Mazi Afam Osigwe has stated that he will proceed to court to challenge his disqualification to run for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) by the Prof. Auwal Yadudu led Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) .
Mazi revealed this at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, July 5, 2018.
“My lawyer has written to the Electoral Committee for clarification on what they mean by compliance with article 4 because there is nothing to comply with there. It is that clarification that I am waiting for. If they give me reason why they disqualified me I will accept it. But if not I will proceed to court.
“They have until tomorrow to respond to my letter. I have my papers ready, I am going to court because we must challenge this injustice. We cannot be fighting on behalf of our clients and not fight for ourselves.”
Speaking extensively on the events surrounding his disqualification, Mazi stated that people who are well placed in the NBA threatened that a condition that will ensure that he is disqualified to run would be introduced into the constitution to ensure that he is disqualified. In his words:
“Immediately I signified interest to run for this office, people who are well placed in NBA especially the General Secretary and the Chief of Staff to the President boasted that they will introduce a condition that was never part of our constitution to make sure I am disqualified. “
He also took a swipe at the ECNBA, saying that honourable thing for the committee members to do is to resign as they have lost the credibility to conduct the election by allegedly allowing the introduction of non existing law into the requirement for contesting the NBA election.
“The ECNBA which is supposed to be neutral and unbiased surprisingly adopted the same unconstitutional provision which is the requirement of letter of good standing. The Committee’s reason was laughable. They said that I didn’t provide proof of payment of practicing fee for 2016 to 2018 in Nnewi branch” and a satisfactory proof of his relocation to Nnewi Branch.
Mazi questioned how the ECNBA which gave a reason that he has not shown that he is a member of NBA Nnewi branch could have enlisted him as number 5 to vote on the same platform of the NBA Nnewi Branch.
They qualified me to vote from Nnewi branch that they said I did not show proof of belonging to.
“The ECNBA said that they could not verify my payment of annual dues for 2016 to 2018. I say this is laughable because in my communication to the ECNBA I informed them that I joined Nnewi branch in January 2018 and the Electoral Committee headed by a professor of law disqualified me on this basis.”
“ I could not have paid practicing fee in a branch I joined in 2018 as at 2016. And I showed evidence of payment of my practicing fee at Abuja Branch.”
“It is shocking that the Electoral Committee could say some of these things because Ernest Ojukwu lives and practices law in Abuja but is a member of Aba branch. Arthur Obi Okafor SAN lives and practices law in Asaba but is a member of Onitsha NBA branch.”
“There was no requirement that they show satisfactory proof of their residence in the branches”
“Also when I communicated to the Electoral Committee, I gave them an Nnewi address and consistently in writing to me they used an Abuja address which I never furnished them with. It shows you bad faith. No requirement to show membership of a consecutive branch.”
Afam Osigwe was the 4th aspirant to the office of the President of the NBA and was disqualified by the Electoral Committee after the screening exercise by the Committee.
The next few days will surely reveal the steps that would be taken by both parties in this looming dispute.