Impunity should not be allowed to mar the NBA election by Gabriel Eze Esq
It is unfortunate that supporters of a particular candidate are more interested in mudslinging, concocting stories and pushing for the disqualification of Mazi Afam Osigwe than convincing lawyers why they should vote for their preferred candidate. They even shamelessly boast that he will be disqualified. This is an Association where the motto is “Promoting the Rule of Law”
They boast about Osigwe’s disqualification as if they dictate to the Electoral Committee what to do. They also boast that Osigwe will not be allowed to run as if Mazi Afam Osigwe is either not eminently qualified to vie for the office of the NBA President or he has not validly met any of the requirement to contest.
The NBA Constitution, 2015 in stating the qualification to hold National Office states in section 8 (3) thereof that “A member of the Association shall be qualified to hold a National Office if:
(a) He/ she is a full member of the Association and has paid, as at the date of his/ her nomination, his/ her practicing fees and branch due, for three (3) consecutive years inclusive of the year of election;
(b) He/ she is in private legal practice.
Mazi Afam Osigwe is a full member of NBA Nnewi branch and in private Practice. He is a member of Body of Benchers and paid his practicing fees and branch dues for the past three (3) years as at when due consecutively prior to his nomination. He also obtained Letter of Good Standing for himself and his nominators.
In keeping with their modus operandi of resorting to misinformation they have taken to social media to argue that by joining Nnewi branch Osigwe will not be allowed to run. In their quest to lay a foundation for their evil plot they pretend not to know that the NBA Constitution only requires you to show you’ve paid Practice Fee and branch dues as at when due for three years and not that you must belong to and make such payments to ONLY one branch for three years. NBA Constitution permits who relocates, has residence and or carries on practice in a judicial division to change his branch. So what is the fuss if not mischief, recklessness and lack of confidence in their preferred candidate’s chances at the poll?
When will these individuals campaign for their preferred candidate and stop hoping that their candidate’s chances will be enhanced by resorting to lawlessness and impunity.
No amount of denigration of Mazi Afam Osigwe will advance their cause or help them to score more than cheap political points. It is trite that where the provision of the law is express, clear and unambiguous, there is definitely no need to speculate over it.
Secondly, on the issue of Good Standing and membership of a Branch, section 3 of the Uniform Bylaws provides that every Legal Practitioner who resides, practices and/ or works in the State where the Branch is situate may be a member of the Branch. Again, such a member shall meet his financial obligations to the Branch, by paying as at when due, all dues, levies and contributions as may be imposed by the Branch from time to time. NOTE: There is no residence requirement in NBA. All that is required of a candidate is that he pays his Practicing Fees and Branch dues as at when due for three years. One wonders where the issue of Mazi Afam Osigwe’s qualification comes in here. There is no law whatsoever that specifies the Branch a Legal Practitioner must join. One can reside in Lagos and still choose to join a Branch in his village.Joining a particular Branch of the NBA is a matter of choice and discretion. Mazi Afam Osigwe has the right to join any Branch of his choice. He remains a member of the Branch he decides to join so long as there is no law barring him from doing that, and indeed there is NO such law.
Where a member has complied with the above financial requirements and in addition to him participating in at least three or more activities of the Branch, including attendance to meeting or the sponsorship thereof, he is deemed to be in good standing and pursuant to section 4 of the Uniform Bylaws, he SHALL be entitled to a certificate of that status signed by the Chairman of the Branch if he so desires.
In view of the above analysis, we are tempted to ask the basis of the said malicious and false publication. Can it really be said that someone is busy digging deep to disqualify Mazi Afam Osigwe against all odds or possibly to create doubt in the minds of his teaming supporters?
Lawyers are wise and we are minded always to do what would be to the best interest of the bar. Lawyers will resist any attempt to unlawfully disqualify Osigwe in this election or to tamper with the electoral process.
If the mischief-makers have no useful ideas to project their candidate, they should seek help.
Kindly disregard any publication seeking to smear, denigrate and tarnish the image of Mazi Afam Osigwe. We cannot go back to the old ways of doing things. We must not do the bidding of the few selfish individuals who are only concerned about themselves. In this election the Bar must be true to its motto otherwise it will be a national laughing stock.
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