As preparations for the 2024 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections gather steam, CITY LAWYER investigation shows that no less than 36 aspirants may slug it out for the 10 available positions in the NBA Executive Committee.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN will on Thursday, December 7, 2023 at the National Executive Council Meeting unveil a list of Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) members who will midwife the forthcoming elections. Members of the immediate past Electoral Committee who spoke to CITY LAWYER said that they would never return to electoral duties as ECNBA members due to the prolonged debacle over payment of vendors that handled the last elections.

According to CITY LAWYER investigation, no less than four aspirants may head to the poll for the coveted seat of NBA President, even as a question mark hovers over the qualification of at least one of the aspirants.

CITY LAWYER investigation shows that five aspirants may slug it out for the highly influential position of NBA General Secretary. The qualification credentials of at least one of the aspirants may however be tested by the NBA Electoral Committee.

The post of NBA First Vice President remains by far the most crowded so far, with at least eight aspirants vying for the position. While both posts of NBA President and NBA First Vice President are reserved for the “Eastern Zone” by NBA’s rotational arrangement now embedded in the NBA Constitution, the First Vice President takes over from the President in the event of incapacity or similar reasons.

About three former Branch Chairmen and a former Branch Vice Chairman will engage in an electoral face-off for the post of NBA Second Vice President which is reserved for the Western Zone, while at least one aspirant is aggressively ‘consulting’ for the position of Third Vice President which is reserved for the Northern Zone.

The position of Treasurer will witness a fierce fire-fight between three aspirants, even as the same number of aspirants may battle for the high-profile position of NBA Publicity Secretary. Two aspirants have already thrown their hats in the ring for the posts of Welfare Secretary and Assistant General Secretary and Assistant Publicity Secretary.

According to CITY LAWYER investigation, the aspirants who are gunning to replace incumbent NBA President are Mr. Afam Osigwe SAN, Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom SAN, Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe, and Mrs. Joyce Oduah.

While Osigwe is a former NBA General Secretary and Chairman of the NBA 2023 Annual General Conference Planning Committee (AGCPC), Ikwuazom is a former Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch and current Chairman of the NBA Security Agencies Relations Committee (NBA-SARC). Erojikwe, a Bencher, is Chairman of the Board of NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education (NBA-ICLE) and a member of the highly influential National Judicial Commission (NJC).

Oduah is the immediate past NBA General Secretary and was NBA National Treasurer between 2012 and 2014. While there are concerns on her qualification credentials, this has not dampened her enthusiasm for the top job. Section 9(4)(c) of the NBA Constitution provides that “Any member who has held an elective office as a national officer for two (2) terms shall not be eligible to contest for a national office until at least ten (10) years his/her last term of office.”

The rumoured entry of ‘new kid on the block,’ Mr. Emeka Ozoani SAN into the presidential race has unsettled some political camps and permutations. Ozoani’s political profile has risen dramatically lately, especially with his high-profile donations to some lawyers who have fallen on hard times. A ranking NBA chieftain told CITY LAWYER that Ozoani had professed to him his quest to contest for the coveted seat of NBA President at least on two occasions. It was however unclear at press time whether his passion for the contest has waned, as two Bar Leaders told CITY LAWYER yesterday that the senior lawyer had informed them that he was no longer interested in the race.

The post of NBA First Vice President has a surfeit of aspirants including former Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) Governor, Mr. Sopriye Long Williams; immediate past NBA Enugu Branch Chairman, Dr. Jude Ezegwui; former Aguata Branch Chairman, Mr. Sabastine Anyia who earlier contested for the post of NBA Welfare Secretary; Dr. Promise Iwezor of Isiokpo Branch; Mr. Reginald Ugwuadu of Port Harcourt Branch; Dr. Gerald Abonyi; former NBA Ikeja Chairman, Mr. Bartholomew Aguegbedo, and former Yenagoa Branch Chairman, Mr. Ikechukwu Stanley Damabide.

The three former Branch chairmen who are gunning for the post of NBA Second Vice President are returnee aspirant, Mr. Isaac Ogbah (Ota Branch), Pius Oiwoh (Benin Branch) and Promise Ademi-Akpeto (Sapele Branch) who was disqualified during the last elections. They will however have to contend with the influential former NBA Lagos Branch Vice Chairman and current NBA Welfare Committee Member Bola Animashaun who is also interested in the position.

Only Mr. Michael Olorunmola of Lokoja Branch seems to have indicated interest for the position of NBA Third Vice President which is zoned to the North.

Among those who will do battle for the position of NBA General Secretary are former NBA Gwagwalada Chairman, Mr. Isah Aliyu; Dr. Mobolaji Ojibara of Ilorin Branch; fiery incumbent NBA Treasurer, Caroline Ladidi Anze-Bishop of Bukuru Branch; former NBA Bwari Chairman, Mr. Abubakar Tsav, and Mr. Idris Doko of NBA Lagos Branch.

An NBA political watcher told CITY LAWYER that Anze-Bishop may have to surmount the hurdle of allegedly being a staff on the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). Section 9(3)(b) of the NBA Constitution provides that “A member of the Association shall be qualified to hold a National Office if he/she, with respect to the office of the President, 1st Vice President and General Secretary, is in private legal practice.” A source close to the embattled NBA Treasurer however told CITY LAWYER that she has been in a partnership practice for sometime now.

The position of Treasurer is a tripodal fire-fight between returnee aspirant, Mr. Chuks Mbamala (Enugu Branch); immediate past NBA Lagos Treasurer Carol Obi, and Blessing Udofa-Poromon of NBA Uyo Branch. However, Carol Ibharuneafe of Ikeja Branch told CITY LAWYER that she is “still consulting” to determine whether to also throw her hat into the ring.

Two returnee aspirants, Messrs Auta Nyada (Suleja Branch) and Gbemiga Adaramola (Ado Ekiti Branch) will dwell with former NBA Benin Branch Young Lawyers Forum (YLF) Chairman, Mr. Oaikhena Osagie for the position of NBA Welfare Secretary.

A fiery duel may ensue between former NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary Ferdinand Naza and high-profile legal bloggers Bridget Edokwe and Felix Ashimole (aka Che Oyinatunba) for the position of NBA Publicity Secretary. A source told CITY LAWYER that an initial quest for the post by incumbent NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary Charles Ajiboye may have cooled. Mr. Seth Nwokolo of Oji River Branch also told CITY LAWYER today that he has quit the race to focus on other matters.

The race for the position of Assistant General Secretary is between Henry Barnabas Ehi of NBA Bwari Branch and returnee aspirant Seun Aka of Ikorodu Branch, even as one Prince Henry Chidiabo (Onitsha Branch) is speculated to be interested in the position.

For the position of Assistant Publicity Secretary, it may be a straight fight between Ms. Ebiere Ekpese of Sagbama Branch and Lawrence Ayewa of Udu Branch. 

The next few days and weeks will determine how the eagerly awaited elections will unfold.

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