Time for the NBA to Respect the Rule of Law

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The Centre for Constitutional Democracy (CCD) wishes to call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen, who doubles as the chairman of the Body of Benchers, to immediately ensure compliance with the ruling of the Federal High Court, which sacked Mr. A.B Mahmud (SAN), as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA),and ruled that the general council of the NBA is suppose to preside over the affairs of association pending a fresh election under the constitution passed in 2001. We by this, demand that the CJN, constitute a caretaker committee immediately as provided by the court order delivered where in an order was given to take over the administration of the NBA pending the election of new officers for the association.

As critical stakeholders in the Nigeria project, and as an organisation, which has worked for close to two decades in the promotion of human rights and rule of Law, we are saddened over the continued stay of Mr. Mahmud, as the NBA PRESIDENT and other executives despite the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, as delivered by Justice J.T Tsoho in a case instituted by Human Rights Lawyer, Mr. Supo Ojo against the Registered Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/545/2016 which sacked the Abubakar Mahmoud-led executives of the NBA.

It is a public knowledge, that the defendant in the suit, did not file any counter-affidavit in opposition to the plaintiff’s suit, rather they filed frivolous preliminary objections which were all dismissed by the court.

As an organisation deeply involved in the advocacy for rule of law and constitutionalism, we know that the implication of the court judgment is that the 2016 NBA national officers’ election which ushered in the administration of Mr A.B Mahmoud (SAN) has been nullified and voided in its totality in line with the relief granted by the court, thus the NBA currently does not have a national leadership.

Legally speaking, the tenure of the A B Mahmoud (SAN)-led NBA has ended abruptly by virtue of the instant court judgment, thus necessitating the need for a takeover of the administration and management of the affairs of the NBA forthwith by the General Council of the Bar and subsequent conduct of fresh NBA national elections under the extant 2001 NBA Constitution, in line with its statutory obligations.

In lieu of the above and in due consideration of the implications, of the continued disobedience of the judgement of the court, by the present crop of those illegally managing the affairs of the Association, we are calling on the honorable CJN, to take action and enforce the delivered ruling. This is not just a call to redeem the integrity of the noble Association, Nigeria Bar Association but also a call to save our democracy, from the attendant precedence, that this may impose on our polity.

We are unaware of the latest legal move made by Supo Ojo by serving the exco ‘form 48’, via court proceedings usually refers to as notice of disobedience to court order. The form as served stated further that failure to obey the order is seen as contempt of court and we all know the penalty of court contempt. Is it morally right and sound to know that a body that ought to guide, and interpret the law is the one that is now disobeying same law and court processes.

The board of trustees has done their part as they are ready to ensure the association didn’t face the old crisis it faced and thus as written on the need to obey the court order and save the association from disrepute.

While we wait patiently for the order to be obeyed as not to institute the court contempt already served, the group in line with her mandate won’t stop at this statement alone as a national day of action for compliance will be organized. All hands must be on desk to save democracy that can only thrive on rule of law.

Signed:

Princeess Funmi Oyekan

Executive Director, CCD

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