LAWYERS4CHANGE

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

ELECTION FEVER GRIPS TIGER BAR: AS ‘PARTIES’ TRADE BLAMES OVER ALLEGED MERCENARY VOTERS.

See Gani's Will by clicking, http://www.ganidelaw.blogspot.com

High tension, bitter disputes and even protracted crisis not infrequently characterize election periods in many branches of the Nigerian Bar Association. The commonest complaints among contestants are allegations and counter allegations of disqualification of eligible candidates, qualification of ineligible candidates, disenfranchisement of valid voters and enfranchisement of illegal voters.

The situation is not limited or peculiar to branch election of the association. It is the same story at the national level-the infamous 1992 election debate that lay the NBA prostrate for six years is still fresh in the memory.
By the schedule of the Mrs. Akindiji led Electoral Committee of the NBA Ikeja branch, general elections into Executive Committee for 2010-2012 will take place on June 7 2010. However there are palpable fears and doubts over the elections-whether it will take place as scheduled.
The main reason for the apprehension does not pertain to candidates. Unlike in 2008, when the electoral crisis erupted over the attempt of Beckley Abioye then the General Secretary of the branch to qualify many otherwise ineligible candidates, such as Dele Oloke, Biyi Oguntuga, Biola Oketoki, and Niyi Akinmola, the row this year is over the voters’ list drawn up by Leye Omitola Esq, the incumbent Financial Secretary of the branch, but who is also a contestant for the post of treasurer.
Under the Bye Law of the Ikeja, two officers are entrusted with roles that crucially affect the electoral process. The first officer is the General Secretary whose duty is to present a finding on the compliance or otherwise of candidates contesting for positions in the election, with the legal requirements of the contest vis a vis payment of branch dues, practicing fees, possession of branch I.D cards and adequate attendance of branch meetings.
The second officer is the Financial Secretary of the branch. His material duty is to forward to the Electoral Committee, the names of the financial members of the branch and who are the only eligible voters in the election.
The situation this year is that there was no problem in the compilation of the names of candidates eligible to contest. Off all the aspirants only one, Aladekomo (Assistant General Secretary) was found wanting and the Electoral Committee had no problem in upholding the General Secretary’s findings.
Even the pathological petition writer Emmanuel Otobo of the Niyi Akinmola group found his petition against Adesina Ogunlana, Adebamigbe Omole and Titi Osagie, thrown straight into the dust-bin, being lacking in merit. Otobo, had in vain, sought to knock out his rivals for the post of General Secretary, (Adesina Ogunlana and Titi Osagie) from the race via his “pepperless” petition. So well had Isa Mohamed Buhari the out-going general secretary of the Ikeja Bar did his duty!
However the same commendation cannot in all fairness be given to Leye Omitola, the outgoing Financial Secretary but a contestant for the post of Treasurer presently under the platform of the Niyi Akinmola Team.
On Wednesday 2nd June 2010, Omitola put up two lists on the notice board of the Ikeja Bar Center. The first list contained the names of 1576 people recognized by Omitola as legal practitioners, bonafide members of NBA Ikeja branch and who are proper financial members of the association. This is List A.
The second, List B contains a list names of 171 persons who according to Omitola “do not fulfill their financial obligation as stipulated by section 19 (5) (c) of the bye Law” and as such not ordinarily eligible to vote. This list was annexed to a report signed Leye Omitola. (Please see Squib Cover Story Exhibit).
According to Leye Omitola’s Report, List B is drawn from those who paid their branch dues between 18th and 21st May 2010 and also who number “almost 500”. According to Omitola, this number of 500 aroused his suspicion “since most of them paid #1,000-#2,000”. Accordingly Omitola caused an investigation according to him, of these names via the website of the Nigeria Bar Association (www.nigerianbar.org/a/nbadir on the internet.
At the end of the investigation by Omitola who is actually not computer literate, not to talk of being internet savvy, he came to the conclusion that 170 (one hundred and seventy) of the 500 (five hundred) people are not qualified to vote because their payment receipts showed that they gave wrong years of call, while some of the names could not even be found!
This strongly suggested that those are the Nigeria Lawyers Directory 2008 (3rd edition) published by law educational.
However a careful examination via the Nigeria Lawyers Directory 2008 (3rd edition) published by Law and Educational Publishers Limited and edited by SIR TAN ATULEGWU NWAMARA of random samples from List B show the Omitola was very wrong in many instances.
Look at these examples:
(1) AbduRaheem Sayi who is no 1 on List B was called 2001 and properly paid #2,000 as branch dues. But Omitola described him as AbduRaheem Seyi and claimed his name could not be found.
(2) The trio of Okheowa Ohonyon, Folashade Owolabi and Perpetual Okonkwo are lawyers working in the Winners Don’t Quit of Adesina Ogunlana (General Secretary candidate) and called to the bar in 2008 and 2009 respectively but they are listed in List B as those whose names could not be found. Interestingly two of them Okheowa Ohonyon and Folasade Owolabi have their names at the same time on the list of those qualified to vote (List A).
(3) Moses Odu (No 100), Izokwu Matthew Chukwuma (No 76) Yamta Yusuf ( 169) mis-spelt as Yinka Yusuf by Omitola, Richard Oloye (143), Seyi Alade (148) Olarotimi Williams (126) Olalekan Idowu (124), Olalekan Tella (123), Moses Ese Igiede (103), Moji Balogun (99) Kunle Olusanya (86) Doris Okereke (52) Bayo Ogunmoye (34) Ayo Ajifowowe (27) Alaba Oluwaseun (21) Akin Akinrinade (20) Adewale Akande (19) Adele Kehinde (10) Adekunle Adeniran (9) Adedoyin Sobiye (8) on Omitola’s List B are in reality are all qualified lawyers and who paid their correct dues.
All those names appeared in the afore-mentioned book of reference (NIGERIA LAWYERS DIRECTORY 2008) as duly qualified legal practitioners and in the years stated in Omitola’s List B.
It is clear that Omitola’s list B is certainly not credible, being so full of mistakes, which are clearly either deliberate or avoidable. In determining the true status of a legal practitioner and year of call, the best place for search and determination of these cannot be the website of the Nigerian Bar Association which talks only of membership of the association and which is only voluntary and there is no full and up to date record of Nigerian lawyers.
Therefore it is precipitate for any reasonable investigation to rely only on such a single and limited medium and come to any serious conclusion. From Omitola’s report only those who paid between 18th and 21st May 2010 were scrutinized.
According to Omitola, those were the set that excited his curiosity and suspicion. But how really credible is Omitola’s List A?
A single example shows that the list is far from being credible. On page 765 is one JONES KAYODE. This same Jones Kayode is a fake lawyer exposed by the Squib magazine in its Vol 10 Number 14 of 1st February 2010 edition.
Jones came to the Ikeja Bar in December 2009 to pay branch dues, even though not a legal practitioner. When it was detected that he was not a lawyer NBA Ikeja returned his money (#10,000 inclusive of insurance) to him and his name was over-ruled in the records.
Yet, Omitola still presented him to the world as a bona fide member of the Ikeja bar and eligible to vote.
However an even more curious fact is that there are some other lawyers and eligible to vote in the election that none of Omitola’s list featured. A good example is the name of Mr. Adindu Ugwuazor, (called 2001) the deputy head of the Gani Fawehinmi chambers. The lawyer paid his branch dues and was issued receipt for same yet he was not listed as a voter. The same fate befell Mercy Oseghale of the same Gani Fawehinmi Chambers.
From the chambers of Wemimi Ogunde and co, three counsel Miss Abisoye Ogunsipe, Miss Adaeze Nwachukwu and Mrs. Bowale Oshinowo did not feature on Omitola’s Lists. Yet they paid their branch dues and were issued receipts. Another victim is Abbas Similola. Yet another is Arith Essien of Tony Momoh & Co Chambers.
From all the above examples and which is not exhaustive, it is reasonable to contend that Leye Omitola’s list of qualified voters lacks substantial compliance with credibility.
Due to all the palpable errors in his lists those opposed to Leye Omitola and his group, the Niyi Akinmola Team, are accusing him of mischief and abusing his oath of office to give his side unfair electoral advantage by excluding known supporters of his opponents from casting their vote for the candidates of their choice.
However Omitola and his group are shouting that their opponents manly those of TEAM OMOLE, which boasts of mainstream Ikeja Bar men and women including Adebamigbe Omole, Dare Akande, Adesina Ogunlana, Adesina Adegbite, Carol Ibeh, Gloria Nweze, Abdullateef Abdulsalam have inserted names of fake lawyers into the membership of the Ikeja Bar.
At the meeting of the Electoral Committee with contestants which held on Friday 4th of June at the Bar Centre, Ikeja High Court, Omitola and his team aided by the leaders of the struggling-to-keep-awake DELE OLOKE TEAM, vociferously roared their opinions but with no proof that Team Omole or anybody else is involved in electoral list padding.
At the end of the day, the Electoral Committee directed that those on Omitola’s list B would be allowed to vote, if they show valid identification as legal practitioners.
But what of those that Mr. Omitola has refused to list at all as members of the Ikeja Bar or even as lawyers?