Law & Human Rights

September 11, 2014

Lawyers reject Wali’s constitution proposals

Lawyers reject Wali’s constitution proposals

BY Innocent Anaba

Efforts by out gone President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Okey Wali, SAN, to effect fundamental changes in the constitution of the association and alter its leadership and administrative structure was rejected by lawyers at the just concluded annual general conference of the association.

The remodeling of the NBA secretariat, after the International Bar Association, IBA, structure, would have grossly whittle down the powers of elected national officers of the NBA and vested same on the secretariat staff headed by the Executive Director, who is at the beck and call of the President.

As a matter of fact, under Okey Wali administration, elected NBA national officers were mere officers in name and nothing else, as they had no office at the NBA secretariat and could hardly get a sit when they visit Abuja to perform their respective statutory duties, with the exception of very few officers.

NBA national officers, including the three Vice-Presidents, who while carrying out their duties for the association, had to hop from one rickety cab to the other while in Abuja, while NBA official cars are parked at the secretariat for the President to look and to allocate as he so pleased.

However his efforts at institutionalizing this anomaly were roundly rejected by members,  who rejected 24 out of his proposed 33 amendments to  NBA  constitution.
Presenting his report at the just concluded conference in Owerri, Imo State, Chairman of the Committee, Mr.Okey Amechi, SAN, thanked lawyers for the  confidence reposed on him and his committee during the conduct of the last NBA elections when lawyers voted to elect new national officers and constitution amendment.

The proposal to introduce Associate membership into the association was rejected with all the purported advantages and privileges some had. The proposal for the association to publish on its website the names of defaulting lawyers in the payment of Practising Fees by the fist of April as provided by the Financial Secretary was turned down.

Also rejected was the proposal to appoint an Executive Director of Administration, who shall be in charge of the Directorate of the association with all the responsibilities attached thereto.

The power of the President to appoint and remove such Executive Director was also rejected. The proposal to stop any of the NBA branches of the NBA from instituting legal action in court against the association without first having such a dispute heard and determined by the President or a Committee set up for that purpose or the National Executive Committee, NEC of the NBA was also rejected.

Wali’s  proposal for NEC to remove from office any erring  National Officer found guilty of any misconduct was rejected but the proposal to remove from office any National Officer, who commits fraud or becomes bankrupt or insolvent was approved.

Also approved was the amendment to remove from office an officer who accepts appointment from any arm of  government ( except as a member of an adhoc committee or panel), the proposal to remove an officer who is convicted of any offence by a court of competent jurisdiction was also approved.

Also approved was the proposal to remove from office, any officer who: breaches any of the provisions of the Code of Conduct for officers duly approved by the NEC, or who engages in public misconduct owing to intoxication by alcohol, drugs or other intoxicants or stimulants or any bestial acts or an officer who engages in any act or behaviour that brings or is likely to bring the association into disrepute; acts of disobedience to the association, NEC, the President or any of its organs.

Provided,  however that such officer may be removed from office by two thirds majority of NBA NEC members present at a meeting of the NEC where the matter is raised.
The proposal to abolish the offices of the Assistant Financial Secretary, Assistant Publicity Secretary and Second Assistant Secretary was also rejected by lawyers.