THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Attached - BIFOBA Trustees Update: Communique from BIFOBA Trustees - Update on BFHS Current Situation
Fellow Old Boys,
It is the 1st day of August,2020 and the need to address you once again on the current situation of our Association has become expedient.
Recall that on 1st May this year, a day after the official expiration of the tenor of our National Executive Council (NEC), the Trustees expectedly and as part of our responsibilities took over the Association to prevent creation of a vacuum since a legally constituted NEC that would have taken over the running of the Association was not in place.
Trustees as stated in our mentioned Communique considered various options available to it under the circumstance and chose, in its wisdom the option considered to be in the best interest of the Association given the situation of the Association and happenings in the world at large and chose the option to extend the NEC's tenor by 90days in the first instance with an option to increase by another 30 days after reviewing the situation.
Fellow Old Boys, the 1st 90 days ended yesterday night and it was 90 days characterized by all manner of intrigues and activities that took our Association to the lowest ebb in its history. Peace/Reconciliation moves were made and scuttled , Genuine peace efforts were abrogated before they can make any meaningful impact, several concerned Senior Old Boys/Elders made underground moves and consulted Trustees in a bid to resolve lingering issues, all to no avail.
The 90 days were filled with all manner of infractions including illegal declarations to the Presidency of our Association and swearing in of an equally illegal NEC to which Old Boys were indignant and have condemned in very strong terms by various Groups within the Association while the same 90 days were also replete with an avalanche of Court cases.Trustees have been sued severally on behalf of our Association (even when we are not involvedin the day to day running of the Association however as Custodians of the Association we are the people that can be sued for whatever misgivings anybody or Group has against the Association or as in this case, be sued for actions/activities of NEC. That unfortunately is the position of the Law and Trustees have thus had to attend Court in recent times on behalf of our Association and as things are, will likely attend more Court sessions given the several Court cases that have been instituted against the Trusteeship and our Association.
The 90 days extension period ended yesterday night and Trustees are aware that Old Boys are expecting a pronouncement from Trustees on the state of our Association going forward.
Trustees have examined critically the current state of our Association and the various ongoing issues. We have taken into consideration the advice of the General House of Old Boys emanating from its well represented and globally attended meeting of 12th July, took into consideration the various peace efforts attempted and scuttled during the period, looked intently without prejudice at the ongoing various peace moves behind the scenes, shied away from the various sentiments, bitterness, rancor, emotional outbursts and deep grievances that has pervaded the Association and most importantly took cognizance of the various Court cases instituted and the position of the law regarding all of the issues surrounding our Association which we are all aware of.
After a careful consideration of all of the above listed, one critical factor in whatever positionTrustees will take came to the fore and that is the position of the law and legality of our Association's actions and Trustee's pronouncements.
Fellow Old Boys, our Association has been sued, we the Trustees have been sued severally, the NEC, members of the Guild of Awardees, Representatives of our NA and UK Chapters, several peace loving Old Boys who have agreed to serve in Peace Committees, members elected to Electoral Committees have been sued, there is no ending to the list of people who have been sued jointly and in their personal capacities.
The issue for the Trustees at the moment therefore is whether in view of all of these legal suits,Trustees can take a decision and act without running foul of the law.
Trustees in the bid to protect the Association, the members and itself has sought for and received legal advice from our Solicitors and went further to obtain a 2nd opinion from another Legal Firm both of whom have advised that since there are various cases in Court, any act or pronouncements by the Trustees or any Group acting for and under the name of BIFOBA will be sub-judice and if such actions /pronouncements persist, may fall into contempt of the Courts and may attract a fine or in the extreme be committed to prison for a period of time
The legal firms therefore advised maintenance of "status quo ante bellum" and that Trusees refrain from acting or making pronouncements that will alter or affect the decisions of the Judges during the pendency of the matters, until such a time that the series of cases are either withdrawn or the matters adjudicated upon by the Courts, status quo ante bellum in this instance being "the position the Association was as at the time Mr Gbemi Soyinka filed the 1st legal suit".
All other suits thereafter are by law, adjudged to ride on the heels of the Gbemi Soyinka's Suit.
The sad reality of our current situation and the absolute truth is that out of carelessness and without getting sound legal advice, together with the burning desire to oust the current NEC by all means, rather than wait for Trustees to decide what will happen by 31st July which would have been a take-over of the Association by the Trustees ourselves and invited a few other neutral Old Boys to join us in the running of the Association for a period of 90 days during which an Electoral Committee would have been formed and an election organized, the Old Boys suing the Association have unfortunately by their actions tied the hands of any
Peace/Reconciliation Group as well as the Trustees and have unwittingly extended the tenor of the NEC until determination of all of the Court cases.
Another sad reality is that if assuming that the Old Boys concerned make a U-turn and withdraw the 2nd and 3rd cases, the Gbemi Soyinka's case which was the first case on which the others rode cannot be withdrawn without the Judge hearing a "motion of discontinuance" since the Association's Solicitors have filed a defense and entered appearance in this particular suit for which the next hearing date has been fixed for 15th October, 2020 as the Courts have gone on recess.
This is an example of how very little things can cause major damages when people act on impulse and do not consider the after-effects of their actions.
Given the sad reality of our current situation, Trustees have considered the legal advice received from the Solicitors and have had to take a decision on whether to maintain status quo or ignore the legal advice and proceed with any other form of activity available to it.
Trustees were divided on the decision to take and with the democratic manner that the Trustees have been operating, the minority of us have had its say that we ignore legal advice and proceed to continue to institute a Peace arrangement and constitute an Interim Committee to take over from the NEC by 31st July, an action the majority consider not in the true and best interest of BIFOBA at this time, while the majority opted to embrace the advice of Solicitors defending us in these several cases in order not to put the Association's position into jeopardy, especially also because the majority are the ones who are on ground here in Nigeria attending and will continue to attend Court and are the Trustees that run the risk of being charged with contempt of Court and committed to some prison with all of the risks of Corona Virus et al, while the minority sit far away in America, away from the long arms of the law.
Fellow Old Boys, given the totality of the above situation which we have taken the pains to explain and given that we as Trustees must be astute and recognize the enormous responsibility of ensuring the continuity and wellbeing of our Association, we have today, 1st August, 2020 reaffirmed (on behalf of our Association) the maintenance of "status quo ante bellum" which by necessity keeps the current NEC in office until such a time when the various legal suits might have been withdrawn and a Peace arrangement put in place, or in the final resort, the cases get adjudicated upon by the Courts, whichever is earlier.
Trustees recognize that our final decision may not be pleasing to and may be a bitter pill to swallow for some Old Boys who want this NEC out by all means however, for as long as we have acted in good faith, satisfying the desires of the large majority of our members and acted in the best interest of our Association, we stand firmly by our decisions and leave posterity to record this as well as our other decisions, (past and future) against our names and achievements as Trustees of this great Association.
We thank you Fellow Old Boys for your attention and do assure of our continued commitment to the ideals of our Association and development of BIFOBA now and for always.
KINGSLEY ESSIEN ESQ TRUSTEE.