Statement from Joyce Oduah FICMC

My dear friends, seniors, and colleagues,

Recently, the National Officers Elections Appeal Committee (NOEAC) upheld my disqualification from the NBA presidential race by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA). This decision was reached without due consideration of my detailed legal arguments, which were meticulously presented to ensure a fair hearing.

Appellate decisions are expected to be rigorously factual, demonstrating sound deductive reasoning, jurisprudential thinking, and superior argumentation. Unfortunately, these essential elements, which guarantee a fair trial and hearing, were disregarded by the NBA-NOEAC. The committee’s decision lacked a careful evaluation, rebuttal, or countering of the factual submissions I made in my appeal. The Committee’s best effort was to merely regurgitate the grounds of disqualification set by the ECNBA and nothing more. A decision reached without due consideration of all the issues raised can only amount to an unfair trial.

In my appeal, I highlighted the ECNBA’s reliance on a provision that was non-existent during my tenure as Treasurer from 2012 to 2014. The retrospective application of this provision undermines legal certainty and fairness, violating established legal principles that “A Constitution, like other statutes, operates prospectively and not retrospectively unless it is expressly provided to be otherwise…” Additionally, the issue regarding my seconder’s receipts could have been easily rectified, reflecting an unnecessary and unjust ground for disqualification. Most importantly, the decision goes against the Second Schedule Part VIII(f) of the NBA Constitution 2015, which states that “The powers of the ECNBA to disqualify a person who wishes to contest for an office shall only be for the grounds specifically contained in this Constitution,” not a NEC resolution or ECNBA guideline.

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Despite the unjust decision, my commitment to the NBA and its principles remains unshaken. I have dedicated my career to serving the Nigerian Bar Association in various capacities, and I am more determined than ever to continue this journey. This setback only fuels my passion to advance our profession and foster inclusivity within our esteemed organisation. I am here for the long haul, and I am here for the NBA, God being my helper.

After careful consideration and in the spirit of fostering unity and peace within our beloved NBA, I have decided not to appeal further. This decision, while not the end of my journey, is a testament to my commitment to the NBA and its principles. I am here to serve, and I will continue to do so with the same passion and dedication, working towards the betterment of our association and the legal profession at large.

I am greatly indebted to the countless supporters and admirers who stood firmly with me despite all odds. They are too numerous to list here. However, I cannot but mention my DG, Abiye Tam-George; all my DDGs, Mujtaba Adamu Ameen (North), Tokunbo Otoyo (East), and Henry Onyeaghana Abohor (West); my nominators, Nkoyo Amah and Chuzuike Attama; my media team lead and content creator, Queen Oduah; my Regional and State Coordinators, Christy Oluchukuwu, Francis Ifesinachi Nwodo, Confidence Nkiruka Nwoka, Abdulkareem Martins Azeez, Adam Bashir, George Fortune, Aisha Ali Bala, A. E. Usungunyong, Darlington Ezeh, James Nnamdi, Jovita Gabriel, Dr. Godstime Okafor, Onyekachi Ede, Samson Ike, Yilji David, Toun Adekoya, Muktar Ali Jolamy, Joseph Olumudi, Ishaku Fwangkat Fashow, Appolonia Udoka Agbo, Allu Justina Aikali, Oluwashina Ashade, Ishaku Zira, Benazir Umar Jada, Mohammed Abubakar, Olugbenga Olawale, T.S. Adegboyega, Favour Abraham, Yusuf Mohammed Sani, Nicholas Asuquo, Torosco Eyene, Sadiya Saleh, Peter Ndifreke, Rita Okunbo, Emma Okpani, Bassey Ntuk, Elijah Isreal Elijah, Kyenret Comfort, Joseph Zabbey, Itohowo Bassey, Abubakar Wada, Dr Ann Chinasa, Ogechi Oleka Duruaku, Lady Edith Uduji, Ndidi Festus, Rosemary Ibeawuchi, Patrick Etim, Habila Isah, Jesse Nwaenyo, CLC Agbordike, Godwin Effiong, Lovistic Esu, Emem Ette, Mbama Adaku and Dr. Rabiatu Abdulahi.

I also wish to thank my dear friends Sam Kargbo SAN, Sani Abdulqardra, Prof Dakas CJ Dakas SAN, Olivia Dazyam, DG Aliyu Abubakar, Amina Agbaje, CLC Agbordike, Matthew Ayoola Adeola. I thank my dearest husband, Okechukwu Oduah, and my children, Queen, Margaret, David, Daniel, and Tochukwu, for their support and love always.

I owe you all a tremendous debt of gratitude. Your support reinforces my belief in our collective strength and the future of the NBA. Together, we will continue to work towards a more inclusive and progressive association.

My most thanks to God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, my strength and support.

Warmest regards,

Joyce Oduah, FICMC
Principal Partner, Joyce & Okey Oduah LP
Immediate Past General Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)
Vice President West Africa, Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU)
Council Member, Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA)
Former Council Member, International Bar Association (IBA)

May 23, 2024

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