The recent leadership tussle in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Ikorodu Branch took a turn for the worst with the suspension of the Chairman of the Branch Mr. Bayo Akinlade by the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the NBA at its quarterly meeting held in Abuja on Thursday, 28th March, 2019.
Many have argued for and against the suspension of Mr. Akinlade by the NEC while many have remained confused about the real story behind the crisis. DNL Legal and Style brings you the account of the leadership crisis straight from the role players.
What they have said will not only assist lawyers in understanding the genesis of the crisis but would help stakeholders in making informed decisions.
We encourage our readers to read the various sides of the stories as told by Mr. Akinlade, (Chairman of the Branch), Alhaji Nurudeen Ogbara, (Past Chairman of the branch), Mr. Ezekiel Ogbaide (Vice Chairman of the branch), Mrs. Gloria Odibei-Cassius (Newly elected Vice Chairman of the branch) and Mrs. Charity Fagade (Past Treasurer of the branch)
Mr. Bayo Akinlade
On why Mr. Ezekiel Ogbaide was disqualified as Vice Chairman
The recent crisis in NBA Ikorodu branch is the aftermath of the June 2018 Election conducted by the Branch Electoral Committee (BEMC) a special Electoral Committee set up to conduct election in crisis prone branches during the last general election.
On the day of the Election, the BEMC comprising of Prince Adebisi Ademuwagun, Niyi Idowu Esq. and Martin Ogunleye shortly before voting, stopped the election and said they had a letter for one of the Vice Chairmanship candidates, Mrs. Gloria Odibei-Cassius, that she has been disqualified. I told them immediately that this is not right and that they have not given her an opportunity to defend herself. A steering committee that didn’t have any right except to conduct the election coming to disqualify a candidate was wrong. This letter disqualifying her was not written by the National body because it was just on a plan piece of paper typed.
Against her will, Mrs. Gloria Odibei-Cassius was prevailed upon to calm down and allow the election to go on. She reluctantly accepted and stepped down with the condition that she will appeal the unfair disqualification before the branch.
There is a camp in Ikorodu NBA whose agenda is to ensure that anyone who does not emerge from their camp must be vehemently opposed.
With Mrs. Odibei-Cassius’ disqualification, the steering committee returned the other chap Mr. Ogbaide unopposed.
Immediately after the election and expectedly, Mrs. Odibei-Cassius wrote to the Branch to review the decision of that National Committee that disqualified her on the day of the election. She posed several questions with regards to why she would be cleared and then suddenly disqualified on the day of the election. She appealed to the branch to consider her plight and do justice.
The issue was discussed and majority voted that she be allowed to run for an election. The nullification of her candidacy was declared void and the position of the Vice Chairman declared open for election.
The next thing was for Mr. Ogbaide to write to the National body who then sent the 2nd Vice President, Mrs. Foluke Dada to the branch to intervene. She came to the branch, collected all document, reviewed all, interviewed those who were involved and came out with a recommendation in September, 2018. The following was key in her recommendation:
- That the Disqualification of Mrs. Gloria Odibei-Cassius was unlawful.
- That by reason of the unlawful disqualification, she should be allowed to contest for the office of the Vice Chairman with Mr. Ezekiel Ogbaide and any other interested candidate in a bye election.
- That the branch electoral committee should be constituted at the next General Meeting of the Branch.
- The matter is awaiting the President’s action.
From the above recommendation which is in writing, you would agree with me, that Mrs. Dada has given a timeline within which we should prepare for an election. But the issue of the matter awaiting the President’s action contradicted that and we decided to wait for the President’s action.
I called the General Secretary Mr. Taidi and he said the report has been submitted to the President. At the December NEC, the recommendation was part of the Secretariat’s report submitted by the 2nd Vice President. The report was submitted to the NEC, there was nothing said about the issue? And the report was adopted. after the NEC, because I did not attend the NEC because my branch had a pre scheduled program, I asked the General Secretary again about the recommendation and he said the recommendation was in the secretarial report. That it was adopted at the National level. Neither the President nor the branch members made any comment on it. Meaning that the recommendation stands. That was the our own position and on the strength of that, we proceeded to prepare for the election.
On Disobedient to the Directives of the General Secretary
The members of the branch voted and disqualified the Vice Chairman based on the petition written to the branch. Mr. Ogbaide should not have gone to NBA National without first petitioning his branch. The Steering Committee set up by the past General Secretary to conduct NBA Ikorodu election did not have power to disqualify any candidate. The national deals with its officers and reviews the election of a branch where the branch sends a problem to them. The National has no power over branch. It can only advise. The Highest decision making body of NBA is its members in the General Meeting. The body that can overthrow the decision of the branch is the NEC, while Members in an AGC can overthrow NEC.
The 2nd Vice President recommended that a fresh election should be conducted by the branch. When the branch decided to hold the election Mr. Ogbaide wrote another petition on the same subject matter which the 2nd Vice President had dealt with and this time around he alleged that the 2nd Vice President was bias.
We convened an EGM immediately we became aware of the petition. The EGM was to basically present the letter to the branch and to give the petitioner an opportunity to present his case to the branch. He was at the EGM but refused to read out the petition to the house. The former chairman disrupted the meeting by creating chaos. Meanwhile the Exco met and resolved that the letter to halt the election which was received a day before the election should not stop the election. The letter was also sent to the electoral committee but they went ahead with the election. So I have no power to halt the election. When I gave the letter to the Electoral committee they observed that the letter was sent to me and that it doesn’t stop them and that I have no power to stop the election.
The high handedness and politics of NBA must stop. NBA is about the most unjust association I have ever seen. No accountability by Chairmen. They do not care about anything. NBA has done nothing for its members. The recommendation that we should obey before complain is a language of the army. Question is, why does the National want to investigate an issue it has investigated before?
Second, does it mean that the secretariat doesn’t keep record of petitions? Does the GS have power to attend to correspondence addressed to the President without referring to the President? Does an application to halt an action stop an action? When people say I should have obeyed first, they do not think like lawyers.
On the Allegation of your being high handed
It is a matter of perception. The individuals causing issues in NBA Ikorodu are very few. When Mrs. Odibei-Cassius wrote her petition to the branch, there were 26 persons present at the meeting. 24 persons voted for the cancellation of the election, while two voted against. During the election, 32 persons showed up to vote only one person voted for Mr. Ogbaide.
NBA Ikorodu has about 200 – 300 members out of which about 90 are active members and about 60 eligible to vote.
We have so many activities going on in Ikorodu. When a few believe they are not carried along it becomes a problem because we have tried our best to carry everyone along. We asked people to join one of the various groups. Everybody saw who was in which committee. These people are not in any single committee of the branch. For them it is about factions and division.