The crisis rocking the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) came to a head at the weekend with the Second Vice President, Mr. Clement Chukwuemeka asking NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau to resign.

In a memorandum to the NBA President obtained by CITY LAWYER and dated 17th May, 2024, Chukwuemeka reeled out a litany of complaints against Maikyau and asked the NBA President to suspend all National Officers and function as “sole administrator and chief Executive President of NBA” or resign.

The memorandum was titled “NOTICE OF CONTINUED BREACH OF NBA CONSTITUTION, URGENT NEED TO RETRACE STEPS AND/OR RESIGN” and copied to NBA Trustees, National Executice Council (NEC) members, NBA AGM, and National Officers among others.

Describing Maikyau as “an oppressor and demoralizer,” the Second Vice President stated that upon resignation, Maikyau should hand-over to the First Vice President “to pilot the affairs of the Bar more proactively for the remaining days of our tenure.”

His words: “As the Second Vice President, I have painstakingly cogitated about the happenings and, I have come to the conclusion to request from you to openly jettison other National officers through your usual resolution and take over the management of the Association alone as a sole administrator and chief Executive President of NBA, since you cannot recognize our presence in your decisions, in the event you renege from suspending the entire National officers, I hereby demand that you quietly tender your resignation to pave way for the 1st Vice President to pilot the affairs of the Bar more proactively for the remaining days of our tenure as you have failed in all fours as a leader that supposed to accord deserving respect to your fellow National officers rather has proven to be an oppressor and demoralizer. The choice is yours to take.”

He berated Maikyau for adopting an “autocratic style of leadership,” adding that this “may be bequeathed in worse form to our successors with a hollow and divided NBA at this rate.”

Chukwuemeka recalled forums including the NBA Annual general Meeting (AGM) where he bemoaned that Maikyau had “hijacked/paralysed” his office as Second Vice President and “deliberately took and handed over my responsibilities to your appointed aides on branch affairs thereby breaching section 9(5)(c) (ii)(iii) of NBA constitution as amended which explicitly.”

Citing several alleged breaches of the NBA Constitution, the Second Vice President stated that Maikyau had sidelined the National Officers and continued to run the association as “THE EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT OF NBA” and on the basis of “lawlessness.” He alleged that unlike past NBA Presidents, branches were created and caretaker committees appointed “without any regard nor recourse to the Vice Presidents in charge of same regions.”

Drawing a parallel between the NBA President and Germany’s disgraced Adolf Hitler, Chukwuemeka wrote: “Adolf Hitler was not authoritarian and fascist when he rose to power; he was a normal person and activist, his autocratic style manifested when he could not take advice from any one. Outside NBA you are a jolly good fellow, but since you assumed this position as the President of NBA, you have muscled your way around it through the Executive tendencies’ you have ascribed the name and functions of that office. It will be safe herein to refer you as THE EXECUTIVE PRESIDENT OF NBA going forward.”

The fiery Bar Leader hacked back at the controversy that trailed Maikyau’s qualification to run for NBA Presidency, saying “there were numerous Bar men that were far more qualified than you, but the then ECNBA refused to look at the direction of the constitutional provision of mandatory NEC membership attendance or micro zoning, and hence, paved way for you to pilot the affairs of this noble association.”

Chukwuemeka stated that National Executive Committee meetings have “become a mirage ranging from consistent inconclusiveness of Exco meeting and frequently flouting the compulsory monthly meetings with impunity hence violating the tenets of Section 9(6) of the NBA constitution 2015 as amended in 2021.”

Saying he ought to be appreciated as a staunch critique of Maikyau’s “malnourished policies,” Chukwuemeka stated that the goodwill “hitherto enjoyed has long evaporated and your self-doubting attributes now causes you to feel so insecure and would rather not have other National Officer especially the Vice Presidents to be seen or heard.” He also alleged that the NBA President had sidelined other National Officers and ran the association “with your Aids (sic) and your preferred National officers.”

He knocked Maikyau for allegedly polarizing the Bar and turning a blind eye to the welfare of lawyers, saying that this has turned young lawyers into “Keke NAPEP” (tricycle) drivers and bouncers. His words: “I learnt that various established firms approached you and were willing to take responsibility of paying the young lawyers the stipulated allowances, giving room to accommodating so many young lawyers as possible. Sir, why haven’t these IGBA BOI programme taken off, and lawyers drawing from the access to finance Scheme enabled?”

He accused Maikyau of “hobnobbing with government” and stated that “under your watch we have failed as leaders and the focal voice of the voiceless!”

On the controversial dissolution of the Executive Committee of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL), he wrote: “The only Section empowered by the constitution (SPIDEL), which helps in this regard and to our overall benefit, despite our intervention before the NEC meeting at Jos to allow a sleeping dog to lie peacefully, you obstinately went ahead to carry out such an unsupported mission without any Exco support except yourself and suspended the leadership of SPIDEL through NEC, in clear and utter disregard to the National Officers: this is grievous and unpardonable as you have only succeeded in making a mockery of the NBA, the NEC is not to be blamed because they (sic) assemblage of our colleagues composed as NEC sees you as the voice of the National officers.”

The National Officer also stated that “the entire Bar sees us as the worst tenure of the NBA to ever existed,” adding that “lawyers are murdered, kidnapped and humiliated yet no concrete stand by the Association is seen other than long and belated letter writing skills showcased on each occasion.”

The NBA President is yet to respond to the letter.

To read the full text of the letter, click here.

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