A presidential aspirant in forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau SAN has responded to the petition by an Abuja based lawyer that he ceased to be a member of the 2018-2020 National Executive Committee and is not qualified to contest the 2022 NBA presidential election.

In the petition dated 6th May, 2022 and received by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) on Monday, 9th May, 2022, the petitioner, Mr. Tochukwu Ohazuruike had alleged that Maikyau “is not constitutionally qualified to contest for the office of President in the forthcoming 2022 NBA National Officers’ election due to his failure to meet the eligibility criteria of not less than two years membership of NEC at the time of nomination mandatorily required under section 9(3)(c)(i) of the NBA Constitution.” Ohazuruike later delivered an addendum to the earlier petition where he alleged that Maikyau “did not attend any of the 9 NEC meetings for the period 2018 to 2020.”

In a response dated 12th May, 2022 and obtained by CITY LAWYER, Maikyau stated that “The allegation that I didn’t attend the meetings of the 2018-2020 NEC is hereby denied. I also deny the allegation that my membership of that NEC ceased at any time before the end of that administration. The Petitioner, beyond citing the provisions of the NBA Constitution and alleging that I did not attend meetings, has failed to show that my membership of the 2018-2020 NEC ceased at any time before the 26th of August 2020.”

Continuing, the senior lawyer wrote: “It should be noted that the Petitioner admitted my membership of the NEC for the period between 2018 to 2020, this being no less the action of any institution of the NBA than the NEC itself. Suffice to say that what has been admitted requires no further proof. Nonetheless, see my letter of appointment into the NEC dated 4th May, 2019 attached hereto, as Annexure 1.”

Maikyau argued that the proviso to Section 7(7) of the NBA Constitution “is noteworthy and germane to the resolution of this petition,” adding that “It is clear from the language of the Constitution that the provision is NOT self-executing. Rather, the provision contemplates that a Member of NEC shall cease to be a member ONLY by or UPON a resolution of the National Executive Committee (now Council) to that effect.”

He argued that “it is also clear from the language of the Constitution that, before such a resolution or decision is taken by NEC, terminating a person’s membership on the stated ground, there must first be a hearing and such a member must be given the opportunity to show reasonable cause for his absence to the satisfaction of the National Executive Committee.”

According to Maikyau, “In the petition under reference, the Petitioner has neither shown that there was any resolution of the 2018-2020 NEC terminating my membership of the Committee for non-attendance at meetings, nor has he alleged that there was any such resolution. The Petitioner has also not shown that I did in fact cease to be a member of the NEC. None of the documents which accompanied the petition, show or contain any complaint regarding my alleged absence from any NEC meeting, any deliberation by NEC on such a complaint or any decision of NEC, terminating my membership thereof.”

Maikyau contended that the petitioner’s allegation that he ceased to be a NEC member for non-attendance “must be strictly proved by him and the way to do so is by presenting before the Committee a Resolution of that NEC, duly signed by the President and General Secretary, declaring that I ceased to be a member thereof. May I also reiterate that this ECNBA cannot go into a forensic audit of Attendance Registers and Minutes of Meetings of NEC to decide whether I was attending meetings or not and whether my membership thereof ought to be terminated. It also cannot take a decision to terminate my membership of the 2018-2020 NEC. That is the sole duty of that NEC and it is only the proceedings of that NEC terminating my membership that can form the basis of a petition such as this, I so submit.”

Concluding, the senior lawyer wrote: “I therefore humbly request this Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association to disregard the Petition and the allegations contained therein as misguided and one predicated on a gross misunderstanding of the Constitution of the NBA.”

The decision of the electoral committee is awaited on the petition.

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