Tuesday, 11 August, 2020

Ojukwu Lauds Usoro on Transparency

* Carpets Mahmoud for Appointing ZDIC Chairmen with “horrible reputation”

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN has hailed NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN for publishing the financial statements for the lawyers’ body.

In an “open letter” to Usoro dated November 22, 2018 and titled “Open letter to NBA president on transparent governance,” Ojukwu described the move as “a good sign,” adding that he was “delighted to see the beginning of open, transparent and accountable governance for the Nigerian Bar Association.”

In the letter which was made available to CITY LAWYER, the former Nigerian Law School teacher however lashed out at former NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN for allegedly appointing Zonal Disciplinary Investigation Committee (ZDIC) members with questionable reputations.

He also reminded the NBA President that he is “yet to receive any response” to his Freedom of Information (FOI) request covering 15 items, adding that Usoro must also reverse the practice by past NBA presidents whereby they “hide (until last minutes at the NEC meeting) the names of those proposed for various committees and representations.”

Ojukwu noted that as was the case many years ago “when we had proper NBA Presidents,” proposals on the list of representatives/committee members “ought to be published in advance of NBA NEC meeting where ratification/appointment is finally done.” NEC members and the entire membership, he said, “ought to have the opportunity to ‘have a say’ on those proposed to represent them.”

The law teacher, who had vowed not to challenge the outcome of the controversial NBA General Elections, also urged the NBA President to urgently reconstitute the NBA Zonal Disciplinary Investigations Committees. His words: “The last set appointed by the last President had some chairmen and many members with horrible reputation and horrible pasts but we were not given the opportunity to comment on them before they were announced as appointed. We need the proposed lists to comment on members’ integrity and other issues of interest for open, transparent and accountable NBA governance.”

The full text of the open letter is below.

22ND NOVEMBER 2018

President,
Nigerian Bar Association,
Abuja.

OPEN LETTER TO NBA PRESIDENT ON TRANSPARENT GOVERNANCE
I am delighted to see the beginning of open, transparent and accountable governance for the Nigerian Bar
Association with the publication of the Finance Function Diagnostic Report and the final NBA Financial
Statement as at 31st August, 2018. This is a good sign. I urge that we make this a culture.
As you know, I made a Freedom of Information request of 15 items from NBA on 30th October, 2018 – most
concerning financial and accountability issues. Out of the 15 items only two are activities of the present
leadership, that is to say,

1. Report of the NBA 2018 Ad-hoc transition Committee; and
2. The contract signed by NBA to engage the services of PricewaterHouseCooper (PWC) for the purpose
of auditing and reviewing the NBA account.

I am yet to receive any response to any of the FOI requests.

I have also noted that the next NBA NEC meeting has been scheduled.

One of the governance setbacks that we had with some past presidents been to hide (until last minutes at the
NEC meeting) the names of those proposed for various committees and representations. As you have
committed to an open, transparent and accountable leadership, I hope to see a break from this past in the
appointment of our representatives to various committees and organs.

In the first place, fellow elected officers of the Bar should be consulted in an open discussion of proposed
names for committees and other representations.

As we practiced many years ago, when we had proper NBA Presidents, any proposed list of
representatives/Committee members ought to be published in advance of NBA NEC meeting where
ratification/appointment is finally done.

NEC members and the entire membership ought to have the opportunity to “have a say” on those proposed to
represent them.

Some of the committees that we need to constitute urgently are the Zonal Disciplinary Investigations
Committees. The last set appointed by the last President had some chairmen and many members with
horrible reputation and horrible pasts but we were not given the opportunity to comment on them before they
were announced as appointed. We need the proposed lists to comment on members’ integrity and other
issues of interest for open, transparent and accountable NBA governance.
Thank you.

Prof Ernest Ojukwu, SAN
Email, ernestojukwu@ofy-lawyers.com
Tel, +2348034028676

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