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HomeNewsNBA Asaba Branch Elections: Oho's Nomination Queried, Head of Oho's Team Writes...

NBA Asaba Branch Elections: Oho’s Nomination Queried, Head of Oho’s Team Writes the Branch Chairman

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As the elections to occupy Executive Offices of the NBA Asaba Branch draw near, the nomination of one of the members who has indicated interest to run for the office of the Secretary of the branch and duly nominated, Ethe Udhekome Oho, was adjudged invalid by the electoral committee. The Head of Oho’s team has petitioned the Branch Chairman in this regard. A copy of the letter was made available to lawyerwaka.com.

“6th June, 2020

The Chairman,
Nigerian Bar Association,
Asaba Branch,
NBA BAR Centre,
High Court Road,
Asaba.

Sir,

“PLOT BY THE ELECTORAL COMMITTEE TO DISQUALIFY OUR CANDIDATE, ETHE UDHEKOME OHO, ESQ. FROM CONTESTING THE ONCOMING BRANCH ELECTION

“I write you this letter as the Head, Technical and Strategy, Ethe Udhekome Oho Campaign Team, and as a concerned member of this Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.

“Background Facts

Following the call for nomination of duly qualified members to contest the 2020 NBA Asaba Branch election, Ethe Udhekome Oho (hereinafter referred simply to as “our candidate”) picked the expression of interest/nomination form for the position of Secretary of the Branch. In compliance with Article 15(1) and (6) of the Nigerian Bar Association Uniform By-Law for Branches, our candidate was duly nominated in writing by two members who are eligible to vote in the election and are qualified for the position of Secretary of the Branch.

“On 2nd June, 2020, our candidate received a letter from the Electoral Committee of the Branch (hereinafter referred to as the Eleco) titled “NBA Asaba Branch Election for June, 2020: NOTICE OF DISQUALIFICATION”. Paragraph 2 of the said letter is instructive and it reads thus:

“We have examined your Nomination Form aforesaid and are unhappy to inform you that your nomination is invalid for the following reason(s):

1. You, as the candidate, failed to indicate the position you wish to contest for.

See Section A, Item (i): “Nominated Office.”

A copy of the said letter is herewith attached and marked ANNEXURE 1.

“Even though our candidate was given 7 days within which to reply to the said letter, on the same date that the letter was served on our candidate, the Eleco published notice of nominated candidates and the remark written against our candidate’s name was “QUERIED”. Attached is a copy of the Notice of Nominated candidates marked as ANNEXURE 2.

“Meanwhile, our candidate promptly answered the letter wherein he explained that it was a mistake on his part that he omitted to indicate the position he is contesting but that his sponsors clearly indicated the office for which they nominated him. Our candidate therefore requested for a review. Attached is a copy of our candidate’s reply marked as ANNEXURE 3.

“The Eleco is yet to reach a decision on our candidate’s request for a review. Be that as it may, it appears that the Eleco will not reverse its decision as it has set the machinery in motion to disqualify our candidate for no justifiable reason. A number of issues arise from the conduct and or decision of the Eleco and we shall highlight them hereunder.

Issue 1:
Is the Eleco’s position founded, having regard to the facts, the circumstances of the case and the provisions of the Uniform Bye-Laws?

As a requirement of the election process, our candidate was duly nominated by two sponsors who clearly stated the position for which they nominated our candidate. It was on the strength of this that the Eleco in the Notice of Nominated Candidates put our candidate’s name under the column for secretary. Can it be said that the Eleco was ever in doubt as to the position our candidate is contesting?

“The Eleco stated in its letter to our client that it is a requirement that the candidate must indicate the position he is contesting. Nothing could be further from the truth! The requirements for eligibility to contest for any position in the Branch of the NBA are provided under Uniform Bye-Laws. Article 15 thereof provides thus:

“15. ELECTIONS
To be eligible to stand for election into an office, a member must:
(1) Be validly nominated in writing by two members who are eligible to vote herein and who must themselves be qualified for the particular office as provided for in these By-Laws;
(2) Have attended a minimum of five (5) monthly meetings of the Branch within the twelve (12) months prior to the close of nominations for the election;
(3) Attain the post-enrolment qualification requirement for the affected office as at the date of the election…

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

“(6) A candidate for any elective national office shall be nominated or proposed in writing by a member and seconded by another both of whom shall be qualified like the candidate in accordance with the provisions of this Bye-laws for the equivalent office and in good standing with their practising fees and all other Branch levies.

By a literal interpretation of the above provisions, it is not a requirement under the Uniform Bye-Laws that a candidate must indicate in writing the position he is contesting. By sub-articles (1) and (6) of Article 15, it is the sponsors of the candidate that are required to nominate in “writing” a candidate for a particular position. This requirement was met in our candidate’s case. From a calm perusal of Article 15 reproduced above, a candidate can even indicate orally the position he is contesting as there is no provision in the Uniform Bye-laws that makes it obligatory on him to do so by way of writing. It is purely a matter of convention that candidates usually indicate their interest and the office they are contesting for by way of nomination form. However, convention cannot be elevated to the status of a rule so as to use same to invalidate anyone’s nomination. The Eleco was therefore manifestly wrong when it purported to invalidate our candidate’s nomination on the ground that he did not state the position he is contesting in his nomination form when he is not obliged by the Uniform Bye-Laws to do so. In other words, the Eleco placed more requirements on our candidate than is provided in the Uniform Bye-laws!

It is our view that the Eleco, as a body established by the Executive Committee of this Branch pursuant to the Uniform Bye-Laws, must act within the bounds of the Uniform Bye-Laws. The Eleco cannot disqualify our candidate on a frivolous and a technical ground that has no foundation in the Uniform Bye-Laws.

Issue 2:
Is it proper for the Eleco to be the body to review its own decision?

It cannot reasonably be expected that the Eleco which handed down the decision purportedly disqualifying our candidate would reverse its decision in a purported review/appeal. The situation is tantamount to a court of law sitting on appeal over its own decision. This offends the principle of fair hearing which ought not to be allowed to stand in an association of lawyers. If we as lawyers can so flagrantly violate the principle of natural justice that frowns on a person being a judge in his own cause, what do we expect of an association of ordinary citizens? This brings to the fore the need to scrutinize the activities of the Eleco.

Our demand
Against the backdrop of the above, it is our considered opinion that the Eleco is acting out a script designed towards a predetermined end. Thus, we have lost confidence in the Eleco to conduct a free, fair and credible election. We therefore, by this letter, strongly demand the immediate dissolution of the Eleco to safeguard the credibility of the 2020 Asaba Branch NBA election.

While we count on you to treat this letter with the seriousness it requires. Kindly accept our professional regards.

Yours faithfully,
For: Ethe Udhekome Oho Campaign Team

Anderson Chukwuka Okwuokenye, Esq
Head, Technical and Strategy,
Ethe Udhekome Oho Campaign Team.

C.C
1. The Chairman
Electoral Committee, NBA Asaba Branch.

2. The Honourable Commissioner of Justice & Attorney General of Delta State,
Ministry of Justice,
Asaba.”

It is yet unknown what step will be taken by the leadership of the branch.

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