National convener of the Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary, (FIACIJ) Mr. Bayo Akinlade has alleged threat to his life by some members of the NBA Ikorodu Branch and calls on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to protect his life and that of his colleagues.
Mr. Akinlade revealed this in an open letter to the President of the NBA Mr. A.B Mahmoud SAN. He specifically alleged that Mr. Ogbara, Mr. Adebanjo, Mr. Adetunji, Mr. Thany, Mr. Dawodu, Mr. Falade and the “so called Concerned Members” are seeking for ways to eliminate and murder noting that he is currently hiding from the above persons who he said are known to have ties with notorious land grabbers in Ikorodu and suspected cults and Badoo members.
Mr. Akinlade’s petition made heavy allegations which must be treated with utmost urgency and seriousness. Read the Open Letter below:
THE PRESIDENT OF THE NBA
NBA IKORODU BRANCH CRISES AND THE ATTEMPT ON MY LIFE: MY SIDE OF THE STORY by BAYO AKINLADE ESQ.
Following the recent attempt on my life and my forceful eviction from the Bar Center along with other members; the constant threats and interference from the General Secretary of NBA and a widely circulated DISCLAIMER NOTICE by persons unnamed and unknown to ruin my reputation, it has become necessary to respond on behalf of myself, those who were mentioned in the disclaimer notice and the members that voted for me.
As far back as March 2018, the NBA ikorodu branch had put machinery in place to conduct its elections. All the major positions were keenly contested to wit: FOUR contestants for the position of chairman, TWO contestants for the positions of vice chairman, secretary, Treasurer and publicity secretary while we had THREE contestants for the positions of Assistant Secretary and ONE contestant for the post of NEC Rep.
Before the screening exercise, there were no complaints about the conduct of the electoral committee except for the fact that the EC changed a requirement for qualification to align itself with the bye-laws of the NBA. ONE contestant for the position of assistant secretary also stepped down reducing the number of contestants to two.
THE SCREENING EXERCISE:
After screening, two out of the four contestants for the position were disqualified; the only candidate for the post of NEC Rep was also disqualified as well as one contestant for the post of Treasurer. None of those disqualified approached the EC to appeal the disqualification instead one of them wrote to the chairman of the Branch making all sorts of allegations. Subsequently, four other contestants wrote a petition directly to the national body.
Based on the petitions written by the petitioners (who incidentally are from the same camp of sponsors), the General Secretary issued a directive via WhatsAPP and email to the Chairman of the Branch instructing the chairman to halt all activities relating to the Elections. It is my view that the General Secretary’s directive were contrary to the provisions of the elections appeal’s process, which required petitions to be submitted to the EC within 7 days, nonetheless, the chairman of the branch informed the EC of the directive and asked the EC to respond to the General secretary’s request as to how the screenings were conducted which they did (the screening exercise was recorded on tape and a copy was sent to the GS). Copies of the reports sent to the GS can be obtained from the immediate past chairman.
The Chairman waited patiently for the response of the GS but the GS did not respond. After much pressure from the Chairman whose tenure was to lapse in June, the General Secretary promised to visit the branch but he did not show up. Meanwhile, members had left their work to gather at the Bar center to welcome him and have him resolve the petitions. When he didn’t show, members decided to go on with the planned election and fixed a date. On receiving this information, the GS again quickly responded saying that he sent a WHATSAPP message to the chairman saying he couldn’t make it to Ikorodu for the meeting he himself scheduled therefore putting the branch into more chaos because the tenure of the executives was to lapse by June 12. The General Secretary again deliberately missed the meeting so that those who are his friends in the branch could further throw more doubt into the sincerity of the then Chairman and to ensure that election did not hold within his tenure.
THE POLITICS OF THE GS
Then comes a twist; despite the directive of the General Secretary directing the branch to stay all actions regarding elections, the petitioners and their sponsors/supporters requisitioned for an EGM to discuss election matters. The then Chairman refused to call such a meeting in obedience to the general secretary’s directive, he also informed the GS of this move by the petitioners but the GS did not issue any directive nor did he put a stop order to it. The petitioners and their supporters went ahead to hold the EGM with forged signatures of members who neither requisitioned nor attended the EGM and at the EGM they produced a communiqué stating amongst other things that THE THEN EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE WAS DISSOLVED AND A CARETAKER COMMITTEE MADE OF PAST CHAIRMEN were now in charge of the branch. (Take note of this resolution in relation to the current state of affairs).
The General Secretary (GS) did not chastise this action by “his friends” but merely sent another letter appointing a Branch Election Monitoring Committee (BEMC) to look at all the petitions. The BEMC met with the petitioners and other members of the Branch and came up with recommendations which in many regards showed a bias for the “friends” of the GS.
In response to the report, the GS made a few pronouncements which included the disbandment of the branch EC, the disqualification of a candidate for vice chair and the qualification of a disqualified candidate for the post of treasurer and NEC Rep (The candidate for nec rep is the current nec rep and the close friend to the GS in the person of Mr. Dotun Adetunji who interestingly was also running for the post of 3rd Vice President of NBA before his disqualification because he couldn’t get a letter of good standing). The then Chairman had to call for an EGM to discuss the report of the BEMC and seek the opinion of the members as to whether or not to adopt same.
THE CHOAS CONTINUES
At the said EGM, Mr. Nurudeen Ogbara and Mr. Kazeem Adebanjo opposed the chairman, claiming that they were now in charge of the Branch as members of the caretaker committee but surprisingly, nearly all the members in attendance turned their backs on Mr. Ogbara and faced the chairman where it was unanimously agreed that the directive of the GS should be ignored because the GS was compromised and was seen to be acting on his own. It was therefore agreed again that elections should hold at a certain date.
THE ROLE OF THE ELECTION MONITORING COMMITTEE
Noting that the majority of the branch members were going ahead with elections so as not to have a caretaker committee foisted on them by the end of June, the BEMC, on the directive of the GS visited the branch to again stall the elections and set Thursday the 28th of June for the elections. Meanwhile, the Petitioners had eventually accepted their fate but then in a bid to achieve their master plan not to have elections in June but have a caretaker installed, they brought up the argument that the voters list was inaccurate. It is noteworthy that the voters list was never complained about nor was it mentioned in any petition and the person who championed the argument that the voters list was compromised to suit his opponent was a disqualified candidate.
On the 28th of June, the atmosphere for elections was set, voters were asked to come for accreditation from 12 noon (those that were on the list and those who they claimed ought to be on the list were invited). Again the petitioners and their sponsors attempted to disrupt the process which began at the High Court of Ikorodu. They called in the police to come and arrest the chairman and they caused disruption at the court forcing the Judge to ask us to go and conduct the elections at our Bar center.
As the members waited for the BEMC to come, the secretary continued with the accreditation process until the process was halted by the threat of violence from the petitioners and their sponsors. The then Chairman attempted to resolve the issue but the sponsors of the petitioner (Mr. Ogbara, Mr. Adebanjo and Mr. Adetunji) insisted that the voters list must first be published and 14 days must pass before elections will hold. The chairman explained that this is not possible as the voters list had been published over a month ago and besides anyone who had an issue with the voters list was free to present him or herself and proof of his/her eligibility. The sponsors rejected this argument but noted that elections could be held on the 2nd of July after the expiration of the term of the then Executive. (This proposition again was to achieve the plan to have a caretaker in place so as to manipulate the process in their favour).
The above proposition was presented to the voters who were ready to vote but they rejected it on the grounds that this was the 3rd time they had come out for elections and they were not willing to be held to ransom anymore. The petitioners, their sponsors and supporters then walked away from the Bar center while those who wanted to vote waited and voted.
At around 6pm, while counting began, we received a publication announcing the emergence of a new executive for NBA ikorodu Branch. All those who had left with the petitioners had apparently gone to an undisclosed location to conduct an election. It was reported that 19 members voted for me; the question I ask is: how will 19 people vote for me at an unknown location when they knew where I was? Again the said new executive also used a branch letterhead paper to state that they were the new Executive of the Branch.
Unlike their own elections, our own EC conducted the elections and after counting, I was duly returned as the winner and a certificate of return was issued to me and all those who stood for elections at the Bar Center. All accounts and documentations in support of this elections is available for sighting
It was however, shocking that the GS again; within minutes of their publication announced through the bloggers that there were no elections in ikorodu. How could he have known or how could he have come to that conclusion so quickly especially while the authentic election was still going on? It is also questionable why the BEMC did not show up to monitor the elections despite their promise to attend? Did the BEMC deliberately avoid to show up so that the elections that brought me out could be challenged hence making way for the GS to eventually pronounce the appointment of the caretaker committee? Interestingly, an AGM was called for Saturday the 30th of June and the GS again quickly, an hour before the AGM via WhatsAPP announced the appointment of a 3- man Caretaker Committee for NBA Ikorodu Branch. Does a GS have these powers under the uniform byelaws? Can he appoint a caretaker committee for branches before the expiration of the tenure of the Executives? How did he appoint the committee, was he acting on the instructions of the president? What was the criteria for choosing those he appointed? Many questions arise.
I was duly elected on the 28th of June and sworn in on the 30th of June by a notary public. The then chairman handed over the instrument of office to me and I have since been lawfully and legally acting as chairman of NBA Ikorodu branch.
Those who have pasted disclaimers are unfortunately misguided. They had ample opportunity to stand in the elections and vote but they elected to boycott the elections only to set up their own executives, then recant after the GS set up a caretaker committee (which they wanted all along). They now claim to be obeying the directive of the GS in the setup of a Caretaker committee when in truth, they, at every stage, disobeyed and attempted to plunge the Branch into chaos.
MY EVICTION AND THE THREATS
On the 6th of July 2018, the caretaker committee came to ikorodu to carrying on their mandate which was to receive branch property and conduct fresh elections before the 23rd of July. The meeting ended in a deadlock as majority of the members said they lacked confidence in the caretaker committee which was tainted with personal relationships with Mr. Ogbara and Mr. Adetunji. The meeting agreed to set up a reconciliation committee and adjourned.
As the CC attempted to take their leave, Mr. Adebanjo insisted that the CC take the keys to the secretariat from me. The members objected because taking the keys had nothing to do with conducting elections or reconciliation. I informed the CC that the Secretariat (which is actually the Judges quarters for Ikorodu) was obtained under the administration of SOK Shillings and myself (as Secretary) as a loan from the Judiciary since it was not put to use. I also explained that we have kept it since then under an understanding and the goodwill we have with the judiciary.
The CC chairman wanted to please Mr. Adebanjo who now suggested that I submit the spare key. Again the members resisted especially because they were informed that the CC would just put their own lock on it. Again I stepped in and assured the CC chair that I would bring the spare key to his office instead since tensions were high.
As everyone dispersed, I asked my executive members to wait behind to discuss the way forward for the branch and to handle issues of the coming national elections and the AGC. As we were meeting, a member rushed in and told us that we needed to leave as they overheard, Mr. Thany, some of the petitioners and Mr. Adebanjo planning to hire thugs. I dismissed the information and continued with our meeting. Unfortunately, about 15 minutes later, about 6 thugs indeed came in the company of Mr. Thany and Mr. Dawodu and manhandled us, threatening our lives with broken bottles and other weapons which I cannot make out. They said they would harm us if we didn’t vacate the premises.
As we complied with their wishes, some of the ladies amongst us; attempted to capture the events on their phones but the thugs restrained them as Mr. Thany ordered them to seize all our phones. It was when they attempted to seize the phone belonging to Mrs. Gloria Cassius (the Vice Chair) that she was harmed and bruised. Her screams endeared another female lawyer to stand her ground as the two ladies called on Mr. Thany and his thugs to do their worse and kill them. The thugs realized that they were running out of time having received signals from Mr. Thany that the police was on their way and they quickly abandoned the scene. The police came shortly after.
MY REQUEST AND CONCLUSION
I, Adebayo Akinlade the current national convener of Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary, a past Secretary of NBA Ikorodu, former NEC member, former executive member of NBA Lagos Branch, a CLASFONITE who has served in many capacities within the legal profession both home and abroad, on my honor and integrity will not undermine the leadership of the Bar, will not disrespect the lawful instruction of constituted authority and will never do anything to bring this profession to disrepute. However, it is my sincere belief that the GS and some former chairmen of the NBA Ikorodu Branch are using the branch for illegal and unprofessional personal activities.
I therefore seek the protection of the office of the President of the NBA as I now fear for my life and the lives of my colleagues. The General Secretary has used his office to declare our elections void, he has threatened me with disciplinary action and he constantly harasses and intimidates me. I also need protection from Mr. Ogbara, Mr. Adebanjo, Mr. Adetunji, Mr. Thany, Mr. Dawodu, Mr. Falade and all the so called Concerned Members who continue to seek for ways to eliminate and murder me because of NBA politics.
I am currently in hiding, I fear for my family as most of the above mentioned lawyers in Ikorodu are known to have ties with notorious land grabbers in Ikorodu and suspected cults and Badoo members evident by their daring act of attacking us in broad daylight
Bayo Akinlade, Esq