By Dame Carol Ajie
Human costs of terrorist attacks against Nigerians and the Nigerian State, are unquantifiable, hence constitute the fulcrum of legitimate concerns for citizens who respect the dignity of the human person and sacredness of life as safeguarded in sections 33 and 34 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, as amended, these being curiously desacrilized.
Of very serious concern is that the President of Nigeria Bar Association, Joseph B. Daudu SAN, (JBD) asserts that Kaduna must host the biennial delegates’ conference in July 2012, despite its horrifying activities and nothing is going to change that? At this juncture, Lawyers ought to step up action to protect the Bar from the looming danger posed to 2,500 or more.
The proposition that the President of the NBA must host the last NEC meeting in his home in July, at any cost, is untenable for two reasons. One, with the coming into effect of the 2009 amendment to the NBA Constitution, biennial delegates’ conference now presents in July instead of August.
August used to host the Annual General Conference and biennial election in the same month. But under the 2009 amendment, July now hosts the biennial delegates’ conference for the election of national officers whilst August retains to host the Annual General Conference (AGC).
Two, under the old rule, because election schedule mixed with AGC, it was an unwritten rule for the President to host the last NEC meeting previous to August and in August the association would host the pre-Conference NEC meeting. The point misconstrued by the President, with due respect, is that July 2012 is not the AGC but election month.
Hence a misnomer to ferment Presidential host of the last NEC meeting in July because July is more than a NEC meeting, it is an election month. In the circumstances, the last NEC meeting should be interpreted to read before July 2012 and the AGC would hold in the month of August anyway, ceases to hold elections in August, the new month for voting and election now being July.
The golden principle of “one in, one out” that was jettisoned by President JBD, albeit erroneously, following the erroneous precedent set by Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu SAN in Ibadan, July 2010, was our first July slated delegates’ conference to elect national officers, consequent upon the 2009 Constitution amendment, but that could be corrected even now!
Suffice it to say that the golden principle was predicated on Article 2 of the NBA Constitution which provides that: “the National Secretariat of the Association shall be situated at the Federal Capital of Nigeria provided that the Association may maintain liaison offices in other towns as the National Executive Committee may decide from time to time”, to promote amity in the city where our national secretariat is situate; “One in”, means Abuja to host the delegates conference for the elections slated in July 2012 and “one out”, meaning any other city but Abuja to host on a non-election year.
In 2011, we had our AGC in Port Harcourt; this being an election year should host in Abuja in keeping with the principle of forum convenience as enunciated in “one in, one out” rule above.
Insisting on Kaduna 2012 belies a disposition not to allow a level playing field for all candidates. Evidently, a line-up of candidate(s) to succeed JBD and friends following the decision of a certain caucus to turn the NBA presidency and other offices, unfortunately perpetually into ‘chieftaincy’ titles conferred on those “in whom well pleased” at home jurisdiction in a setting less than transparent.
AGC August 2010 held in Kaduna for the inauguration of the 2010-2012 set of national officers led by JBD and July 2012 again Kaduna?. For a city to host two national events both election-related matters, twice in two years, is too much concession to brow beating and other methods, methinks.
Furthermore, mission to revenge on the vexed issue of NBA Constitution amendment: At the AGC Port Harcourt, August 2011, hard as the President tried to pull certain constitutional changes, these were all rejected by overwhelming majority of Lawyers who voted.
Suspicion exists amongst Bar men and Bar women that Kaduna agendum is deeply steered to reactivate the process for unpopular amendments by taking the delegates’ conference to a venue that naturally repels attendance. The less number of lawyers at the delegates’ conference in Kaduna, the easier it becomes to move the passage of queer provisions into our Constitution in an atmosphere projected for the “yeahs have it”.
Of what use is there in demoting the rights of delegates to participate in biennial elections that should be free and fair in leading the Lawyers to such a place rather than prioritize safety and security.
It is not right with due respect to JBD, for his practice base in Kaduna to host July 2012 delegates’ election, particularly bearing in mind that he had slated the next NEC meeting, May 2012, for Lokoja, Kogi, JBD’s home State. Intrinsically, under the old NBA rule on presidential host of NEC meeting preceding elections that should satiate his quest.
*Dame Carol Ajie, Constitutional and Human Rights Lawyer