The Chairman of the Public Interest and Development Law Section of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-SPIDEL) John Aikpokpo-Martins Esq., has replied the Nigerian Bar Association President, Yakubu Maikyau SAN, over his accusations of insubordination.
In the reply letter, dated 9 February, 2024 addressed to Maikyau and to All National Officers, NBA Trustees, Past NBA Presidents, NBA NEC Members and Chairmen of Sections, Aikpokpo-Martins accused the President of repeatedly hindering the section’s public interest programmes and activities through lack of response and approval.
The letter, which SaharaReporters obtained, is titled: “RE: THE ACTIVITIES OF SPIDEL UNDER YOUR LEADERSHIP,” was in response to the face-off between the SPIDEL leadership and NBA President, leading to a ban on SPIDEL activities by Maikyau.
While the NBA President accused SPIDEL of “undermining” his leadership, the Section fired back, alleging that Maikyau has stalled several planned initiatives aimed to promote the rule of law and public interest.
SPIDEL Chairman outlined several initiatives on religious tolerance dialogue, proof of ownership litigation, election monitoring and investigating a lawyer’s death that were planned by SPIDEL but purportedly obstructed due to the President’s inaction and refusal to grant permission to proceed.
Accusing the President of hamstrung SPIDEL from its functions, citing the lockout from a reserved NBA House venue in August 2023 that caused grave inconvenience and additional costs in having to arrange another venue for a SPIDEL leaders dinner at short notice.
Aikpokpo-Martins lamented that SPIDEL would have been rendered inoperative if it depended solely on the President’s greenlight for all its activities. He also cited instances where SPIDEL sought collaboration with the NBA leadership, only to be met with indifference or obstruction.
He said: “You would recall that upon receipt of the letter which was delivered via email, I promptly replied on 1st February 2024 and urged your understanding for me to provide a more detailed response in writing. Suffice it to say that your letter, having been published by at least one news blog even before we received the hard copy, became available to the public at large and especially to our members.
“This compelled the SPIDEL Executive Committee to summon an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) under Article XIX(b) of the Uniform Bye-Laws of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2021).
“At the Extraordinary General Meeting held on Sunday, 4th February 2024, the General Meeting mandated me to respond to your letter as appropriate. Permit me therefore to address the issues raised in your letter seriatim.”
He explained: “Most respectfully, Mr. President, we find it rather incongruous that, following the unfortunate kidnap of a lawyer, your “intervention was almost rebuffed on account of that letter.” Does it mean that the lives and safety of citizens are now dictated by how public entities feel about steps taken to safeguard citizens’ rights?
“Further, we do not agree with the view that SPIDEL is encroaching on the duties of the NBA Security Agencies Relations Committee (SARC). While Mr. President is at liberty to create sundry committees to tackle certain issues. It is imperative to note that, as a Section, the mandate and objectives of SPIDEL are protected by the NBA Constitution.
“Specifically, Section 17(1) of the NBA Constitution provides as follows: “There shall be for the Association such Sections as the National Executive Council of the Association shall establish to advance the aims and objects of the Association.” It may well be the case that it is the NBA committees that veer into areas expected to be dealt with by SPIDEL. Again, while some entities affected by our public interest interventions may view the same as “confrontational,” it becomes doubly worrisome and discouraging when Mr. President also shares this untenable perception.
“On its part, SPIDEL has a primary mandate to protect the public interest. Consistent with this mandate, SPIDEL wrote the letter titled “RE: ISSUANCE OF CENTRAL MOTOR REGISTRY INFORMATION SYSTEM (CMRIS) BY THE NIGERIA POLICE FORCE: A DEMAND FOR THE IMMEDIATE STOPPAGE OF SAME.” The letter was dated 29th January 2024 and delivered to the Inspector General of Police the same day.”
Aikpokpo-Martins said that SPIDEL Extraordinary General Meeting Of 4th February, 2024, resolved: “Mr. President, as stated earlier, under the howbeit curious publication of your letter to the whole world, the Executive Committee of SPIDEL convened an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) to deliberate on the issues raised.
“This is more when you directed the leadership of the Section to “suspend all actions presently being undertaken by SPIDEL, particularly the matters stated above, until the scheduled meeting and further directives as may be approved by the National Executive Council.” You further directed SPIDEL “not undertake any engagement with any third party without prior consultation and permission from me as President with the approval of the National Executive Council of the NBA.”
“Upon an extensive deliberation on your letter, the Extraordinary General Meeting RESOLVED as follows: That SPIDEL views as highly worrisome and the publication of your letter even before the same was delivered to the Section;
“By the said publication, Mr. President may have exposed SPIDEL’s Chairman, Mr. John Aikpokpo-Martins, to harm’s way, given the apparent disclaimer issued regarding SPIDEL’s activities and especially as it concerns the security agencies;
“SPIDEL views your ‘directives’ suspending its activities as null, void, and of no effect whatsoever, given that such directives are ultra vires your powers as NBA President and amount to a breach of the provisions of the constitution of the Association. For the avoidance of doubt, the meeting directed the
Executive Committee to continue to implement programs aimed at promoting public interest and hamstringing official impunity.
“SPIDEL restates its solemn commitment to the promotion of the rule of law. Accordingly, SPIDEL will continue to make its best efforts to work with Mr. President towards fostering the aims and objectives of the Association, even as it shall firmly defend the NBA Constitution and the public interest no matter whose ox is gored.”