The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) will tomorrow hold its first election since its incorporation on May 31, 2011.
It will take place during the BOSAN Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Dining Hall of the Nigerian Law School, Lagos Campus, at 11am.
BOSAN Secretary Mr. Seyi Sowemimo made this known in a statement seen by The Nation.
According to the notice, the meeting will also “lay before members, the annual report of the body and the audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2021, together with the report of the auditors thereon.
“Re-appoint Messrs. Agbaje, Ige & Co as the auditors of the body, authorise the Executive Committee to fix the remuneration of the auditors.”
The AGM/election was initially scheduled to hold on April 23, 2022, but was postponed till tomorrow, following, among others, “the need to allow for more time to receive nominations for two vacant offices” for which no nominations had been received.
The offices were that of the Assistant Secretary and Financial Secretary.
There was also “the need to put in place an independent Electoral Committee (which subject to ratification by the House), will oversee the procedure and process of the election, in accordance with best practices,” an April 6, 2022 notice seen by The Nation reads.
The election comes amid a brewing controversy over the tenure of the current BOSAN executive, some of whom have been administering the association’s affairs longer than the maximum two terms of two years each, prescribed in the BOSAN Constitution 2007.
Article 7 of the BOSAN Constitution lists the officers of the Body as Chairman, Secretary, Assistant Secretary, Financial Secretary, Treasurer Programme and Publicity Secretary.
It states that save for the office of the Chairman and Vice Chairman, which shall be occupied by the incumbent, Attorney-General of the Federation provided that he is a SAN and by the most senior living member of the Body who has indicated willingness to serve, “all officers of the Body shall be elected at an Annual General Meeting of the Body.”
Article 7(b), which addresses the tenure of officers, states: “Officers other than the Chairman and the Vice Chairman shall hold office upon election for a term of two years and shall be eligible for re-election to the same office for a single additional term of two years only.”
Article 7(c) adds: “Offices shall be vacant by expiration of term, death, resignation or any other cause rendering the holder incapable of holding same by the operation of this Constitution or any other Nigerian law,” while any vacancy occurring between AGM “shall be filled as may be expedient by the Executive Committee pending the following General Meeting.”
It was gathered that some senior lawyers are concerned about the alleged disregard for the BOSAN constitution concerning the incumbent officers’ tenure.
They argued that the prescription of two-year tenure for officers and four years if re-elected under Article 7(c) was sacrosanct, but had been violated, with some officers staying over 11 years.
The election is expected to lay to rest the controversy over the current BOSAN executive’s tenure.
Responding to the issue, Sowemimo confirmed that “this is the first time BOSAN will have this type of election.”
However, he noted that the BOSAN constitution “only came into operation around 2011 or so.”
He clarified that the officers are in office, not by executive fiat, but following resolutions of the body requesting them to continue until elections are held.
Sowemimo said the officers were in office before that constitution was made, adding that upon election, “they shall hold office for a number of years, but that is ‘upon election’.”
He said: “So, if the people were not in office by virtue of such an election, they are not bound by that provision. The Constitution is being activated for the first time in that regard.
“For those who were in office prior to that constitution, that provision did not bind them. Apart from that, there have been resolutions of the body saying that those in office should continue until elections are held.
“The Constitution is clear; it says upon election, he (the officer) shall hold office for two years. That is the key thing, ‘upon election.’”