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Why Members Must Obey Unreasonable Decisions Of Their Association.

Why Members Must Obey Unreasonable Decisions Of Their Association. Daily Law Tips (Tip 621) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK) It is not uncommon to find members of voluntary associations fight themselves and or with their association. Members often disagree over unreasonable decisions of their voluntary associations. Well, as you will discover below, the courts in Nigeria, respect the rights of persons in Nigeria to form and join voluntary associations. The courts also respect the decisions of voluntary associations even where such decisions are unreasonable. Voluntary associations are supreme gods over the affairs of their associations and not even courts/government can interfere. The courts in Nigeria will uphold and support unreasonable decisions of a voluntary association that are made in line with the constitution of the voluntary association, as far as the unreasonable decisions are not unlawful, illegal, unconstitutional or contrary to the laws in Nigeria. This is yet another reason people must be careful with the type of associations they form, join and the type of persons that associate and relate with them. Like we say in Nigeria, you are “On Your Own (OYO)”. Voluntary associations may be registered or unregistered. This includes groups of persons, associations, political parties, clubs, societies, religious institutions, communities, clubs, fora, online or offline groups, committees, charities, foundations, not-for-profit organisations and non-governmental organisations. Among the fundamental human rights in Nigeria, is the “Right to Peaceful Assembly and Association”. This is enshrined (contained) in the greatest of all laws in Nigeria; the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999. I will now quote what the constitution says, “every person shall be entitled to assemble freely and associate with other persons, and in particular he may form or belong to any political party, trade union or any other association for the protection of his interests: Provided that the provisions of this section shall not derogate from the powers conferred by this Constitution on the Independent National Electoral Commission with respect to political parties to which that Commission does not accord recognition.” Hence, the courts and all institutions in Nigeria, respect and uphold the rights of persons in Nigeria to form and join voluntary associations and to be bound by the decisions of such voluntary associations. The courts will not interfere with the decisions, operations, affairs and management of a voluntary association even where such actions of the association may be unreasonable but not unlawful. Aside the provisions of the Constitution on this issue, the apex court (Supreme Court of Nigeria) has had several opportunities to pronounce on this issue. Below is an X-ray of the position of the highest court in Nigeria, from where appeals against its judgements go to nowhere (may be except hell or heaven). “The Court would not interfere in a case like this one where members of a voluntary association have come to a decision within the provisions of their Constitution even if the decision is unreasonable, Circumstances have not arisen by which the court ought to intervene…. As a voluntary association, it has the right to lay down its own decisions even when they are unreasonable. They should be obeyed or the member in disobedience is entitled to quit. The party is in its own right supreme over its own affairs. This must be said loudly and clearly, unless it has violated its own Constitutional provisions the court would not interfere. The court will not substitute its own will for that of a political party or any other voluntary association. Those who join clubs, or associations or political parties must be made aware of the perils of membership. The majority will must prevail whether it is reasonable