The Nigerian Bar Association’s (NBA) National Executive Committee (NEC) at its quarterly meeting held at the NBA National Secretariat suspended the Chairman of Ikorodu Branch of the NBA, Mr. Bayo Akinlade, over what the NEC termed “gross disrespect and disregard for the bar”.
Mr. Akinlade’s suspension followed NEC’s adoption of the recommendation of the 2nd Vice President of the NBA as contained in her report on the NBA Ikorodu crisis.
The report indicated that the crisis in the branch is still on going and faulted Mr. Akinlade for disobeying the directives of the 2nd Vice President to halt the proposed election into the office of the Vice Chairman of the branch . The recommendations by the 2nd Vice President were:
1. That the Ikorodu Branch of the NBA cannot exist independently of the National Bar as claimed by the Chairman. The branch is not autonomous and Mr. Bayo Akinlade is not an island unto himself.
2. That the purported election for the office of the Vice Chairman of Ikorodu Branch should be declared a nullity. It is also recommended that no newly elected officer of the Ikorodu Branch should be recognized.
3. That the Chairman, Mr. Bayo Akinlade be made to answer to the secretariat and be subjected to the NBA internal proceedings on discipline including other measures that the President and NEC may deem fit.”
Upon presentation of the above report, there was further allegations of the Chairman declaring publicly that the NBA-NEC Meeting is a waste of time and resources. There was uproar and many who stood to speak were against Mr. Akinlade’s conduct. The Secretary of the Branch was not allowed to speak in Mr. Akinlade’s defence. Some asked that he be given an opportunity to respond to the allegation but majority were of the view that Mr. Akinlade should first be suspended and made to defend the allegations. Two motions for his suspension were moved without a counter motion and the suspension was adopted.
Curiously, Mr. Akinlade who was present at the NEC Meeting made no effort to defend himself. It took the intervention of Chief Austin Alegeh SAN for the NEC members to notice his presence. However, Chief Alegeh SAN’s request that Mr. Akinlade should be given fair hearing was vehemently opposed. The NEC seemed to be unanimous in insisting that the suspension should be handed down.
The election of Mrs. Gloria Odibei-Cassius as the Vice Chairman was also nullified while Mr. Ezekiel Ogbaide was asked to step in as the Chairman during the period of the suspension.
The following questions may be instructive in the circumstance:
1. Has the NEC acted outside the scope of the law?
2. Was Mr. Akinlade right to have proceeded with the proposed election into the office of the Vice Chairman against the directives of the 2nd Vice President?
3. Does the 2nd Vice President have the power to direct the Chairman to halt the election?
4. Was NEC right in suspending Mr. Akinlade who was at the venue without hearing him?
5. Was Mr. Akinkade’s silence during the deliberation contributory to his plight?