22 May 2020
NBA BENIN BRANCH,
PUERILE VITUPERATIONS AND OUTBURSTS AGAINST THE ELECTORAL COMMITTEE OF THE NBA BENIN BRANCH: ANOTHER CASE OF POLITICS TAKEN TOO FAR
May we use this medium to first and foremost wish you a happy birthday celebration and apologise profusely for disturbing the peace and quiet which you ought to be enjoying on this most special of days. We pray that God grant you more Solomonic wisdom to pilot the affairs in these last days of your impeccable stewardship of the NBA Benin Branch.
Mr Chairman, kindly permit us to go straight to the purpose of our writing this letter to you. In the last days, there have been at least two petitions written by two different sets of persons but whom diligent research on our part have shown have the same paymasters in a classic case of the “voice of Esau but the hand of Jacob”. The authors of these two petitions are persons who are hellbent on having their way even if it is obvious that they have failed. We will refrain from responding to the petitions because we consider the petitions like the soliloquy of Macbeth in the classic literature series “Macbeth” where William Shakespeare succinctly wrote thus ”it is full of sound and fury signifying nothing”.
We as concerned stakeholders in this Bar will not sit idly by while some persons go about to besmirch the hard-won reputations of persons of integrity who have sacrificed their time and comfort in ensuring the integrity of our elections.
The Professor Amos Enabulele led Electoral Committee has been accused of all sorts by these harbingers of falsehood including but not limited to favouritism, selective clearance and the most shocking of them all is incompetence. We will deal with these issues one after the other.
- The Composition of the 2020 Electoral Committee
When the composition of the 2020 electoral committee was announced with the person of Professor Amos Enabulele nominated as Chairman, we immediately felt that it was a surprise choice to onlookers but a very welcome development to many of the participants in the election because the professor is not known to belong to any political interest group in the NBA, this choice of Electoral Committee Chairman and its members gave us a sigh of relief that we were going to have a free and fair contest in the 2020 NBA Benin elections. We then went to Google and searched out every available information we could get on Professor Enabulele and we were astounded to see he has over 41 publications in peer-reviewed international journals to his name and that he also serves in the Editorial board of some of the best journals in the world. We went ahead to call ex-students of the Faculty of Law, University of Benin and inquired about him and were regaled with tales of his astronomical brilliance and his keen eye for detail including his penchant to be a bit of a workaholic. We inquired about him from fellow academics who are his colleagues, who informed us that in age, the learned Professor is the youngest professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Benin having attained the rank of full professor in his early forties. This profile and recommendations gave us the utmost confidence in the ability of the committee to do the jobs assigned to them. The capacity of the Secretary of the committee and other members of the committee are well known to our members so we will not bore you with details of their sterling profiles lest we fall into the trap of unnecessary verbosity.
It is, therefore, disheartening that due to the desperation of a microscopic few, who are hell-bent on having their way or destroying the hard-earned reputations of the members of this distinguished electoral committee like a bull in a china shop, they have gone to town spinning all manner of fairytales, falsehoods and untruths against the members of this committee who due to the code of conduct governing their affairs cannot speak to defend themselves.
These persons who have alleged all manner of things against the electoral committee are actually the ones who have made overtures both overt and covert to the electoral committee so that they can have their way but they have been constantly and consistently rebuffed by the electoral committee, they have even gone to town to boast that they will eventually have their way with the electoral committee.
Professor Enabulele an international scholar with a PhD from Brunel University in the United Kingdom has to contend with petition writers who also have PhD’s in their own right but their’s is a Pull Him/Her Down degree. This resort to throwing tantrums like spoilt children deprived of candy shows certain desperation which is quite troubling to onlookers. The tenure of office in the NBA is 24 months which is a short time, why can they not wait since the electoral Committee has not cleared them for reasons which are properly and so brilliantly encapsulated in the Electoral Committee’s statement.
The petition writers have also called the Electoral committee “neophytes”, this unfortunate choice of words is not only demeaning but also shows the petition writers do not get the irony that stares them so blatantly in the face, they who are the “experts” and “veterans” in election affairs could not do a little due diligence to get properly vetted nominators and yet the acclaimed “experts” have been boxed in by the “neophytes. What an irony!!!
- The Idemudia Iredia Osifo Non-Clearance Saga
The non-clearance of Mr Idemudia Osifo formed a huge part of their petitions, however, they have not denied that the nominator who is responsible for the fate that has befallen Mr Osifo in the person of Mr Okosun did not pay local dues in one of the last 3 years which is a prerequisite for clearance. Pray tell, is it the Electoral Committee that picked Mr Okosun as Mr Osifo’s nominator? Mr Osifo is the legal adviser of the bar so he is well versed in our Association’s constitution, is it that he did not see the requirements or he adopted a devil may care attitude basking in the mistaken belief that he had the electoral committee at his beck and call. Mr Osifo during one of the meetings aspirants had with the Electoral Committee admonished them and implored the electoral committee to be firm and apply the rules evenly and was also a huge proponent of every candidate taking the decision of the committee as final and he even signed an undertaking to that effect. Why have some persons now taken it upon themselves to lie that he was unjustly treated when it was a self-inflicted wound? Mr Osifo is a distinguished learned senior and we will plead with him that this is a time for introspection and to look in the mirror and realize that this was not done to him by an enemy, either real or imagined but by his campaign managers whose job it was to vet his nominators and bring them up to speed with the constitutional requirements. To make matters worse, they presented an obfuscated receipt to the electoral committee purportedly evidencing the payment for Mr Okosun claiming it cleaned off and got a receipt to back that claim up despite knowing fully well that he did not pay, this is an established case of FORGERY and an attempt to defraud and hoodwink the association which they claim they want to serve. We would not go as far as to tell the Chairman what to do but these are serious allegations which need to be referred to appropriate quarters.
We will plead with Mr Osifo to adopt the stance of Messrs Osazuwa Omonuwa and Osaretin Airhienbuwa who despite their misgivings of the decision of the committee have accepted the decision like true statesmen.
- The B.O. Okoduwa Nightmare
This to our minds is the most contentious issue as about four aspirants were not cleared on this singular ground because of the 2 offices/ 5 years rule. It should be noted that the committee acted on the strength of a petition written by the same persons who are accusing this committee of incompetence. They agreed with their petition and disqualified four aspirants. Having agreed with their petition and done what was required, they have tried to drag the position of NEC Rep. into the discourse, the committee has succinctly explained that the position of NEC Rep. is sui generis and permit us to adopt their explanations verbatim et literatim as we have nothing to add to that. We will not go into this too much as there is an appeal process going on so we would not like to pre-empt the committee.
- The Issue of Substituting Nominators
In their bid to have their way, they have asked that the committee allow them to substitute nominators for those whose nominators were not qualified. We find this suggestion in plain violation of Section 17 of the NBA Uniform Bye-laws 2015 (as amended). The petitioners have also made heavy weather of the fact that the previous Electoral Committee led by R.I.D Okezie allowed substitution, may we respectfully state that this precedent is not binding on this committee as it is a case of comparing apples and oranges, we state this for the following reasons:
i. The R.I.D Okezie led Eleco reopened nominations particularly as they had over 50days to the elections unlike now that the time provided by the constitution has expired;
ii. The ONLY two candidates for the position of Chairman in the person of Mr J.O. Elenbalulu and your good self nominations were found to be defective;
Is any of the above the case here? Obviously not. The hallmark of a great lawyer is to learn how to distinguish from scenario to scenario. Running a fine forensic toothcomb through the two scenarios which they want us to take as precedent, the differences are glaring. We, therefore, canvass strongly that the committee is in order.
In the famous words of Aaron Levenstein, “Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.” We have gone into empirical detail to chronicle why the call for the disbandment of the committee is not only unwarranted but puerile and should be ignored by your good self. The real travesty is if the Chairman of the NBA is seen to be giving instructions to the Electoral Committee which is meant to be a free and independent committee devoid of any external control, this will be opening a pandora’s box with a lot of unintended consequences which will not be good for the Bar.
May we also respectfully bring to the Chairman’s notice that we have uncovered a sinister plot to enmesh the branch into crisis because some of these petition writers have concluded their wicked plot to petition the Branch to the National Executive of the NBA, this we find most tragic as it is clear that these persons are obviously not reading their constitutions. May we kindly draw their attention to Article 10 of the NBA Uniform Bye-laws 2015 (as amended) wherein it is clearly provided that the Election Committee is the sole prerogative of the Branch Executive acting with the approval of the General Meeting. May we also draw their attention to Articles 15 and 17 of the NBA Uniform Bye-laws 2015(as amended) wherein the powers of the Election Committee are encapsulated and we will plead with the petitioners to show us any paragraph, sentence, comma or full stop which this Election committee has violated. In case the petition writers are not satisfied, we will also be kind enough to draw their attention to the case of Bayo Akinlade v Registered Trustees of Nigerian Association & Anor(Suit No: ID/6127GCM/2019) with the judgment given on Tuesday, 24 December 2019 by Hon. Justice SBA Candide-Johnson, wherein the autonomy of the branch to conduct its affairs especially its elections were once again restated and the matter was put to rest. We ask this petition writers to read this judgment and shelf this plan as it is obvious that they are on a journey to nowhere.
We have also found it very troubling the fact that the keeper of the Exchequer of the Bar, Mrs Uwa Edegbe, an Executive Committee member of the Bar is a signatory to one of the petitions, we find this preposterous at best and totally ridiculous at worst, it is a clear case of flip-flopping, approbation and reprobation on her part as we are aware that she was at the meeting of the Executive Committee which finalized the composition of the Electoral Committee and she made sufficient input in that meeting before the committee was brought to the General Meeting for ratification. Even when politics and partisanship threaten to divide us, we must learn not to pull down a house we have all laboured to build.
We are also aware that they have prepared a “crack team” of petition writers to inundate the Electoral committee with spurious petitions against already cleared candidates, we laugh at this attempt to change the course of history. We gladly advise that they should have deployed this crack team to have done their due diligence on their nominators so that the electoral committee would have cleared their favoured candidates instead of this last-minute attempt to drag everyone down along with them.
May we also express our total displeasure of the newfound habit of persons who write petitions addressed to the Chairman but go to social media and post the spurious petitions in a bid to achieve a predetermined end.
We have also taken the pains to inform relevant security agencies because of the intemperate language being used by the petitioners and other persons’ associated with them. This is to simply avert any breakdown of law and order as they have been threatening.
May we once again thank you for your service to the Bar and pray for more fruitful birthdays for you.
For: League of Concerned Members
Nna Victor, Esq
Adedoyin Ephraim Adeolu, Esq
Christian Oti, Esq
Martins O. Ogbeide, Esq
Aisosa Nosa Adams, Esq
- The Commissioner of Police, Edo State
- The Director of State Security Service, Edo State
- The Commandant, NSCDC, Edo State
- The Commander, 4th Mechanized Brigade, Edo State
- Mr J.O. Aghimien, SAN
- Mr Ighodalo Imadegbelo, SAN
- Mr O.A. Omonuwa, SAN
- Chief Charles Adogah, SAN
- Mr Augustine Alegeh, SAN
- Chief Dan Ose Okoh, SAN
- Mr Ken Mozia, SAN
- Chief H.O Ogbodu, SAN
- Mr Oluwole Iyamu, SAN
- Chief G.C. Igbokwe, SAN
- Mr Razak Isenalumhe (Bencher)
- Mr N.P. Osifo
- Mr K.O. Obamogie
- Mr Solomon Odiase
- Mr Bamidele Abina
- Princess Mrs P.I. Iyomon