Fiery Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Chukwuemeka Ugo has alleged that at least two members of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) have been planted to do a “hatchet job.”

In a post on his verified Facebook handle monitored by CITY LAWYER, Ugo, who is popularly called “Democrat,” also alleged that the embattled incumbent NBA Treasurer, Caroline Ladidi Anze-Bishop is a victim of a fight-back by the powers that she stepped on their toes in her quest for transparency in NBA finances. He stated that he would have suffered the same fate if he had vied for any elective position in the forthcoming elections.

The allegation raises serious concerns regarding the integrity of the forthcoming elections which the electoral body is billed to midwife.

Ugo urged lawyers to protect the fiery NBA National Officer, warning that to do otherwise would ensure that NBA members who would want to challenge the leadership for any infractions would have been intimidated from doing so.

He also disagreed with the electoral committee on its decision to disqualify some of the aspirants, saying that courts of law would have taken a different view if the same issues were litigated.

His words: “I know that if I had picked a nomination form, the present ECNBA – apart from the Chairman – could have disqualified me no matter how correct my document may have been! There are two members in the ECNBA that were given directives never to allow certain persons to go through. The NBA Elections Appeal Committee should correct same.”

He added that “Lawyers of good conscience should protect the NBA Treasurer! The power that she stepped on are fighting back.”

The full text of the post is below.

As a Democrat and a true lover in NBA, as well as for the peace and harmony of one indivisible Nigerian Bar Association, may I make a few remarks about the ‘breaking news’ of various disqualifications of aspirants to various offices of the NBA national elections.

I have a different mindset to the ECNBA findings over the disqualification of some aspirants for the NBA national elections.

If I may make this analogy, can a wrong seal affixed to a court process terminate the hearing and determination of a case in a court of law? If the answer to this is in the negative, ECNBA then should know that their decisions were wrong.

The issue remains: did those that nominated some of the aspirants pay their BPF? Did they pay within time?

ECNBA cannot claim to be a foreigner; they ought to have confirmed from the portal or from the Secretariat of NBA if same persons alleged to have submitted stamp and seal receipt and other receipts actually paid their BPF in the real sense of it. If found that they all paid, why disqualify candidates for reasons of non-submission of same?

Does it mean those who submitted, for example, ‘fake’ BPF receipts but which are not authenticated or verified by ECNBA but on which basis they are cleared are then better off than persons who actually paid their BPF but wrongly attached branch dues or stamp and seal receipts?

I expected the ECNBA to request the affected aspirants to bring forth the missing documents to ascertain whether they actually paid their BPF; that would have been fair and, in the end, justice  would have been served. This position remains the true position in law if we are confronted with  a similar issue in court proceedings – which, I know, is too elementary.

Also, disqualifying a candidate based on earning salary from government, as confirmed by ECNBA, leaves much to be desired. If the NBA Constitution provides for aspirants to the position of General Secretary and some others to be in private legal practice, all the candidate needs to show is his or her evidence that he or she is in private legal practice, not to dig through a planned and hatched petition because the said aspirant was so vocal during NBA AGM towards NBA’s management of her finances.

I know that if I had picked a nomination form, the present ECNBA – apart from the Chairman – could have disqualified me no matter how correct my document may have been! There are two members in the ECNBA that were given directives never to allow certain persons to go through. The NBA Elections Appeal Committee should correct same.

If someone paid money in 2023 and the system generated 2024 BPF receipt, what is wrong with that? Is it wrong to pay too early? As long as the purpose of payment was for 2024 BPF and the receipt of same generated, what is wrong with that?

Lawyers of good conscience should protect the NBA Treasurer! The power that she stepped on are fighting back. WE SHALL WAKE UP SOME DAY TO SEE THAT THERE IS NO VOCAL LAWYER  ANYMORE IN NBA IF WE CLOSE OUR MOUTH AND EYES TO ALLOW ENEMIES AND PERCEIVED OR ALLEGED OWNERS OF NBA SILENCE LAWYERS WHO EXPOSE THE IRREGULARITIES IN THE FINANCES OF NBA AT THE AGM OR ANY FORA. She deserves a fair trial, and I call on lawyers to say no to the sponsored petition against her. Let the writer of the petition come out to own the petition as the true author of same contents with the alleged withdrawn one.

Did her office release her to be in private practice? Yes, as enshrined in the constitution. Is she in private practice? Yes, as she rightly said, she practices in Jos with a private law firm. As well, NBA issued her a green stamp and seal, demonstrating that she is in private practice.

If my establishment released me to go and serve NBA in private practice capacity, what other evidence does ECNBA need to insist she is in government practice – which is not contained anywhere in our constitution?

I am very much aware of the reasons behind section 9(3)(b). This is purely to prevent government interference and or government patronage, and for an elected officer in same position to hold government accountable and confront them at every needed chance to so do. The drafters envisaged conflict between government and the NBA, and ‘whether a paid employee of government can face his/her employer?’

These notions can be described as old-fashioned, because the purpose of same has not been achieved. NBA, for the last 10 years, could not organize any activity without running to government for help. Our Secretariat was bankrolled by those in corridors of power. NBA for the past 21 months has never questioned the government on the dwindling economy and general well-being of her citizens as well as security of lives and property in Nigeria. How are the private practitioners better than those in government employment?

A true answer to the above can be found in the powers of NLC over government policies. These are a group of government employees, yet they are holding the same government accountable to the ills of the society. Who then says an NBA president or General Secretary from the public sector would not be better than some of us in private practice?

I sincerely wish to encourage all government-employed members of NBA not to give up; it is a matter of time and people of good conscience will assume power and realize that section 9(3)(b) of the NBA Constitution (as amended) actually offends the rights of lawyers in public service to vote and be voted for.

I am aware that one day shall come where sui generis Bar men shall rise to preach the true meaning of promoting the rule of law, where every lawyer paying his or her BPF will know that all lawyers are equal.

I stand today to advocate that section 9(3)(b) is so discriminatory and should be challenged in our court to give every lawyer a sense of belonging, where anyone can aspire to any position of his or her choice in NBA. If you try to lead and such obstacle persists, I advise you find yourself a place to lead yourselves where your rights will be observed and respected.


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