NBA Elections 2018: Presidential Hopefuls, Others Woo Middle Belt Lawyers Forum

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Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN) shaking hands with Paul Usoro (SAN). On the right is Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN)
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NBA Elections 2018: Presidential Hopefuls, Others Woo Middle Belt Lawyers Forum

As lawyers across the country prepare to go the polls in late July 2018 to choose a new national executive council that would pilot the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the next two years, candidates for various offices in the association have been crisscrossing the length and breadth of the country and drumming up support among key power blocs for their candidacies.

Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN) shaking hands with Paul Usoro (SAN). On the right is Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN)

On Friday, July 6, 2018, it was the turn of the Middle Belt Lawyers’ Forum to host these candidates and hear them justify their motivations for running, and their plans for the association and its members going forward. According to NEWSWIRE Magazine’s correspondent in Abuja, the dual occasions of the general meeting of the Abuja Bar Branch and the executive council meeting of the Middle Belt Lawyers’ Forum, which were both held in quick succession in Abuja, the nation’s capital, afforded the candidates two separate opportunities to make their pitch before the appreciative but discerning members of the branch and the Middle Belt Bar – comprising the NBA’s branches located in the six states of Nigeria’s north-central geopolitical region, namely, Benue, Kogi, Nassarawa, Plateau, Niger and Taraba states, as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The highlight of the Abuja branch general meeting, which was presided over by Mr. Abimbola Kayode, the branch chairman, was the presentation of the respective candidates for various elective offices, which culminated in the presentations of the three presidential candidates who graced the occasion – Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN; Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN; and Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN.

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Chief Okafor, in particular, came into this event in the enviable role of the clear front-runner, as he basked in the glow of recent highly-coveted endorsements by both the Eastern Bar Conference (EBF) – comprising NBA branches in the 9 states of the defunct eastern region of Nigeria (Abia, Akwa-Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross-River, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers) and the Mid-West Bar Forum, which comprises Bar branches in Edo and Delta States.

The prospect of gaining the support of the Middle Belt section of the Nigerian Bar as well – and in particular the Abuja branch, also known as the Unity Branch – was seen in Okafor’s camp as the icing on a beautiful electoral cake. From the reception he received before, during and after his presentation, one would be forgiven for thinking that the endorsement of the Abuja branch was a foregone conclusion as far as Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN was concerned.

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After the Abuja Bar meeting, which ended with a dinner, the campaign train moved to the venue of the executive council meeting of the Middle Belt Lawyers’ Forum in the heart of the federal capital city. There, at a gathering that was graced by the presence of senior advocates, other senior lawyers and junior wigs – including an attorney-general of one of the states represented in the Forum – the aspirants were given one more chance to spell out, in a couple of minutes, their unique selling points and why they deserved the Forum’s endorsement for the 2018 general elections. This time, however, only two of the presidential candidates – the front runner, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN, and Prof. Ernest Ojukwu, SAN – were present, as the third candidate, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN was conspicuously absent.

After the brief presentations, the executive council of the Middle Belt Lawyers’ Forum retired to deliberate on their position, as all non-executives of the Forum departed to awaited their decision with eager expectation.

See photos below:

         

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