BY EMEKA NWADIOKE
Controversial Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential aspirant, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana has made good his resolve to challenge his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA.
Ogunlana, the Convener of the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA), blamed outgoing NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Dele Oloke for his woes, saying that the “failure of the Chairman of the NBA Ikeja Branch to issue me the Letter duly applied for within time and in compliance with constitutional provisions is absolutely reprehensible , grossly oppressive and a brazen and violent breach of the Constitution of the Association and a reckless, malicious abuse of the powers of the Nigerian Bar Association.”
Attached to the appeal are Oloke’s reply to his application for Letter of Good Standing, Ogunlana’s Letter of Reply to Oloke’s refusal letter and his Letter to ECNBA Chairman.
Please see details below:
OGUNLANA ADESINA ADEMOLA ESQ.
Phone- 08034854066 Email- firstname.lastname@example.org
185, PALMGROVE, IKORODU ROAD, LAGOS.
17th June, 2020
Electoral Committee of Nigerian Bar Association,
Plot 1101, Central Business District,
Federal Capital Territory.
Electoral Committee of Nigerian Bar Association
APPEAL AGAINST DISQUALIFICATION OF OGUNLANA ADESINA ADEMOLA FROM CONTESTING THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION
I received the e-Letter of your Committee dated 12th June, 2020 entitled “Notice of Disqualification from Contesting Election, Re: Office of The President of the Nigerian Bar Association and signed by the Secretary on the 13th day of June, 2020.
I take the liberty to reproduce same here:
“June 12th, 2020
Mr. Adesina Ogunlana,
NOTICE OF DISQUALIFICATION FROM CONTESTING ELECTION
RE: OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE NBA
TAKE NOTICE that upon the perusal and screening of your nomination form with the accompanying documents by a Sub-Committee of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) constituted for that purpose, it was discovered that you do not have a letter of good standing from your Branch as required by the ECNBA Election Guidelines with respect to nomination of candidates, made pursuant to the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015 (as amended).
You have therefore been found not qualified to contest election to the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers Election of the Association.
Note further that you have a right of Appeal exercisable within seven (7) days of receipt of this Notice.
Any letter or notice of Appeal should be addressed to the Chairman, ECNBA and sent to the Committee Secretary via email to : email@example.com , not later than 4.00 PM on the 7th day subsequent to the date or receipt of this mail.
Cordelia U. Eke (Mrs.)
Being utterly dissatisfied with the verdict of your Committee, I hereby appeal same, asking for a reversal and qualifying me to participate in the election in issue.
You will kindly recall, Sir, that my bundle of Nomination Forms including documents pertaining to myself as Candidate, Dare Akande as Nominator and Lateef Abdulsalam as Seconder sent over to you numbered 81 pages. I hereby attach all earlier documents forwarded to you, except my Nomination forms , my Nominator’s forms , receipts and letter of good standing and my Seconder’s forms, receipts and letter of good standing, which are as follows:
1.Adesina Ogunlana’s Bar Practising Fees and Branch Dues paid as and when due for 2018, 2019 and 2020.
2. Letter to Chairman, ECNBA by Adesina Ogunlana, Prospective Candidate for Office of NBA President dated 29/5/2020 with the following attachments:
i. E-mail by Adesina Ogunlana to Dele Oloke Esq., Chairman , NBA Ikeja Branch
ii. Whatsapp Messages of Adesina Ogunlana to Dele Oloke Esq., Chairman, NBA Ikeja Branch
iii. Charge Sheet
3. (A)Chairman and Secretary , NBA Ikeja Branch’s letter to Adesina Ogunlana dated 25/5/2020
(B) Letter to Adesina Ogunlana dated 29/5/2020 in reply to Letter of Chairman , NBA Ikeja Branch dated 25/5/2020 with the following attachments:
i. NBA Ikeja Branch Insurance Committee’s Final Reports
ii. Adesina Ogunlana’s Response to NBA Ikeja Branch’s Insurance Committee’s Final Report
iii. Letter of Mr. Adesina Ogunlana to Chairman NBA Ikeja Branch for application for Letter of Good Standing dated 22nd day of May , 2020
iv. Letter of Reminder of Mr. Adesina Ogunlana to Chairman NBA Ikeja Branch for Letter of Good Standing dated 26th May , 2020
It can easily be gleaned from your said letter of 12th June, 2020 to me that your Committee based its decision to disqualify me from the election on the sole basis that a Letter of Good Standing from the Chairman of my Branch was not found in my bundle of Application papers.
However, as you will recall, I had at the earliest opportunity and within time allowed for the submission of Nomination forms (May 29, 2020) , informed and alerted your good office to the STRANGE AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL reason for the absence of the letter in question, to wit that Mr. Dele Oloke, the Chairman of the Ikeja Branch decided not to issue to me a Letter of Good Standing despite that to his notice and knowledge, I am in full compliance with the provisions of the Constitution guiding the issuance of Letters of Good Standing .
I respectfully reproduce the said Paragraph 4 of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015 (as amended) inter alia :
“4. Good Standing
A member is in good standing and, if he so desires shall be entitled to a certification of that status signed by the Chairman of the Branch if
(1) In addition to this Bar Practising Fees, he has paid his Annual Dues and all other financial obligations to the Branch as and when due for at least the immediate preceding three years, unless he was enrolled or and relocated to the states where the Branch is situate when a shorter period which shall then be the threshold point instead of three years; and
(2) He or she has in the past one year in question participated in at least three or more activities of the Branch, including attendance at Branch meeting or the sponsorship thereof. Provided that one or more of these requirements may be waived upon proof of temporary relocation to a place outside in the state where the Branch is situate and or serious and prolonged illness.”
By Dele Oloke’s letter to me, dated 25th May, 2020 , but received on 28th May, 2020, particularly in paragraph 6, he highlighted the major reason why he would not issue Letter of Good Standing to me, to wit:
“6. At the Monthly Meeting of Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch held at its Secretariat (THE BAR CENTRE) on Monday, 2nd December, 2019 and upon the consideration of the reports of the Insurance Committee of the branch, the following resolution was made:
a. That Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, Mr. Yinka Farounbi, Mrs. Derin Kappo and all persons indicted by the report of the Insurance Committee and to whom monies were traced from the insurance funds of NBA Ikeja Branch , not being an insurance company, should return all such monies within 30 days from the date of the resolution.
b. That till now, you have treated the Branch with disdain and arrogance and have failed to refund the sum of eleven million six hundred and fifty thousand naira (N11, 650,000.00) withdrawn by you from the Branch’s insurance account into your personal account.
In view of the aforesaid reason the Branch is unable to issue a Letter of Good Standing to you and we also urge you to respect the Branch’s resolution mandating you to refund the Branch’s money unlawfully converted to your own use”
Sir, I respectfully ask your Committee, are these reasons good in law, in view of Paragraph 4 of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015 (as amended) to deny me a Letter of Good Standing?
You will clearly see the strenuous extent I went debunking Oloke’s baseless and malicious allegations in the attachments to the letters I sent over to you, especially to wit, the Report of the Insurance Committee (which never claimed that I converted the Branch funds), My Response to the Report of the Insurance Committee and the Charge Sheet in Charge Number ID/9472C/2019., FGN v. ADESINA OGUNLANA & 2 ORS ( to show that Oloke’s interesting objection is on a “subject matter sub judice before the Courts).
I submit respectfully further as follows:
a. The absence of a Letter of Good Standing for me from my Branch Chairman, in my Application Forms is not due to any fault or negligence on my part as I duly paid all requisite fees (Bar Practising Fees and Branch Dues) as and when due for 2018, 2019 and 2020 and I had attended functions of the Branch more than three times in the past one year.
b. That I duly applied to the office saddled with the responsibility of Letter of
Good Standing within time.
c. The refusal and failure of the Chairman to issue me a Letter of Good Standing was malicious, deliberate and not on account of any failure on my part to comply with Paragraph 4 of Part 1 of the 3rd Schedule to the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015 (as amended).
My further submission on this Appeal is that in the circumstances of this case, your Committee would be in the right to hold that Ogunlana Adesina Ademola, my humble self, is entitled to be issued a Letter of Good Standing from the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association and the refusal and failure of the Chairman of the NBA Ikeja Branch to issue me the Letter duly applied for within time and in compliance with constitutional provisions is absolutely reprehensible , grossly oppressive and a brazen and violent breach of the Constitution of the Association and a reckless, malicious abuse of the powers of the Nigerian Bar Association.
In the unlikely event that your Honourable Committee fails to uphold my appeal, I submit as follows that a refusal of this Appeal will only mean as follows:
a. That the Committee has construed the office of Chairman of a Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association as a “CONSENTING AUTHORITY” to and on the eligibility of members of his Branch to contest for National Offices of the Association. It would mean where a Branch Chairman for no just and legal reasons refrain or refuse to issue to a Candidate or Aspirant, Letter of Good Standing or issuing same out of time to affect the eligibility of such a candidate, the Electoral Committee will disqualify such a candidate.
I submit with greatest respect that this cannot be the true and acceptable interpretation of the power and status of the Chairman vis the issuance of Letter of Good Standing. The Constitution, truly makes the Branch Chairman, the ISSUING OFFICE of the Letter of Good Standing but the same Constitution by expressly defining entitlement to receipt of Letter of Good Standing, as shown earlier, has circumscribed the powers of the Chairman in this regard from that of loose subjectivity to that of codified and verifiable objectivity.
In simple terms, the Chairman cannot do as he likes in the matter of issuance of Letters of Good Standing. Irrespective of his sentiments for or against the applicant, the Chairman can only be guided in the exercise of his duty or refrain from same , ONLY by the consideration of the Applicant’s compliance or non-compliance with the directives and stipulates of the Constitution in that regard.
May I humbly stress this point. By the constitutional provisions regarding the issuance of Letter of Good Standing by the Chairman of a Branch, it is a right of the Applicant to apply for and receive a Letter of Good Standing, where he is in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015(as amended). Consequently, the Chairman has a COMPELLING DUTY on him to issue the letter, where there is compliance. He,(the Chairman), therefore, is not dispensing or conferring a PRIVILEDGE on the Applicant. In effect, the Chairman issues the Letter of Good Standing not because the application meets with his PERSONAL APPROVAL but rather because it is in CONFORMITY with the provisions of the Constitution.
(b)Should the Honourable Committee disqualify me on account of my nomination packet not having a Letter of Good Standing from my Branch Chairman, irrespective of the fact that same was untowardly, wrongfully, maliciously and unconstitutionally denied by the Chairman despite due, timely application and compliance, it would mean that the Electoral Committee has construed the situation as a STRICT LIABILITY CASE. Such a stance in my humble view cannot in any way, legally and morally, even spiritually be upheld as proper and just. This is because not only is such a stance punishing the innocent for the unfair and oppressive act of another but also APPROVING AND LEGALIZING SAME. In the event such a stance has conferred tyrannical powers not ascribed to Branch Chairmen by the Constitution and turning them to Frankenstein monsters. This certainly cannot be the intendment of the Constitution.
CONCLUSION AND PRAYER
As I have asserted in my letter of May 29, 2020 to you, Sir, Dele Oloke Esq is well known as a bitter political rival of mine since 2016 in the NBA Ikeja Branch. He was the factional leader of the Branch between 2016 and 2017 when he was thrown up unsuccessfully to replace me as Chairman after the national body of the Association on June 16, 2016 purported to nullify my June 14, 2016 electoral victory as the bonafide Chairman.
I had to go to Court against him and the National body to contain the situation. Kindly find attached a Copy of the Ruling of the Honourable Justice M.A. Lawal of the Lagos High Court granting an order of injunction against the Defendants (Dele Oloke inclusive) in Suit Number LD/1141GCM/2016.
The factional leadership crisis at the Ikeja Bar ended in May 2017 when he declined at the last minute to participate in a fresh election ordered between the two of us for the disputed position of Chairman.
The bitter rivalry resurfaced at the last month of my tenure when I disagreed with the desire of Oloke and his group to hand over the office of Chairman to him automatically without an election. I insisted on the election as the only acceptable means to attaining position in the Branch, much to the discomfiture of Oloke and his supporters, who believe he could not win in any election organised by my administration. The election held and ironically, he won.
Dele Oloke saw his emergence as Branch Chairman as a great opportunity to deal with me and anyone associated with me and he applied his energies strenuously to this his GRAND PROJECT. The refusal to issue me a Letter of Good Standing is just the latest of his reprisal schemes and attacks against my interest.
I conclude with a sober and passionate prayer to your Committee to take a deep and insightful assessment of the claims and merits of my Appeal and grant same.
OGUNLANA ADESINA ADEMOLA
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