The build-up to the 2020 elections into the executive positions of Ungogo branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has been riddled with complaints and discontent.
One of the earlier aspirants for the chairmanship position, Mahmoud Balarabe, had to withdraw while the other, Maaruf Kassim, was disqualified in a manner he claimed was unsatisfactory.
Kassim told Judicial Sketch he believes his disqualification was premeditated, and has appealed to the northern panel of the appeal committee constituted by the national secretariat of the NBA.
He said Ungogo branch’s electoral committee (ELCOM) sent him a letter of ‘provisional disqualification’ on 8th June, 2020 on the basis that he did not attach some documents of his nominators.
According to him, he utilized the constitutional opportunity he has to apply for a review of his disqualification on 9th June, 2020, and attached all the missing documents, while seeking to replace one of his nominators.
Meanwhile, his co-contestant, Mahmoud Balarabe, was cleared by the ELCOM even though he clearly did not satisfy some constitutional requirements, an issue that led him to write a petition which eventually led to the intervention of some senior members of the bar in Kano State.
“It was agreed that I will withdraw the petition I wrote while Mahmoud Balarabe will withdraw from the contest. By virtue of the arrangement, I was to be the only aspirant at that point.”
But the ELCOM replied him on 13th June, 2020 to affirm its earlier stand that he was disqualified, saying he failed to submit all document at the first instance. He queried the rationale behind the application for review if the lacuna that caused his ‘provisional disqualification’ could not be cured.
“What is the purpose of the review? I thought it was to correct things like this.”
He said he had no option than to appeal to the national body through the general-secretary to seek the following redress:
- “that the ELECOM UNGOGO branch be investigated, suspended or replaced with an impartial nonpartisan committee members.
- that I should be declared as the sole chairmanship candidate for the Branch, having fulfilled all constitutional requirement as well as the withdrawal of my co-chairmanship candidate
- that the branch election be immediately suspended pending outcome of this appeal.
- a declaration that their shall be no interference by anybody in the conduct of the election.
- a declaration that the decision of the ELECOM UNGOGO Branch disqualifying me is NULL and Void ,considering the fact that I have fulfilled all constitutional requirement in line with ARTICLE 17(2) NBA constitution 2015 as amended and other relevant provisions cited above.
- A declaration that the office of the VICE-CHAIRMAN still remain vacant until after the conduct of the general, election bye-election is to be conducted to fill in the space as provided by ARTICLE 17 (3) NBA Constitution 2015 as amended for branches.”
He added that the branch’s ELCOM “has now replaced the person who was earlier cleared for the office of welfare secretary to now be the chairmanship candidate and decided to unilaterally fill up the office of vice chairman and welfare secretary.”
So far, his call to the national secretariat to have the Ungogo branch election “immediately suspended pending outcome of this appeal” has not been heeded the way it was done in the case of Kano branch.
Recall that the NBA national secretariat wrote to the Kano ELCOM to order that it should suspend the electoral process pending the determination of appeals from the branch, but the order has met with stiff resistance and a barrage of criticism.