Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) General Secretary Joyce Oduah has lambasted the NBA National Officers Elections Appeal Committee (NOEAC) for upholding her disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) “without due consideration of my detailed legal arguments, which were meticulously presented to ensure a fair hearing.”

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Oduah stated that she was denied fair hearing as the Appeals Committee did not review in depth the arguments marshalled by her in her appeal.

According to Oduah, “Appellate decisions are expected to be rigorously factual, demonstrating sound deductive reasoning, jurisprudential thinking, and superior argumentation. Unfortunately, these essential elements, which guarantee a fair trial and hearing, were disregarded by the NBA-NOEAC.”

Continuing, she said that “The committee’s decision lacked a careful evaluation, rebuttal, or countering of the factual submissions I made in my appeal. The Committee’s best effort was to merely regurgitate the grounds of disqualification set by the ECNBA and nothing more. A decision reached without due consideration of all the issues raised can only amount to an unfair trial.”

She stated that she “highlighted the ECNBA’s reliance on a provision that was non-existent during my tenure as Treasurer from 2012 to 2014,” adding that the retrospective application of the provision “undermined legal certainty and fairness,” allegedly violating established legal principles that “A Constitution, like other statutes, operates prospectively and not retrospectively unless it is expressly provided to be otherwise…”

Oduah argued that her seconder’s receipts “could have been easily rectified, reflecting an unnecessary and unjust ground for disqualification,” adding that the decision goes against the Second Schedule Part VIII(f) of the NBA Constitution 2015, which states that “The powers of the ECNBA to disqualify a person who wishes to contest for an office shall only be for the grounds specifically contained in this Constitution.” 

Though a top aide of the former NBA General Secretary had told CITY LAWYER that she would head to court to challenge the decision of the Appeals Committee, Oduah seems to have made a u-turn.

She wrote: “Despite the unjust decision, my commitment to the NBA and its principles remains unshaken. I have dedicated my career to serving the Nigerian Bar Association in various capacities, and I am more determined than ever to continue this journey. This setback only fuels my passion to advance our profession and foster inclusivity within our esteemed organisation. I am here for the long haul, and I am here for the NBA, God being my helper.

“After careful consideration and in the spirit of fostering unity and peace within our beloved NBA, I have decided not to appeal further. This decision, while not the end of my journey, is a testament to my commitment to the NBA and its principles. I am here to serve, and I will continue to do so with the same passion and dedication, working towards the betterment of our association and the legal profession at large.”

She thanked her “countless supporters and admirers who stood firmly with me despite all odds. They are too numerous to list here,” adding that “I owe you all a tremendous debt of gratitude. Your support reinforces my belief in our collective strength and the future of the NBA. Together, we will continue to work towards a more inclusive and progressive association.”

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