was ratified by the Annual General Meeting in August of the same year in line with the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.

It is unclear as to what is the genesis of the crisis, but findings reveal that a handful of senior lawyers who had sponsored candidates against Anumnu for the June 2016 election, are bent on ensuring his ouster, having lost out in the contest, to their chagrin.

These individuals have conveniently proceeded under the toga of elders of the branch and have continued to alienate the real elders of the branch. Their grouse against Anumnu, is not unconnected with his alleged unwillingness to allow them access to the branch’s resources, as they hitherto had; and the agenda of opening up practice areas for lawyers, which seems to reduce their influence on younger lawyers, who are now Anumnu’s strong forte.

Investigations further reveal that the electoral committee that midwifed the emergence of Anumnu suddenly yielded to pressure from these external forces to turn the tide against him. Ordinarily, Anumnu ought not to suffer any headache having been the only qualified candidate in the 2016 election. What began like a rumour, suddenly metamorphosed into an onslaught against the young Anumnu by this group of lawyers during the National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting held in Aba, Abia state.

These lawyers, to the consternation of other legal luminaries present, and despite wise counsel to the contrary, urged that the Anumnu led executive be dissolved and banned, relying on what they termed leadership crisis bedeviling the Abuja branch. Anumnu, out of respect for law and order, had approached a court of competent jurisdiction to stop the crusade of injustice against his administration and the sinister plan to illegally unseat him and after due consideration, the court granted an order restraining the splinter group and their sponsors.

It is clear that there is no crisis in Abuja NBA, since Anumnu has, in the last 12 months, despite the distractions, outperformed the previous administration in instituting far reaching programmes aimed at Human Capacity Development and Competitiveness for lawyers.

Regrettably, the illegal caretaker committee backed by Mr. Mahmoud and the Administration of the FCT High Court, is now more determined than ever, to disobey the court order, just as they had continuously disregarded the Annual General Meeting of the entire Association; as well as the clear provisions of the Nigerian Bar Association constitution.

Nevertheless, it is only the President and his caretaker committee that can explain the reason they chose to brazenly disobey court orders, even when they are often the first to condemn politicians for doing same. Or is this the case of Animal Farm where all animals are equal but some are more equal than other?

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