By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
The umbrella body of lawyers in the country, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has elected Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) as its new president.
The Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA, Professor Auwalu Yadudu, revealed this on Monday while announcing the results of the election held in Abuja.
Giving details of the votes, Yadudu said Usoro polled 4,509 votes to defeat Mr Okafor Obi and Mr Ernest Ojukwu who scored 4,423 and 3,313 votes respectively.
The outgoing President of the NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), lauded the electoral committee for the conduct of the election.
Mahmoud described the election as the “fairest” exercise held so far by the association.
Meanwhile, the immediate past General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mazi Afam Osigwe is currently challenging his disqualification from the contest for the presidency of the NBA.
Recently, Osigwe said his disqualification from the poll would not stand.
The Electoral Committee of NBA (ECNBA), had in a letter dated 14 June, 2018, informed Osigwe of his disqualification from the race on the grounds that he allegedly did not pay his annual dues and other financial obligations to the Nnewi Branch as and when due for at least three years immediately preceding this year’s election.
“That there is no satisfactory proof of my relocation to Nnewi Branch to accommodate me within the window of exception created by the proviso to Paragraph 4(1) of the Third Schedule to the NBA Constitution, 2015 as amended.
“Payment of 2016 and 2017 Branch Annual Dues cannot be verified,” the disqualification letter read.
In Osigwe’s forwarding letter, the ex-NBA scribe disclosed that he had informed the ECNBA of his membership of NBA Nnewi branch which he joined in January, 2018, adding, ” I could not have paid Branch Dues as a member of Nnewi Branch in 2016 and 2017 as I was not a member of the Branch in those years.
“In 2016 and 2017, I was a member of NBA Abuja Branch and paid my Branch dues accordingly to Abuja Branch Account.
“Section 13(4) of NBA Constitution, 2015 as amended provides that no member shall belong to more than one Branch. Thus a lawyer cannot lawfully pay branch dues to more than one branch at the same time in the same year.
“The NBA Constitution does not require a candidate for national office to have mandatory membership of a particular branch before he/she will qualify to contest in the election,” Osigwe clarified.