ASSOCIATION IS NOT BY FORCE, EVEN ESTATE/COMMUNITY/PROFESSIONAL ASSOCIATIONS/CLUBS CANNOT BE COMPULSORY. * Daily Law Tips (Tip 504) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

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It is not unusual to find people being forced by their estates, communities and even professions/trades to join certain clubs, associations and societies, unwillingly. There are too many ugly instances of associations/groups being imposed/forced on people and also people being forced on associations.

Every person in Nigeria has right to freely assemble, associate and relate with others (Right to peaceful assembly and association). It is a fundamental human rights and cannot be suspended or waived by or with consent of its owner. Hence, any person in Nigeria can freely join, refuse to join and also exit any gathering, association and club in any part of Nigeria.

Associations/clubs/groups have rights to freely associate and admit any person they want. So, associations can not be imposed on persons, it must be free for persons seeking to join and even an association seeking to be joined. You cannot impose an unwilling person on a willing association and you cannot impose a willing association on an unwilling person. Any community/estate/profession that forces its members/residents to join any association/club/group is acting unconstitutionally and illegally.

“The right under Section 40 of the Constitution, the right to assemble and freely associate with others, works both ways. The others you want to associate with must be prepared to associate with you. None can be imposed, by order of Court, on the other. The right to freedom of association also connotes the right of the others to freely associate with or dissociate from whosoever.” Per EJEMBI EKO ,J.S.CÂ ( P. 141, paras. D-E )

It is the constitutional right of any person being forced to join any association to rush to a lawyer and seek legal remedies in court. The court will restrain such associations/groups and also award damages (monies) to such a person.

My authorities are:

1. Sections 40, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

2. The judgement of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of EMEKA v. OKOROAFOR & ORS (2017) LPELR-41738(SC)

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