By Uche Amunike
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) just come to the decision to suspend her National General Secretary, Joyce Oduah, for reasons of gross misconduct, a decision which was taken during an emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee.
According to a copy of the final resolution issued on Monday, Joyce Oduah and ten other members of the committee, including the NBA President, Olumide Akpata were present at the meeting.
The first Vice President, John Aikpokpo Martins presided over the meeting, while the NBA President, Mr Akpata, voluntarily withdrew to play the role.
Apart from Joyce Oduah and Mr Akpata, the resolution to suspend the General Secretary was signed by nine members that were in attendance.
In a letter dated 9 August 2022 and addressed to Mr. Akpata, the ninecommittee members who signed the resolution, called for the emergency meeting to present the opportunity to address recent actions taken by Joyce Oduah recently.
Top on the list of accusations levelled against her was her recent unilateral withdrawal of notices of amendment of the NBA Constitution which was supposed to be considered at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) to kick off on 19th August in Lagos state, according to earliernotices given.
On Friday, the NBA President issued a disclaimer that reversed the withdrawal of the notices for the constitution amendment.
On the strength of the emergency meeting of the National Executive Committee held on Monday, Joyce Oduah was suspended from office as the General Secretary. It was a decision that was taken in order to ensurea hitch-free AGM and also to stop Oduah from imperiling the AGM.
The resolution partly read: ‘The National Executive Committee has unanimously exercised its emergency powers under section 9(6) (d) of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2021) to suspend Mrs Joyce Oduah fromh office as the General Secretary of the Association with immediate effect pending the Pre-Conference meeting of the NBA-NEC scheduled to hold on Sunday 21st August 2022.’
The Assistant General Secretary, Uchenna Nwadialo was promptly asked to take over as Acting General Secretary, pending the pre-conference meeting of the NBA-NEC, while the NBA members were urged to continue their preparations for the forthcoming Annual General Meeting‘.
At the emergency meeting, the NBA leadership dwelt on Oduah’s act of alleged disobedience to both Akpata and the NBA-NEC.
The disclaimer that culminated as a result of Akpata and Oduah’s earlierdisagreement read thus:
‘Mr Olumide Akpata recused himself from the deliberations and handed over to the 1st Vice President, Mr John Aikpokpo Martins to chair the meeting.’
‘At the end of the deliberations, the National Executive Committee by a unanimous decision resolved to refer the General Secretary, Mrs Joyce Oduah to NBA-NEC for disciplinary action under the provisions of section 20(1) of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2021) and to recommend her removal from office for gross misconduct.’
In an internal memo sent to Akpata by the national officers, different allegations of gross misconduct by Oduah were mentioned. The memo, which was titled ‘Need for Urgent Action to Forestall a Crisis in the NBA’ referred to Oduah as a ‘Clog in the smooth administration of the Association by various acts of dereliction of duty, disobedience to lawful orders, misconducting herself and being involved in acts and behaviours which are likely to, and have indeed brought the Association into disrepute.’
She was also accused of lacking the proper temperament expected of her office and for being disrespectful, domineering and rude, which greatly affects the working condition in the National Secretariat of the association. She once slapped a member of staff for no lawful reason, resultantly making the victim, Mr Ndifreke Acquaisua, tender his resignation.
Asides the above, Oduah was also accused of not having the capacity to discharge her official duties diligently by not producing Communiques after NEC meetings; refusing to write letters to the Supreme Court management and Federal High Court when asked to and for toying with the integrity of the NBA as a neutral body in observing the gubernatorial election in Ondo state, in October 2020 as she reportedly led NBA Election Observers ‘to pay an unsolicited visit to the home of the Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN (Ondo State governor) on the date of the election, whilst the voting was ongoing.’