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ABC of proposed NBA constitutional amendments (2)

Chief Judge wigContinued from last week
“The Committee therefore had also deemed it necessary to recommend the system of universal suffrage in the belief with a workable system of our database where lawyers can easily be identified by their enrolment number, the fear that non-lawyers would vote at the NBA National elections is allayed”, the committee noted.

Another noticeable portion in the government is the window of appeal to any candidate that is disqualified.

Section 2.7 of the Second Schedule reads: (a) “A candidates dissatisfied with the decision of the Electoral Officer or an Assistant Electoral Officer in respect of his nomination may within seven days of the communication of the decision, appeal against the decision to the ECNBA”and in subsection (b) “the ECNBA shall upon the receipt of an appeal made by a candidate, take a decision therein within fourteen (14) days thereof.

Other observation which the committee put forward is the introduction of another condition in which a member can be disqualified from holding any National Office. In its report to the NEC, the committee considered the “need to consider the number of terms that a particular candidate should serve.” The committee believed that “the continued service of individual who have had an opportunity to serve the Association without limiting their aspiration may professionalize the offices rather than call for service. Besides, others should be given opportunity to serve”.

Consequently, the committee in section 8(4) of the proposed constitutional amendment recommended that “Any member who has held an elective office as a national officer for two (2) terms shall not be eligible to contest for a national office until at least ten (10) years after his/her last term of office.”

Provision for discipline of national officers was recommended in section 15 of the amended constitution. The committee listed seven offences. One of them, subsection (7) reads: “A national officer may be removed from office for act of disobedience to the Association, National Executive Committee, the President or any other of its organs or professional misconduct; provided however that such officer may only be removed from office by two-third (2/3) majority of National Execution Committee members present at a meeting of the National Executive Committee where the matter is raised save also that such National Officer shall have been given the right of fair hearing”.

Tetengi’s committee in its wisdom also recommended in section 16, provision for Dispute Resolution. If approved, it will bar aggrieved member from going to court first without exhausting internal remedy mechanism.

It reads: “No aggrieved member shall resort to the court unless his/her complaint must have considered and disposed off by the Dispute Resolution Committee, provided that such complaint of member shall be decided by the committee within sixty (60) days of receipts of complaint”.

Other recommendations put forward by the committee are the need for Uniform Branch Bye-law, Uniform Bye-Laws for Sections, Fora and Institutes.

“In line with our mandate, the committee reviewed the Unified or proposed Unified branch bye-law to only bring it into conformity with the amended NBA Constitution but to ensure uniformity. In our deliberations, we concluded that there was a need to have a unified Branch Bye-Law for the reason that the branches are creations to the presents body and it is the aggregate collection of the branches that make up the national office”, the committee explained to the NEC.

It went ahead to produce a sample copy of the Unified Branch Bye-Law (See 3rd Schedule part 1 and Unified Bye Laws for Sections, Fora and Institute in part 11 of the amended constitution).

The committee also recommended the “conduct of meeting so as to make a distinction between the agenda and mandate between the Annual General Conference and Annual General meeting”.

The cardinal reason for this write-up is to create awareness and for our members to take this as a Public Hearing Notice by participating in the debate at their various branches.

Again in conclusion, I will quote the wise counsel of Justice Umezulike in his contribution to “Judicial Integrity, Independence and Reform: Essays in Honour of Hon. Justice M.L. Uwais GCON, CJN. While he wrote on “Appointment of a Chief Judge of A State in Nigeria – My Experience and the Ascent of Pragmatism and Constitution”, he noted that “Finally, it is well to point out the matter under evaluation may not be exhausted by a simple perspective. Plural perspective may be needed. We leave that to reformers and exponents of other views. We are also typically aware that in every lively legal discussion contrary opinions must sporadically show their heads “.

The time for all opinions to show its head is now on this NBA constitutional amendments debate.

• Gbadamosi is the National Publicity Secretary of NBA.

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