A former vice president of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ikeazor Akariwe has threatened to sue the NBA for amending its constitution to exclude lawyers in its zoning arrangement from contesting four elective positions where they live and practice.
Akariwe who said he is reluctant in going to court, however stated that he is compelled to challenge such right infraction. According to him, the sum effect of Section 2 (2) schedule 2 of the NBA Constitution is to deny persons in certain peculiar positions the right to contest for any of the offices of President, first, second, third Vice-Presidents or General Secretary when any of those offices are zoned to their geographical zones of practice, aside from their geographical zones of origin.
“To debar me from contesting elections into any of the stated offices from my geographical zone of practice, in preference for a geographical zone of origin not only offends against the spirit and letter of the Nigerian constitution, it is beneath the dignity of the NBA,” he declared.
Akaraiwe, who is from Delta state, which falls into the South West in NBA zoning arrangement, said he had practised in Enugu for 32 years since 1985 and should be allowed to contest there, having served the Association in different capacities in Enugu Bar.
According to Akaraiwe, he has served as NEC Representative, Financial Secretary, Vice-Chair and Chair of NBA Enugu Branch. “I also served as first Vice-President of the NBA in 2008-2010 aforesaid as the approved candidate of the Eastern Bar Forum.
“Not insignificantly, I have also paid all my NBA branch dues and taxes in Enugu and not in my home state of Delta or any branch therein.“If I were to fill a form requiring my ethnicity, it will be none other than Igbo ethnic nationality by virtue of being from Okwe within the Asaba Capital Territory of Delta State.
“In my 55 years of life so far, I have spent 32 years since 1985 call to Bar in Enugu. “Adding my years in the Faculty of Law University of Nigeria Enugu Campus, I have spent 37 years in Enugu.
“My decision to go to court is not out of disrespect or disaffection for our association but because I respect our association too.“I have sent a complaint to the NBA Dispute Resolution Committee pursuant to Section 16 of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association since September 2017, which provisions anticipates a resolution of my complaint within 60 days of submission, observed in breach in the instant case” he stressed.