The Nigerian Bar Association Nnewi Branch has described as a grave error the refusal by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) to clear one of the NBA Presidential Candidate, Mazi Afam Osigwe during the just concluded screening exercise.
The NBA Branch said this in a Press Statement made available to the public on Friday, 15thJune, 2018. Referring to the ECNBA’s reason for refusing to clear Mazi to run in the election, the Chairman of the Branch Chief E. C. Chikaelo Esq. who signed the press statement wrote:
“We make the following press statements consequent upon information received from Mazi Afam Osigwe; a member of the Nigerian Bar Association Nnewi Branch, who was duly nominated to contest for the office of the President of the said Association, that the Electoral Committee of the Association, ECNBA, did not “clear” him for the election on the ground that there was “no satisfactory proof of your relocation to Nnewi Branch to accommodate you within the window of exception created by the proviso to paragraph 4 (1) of the Third Schedule to the NBA Constitution 2015 as amended.”
Consequently, it has become imperative for us to make the following clarifications:
- We confirm that Mazi Afam Osigwe is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, Nnewi Branch. He became a member of the branch in January 2018 and he duly informed the branch via a letter dated January 5th, 2018 of his relocation to Nnewi and joining of Nnewi Branch of the NBA.
- By a letter dated January 8th, 2018, the Secretary of the Branch, acting on the instruction of the Chairman, wrote to acknowledge receipt of Osigwe’s said letter. Mazi Afam Osigwe was informed in the said letter that the leadership and entire members of the branch were happy to have him as a member.
- Subsequently, on the 26th day of January 2018, Mazi Afam Osigwe hosted a monthly General Meeting of the Branch and was further welcomed into the fold of NBA Nnewi Branch. Mazi Osigwe has since paid his Annual Branch Dues.
- We recall that a letter of good standing in favour of Mazi Osigwe duly signed by the Chairman and Secretary of the Branch was forwarded to the ECNBA.
- We have also written to the Chairman ECNBA, confirming the relocation and membership of Mazi Afam Osigwe. In that letter dated June 14 2018, we informed the Chairman of the ECNBA that Mazi Afam Osigwe has his residence at No. 4 Odajuo lane, Okpuno Nnewichi Nnewi and that he carries on his legal practice at No. 10 Dala Ucha Street, Okpunoegbu Umudim Nnewi. We stated in that letter that Mazi Afam Osigwe’s name appeared at No. 86 in the voters’ list sent to the ECNBA by the Nnewi Branch.
- We have also forwarded the minutes of meeting of the Branch held on the 26th day of January 2018.
- In addition to his Bar Practicing fees, he has paid his annual dues and all other financial obligations to the Branch as and when due for at least the immediate preceding three years, unless he was enrolled or had relocated to the state where the Branch is situate within a shorter period which shall then be the threshold point instead of three years.” (Underlining supplied)Article 4(1) of the Nigerian Bar Association Uniform Bye Law for Branches contained at the Third Schedule Part 1 of the NBA Constitution 2015 as amended provides as follows:“4. A member is in good standing and if he so desires, shall be entitled to a certification of that status, signed by the Chairman of the Branch if:
Mazi Afam Osigwe relocated to Nnewi in Anambra State and he has a verifiable home and practice address thereat. He has been received and accepted as a member of Nnewi Brach and since he relocated in January 2018, he would be required only to show his financial standing with the Branch from the time he relocated to the Branch and not earlier.
It would be a travesty of justice to demand the financial Standing of Mazi Afam Osigwe in Nnewi Branch at a period before he became a member of the Branch.
We state without equivocation that the ECNBA was in grave error when it refused to clear Mazi Afam Osigwe from contesting for the post of the President on the ground among others that there was no satisfactory proof of his relocation to Nnewi Branch to accommodate him within the window of the exception created by the proviso to paragraph 4(1) of the Third Schedule to the NBA Constitution 2015 as amended.
We hope that these clarifications shall aid ECNBA in clearing our Branch member, Mazi Afam Osigwe to contest the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association.
We therefore use this medium to appeal to the ECNBA to accordingly clear Mazi Afam Osigwe, a member of Nnewi Branch to contest for the post of President of NBA which he has expressed intention to contest for and which we are fully convinced that he is qualified to contest for in the forthcoming NBA National election. His clearance shall be in the greater interest of justice.