NBA politicians were careless despite being lawyers – Olasupo Ojo
*2009, 2014 purportedly amended Constitution also voided
One lawyer whose name has become a household name in the last couple of hours is Barrister Olasupo Ojo, the plaintiff in the matter that got an Abuja Federal High Court to declare the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2015 unconstitutional and thus, sacked the National Executive Council (NEC) elected by the process.
In what is his first official response, Barrister Olasupo Ojo in a statement he signed wrote: “I am a hard believer in the rule of law and will stand against the whole world to insist on it. This is a straight rule of law action. Simple. If any NBA politician derive any benefit or suffer any injury consequent of my suit and judgment delivered, that is their fate. No lawyer ought to contest election without checking the legal foundation first.”
“For me, I have satisfied my conscience as a lawyer and active member of the NBA. No other member of NBA loves NBA more than I do. I watch over the legal health of the NBA while many of the NBA politicians merely seek office for power and to preside over resources and hold the NBA by the jugular.
“Note that the judgment declared the 2001 constitution as the extant Constitution. By implication, it has voided both the 2009 and 2014 purportedly amended constitution which were not approved by the CAC because no one bothered to apply for approval in an association of lawyers with SANs as presidents.
NBA regimes were reckless: “Only Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) complied with CAMA requirements during his tenure. All regimes after him were reckless. They did not even file annual returns not to talk of obtaining CAC approval for amendments to the Constitution. The implication is that all those who contested and occupied offices under those constitutions at the national level are deemed not to have done so in law. The branches are saved because they were operating their branch bye laws.
Barrister Olasupo Ojo added, “I hope and expected necessary lessons are being learnt and that all the grandstanding will abate in humility.
“However, late yesterday, I was informed via email from Ikotun Temowo & Co in their Abuja Office that the NBA served me their Notice of Appeal and a Motion for Stay of Execution of the declaratory judgment delivered in favour of Olasupo Ojo. No date has been fixed for the motion.
Can a declaratory judgment be affected by Stay of Execution?: “Meanwhile, there is false info on Channels TV that NBA obtained a stay of execution against a declaratory judgment delivered just a day before. Res ipsa loquitur. I hope that our reputable Channels TV will show us a copy of the court order.
Their propaganda can only influence those who are ignorant of the law. I want to declare that the NBA is still alive under the 2001 constitution. All national and branch elections conducted contrary to it are void and as lawyers we don’t even need a court judgment to know this very obvious truth and insist on it.
The take-away lesson in the judgment is that the rule of law is no respecter of anybody or even association of lawyers which ought to lead by example. Yet, they are busy now dissipating energy on an appeal as if the judgment has made the NBA to suffer loss. They got it wrong. The judgment has provided opportunity for the NBA to reposition itself as a credible organisation with integrity capable of providing good leadership in Nigeria.
“The immediate way forward now is for all branches to revert to their Branch Bye Laws immediately. Summon branch general meetings, pass resolution to set up Electoral committees and conduct election within a week or two.
Historically, NBA branches operated without a National Exco before. Heavens did not fall and NBA did not die. The branches are the live wire of the NBA, not the national exco. This is why I advocate that branches should be allowed to operate their Bye laws separate from the national constitution under which every branch byelaws are subject to NEC approval. This will ensure that if the national is decapitated for any reason, the branches will revive it as was done in Jos where I was present as part of the revival of the NBA that was decapitated by the military. Whoever thinks such cannot happen again is foolishly ignorant politically.
In fact, that is our situation now. The NBA national is dead. Let the National officers hand over the NBA to the registered Trustees to conduct another election under the 2001 constitution. This is the humble way to go. The truth is that the 2009, 2014 and 2015 constitutions are void.
Appeal will not cure the truth: The appeal against my locus standi is their constitutional right but is a grandstanding, sentimental and arrogant response designed to bulldoze and elongate their tenure in the circumstance. To them, their tenure is more important that the NBA. The appeal, even if it succeeds in years to come will never erase the truth. The appeal will not cure the truth that the 2015 constitution, under which they were elected into office, was amended pursuant to the 2014 constitution which was not approved by CAMA before it was operated hence remains void in law.
The 2014 constitution was in turn amended pursuant to the 2009 constitution which was also not approved by CAMA. It remains void and I have already put the CAC on notice that the 2015 constitution is incapable of being approved and that I will challenge CAC in court if it dare approve the 2015 constitution.
Let us cure the voidness in the life of the NBA NOW. This is the opportunity UNLESS they are determined to bury the NBA!
“We are supposed to be lawyers!” he warned.