2023: NBA excludes Akwa Ibom Lawyers from election monitoring over alleged partisanship
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said lawyers belonging to its branch in Akwa Ibom State, South-south Nigeria, will not be part of its monitoring team during the 2023 general elections.
The President of the NBA, Yakubu Maikyau, said in Abuja on Tuesday that the decision was a sanction against the branch for its open partisanship regarding the forthcoming 11 March governorship election in the state.
Mr Maikyau criticised the branch’s endorsement of Umo Eno as their preferred governorship candidate in the election.
Mr Eno is the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State.
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Speaking at the state of the nation address, Mr Maikyau, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), condemned “the action of the few members who embarked on such despicable and disgraceful conduct using the platform of the NBA.”
He said the Akwa Ibom branch’s endorsement of Mr Eno “was not made for or with the authority of the (national) NBA.”
Describing the endorsement as “disgusting”, Mr Maikyau clarified, “(the) NBA is not partisan; we are not a political party, we are representatives of the people, we remain neutral and must be seen to maintain our neutrality at all times.”
The NBA President had instructed the association’s First Vice President, who is leading the NBA Election Monitoring Group, “to immediately exclude all the branches of the NBA in Akwa Ibom State from participating in the monitoring of the forthcoming election.”
Mr Maikyau disclosed that the sanction slammed on the Akwa Ibom branch of the NBA would be communicated to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
“…members involved in this conduct will also face disciplinary action as may be determined by the NBA,” the association’s President fumed.
Similarly, Mr Maikyau said lawyers who “misconduct themselves while participating in the resolution of electoral disputes will face disciplinary action.”
The NBA has the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), where erring non-senior lawyers are punished for violating the profession’s ethical codes.
The NBA President lamented that lawyers failed to hold the government on behalf of Nigerians.
Ahead of the general elections, the NBA President pledged to protect the integrity of the courts against “any form of political intimidation by the political class.”
But, it vowed to “call out and pursue disciplinary action(s) against erring judicial officials.”
Mr Maikyau, while commending INEC for its preparedness for the polls, urged the electoral umpire “to deliver a free, fair, and credible election to Nigerians.”
He tasked INEC to maintain its independence, promising to “ward off any attempt to undermine the integrity of the electoral process and neutrality of INEC.”