The fate of the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association National Officers Elections is now hanging in the balance as a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja will on Friday hear a lawsuit brought by controversial former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana against his disqualification from the presidential race.

In court documents seen by CITY LAWYER, Ogunlana is asking the court to set aside his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) or restrain the defendants from conducting the NBA Elections without his inclusion in the race. The electoral body had disqualified the former branch chieftain on the ground that his nomination forms did not include a “Letter of Good Standing” from his branch chairman.

The Respondents are Incorporated Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association; Mr. Paul Usoro SAN (President of the Nigerian Bar Association); Mr. Jonathan Taidi (General Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association); and Professor (sic) Tawo Tawo SAN, Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. Others are ECNBA Secretary, Cordelia Eke, Esq. and Dele Oloke, Esq (immediate past chairman of Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Bar Association).

Marked as Suit No. ID/4015GCM/2020, Ogunlana is praying for “An interlocutory order of this honourable court directing and compelling the Defendants, to include the name of the Claimant/Applicant in the list of candidates to contest for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections and allowing same to contest pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in this matter.”

In the alternative, the disqualified NBA presidential aspirant is seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants from conducting elections into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, without including the name of the Claimant as a candidate on the 29th and 30th July, 2020 or on any other date pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in the matter.”

Filed on July 9, 2020 Ogunlana revealed in a broadcast on his verified Facebook handle that the matter has been assigned to Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of Ikeja High Court, adding that the court has penciled down the case for hearing “due to its urgent nature.” He reassured his supporters to “keep hope alive,” adding that though the election has been scheduled for 29th and 30th July, 2020, “nothing is sacrosanct.”

Ogunlana listed four grounds to justify his lawsuit, stating that
(i) The 4th and 5th Defendants/respondents’ electoral body, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) claimed to have disqualified the claimant contesting the election because his Nomination Forms did not include a letter of Good Standing from the 6th defendant, the then Chairman of his branch, the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association as required by the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.

(ii) The claimant brought an Appeal based on the objection raised by the 4th and 5th Defendants as stated earlier above in paragraph 1 but his appeal was dismissed based on a completely different issue, and which is applicable to the appeal or case of the claimant.

(iii) The ground of dismissing the Appeal founded in section 8(3)(c) of the NBA Constitution 2015(as amended) vis-a-vis the issue raised and the absence of any evidence to show that the report of the insurance committee if Ikeja Branch of NBA has been set aside “is disjointed from the ground of Appeal itself, which is based on the Appeal against disqualification for absence of letter of Good Standing in the Nomination packet of the Claimant/Applicant.

(iv) The Claimant /Applicant will suffer irreparable loss if this honourable court declines the order sought.”

It is recalled that Ogunlana has had a cat-and-mouse relationship with the electoral body following his initial disqualification from the presidential race. Though he appealed the disqualification, claiming that Oloke lacked the power to withhold his “Letter of Good Standing,” the ECNBA dismissed his appeal as lacking in merit.

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