CONTROVERSY, AS JUDICIAL BODY SHUNS NBA, APPOINTS SCRIBE

Barring any last-minute hitches, the Secretary of Nigeria’s Body of Benchers, Hajia Sadiya Turaki will tomorrow assume duties as the new scribe of the influential Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

Multiple and unimpeachable sources told CITY LAWYER that Turaki has been appointed by the commission chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad as the new Secretary to replace Mr. Bassey E. Bassey who retired on September 23, 2020.

Turaki’s appointment is coming on the heels of allegations that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) may have been shut out of the appointment process, contrary to the provisions of Section 153(2) and 154(1) of the 1999 Constitution as well as Paragraph 12 Part 1 of the Third Schedule to 1999 Constitution. 

While Paragraph 12 (6) Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution stipulates that the membership composition of the FJSC shall include “Two persons, each of whom has been qualified to practice as a Legal Practitioner in Nigeria for a period of not less than fifteen years, from a list of not less than four persons so qualified and recommended by the Nigerian Bar Association,” CITY LAWYER gathered from impeccable sources that NBA has not participated in the decision-making process of the commission for over two years since the tenure of its former representatives ended.

Paragraph 13(c), Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution empowers the commission to “Appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over the Chief Registrars and Deputy Chief Registrars of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and all other members of the staff of the Judicial Service of the Federation not otherwise specified in this Constitution and of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.”

CITY LAWYER investigation shows that the last set of NBA representatives at the commission were Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro SAN and Hajia Fatima Kwaku (MFR) whose names were forwarded by then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar to former President Goodluck Jonathan for transmission to the Senate for confirmation. Their five-year tenure ended on 3rd July, 2018.

A source who is familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that though the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN made spirited efforts to ensure NBA’s representation at the commission, such efforts did not yield fruits. The source stated that though Usoro had on at least three occasions submitted the list of NBA nominees to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, there are strong indications that the list was not transmitted to the Senate through the President for approval. CITY LAWYER also gathered from unimpeachable sources that the names of two NBA nominees are still currently pending at the all-important commission.

Though CITY LAWYER sought the views of NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata on the development through a short messaging service and WhatsApp message to his verified telephone number, he promised that “I will call you back shortly” but was yet to do so at press time. 

Aside from NBA representatives, the commission’s membership comprises of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who shall be the Chairman; President of the Court of Appeal; Attorney-General of the Federation; Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; President of the National Industrial Court, and “Two other persons, not being Legal Practitioners, who in the opinion of the President are of unquestionable integrity.” The non-lawyers are Senator Abba Ali and Malam Mohammed Sagir. However, only NBA is currently unrepresented in the 9-member commission.

The commission’s Secretary doubles as its Chief Executive and Accounting Officer.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

RPC: UBANI WITHDRAWS SUIT AGAINST MALAMI

* CITES PRESSURE FROM NBA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Firebrand human rights activist and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has directed his lawyers to withdraw his lawsuit against Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN over the controversial amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.

Ubani had dragged Malami to court over the “unilateral amendment” of the Rules, even as the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata directed lawyers to ignore the Rules, saying they were amended without proper authority. He also asked Malami to “immediately” rescind the amendment in the interest of the Bar.

But in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Ubani said that he was under pressure to withdraw the lawsuit to ensure that it is not used as an excuse to scuttle amicable resolution of the impasse.

According to the frontline activist and Bar Leader, “The leadership of the bar at the highest level have reached out to me to have the law suit withdrawn to avoid an ugly situation where the issue of the case in court will be used as an excuse to scuttle the much anticipated resolution of this unnecessary rumble within our revered body.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that a gazette had surfaced recently where Malami had issued an amendment of the Rules deleting several critical sections of the RPC.

Below is the full text of the statement.

INTENTION TO WITHDRAW SUIT NO FHC/CV/1174/2020 AGAINST ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION.

Recall that recently we took out a legal suit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN over the recent unilateral amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.

I took this drastic legal step in conjunction with some of my very learned colleagues in the profession because we deciphered a motive orchestrated to weaken arguably the umbrella body by the damaging amendments that failed to have the input of the Bar generally through the General Council of the Bar as prescribed by the Legal Practitioners Act.

The unilateral amendment with the consequential intendment to weaken NBA as a professional body was greeted with so much furore and anger for not following procedure as prescribed by the enabling law.

It has come to our notice that the NBA leadership has expressed their reservations about the unilateral amendment and has sought the reversal of same by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. They have written a letter to him to withdraw the gazetted Amendment as its effect will create great crisis and confusion within the bar. The purport of the letter is to provide a veritable platform to have the brewing crisis nipped in the bud and resolve the problem amicably.

The leadership of the bar at the highest level have reached out to me to have the lawsuit withdrawn to avoid an ugly situation where the issue of the case in court will be used as an excuse to scuttle the much anticipated resolution of this unnecessary rumble within our revered body.

As an unrepentant lover of the bar and a principled individual who fights for a cause with God’s wisdom, I have reached out to my colleagues in this struggle for us to have this case withdrawn to allow no reason whatsoever to be given for the failure to arrive at an amicable settlement over the matter.

It is my belief and hope that the Attorney General of the Federation will take into cognizance the larger interest of the bar and move quickly to withdraw the said gazetted Amendment and allow the General Council of the Bar to commence some of the intended amendments that will be highly beneficial to the Bar generally.

I hereby instruct my lawyers to withdraw the said suit in order to allow the anticipated amicable settlement to be exhaustively exploited by both parties.

Long Live the NBA
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Monday Onyekachi Ubani Esq (MOU)
Former Vice President of NBA.

 

RPC: 6,000 LAWYERS SIGN PETITION TO STRIP MALAMI OF SAN RANK

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

No less than 6,072 persons have so far signed a petition seeking to strip the nation’s chief law officer, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN of the coveted rank of “Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”

Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, made the headlines recently following media reports stating that he had issued “Statutory Instrument No. 15 of 2020” amending the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (RPC). The instrument provides that “the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.”

Started barely eight days ago by one Izu Aniagu, the petition which is still trending on www.change.org, the petition is titled “Sign to strip Nigeria’s AGF, Abubakar Malami the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.” The tagline states that “Izu Aniagu started this petition to Lawyers in Nigeria and 5 others.” The “Decision makers” listed on the petition are “Lawyers in Nigeria, Nigeria Bar Association, LEGAL PRACTITIONERS DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE, THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGE COMMITTEE, THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL and The Bar Council.”

The petition states that “Since assumption of office, the Attorney General of the Federation has continued to go rogue, from his disobedience to court order, to his lackluster prosecution, to his outright failure to prosecute, to allegations of corruption and bias against his person, to usurpation of office, to shielding of suspects, to his general dereliction of duty.

“This time, the AGF has decided to take his imprudence (sic) to top notch by unilaterally deleting the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct which provide for stamp and seal as well as bar practicing fee for government lawyers. The AGF does not have such power. Section 12 (4) of the LPA gives the General Council of the Bar power to make any such amendment and make other decisions concerning the NBA.

“There is no record of any meeting convened by the The (sic) Attorney General of the Federation who is the president of The Bar Council. The AGF took the decision alone and his actions constitute a threat to the rule of law. His action is totally shameful and is underserving (sic) of a lawyer in the rank of a Senio (sic) Advocate, let alone a Chief Law Officer of the federation.”

One of the signatories, Ogholaja Onesiosan gave the reason for signing the petition as follows: “The AGF has abused the rule of law and has not conducted himself in a manner that is expected of him.” CITY LAWYER could not confirm at press time that all the signatories are lawyers.

The amendment of the RPC has annulled the power of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to issue stamps to eligible legal practitioners, a practice that has been validated by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. This comes against the backdrop of a clamour for dismemberment of the NBA, leading to the formation of the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) by some lawyers.

Following a meeting with Malami in his office, NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had in a letter to the chief law officer dated September 15, 2020 demanded rescission of the amendment “immediately.”

He noted that “I have been duly informed, by NBA representatives on the Bar Council and other members of the Bar Council who have reached out to me, that to the best of their knowledge no meeting of the Bar Council was convened to discuss any amendments to the RPC or to approve the instrument. It, therefore, appears that the instrument was enacted without proper authority.”

Former NBA Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani had also dragged Malami to the Federal High Court seeking among others a determination whether the AGF has the power to “unilaterally, alter, amend and or make any rules of professional conduct, without a proper meeting of the general council of the bar, duly convened, and notices thereof, issued to other members of the general council of the bar.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee had stripped some senior advocates of the rank following their conviction for criminal breaches or successful petitions against them.

However, one Fred Ogundu-Osondu argues that the online petition against Malami is dead on arrival, saying: “If his actions can be interpreted as an abuse of the powers vested in him as Attorney-General of the Federation, then an actual petition can be lodged against him before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee. If the LPDC finds him guilty of professional misconduct, then the LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE may withdraw the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria from him. This was clearly stated in No. 5 of the GUIDELINES FOR THE CONFERMENT OF THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA, 2007. However, let us keep it in mind that the HAGF is the Chairman of the LPDC. The only other ground is if he is convicted for any offence that in the opinion of the LPPC is incompatible with the honour and dignity of the holder of the rank of SAN as an offence relating to breach of trust, theft or other offence involving fraud or dishonesty. Again, the HAGF is the Chief Law Officer of the federation, and may not allow such prosecution to see the light of day, as he is clothed with the constitutional powers of nolle prosequi.”

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

APPEAL COURT JURIST, FALANA, AKPATA, NGIGE, OTHERS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS BOOK LAUNCH

Leading jurists and human rights activists will on Thursday gather for the unveiling of a seminal book on human rights written by foremost human rights author and litigator, Chief Frank Agbedo.

Titled “Casebook on Human Rights Litigation in Nigeria: With Landmark Cases From Other Jurisdictions,” the event which will be held virtually is expected to be witnessed by the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Mohammed L. Garba and the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba.

Others expected at the book presentation are the Chairman of Council of Legal Education (CLE), Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN; Lagos State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN; Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata; fiery human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN, and former President of Otu Oka-Iwu Lagos, Chief Chuks Ikokwu.

With renowned text writer, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu SAN as Book Presenter and The Guardian columnist, Mr. Sonnie Ekwowusi as Book Reviewer, others slated for the book presentation are Chief Babatunde Ogala and Mr. Yemi Akangbe (NBA Lagos Branch Chairman) as Guests of Honour;  corporate and commercial law guru, Mr. Mbanugo Udenze as Host and popular Bar Leader, Mrs. Tolani Edu as the Moderator. 

Available on AMAZON at https://www.amazon.com/Casebook-Human-Rights-Litigation-Nigeria/dp/6200313415, “This book painstakingly addresses the predicament of lawyers and judges in accessing relevant cases of interest, by providing and updating the practitioners with a comprehensive collection of (both current and locus classicus) reported cases mainly from decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, on all notable issues of law and procedure relating to human rights litigation in Nigeria.”

An announcement on the book presentation states as follows:

Team Nominees Limited is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Book Presentation of Case Book on Human Rights Litigation in Nigeria by Chief Frank Agbedo.

Date: Thursday 24th September, 2020 Time: 02:00 PM West Central Africa

Join Zoom Meeting

https://zoom.us/j/93183883288?pwd=NCthbFFzeTROckkzODE3SXJtRXczZz09

Meeting ID: 931 8388 3288

Passcode: 091502

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NBA IKEJA ELECTION: UBANI QUITS, BLASTS CARETAKER C’TE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has resigned his position as a member of the NBA Ikeja Branch Caretaker Committee mandated to conduct election for the branch.

In a letter made available to CITY LAWYER, Ubani cited lack of obedience to NBA Bye-Law on elections as his major reason to throw in the towel, saying the conduct is an affront on his values.

His words: “Hypocrisy of this magnitude is a lethal sin. My nature abhors it. I hereby resign my membership of the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja of 2020 to avoid being part of the persons that will engineer an unnecessary crisis in my beloved Branch. Already I am aware of some members’ plans to drag the Branch into another round of crisis. It is unnecessary.  I had better walk away!”

It is recalled that the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN had dissolved the branch Election Committee following a joint petition by AWLA President and 6 others on the constitution of the Committee.

Usoro appointed a three-man Caretaker Committee to midwife the branch elections. Aside from Ubani, other members of the committee are Messrs Olabisi Ade-ademuwagun and Adebamigbe Omole.

LETTER OF RESIGNATION FROM THE CARETAKER COMMITTEE OF NBA IKEJA.

It is with regret that I tender my letter of resignation from the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja. The main reason for resignation is to avoid my name which I have built over the years to be dragged into the mud by anybody from the branch.

What makes my resignation imperative is the brazen stance of some members of the branch  to go against the National Body despite clear letters written by both the outgone and present National Exco that the Caretaker Committee should toe the line of legality in the conduct of our forthcoming election by adhering to the Resolution of NEC of NBA in Jos  and Benin both in 2016.

The major problem is with Article 6(3) of the 2015 Uniform Bye Law which bars a candidate from contesting for a new office if he or she has not spent the requisite number of years after occupying executive position twice at the Branch or at National office. At the branch level you are required to stay off for five years, while at the national level you are required to stay off for ten years.

The said article 6(3) was resolved at Jos NEC in 2016 to have retrospective effect and reiterated or reaffirmed in Benin NEC of same 2016. It is on record that I was the only person that raised a voice against the retrospective effect of that Article in Jos NEC of 2016 and was overruled.

Since then, the interpretation has been used to disqualify any candidate who has held two executive positions without allowing the requisite number of years to exhaust before seeking for a further office all over the branches and at the national level.

Part of the Caretaker Committee’s mandate is to conduct an election for the Branch for the year 2020. Having cleared and published the voters list, the next task was to clear the contestants. However we had a petition written against one of the candidates seeking for the chairmanship position alleging that he has held two executive positions at the Branch level and has not exhausted the requisite five years before seeking for the new office.

Our findings supported the allegation and to avoid being accused of bias the Committee sought clarifications from both the outgone and present national Secretariat and they in their various letters dated 5th of August, 2020 and 14th of September, 2020 reiterated the fact that Article 6(3) of the Uniform Bye-law be  applied retrospectively and advised the the Committee should not depart from the said application moreso since the interpretation as adopted in JOS NEC has not been reversed in any subsequent NEC, AGM or by the court.

The Committee of the branch met few days ago and on a sad note decided to proceed with the said election by clearing every person including the candidate that was caught up with Article 6(3) of the Uniform Bye Law of 2015  despite the clear clarifications of the National Body that set us up in the first place. I vehemently dissented with this view and insisted that the new National Exco be written seeking clarification to the said Article if we were still in doubt as to the interpretation of that section of the law.

The Committee had to retrace the wrong step they had earlier on taken by complying with the interpretation of the contentious section   after they got a response from the present Secretariat reitering the fact that we should abide with NEC Resolution of Jos 2016.

 The Committee thereby disqualified one of the Candidates who is contesting for the chairmanship position because he has held offices for two times and have not stayed off from contesting from five years as required by the said Bye Law.

The position of the law is that the said candidate stands disqualified from contesting the 2020 NBA Election. That is the status quo ante properly interpreted.

It is regrettably though, that I have to resign the membership of the committee that refused to do the right thing in the first place.  Such behaviour is not in tandem with what I believe and stand for in the NBA. It is improper to undermine the integrity and strength of our national body through our actions at the Branch level whereas everyone in our inner-most heart, desires a very strong and united bar. Hypocrisy of this magnitude is a lethal sin. My nature abhors it. I hereby resign my membership of the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja of 2020 to avoid being part of the persons that will engineer an unnecessary crisis in my beloved Branch. Already I am aware of some members’ plans to drag the Branch into another round of crisis. It is unnecessary.  I had better walk away!

God bless NBA!

Monday O. Ubani (MOU) Esq,
Former Chairman of NBA Ikeja and former 2nd VP of NBA.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

CALL TO BAR: ‘WE RECORDED OVER 70% SUCCESS RATE,’ SAYS LAW SCHOOL D-G

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu Chiroma SAN yesterday rated the leading vocational training institution highly, saying its graduates posted over 70 per cent success rate at the Bar Final examinations held last January.

In his address at the Call to Bar ceremony held yesterday, Chiroma traced the “humble beginning” of the school in 1963 “with 8 students at its one block Campus at 213A, Igbosere Road, Lagos,” and observed that “the Nigerian Law School has grown to a six-Campus Institution spread across the country with a yearly intake of well over 6,000 (six thousand) students as stated above.”

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), the Law School chief executive said that the school has enjoyed unbroken academic sessions in its 58-year history, attributing the feat to “the insistence of the Council of Legal Education on the good character of the students as a condition for both admission into the Law School and recommendation for Call to the Bar.”

Chiroma stated that while 1,779 of the 2,515 candidates who sat for the Bar Finals scaled the hurdle, five of the candidates or 0.2 per cent bagged First Class Honours. Seventy-six (3.06%) candidates received Second Class Upper grade while 633 (25.17%) candidates were graded in Second Class Lower rank. Another 1,065 (42.43%) candidates recorded a Pass grade.

His words: “These figures translate to 70.86% success at the Bar Final Examinations. I wish to assure all of you that we shall remain the gate keepers of our noble profession. As Teachers and Administrators, we will continue to uphold the standard and integrity of the Bar.”

Chiroma stated that the knowledge “acquired and expressed” by candidates “brings great joy to the entire Nigerian Law School Community,” adding: “After your Call to the Bar, you will become new wigs of the Nigerian Bar and proud members of our noble profession. I rejoice and congratulate you all for your hard work, dedication and steadfastness. To all our proud parents, guardians and relations, I invite you all to share in the success and joy of these candidates we are celebrating today.”

On the contributions of the Law School to national development, Chiroma noted that both the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice among others are all alumni of the school, adding that “It is also significant to note that a large number of members of other tiers of government in the country are products of the School.

“The school has also contributed to the training of the legal man-power for our sister African countries like the Republic of the Gambia, the Republic of Sierra Leone and the Republic of Cameroun. A number of countries from East and West Africa have visited the Law school to solicit information and assistance on the establishment and development of the Law School in their various countries. As reported in my address to your distinguished body at the last Call ceremony the Nigerian Law School received a high powered delegation from the Law Development Centre, Uganda, who were in Nigeria on bench marking and working visit to the Nigerian Law School and more of such collaborations have continued to come.

“Products of the School have commanding presence in other spheres of public and private sector such as the Ex-Military, Police, Customs, Immigration, the Oil and Gas sector, Banking and Finance, Insurance and the Corporate world in general, Professors/lecturers in the Universities and other tertiary institutions. Some of these products have achieved profound feat of getting to the top of their career nationally and across borders.”

Chiroma thanked President Muhammadu Buhari “for all the proactive measures taken aimed at curbing the spread and eradication of the disease in our dear country.” Turning to Malami, the Law School Director-General said: “May I at this time respectfully seek the leave of Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Body of Benchers, to thank our supervisory Ministry – the Federal Ministry of Justice headed by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, Life Bencher for the support always given to us as an institution.”

Showering encomiums on the Council of Legal Education chaired by leading litigator and Bar Leader, Chief Emeka Ngige SAN for its oversight, Chiroma said: “I will also wish to thank the Chairman and Members of the Council of Legal Education, our parent body for their support and guidance at all times.

“The same appreciation goes to the Chairman and members of the Body of Benchers for their constant support and encouragement. I must also mention the Secretariat of the distinguished body for its co-operation with us at all times. Not even the COVID-19 pandemic could hold your body from discharging your primary and essential duties with the usual and huge cooperation of the Council of Legal Education and staff of Nigerian Law School.”

Chiroma congratulated Mr. Olumide Akpata for his victory at the poll while thanking the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN “for his contribution to the Nigerian Law School, Nigerian Bar Association and the Legal Profession in general.”

Among those admitted to the Nigerian Bar at the ceremony held at the Eagle Square, Abuja was veteran Nollywood actor, Mr. Kanayo O. Kanayo MFR.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

EXCLUSIVE: BODY OF BENCHERS HONOURS MALAMI WITH “LIFE BENCHER” RANK

EMEKA NWADIOKE

Embattled Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN was yesterday appointed “Life Bencher” by the Body of Benchers, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

This is coming on the heels of a petition by some lawyers calling for Malami to be stripped of the rank of “Senior Advocate of Nigeria” over his alleged unilateral amendment of the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had in a statement he personally signed directed lawyers to disregard the new Rules, insisting that they were made without authority.

Malami had come under fire from several Bar Leaders for allegedly usurping the powers of the General Council of the Bar to issue a gazette amending the Rules.

But the Body of Benchers apparently shoved all the controversies aside to bequeath the nation’s chief law officer with its highest rank. CITY LAWYER was told by an unimpeachable source that the Body of Benchers meeting was presided over by former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Chief O. C. J. Okocha SAN.

Others who were awarded the rank reserved for lawyers of the highest distinction are Justice A. G. Mshelia, Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Jos; Justice Suleiman Kawu, Chief Judge of Kwara State; Justice P. O. Nnadi, Chief Judge of Imo State; Justice M. L. Abimbola, Chief Judge of Oyo State; Kaka Shehu Lawan, Attorney-General of Borno State; Uwemedimo Nwoko, Attorney-General of Akwa Ibom State; Mr. Sulaiman Usman, Attorney-General of Sokoto State; Mr. Francis Chuka Agbu SAN, NBA Representative at the Body of Benchers; Chief Ferdinand Orbih SAN, NBA Representative at the Body of Benchers; Dr. T. C. Osanakpo SAN, NBA Representative at the Body of Benchers, and Mr. Joe Agi SAN who was before now a bencher.

CITY LAWYER gathered that the new crop of life benchers were recommended by a committee set up by the Body of Benchers for the purpose.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

RPC: AGBAKOBA, RABANA, OJUKWU CARPET MALAMI

* SAY 2007 RPC WAS APPROVED BY BAR COUNCIL

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The controversy trailing amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners peaked today with the former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) president and Chairman of its Board of Trustees, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) stating that the 2007 amendment was endorsed by the General Council of the Bar (GCB).

Controversy has trailed the issuance of the 2020 version of the rules by the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN. While many lawyers said the amendment did not follow due process, as it was not approved by the Bar Council, others disagreed.

The NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata in a press statement he personally signed also stated that the bar association does not recognize the new rules, saying that “the NBA maintains that the RPC has not been amended and enjoins all legal practitioners to remain calm and continue to conduct their affairs in the same manner as they did prior to the issuance of the Instrument.”

Endorsing the position of his then Secretary-General, Mr. Rafiu Lawal-Rabana SAN that the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct were approved by the Bar Council, Agbakoba said on the influential online platform “State of the Bar” that that was the correct position. His words: “Well said my GS, as I was president together with Lawal-Rabana SAN.”

Lawal-Rabana had stated on the platform that though he did not want to join issues on the controversial amendment, “I was the General-Secretary in 2007 when the RPC was drafted and presented to the GCB for approval.”

Continuing, he said: “There was a full meeting of the council and I did the presentation on behalf of the NBA. I emphasize it was not a unilateral document made by Chief Bayo Ojo SAN, the AGF at the material time. (Prof.) Ernest Ojukwu SAN who coordinated the draft can bear witness.”

He however advised the combatants to sheath their swords, saying: “Since the NBA has issued a statement we all should allow the NBA address the issue.”

Former NBA presidential candidate, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN also told CITY LAWYER that 2007 Rules were duly approved by the Bar Council, saying: “The difference between what AGF Malami is purported to have done now and what Chief Bayo Ojo did in 2007 is that there was a Bar Council meeting then that approved the Rules. Olisa Agbakoba and Rabana presented the Rules. Dr. Justice Orojo also attended. I didn’t attend, though I made the draft.”

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CRISIS ROCKS BOSAN’S PROBE C’TE, AS GADZAMA REJECTS APPOINTMENT

* SAYS: ‘I HAVE ALREADY CONGRATULATED AKPATA’

* ‘I WANT MY OWN 2016 NBA ELECTION AUDITED, TOO’

* ASKS BOSAN TO REJIG COMMITTEE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The crisis rocking the beleaguered committee set up by the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to audit the 2018 and 2020 NBA Elections peaked today with leading arbitrator and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN rejecting his appointment as Chairman of the panel.

In a letter to BOSAN Chairman obtained by CITY LAWYER, Gadzama cited the non-inclusion of the 2016 Elections in which he participated as presidential candidate as one of the reasons for his rejection of the offer, even as he noted that it would imperil settled principles of law if he were to probe his election or the 2020 Elections having congratulated newly inaugurated NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata on his victory at the poll.

Gadzama is the third of the five-member committee to have declined his appointment, coming on the heels of a similar move by Mr. Osaro Eghobamien SAN and Prof. Offornze Amucheazi  SAN

He revealed that the BOSAN meeting resolved to probe the 2016, 2018 and 2020 NBA Elections, noting that the 2016 Elections may have been excluded from the mandate of the BOSAN committee because of his appointment as chairman.

Gadzama said: “An arm of the twin pillars of natural justice which is nemo judex in causa sua, is certainly not favourable to me with respect to any issue relating to NBA elections’ investigation or audit being an interested party. In order to avoid the crop-up of the ugly issue of reasonable bias and casting of aspersions on the committee or the outcome of its audit, I have no choice but to respectfully decline.”

He stated that having congratulated Akpata, “whatever decision that comes out of the committee if I am the chairman, will be viewed through different types of lenses depending on the side of the divide the viewer stands.”

He however stated that he supports the probe in collaboration with NBA, urging the BOSAN leadership to appoint the most senior member of the committee in his stead.

It is recalled that BOSAN had at its meeting at the weekend appointed a 5-member committee to audit the 2018 and 2020 NBA Elections. 

Below is the full text of Gadzama’s letter:

Wednesday, 9th September, 2020

The Chairman,
Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN),
Lagos

Attention: Mr. Seyi Sowemimo, SAN
Secretary, BOSAN

Dear Sir,

NOTIFICATION OF INABILITY TO ACCEPT APPOINTMENT AS CHAIRMAN OF BOSAN COMMITTEE TO AUDIT NBA ELECTIONS

Let me begin by thanking BOSAN for considering me worthy to chair the BOSAN Committee to audit the 2018 and 2020 NBA elections in partnership with the NBA to ensure a flawless electoral system. I do not take the confidence reposed in me by this body for granted. It is an honour to be appointed as the Chairman of the committee for this very important task.

I commend and support the initiative to carry on this exercise by BOSAN. This is a welcome development which if properly executed, will be in the overall interest of the Bar and entire profession in the long run. It is expected that at the end of the proposed audit exercise in partnership with the NBA, helpful recommendations and practical solutions will be proffered by the Committee that will ultimately improve our electoral system as a professional association. Thus, I enjoin all well meaning members of the profession to support this move.

However, I am unable, at this time, to accept this appointment for the reasons set out hereunder.

Firstly, I contested for the position of the President of the NBA in 2016, the outcome of which I rejected as being marred with irregularities. Many members of the NBA, my supporters and I will want that election added to the list of the elections to be audited by this Committee in the interest of justice and fairness. I have my own complaints and reservations about the electoral system having contested for NBA President in 2016 which was the first to be conducted using the electronic voting system. Indeed, it will be desirable to expand the Committee’s scope of work to include audit of the 2016 NBA elections more so that I alleged that I actually scored 2,963 (Two Thousand, Nine Hundred and Sixty Three) votes while my opponent then scored 2,465 (Two Thousand, Four Hundred and Sixty Five) votes in that election. This is more so as no proper audit of 2018 and 2020 elections can be done without examination of the 2016 NBA elections. It will not appear feasible to members of the Association or even the Public that I can head such committee without being biased being a complainant myself. Obviously, doubts (whether genuine or not) may be raised about the Committee and its process if it continues with me as the Chairman.

Secondly, the NBA election of 2016 was included in the minutes of our meeting as part of the elections to be audited, but because I was made the Chairman of the audit committee, it was removed from the elections to be audited. This further supports my reason for declining as the 2016 election was removed because it was not right for me to audit it, having contested that election.

Thirdly, the new NBA executive led by Mr. Olumide Akpata has undertaken to audit these past elections which further lend credence to the decision of the BOSAN to partner with NBA in this audit.

Fourthly, I have already formally congratulated Mr. Olumide Akpata on his victory in the election and whatever decision that comes out of the committee if I am the chairman, will be viewed through different types of lenses depending on the side of the divide the viewer stands.

An arm of the twin pillars of natural justice which is nemo judex in causa sua, is certainly not favourable to me with respect to any issue relating to NBA elections’ investigation or audit being an interested party. In order to avoid the crop-up of the ugly issue of reasonable bias and casting of aspersions on the committee or the outcome of its audit, I have no choice but to respectfully decline.

It is on these bases that I decline my appointment but categorically state that I am in support of the Committee’s work and the Committee can commence its assignment with a replacement or the appointment of the most senior SAN amongst the members as the Chairman of the Committee. Indeed, I have my own story to tell and song to sing. I also want to give my recommendations on the way forward so that our future elections can be more transparent, as well as more credible; acceptable to both winners and losers. I will be glad to make a presentation to the BOSAN Committee and the one which was rightly set up by the NBA President, at the appropriate time if invited.

As stated earlier, I have already congratulated the President of the NBA on his election and my position on this issue is only borne out of genuine desire to see an NBA where the electoral process will be seen to be transparent and the election result will be acceptable by majority, if not all, of the members. I honestly believe that this move by BOSAN in partnership with the NBA is a step in the right direction as it will definitely crystallize into concrete resolutions which may be considered for incorporation into the NBA Constitution or future electoral guidelines.

I thank BOSAN for anticipated understanding in this regard. As usual, please accept the assurances of my highest regards.

Yours sincerely,

_____________________
Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN

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‘WHY WE ARE PROBING NBA ELECTIONS,’ BY BOSAN

* GADZAMA LEADS PROBE PANEL
* BOSAN THANKS ADESINA FOR NOT HEADING TO COURT

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) has given reasons why it has set up a five-member committee to review past Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections, saying it needed “detailed facts” to decide on the quality of the elections and the way forward.

In a communiqué on its September 5, 2020 virtual meeting made available to CITY LAWYER, the influential body of senior lawyers said that it “is determined to achieve the installation of a flawless electoral system for the NBA,” even as it stated that there is a “need not to take a decision on the said elections without the benefit of detailed facts based on proper investigation and the experience with previous elections.” The committee is to audit the NBA 2018 and 2020 Elections “in partnership with the Nigerian Bar Association.”

Members of the probe panel are former NBA presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN (Chairman); Mr. Osaro Eghobamien SAN; Chief Yomi Aliyu SAN; Prof. Offornze Amucheazi SAN and Mr. Ebun-olu Adegboruwa SAN.

Meanwhile, BOSAN has directed its committee on review of the proposed Legal Profession Regulatory Bill “to liaise with the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association and the Body of Benchers to harmonize all views and suggestions on the subject, in order to present a unified draft to the National Assembly, through the Nigerian Bar Association.”

CITY LAWYER had reported that the meeting was poised to take a decisive step on the draft bill especially due to controversies trailing planned amendment of the Legal Practitioners Bill.

Below is the full text of the communiqué”:

 

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