Otu Oka Iwu Condemns NBA Abuja ELCOM’s Exclusionary Policy against Eastern Zone, demands immediate reversal

Foremost Igbo lawyers in Abuja have decried what they described as the exclusionary policy against the Eastern Zone in the forth coming NBA 2024 branch election.

In a protest letter made available to BarristerNG, the President of the Umbrella body of Igbo lawyers in Abuja, Chief Ejiofor Onwuaso, Esq., is urging NBA Abuja Electoral Committee to reverse the Discriminatory guidelines, which excluded Eastern zone from contesting the office of Assistant Secretary of the branch.

Read the full protest letter below

Your Committee’s Notice No.3 in respect of the forthcoming Unity Bar Election with reference number: EC/NBA/ABJ/UB/03 dated 8/4/2024 (copy herein attached) refers.
The attention of the Leadership of Otu Okaiwu Abuja (the umbrella body representing all Igbo lawyers in FCT, Abuja) has been drawn to a portion of your above referenced Notice wherein you had specifically stated (on the column containing the list of offices and positions to be contested for) that the Eastern Zone SHALL not be eligible to contest for the office of the Assistant Secretary at the Unity Bar election.

Sequel to the foregoing, we hereby write to express our deep concern and condemnation regarding the recent decision to exclude candidates from the Eastern Zone from vying for the position of Assistant Secretary in the upcoming election.While we understand the need for zoning certain positions within the Nigerian Bar Association Abuja Branch, it is unacceptable to impose arbitrary restrictions on candidates from certain regions for positions that are not legally nor conventionally zoned. The exclusion of candidates from the Eastern Zone from the Assistant Secretary position goes against the principles of fairness, inclusivity, and professionalism that should guide our electoral processes. Historically, conventions of this Bar (both at the National and branch levels) notably zone only the offices of the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary. It has never been the practice that other offices be zoned.Furthermore, the Electoral Committee of the branch is not empowered to redesign the zoning order of the branch. To this end, it is our firm position that the Committee acted ultra vires the powers ascribed to them when they published a second electoral guidelines of the Branch excluding the Eastern Zone from contesting for the office of Assistant Secretary. This new guideline is alien to the practice customary to the branch and will create an unnecessary tensed atmosphere in this election.

More inciting is the fact that the first election guidelines (see Notice NO.2 dated 20th day of March, 2024 reference No: EC/NBA/ABJ/UB/oz) published by the same Electoral Committee under your leadership expressly stated that the post of Assistant Secretary was free for all zones to contest thereby raising suspicious dust as to why the goal post is now being adjusted in the middle of the match.
This discriminatory policy not only undermines the integrity of the election but also perpetuates divisiveness within our association. It sends a message of exclusion and marginalization to members from Eastern zone thereby creating unnecessary tensions and eroding trust in the electoral process.
We firmly believe that all members of the Nigerian Bar Association Abuja Branch should have equal opportunities to contest for any position based on their qualifications, merits, and aspirations.

Imposing restrictions based on regional affiliation is not only unjust but also contrary to the values of our profession.

In view of the foregoing, we hereby call on the Electoral Committee to immediately reverse this exclusionary discriminatory policy and ensure that all qualified candidates, regardless of their region of origin, are allowed to participate fully and fairly in the upcoming elections. We urge the committee to uphold the principles of transparency, equality, and professionalism in all aspects of the electoral process. Failure to address this issue promptly will undermine the credibility of the elections and tarnish the reputation of the Nigerian Bar Association (Abuja Branch). We trust that you will take swift and decisive action to rectify this injustice and uphold the integrity of our association. Accept my utmost warm professional courtesies while anticipating your kind consideration and compliance on this matter.” 


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