NBA ELECTIONS: EGBE AMOFIN MOVES TO PICK CONSENSUS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE

Egbe Amofin O’odua, the once influential umbrella body of lawyers of Yoruba extraction, is set to forge a consensus towards the 2020 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections at its meeting today in Ibadan.

A notice of meeting curiously sent out by the Publicity Secretary of NBA Ibadan Branch, Mr. Femi Omotayo stated that the meeting which starts at 11 a. m. would hold at the Aare Afe Babalola Bar Centre, Ibadan, adding: “Your attendance is highly anticipated and necessary as matters affecting our common interests will be placed on the table.”

Omotayo assured that the meeting would be attended by “who is who” among the Yoruba legal elite. On whether the breakaway South West Lawyers Forum (SWLF) would attend the meeting, he described the faction as an “infinitesimal group,” adding that there is no recognition for any such group.

There are strong indications that the forum may however not pose as serious challenge to today’s meeting, as political watchers believe that it had the backing of leading NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN. Adesina is believed to share similar political sentiments with foremost litigator, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN was the. Both are also in-laws.

The Chairman of Egbe Amofin, Chief Bandele Aiku SAN is now deceased. Olanipekun is the Vice Chairman of the forum, though some Egbe members challenged his position, arguing that his position was never ratified by the forum.

CITY LAWYER gathered that today’s meeting was a product of an earlier meeting convened by Olanipekun on August 28, 2019 on the sidelines of the NBA Annual General Conference. A source who was at the meeting told CITY LAWYER that the only major agreement at the meeting was the resolution that the Egbe should produce a consensus presidential candidate for the forthcoming NBA Elections.

Among those who attended the meeting are former NBA President, Chief (Mrs.) Priscilla Kuye; Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN; Chief M. A. Ajomale, and Mr. Femi Falana SAN among others.

Presently, there are four presidential aspirants who are said to be eyeing the coveted post, including Adesina, Mr. Muyiwa Akinboro SAN, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN and Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, the only aspirant who is not a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Mr. Martin Ogunleye, former Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch told CITY LAWYER that the Lagos meeting “emphasized the urgent need for a rebirth of Egbe,” adding that the breakaway South West Lawyers Forum (SWLF) has “merged back” to the parent Egbe forum.

Ogunleye, who is also the Chairman Egbe Amofin N’ile Eko, said that the meeting would be “co-hosted” by chairmen of NBA branches in the South West, adding that Olanipekun would “most likely” chair the meeting. Asked whether 2020 NBA Elections was an item on today’s agenda, he said: “You cannot rule out politics in human affairs.”

It was unclear at press time whether there is a split within the leadership of Egbe, as its Secretary, Mr. Ranti Ajileti told CITY LAWYER that he would not attend the meeting. His words: “I am not involved in the planning of the meeting. But I am not opposed to convening of the meeting. My not attending is due to circumstances and not by design.” It is recalled that Ajileti was lampooned by some Egbe elements for standing by the Eastern Bar Forum’s (EBF) endorsement of Chief Arthur Obi Okafor for the 2018 NBA presidential race.

A source close to Ajibade told CITY LAWYER that “Dr. Ajibade SAN is attending in full force.” Feelers from the camp of another leading candidate, Mr. Olu Akpata showed that he may not attend the meeting, adding that the forum is for Yoruba lawyers and that “no invitation has been extended to him to attend.”

There are strong indications that forging a consensus among the aspirants may pose the toughest challenge for the resurgent Egbe, as the aspirants are said to belong to disparate ideological divides and cleavages. Today’s meeting is viewed by many watchers of Bar politics as crucial in determining the fate of the Yoruba bloc in NBA politics.

Though there are fears that Olanipekun may desire a rebirth of the Egbe as a launch-pad for Adesina’s presidential ambition, analysts argue that it would be an uphill task, with many saying that he has only “one vote” when the chips are down. They argue that only a transparent process will prevent the Egbe from receding into irrelevance again.

It is recalled that lack of consensus by the Egbe gifted the 2014 presidential race to former NBA President, Mr. Austin Alegeh SAN. A similar disagreement by the South East bloc led to the emergence of current NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN. Analysts believe that today’s meeting is geared towards preventing a recurrence of the 2014 debacle.

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NBA ELECTIONS: Usoro Wins ‘Round One’

*As NBA NEC Ratifies Election

*Saraki, Olanipekun, Okocha, Others Hail Victory

* ‘Embark on Electoral Reforms Now’

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President-elect, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has scored a major victory with the ratification of his election by the NBA National Executive Committee meeting that held today in Abuja. Continue Reading

‘You Have Not Been Fair to Us,’ Olanipekun Tells Mahmoud

Early signs that the forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will be explosive emerged yesterday as former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun warned the Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN-led NBA to shelve any plan to amend the association’s controversial constitution.

In a letter dripping with angst and discomfiture, the go-to lawyer expressed disappointment at the situation, adding that the NBA President had “not been fair” to the past NBA presidents and secretaries who admonished him to shelve the constitutional amendment project.

Below is the full text of the statement:

2nd August, 2018

Mr. A. B. Mahmoud, SAN
The President,
Nigerian Bar Association,
NBA House,
Plot 1101, Muhammadu Buhari Way,
Central Business District,
F.C.T. Abuja.

Dear Mr. President,

RE: AMENDMENT TO THE NBA CONSTITUTION
First and foremost, may I extend my professional and brotherly courtesies to you as our/my President.
You would recall that at the last meeting of past Presidents and Secretaries of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) called at your instance at Fraser Suites, Abuja on Friday, 20th July, 2018, you brought up, amongst others, your proposed amendments to the NBA constitution and apprised us of the far-reaching amendments being proposed by you on the eve of your departure, as the President of the foremost professional association in Nigeria. After a very extensive discussion on your proposals, and considering the depth and implications of such amendments, the meeting advised that you should shelve and/or put the proposals on hold, and allow your successor-in-office do further consultations on them, both at the National Executive Committee (NEC) and general levels and platforms, in order to adequately weigh the pros and cons of the proposed amendments before passing same. It was on this note that the meeting closed, and you did not disagree with the wise counsel.

Surprisingly, a notice or plan/intention to amend our constitution, as proposed and tabled by you at the meeting has now been sent out, and I must confess, I am in receipt of same, to the effect that the proposed amendments will be presented at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the NBA. I am taken aback by this development, and I kept on wondering why you ever brought up the topic at our meeting of Friday, 20th July,2018, if you knew you would not respect our opinion. Mr. President, you have not been fair to us, to put it mildly. As a person, I protest this attitude and action of yours. Needless reminding you, Mr President that the same meeting resolved a lot of burning issues to your advantage and satisfaction.

As agreed at the said meeting Mr. President, may I again advise and counsel that you put on hold the proposed constitutional amendments. No one possesses the monopoly of wisdom, and it is only courteous that you also respect the objections raised to some of your amendments at the meeting, despite the fact that some of us saw the proposals for the first time just at the meeting. No leader, however brilliant, industrious, good-intentioned or pragmatic can ever resolve all the problems of his association, society or country in his life time or within his tenure. You cannot be an exemption. Please let us learn from history; and be reminded that amendments to the NBA constitution should no longer be randomly done. I dare say that the proposed amendments, in some material particulars, will turn out to be an ill-wind, which will bring or blow in no fresh breath. You are advised not to force the amendments on our beloved Association at the AGM, which, with much respect, might be constituted in such a way that the attendees would not readily understand or appreciate the unending conundrum we will be plunged into if the amendments sail through. And in case you insist on going ahead to present the amendments at the AGM, can you be gracious enough, as a lawyer and leader, to circulate this letter of mine to the AGM.

Allow me to copy this letter to the past Presidents and Secretaries of the NBA.
Once again, Mr. President, accept my high regards.

I remain,

Your colleague and predecessor-in-office,

Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, SAN, LL.D, FCIArb., FNIALS.

CC:
Chief Richard Akinjide, CON, SAN
Chief (Mrs) Priscilla Kuye
Chief T.J.O. Okpoko, OON, SAN
C.J. Okocha, SAN
Chief Bayo Ojo, CON, SAN
Prince Lanke Odogiyan
Olisa Agbakoba, SAN
Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN
Joseph Bodunrin Daudu, SAN
Okechukwu Wali, SAN
Augustine Alegeh, SAN
Dele Adesina, SAN
Chief Isiaka Olagunju, Esq

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Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.