USORO, OBI-OKAFOR MOURN OLOWOKURE

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) and former NBA presidential candidate, Chief Arthur Obi-Okafor are among the Bar leaders who are mourning the sudden demise of veteran Bar activist and former Chairman of NBA Kaduna Branch, Mr. Olumuyiwa Olowokure.

Popularly known in Bar circles as “OO” in line with his initials, Olowokure was considered by many as a consummate Bar-man and a much-sought-after strategist especially in relation to Bar politics.

During the last NBA Elections, he pitched his tent with Obi-Okafor and was one of his ‘Returning Officers’ during the poll. In particular, he was known for his cerebral disposition and integrity, as his support for any particular candidate never wavered.

In a statement signed by NBA Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Edun, Usoro described Olowokure as “an active bar man who featured prominently in the activities of the Nigerian Bar Association as a former Chairman of NBA Kaduna branch and member of the National Executive Committee of the NBA for several years.”

On his part, Obi-Okafor described Olowokure as “an astute Bar man, a personal friend and confidant.” In his tribute titled “O. O. Olowokure’s Demise: A Good Man Bids Goodbye,” Obi-Okafor said that Olowokure “will be remembered as a detribalized and consummate Bar man with the midas touch.”

Below are the statements by the Bar leaders:

NBA MOURNS THE DEMISE OF QUINTESSENTIAL BAR MAN, OLUMUYIWA OLOWOKURE

Moments ago the sad news of the sudden demise of Olumuyiwa Olowokure Esq reached the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN and the National Officers. It was shocking and saddening.

Mr. Olowokure was an active bar man who featured prominently in the activities of the Nigerian Bar Association as a former Chairman of NBA Kaduna branch and member of the National Executive Committee of the NBA for several years. He was also the Kaduna State Co-Ordinator of Swift Count. Olumuyiwa Olowokure served the bar in many other capacities and made positive contributions to the development of the bar throughout his more than 3 decades of practice. He contested for the office of the General Secretary of the NBA in 2012.

On behalf of the National Officers, the NBA President condoles with members of the Nigerian Bar Association, particularly the leadership and members of NBA Kaduna branch and the family of our dearly loved colleague, over this very sad loss.

The NBA President prays that the almighty God will grant the family the fortitude and grace to bear this loss and grant our dear colleague a peaceful rest in the bossom of the Lord.

Kunle Edun
National Publicity Secretary, NBA

O.O. Olowokure’s Demise: A Good Man Bids Goodbye.

It is with a heavy heart and sense of great loss that I join family, friends and associates in mourning the untimely demise of a one time Chairman of the Kaduna branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumuyiwa O. Olowokure Esq, who passed on to eternal glory yesterday afternoon after a brief illness.

O.O. as he was fondly called was an astute Bar man, a personal friend and confidant. As the head of my Technical Team during the 2018 NBA elections, I found in him a loyal, dedicated, dependable and committed ally who committed his time, energy and resources into my project to lead our noble association.

O.O. will be remembered as a detribalized and consummate Bar man with the midas touch who during his tenure as Chairman of Kaduna branch of the NBA hosted one of the most successful conferences in the history of the association. He believed in excellence and brought same to bear in all he did.

His sudden exit leaves a great vacuum that will be difficult to be filled. O.O. was a good man and my sincere prayers is that the Almighty grant his family, friends colleagues and members of the Kaduna branch of NBA, the grace to pass through this dark hour and may the soul of the deceased find eternal rest in the bosom of the Almighty.
Adieu O.O. Olowokure Esq till we meet to part no more.

Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN).

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LAGOS BAR-BENCH RELATIONS: TIME FOR ALUTA?

In this article, PHILLIP NJETENEH, former Financial Secretary and Treasurer of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch goes down memory lane on the controversy surrounding relations between the Lagos State Judiciary and the branch

IS NBA LAGOS WIRED TO BE PERPETUALLY IN OPPOSITION IN LAGOS?

I am forced to ask this question due to recent developments which are recurrent decimal in our branch history.

At the last Branch meeting the Exco, learned seniors & members generally expressed their frustration at the cold shoulders given the Branch by the Lagos CJ over the offer to help and overtures of the Premier Branch over the recent destruction of courts & court facilities.

A few days ago the CJ of Lagos during the visit to the CJ by Exco of NBA Ikeja Branch the CJ warmly welcomed the Exco and openly refuted the allegation that he shunned NBA Lagos Branch or that he was having any grudge with NBA Lagos Branch.

Such frosty relationship between the Bar & Bench relationship (Premier Branch & the Bench in Lagos) is not new. During the winding down days of Bola Tinubu tenure as Governor the state govt gave out coaster buses to NBA Branches in Lagos State and the Premier Branch was effectively excluded from that largesse.

During the tenure of Fashola (a lawyer & a branch member) half hearted efforts were made at correcting this but it yielded no result. I say ‘half hearted’ because I recall as the Branch Fin Sec under the Chairmanship of Milord Taiwo Taiwo I was among the few vocal ones insisting we give this matter a more serious push than we gave it then & what we got was the result if our half hearted effort – no bus.

During the tenure of Mr. Okoli SAN the Branch was denied use of the Foyer for our meetings which gave rise to further denials. That same period the Branch was ejected from the small office space it occupied at the Court of Appeal Lagos Division.

It’s on record today that Lagos Judiciary gave a piece of land to NBA Ikeja Branch to build its Bar Center & I equally recall that when Ikeja Branch were about to commence work on the building project the then Lagos CJ gave NBA Ikeja Branch N10,000,000 (that’s the highest amount Lagos CJ has given any Branch that I know of).

If at all, Ikeja Branch either as a Branch or it’s officers have given Lagos State Judiciary or past CJs more headache than NBA Lagos Branch will ever give it, yet we suffer more from the actions and inactions of various CJs of Lagos.

Again, the Premier Branch has been more docile about the actions & inactions of the Lagos CJs than Ikeja Branch with Lagos choosing to engage or dialogue which often enough leads to nowhere. Take for instance the last increase in fees by the Lagos Judiciary. Our Branch chose to engage and at the end of the day while we were waiting for engagement the increase had taken effect. We all know what happened in Osun State under similar circumstances.

We have been enjoying the Big Boys status and it’s time we ask ourselves ‘is this big boy status hurting our profession/practice or promoting it’?

Yes we host the grandest dinners, we host the loudest parties, we engage rather than ruffling feathers, we call the shots but how has this helped us in the long run?

Are we better off?

Could we be better off?

Should we do things differently?

It calls for deeper reflections.

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the blog. 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.

‘I HAVE NO GROUSE WITH NBA LAGOS’ – JUSTICE ALOGBA

  • CJ TO HOST LAGOS BRANCH SOON

The Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba has said that his relationship with the Bar is cordial. Justice Alogba disclosed this yesterday during a courtesy visit by the newly elected Executive Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch led by its Chairman, Mr. Bartholomew Aguegbodo.

An unimpeachable source who attended the meeting told CITY LAWYER that though the chief judge stated that he had read the report on alleged frosty relations between him and NBA Lagos Branch, he initially declined to speak on the matter, saying that the judiciary does not respond to social media reports.

Our source said that the chief judge was however persuaded to respond to the allegation by former NBA Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani who emphasized the significant role of social media as a contemporary source of information, adding that the CITY LAWYER blog is credible and reliable.

Turning to the allegation, Justice Alogba flatly debunked any frosty relations with NBA Lagos Branch, saying that he is merely a hostage to his tight schedule. Noting that he is always shuttling between Lagos and Abuja to attend to official matters and summons, the respected jurist stated that there is no deliberate plot to shut out the Lagos Bar.

According to our source, Justice Alogba emphasized that there is no reason for frosty relations between him and the Bar, given that both the Bar and Bench are working towards speedy and effective justice delivery. Justice Alogba noted that since the Bar and the Bench are working towards a common goal, it is expedient for them to ensure a conflict-free relationship in the interest of the masses.

He used the courtesy visit to pledge more support for Ikeja branch. While asking the branch to remain focused, Alogba admonished lawyers to work towards salvaging the image of the profession.

He noted that since misunderstanding is inevitable in every organisation, NBA inclusive, it is honourable for the association to be professional and mature in handling any internal misunderstanding whenever such occurs in order to save the profession.

Speaking on the enormous amount of records lost at the Igbosere High Court during the ENDSARS crisis, the Chief Judge informed members of the Bar of the several efforts by the Judiciary in securing temporary court premises.

He appealed to lawyers to plead with their clients with pending cases to exercise patience until the commencement or the completion of the temporary sites, adding that criminal cases are given priority due to the current coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that the chief judge may soon meet with the leadership of the Lagos Branch. A source who is familiar with the impending meeting told CITY LAWYER that plans are at an advanced stage for a courtesy visit by the Lagos Bar.

It is recalled that CITY LAWYER had in a report stated that there were anxieties within legal circles on the alleged frosty relations between the chief judge and NBA Lagos Branch. This was a major issue on the agenda during the last monthly meeting of the branch. The current leadership of the branch will bow out on June 30, 2021.

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LIFE BENCHER, SENATOR ONYEABO OBI IS DEAD

Life Bencher and leading lawyer, Senator Onyeabo Chukwunedum Obi is dead. Senator Obi died yesterday. He was aged 82 years.

Announcing his passage on a social media platform, his younger brother and Bar Leader, Mr. Zik Obi II said: “Good morning All, Pending a formal announcement from the family later today, I wish to personally inform members of Otu Oka Iwu that my eldest brother and past President of Otu Oka Iwu and Bencher, Senator Onyeabo Obi, Os’oji Nnewi, passed on to greater glory yesterday at the age of 82 years. We are grateful to God for his life.

“Kindly note that due to the current COVID-19 safety protocols, physical condolence visits are not necessary or encouraged. Thank you so much.

“Best regards. Zik Obi.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the respected jurist was said to have attended the last Ofala Festival of His Royal Highness, Igwe Kenneth Orizu III of Nnewi on December 28, 2020. Before then, he chaired the virtual birthday celebration of his then protege and former Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief George Uwechue SAN.

In one of the early reactions on his passing, veteran politician and lawyer, Chief Guy Ikokwu said:”This is shocking as I had the last meeting with him at our Enugu Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide Imeobi meeting and took pictures with him and Nwodo jnr our PG Ohanaeze Ndigbo and wished he will show up at Owerri meeting of 9th January. What a pity. Terrible as we had a heart to heart chat. May he rest in perfect peace.”

Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, Mr. Okey Ilofulunwa wrote: “Ugwunnia, please do accept my deepest condolences on the death of Senator Onyeabo Obi. He was a quintessential gentleman and a bar man through and through. My last interaction with him was on December 10, 2020 during a webinar on International human rights day which I hosted and moderated. He was in the element and participated actively at the event and made incisive contributions. Your family will miss him but the legal community will miss him greatly. I join in praying for the repose of his soul.”

Leading human rights lawyer, Chief Frank Agbedo said: “Not again, lord! Os’oji Nnewi only recently chaired the birthday colloquium in honor of Chief Uwechue SAN, and was his full witty and cerebral self, as usual. Lord, please shut the door against this morbid breeze depleting our most cherished stock. No doubt Chief Onyeabor Obi was a great man of style, culture and the law, and departs this sinful world to a better place. We mourn, even as we celebrate a great life well lived for the greater good of mankind.”

BRIEF PROFILE

LLB, BL, lawyer, politician, born November 20,1938; married Evelyn Nnenna Obioha 1967, two sons, three daughters; Education: St Cyprian’s School, Port Harcourt, 1943-50, Hope Waddell Training Institution, Calabar, 1951-55, North-Western Polytechnic, London, 1958-59, London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London, 1959-62, called to the English Bar at Gray’s Inn, 1961; Legal Adviser to the Military Governor of Eastern Nigeria, January- September 1966; in Private Legal Practice, since 1963; Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Anambra West Senatorial, District, 1979-83 and Secretary, NPP Senate Caucus; Vice-Chairman, Arbitration Committee, International Bar Association, 1986-88, Nigerian member, Panel of Conciliators, International Centre for Settlement of lnvestatent Disputes, Washington DC, USA, since 1987; Political Party: member, banned Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP), 1979-83; Hobby: lawn tennis; Official Address: c/o Onyeabo Obi and Company (Barristers, Solicitors and Notaries Public), Western House, 8/10, Broad Street (13th Floor), P.O. Box 4040, Lagos; Telephone: 01-634604, 630843 (SOURCE: “Blerf’s Who is Who in Nigeria”)

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ANXIETY OVER FROSTY BAR-BENCH TIES IN LAGOS

There are strong indications that relations between the Bar and Bench in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, may have taken a nose-dive.

CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report that this state of affairs is causing serious anxiety within Lagos Bar circles, and was a major topic at yesterday’s monthly meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch.

In particular, there is a seeming frosty relationship between the branch and the leadership of the Bench in the state. CITY LAWYER reliably gathered that several efforts by the branch leadership to pay a courtesy visit to the Lagos State Chief Judge, Hon. Justice Kazeem Alogba have so far proved abortive. In fact, there are strong indications that letters to this effect received no response till date. It was unclear at press time whether the Chief Judge is aware of the requests.

CITY LAWYER gathered that similar efforts by the branch Judiciary Relations Committee led by the respected former NBA presidential candidate, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN to broker a visit have also met a brick wall. There are indications that though the committee developed protocols to assist the judiciary in the aftermath of the #ENDSARS protests, its inability to meet with the Chief Judge truncated plans to convey the protocols to the state judiciary.

In fact, the branch had at its October 26, 2020 meeting resolved as follows: “That the Judicial Relations Committee of the Branch (“the Committee”) should communicate with the President of the Court of Appeal, the Presiding Justice of the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal and the Chief Judge of Lagos State to commiserate with them on these events and seek audience with them to discuss short and long term measures that can be put in place to address the challenges presented to the administration of justice as a result of these unfortunate occurrences at the premises of the courts.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that an atmosphere of despair has enveloped the branch which is by far the largest NBA branch, even as there are concerns in legal circles that the inability of the Bar and Bench to collaborate may hamper justice delivery in Nigeria’s most populous city.

The situation is apparently giving the branch leadership and the Judiciary Relations Committee grey hairs, as CITY LAWYER reliably gathered that they are now soliciting help from all quarters to enable the branch interface with the Chief Judge to convey lawyers’ concerns and challenges to the respected jurist.

Efforts by CITY LAWYER to speak with Mrs. Ololade Ige, the Public Affairs Officer for Lagos State Judiciary, have so far proved abortive.

It is however recalled that last July the Chief Judge was Chairman of the Branch virtual conference on “COVID-19, Access to Justice and Human Rights Violations” where he had relentless exchanges with fiery human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana SAN. CITY LAWYER also gathered that the no-nonsense jurist had hosted the Ikeja Branch of the Bar.

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LAGOS LAND GRAB: ‘MY LIFE IN DANGER,’ CRIES EX NBA VP

• ASKS GOV. SANWO-OLU TO INTERVENE
• ACCUSES LAGOS AGENCIES OF AIDING LAND GRABBERS

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has expressed concern over his safety following attempts by alleged land grabbers to take-over his client’s property.

In an SOS to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the fiery human rights activist alleged that there are frenzied attempts by some land grabbers to use Lagos State Government agencies to take over the property, urging Sanwo-Olu to intervene in the matter.

He said in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER that one “Engr. Ariori,” an alleged land grabber, boasted that “they” not only “installed” the present government in Lagos State, but that they “killed a popular doctor that stood (in) their way” concerning an adjoining land.

Said Ubani: “At the police station Engr Ariori boasted to me how powerful he is and how they installed this present government and will use them to take over that land from me. He even implicated himself while talking to me at the Police Station how they killed a popular doctor that stood their way over the opposite land in the estate. I do not know whether he was serious about this claim or he was trying to use that to scare me. I have petitioned Area F over threat to my life after that story.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

UPDATE ON THE LAND GRABBING EPISODE BY LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ON NO 1 FOLURUNSHO KUKU STREET, OFF OPEBI VILLAGE.

On the 31st of December, 2020 I raised alarm and sought the help of Nigerians to reach His Excellency Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu over an unbridled attempt by the agencies of Lagos State Government to disposses a private citizen of his land he acquired legitimately and had been in possession for over 20 years with a certificate of occupancy of about 31 years. My Nigerian brothers and sisters, especially those of my friends who are close to the governor reached out to him with my pathetic cry for help. Dutifully and as a listening governor, His Excellency immediately ordered many of his aides especially the Commissioners to investigate the story including the wanton destruction of a place popularly called ‘Monkey Village’ which is close to the land in question.

Some of these aides some of who I know personally and have relationship with, have reached out to me and I have supplied some information and promised to give fuller details of the land matter in question upon resumption from my short holiday I took outside the State.

Despite the fact that I have received very vital information from numerous sources of how and who instigated the operation, I decided to keep quiet until I see what the State Government is up to with this land in question. I know how lawless we can be in this part of this world but I also know that there is always a limitation to state of anomie in our country, especially over certain matters that are very clear, unambiguous and straightforward.

However the various Press Releases and denials by the various Ministries that were clearly implicated and involved in the land grabbing scandal is becoming provoking that I feel compelled to cry out once again as there clear ominous signs in place that there is a larger sinister motive by these State officials over this land grabbing episode which the governor of the State may not be aware of.

As at yesterday, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Environment have denied knowledge of the invasion, destruction and towing of the vehicles from the site to Alausa even when there is evidence that the “Notice to Remove” the vehicles was pasted by the Ministry of Transport and the said vehicles were towed to the Ministry of Transport Premises where the Mechanics who are legitimate tenants on the premises were asked to pay some amount of money before they can secure the release of their vehicles. So if Ministry of Transport is claiming not to have knowledge of the invasion, destruction of the site and towing of the vans to Alausa, the question will be what are the towed vehicles doing on their premises in Alausa? Who towed them there?

Today I read the Press Release of the Ministry of Physical Planning owning up to the invasion, destruction of the fences and structures on site and taking over of the property in question. They made several claims among which is that they acted on an approval by the Ministry of Justice of a faceless and nameless petition written to Special Task Force on Land Grabbers in Lagos State.

Secondly, they alleged clearing the site of shanties used for criminal activities and of mechanics who are constituting a nuisance to the neighbourhood. The site in question is completely fenced with a high gate. No one can see the mechanics(tenants) from outside unless, the gate is opened for you. No alleged criminals are harboured in an environment that is completely fenced off and have legitimate tenants that are known to the land owner.

They also allege breach of planning laws. The decent question will be which planning laws was breached? Assuming but not conceding that there is alleged breach, where is the Notice of any breach of the alleged planning laws by the owner of the property from the Ministry of Physical Planning before now? Are they saying that the “Notice to Remove” cars within 48 hours issued by Ministry of Transport has now become the Notice of breach of Planning laws of the State warranting invasion and taking over of a private property by them?

The second critical question will be which petition was written to the Special TaskForce on Land Grabbers and who were the writers of the petition? Could the writers be the same persons who invaded the same land few months ago and were sued with an injunction, and who up till now have refused to respond to the legal suit? Can we be availed of the petition and approval by the Ministry of Justice to take over a private land by the said Special Task Force on Land Grabbers?

Further and better question will be whether someone who has a certificate of occupancy over his land with effective occupation including payment of Land Charges up to date can be termed a Land Grabber of his own property in LAGOS STATE?

As at the evening of the invasion and destruction of the structures including the fences on the property on the 31st of December, 2020, the information at my disposal which I have even confirmed from Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers Unit in the Ministry of Justice is that they are the ones that led the operation to the land as a result of a complaint by the persons who purportedly obtained the Supreme Court judgement. The “beneficiaries” of the judgement were said to have alleged that they have executed the said judgement many years ago but that some people have repossessed the land and so they came to enforce the judgemrnt on their behalf.

It is confirmed to me that when the governor demanded explanation about the invasion, he was told by a high ranking officer of the Ministry of Justice that it was an enforcement of judgement that was carried out by the Ministry of Justice on behalf of the beneficiaries. At least the Press Release of Ministry of Physical Planning has further corroborated this fact.

What compounds all these stories and denials that are being spewed here and there is the questionable role of one Engr Omotosho who allegedly led the Government Officials to the site for the operation. Who is Engr Omotosho? Is he in which Ministry presently? Is he in the Ministry of Physical Planning or Ministry of Justice that have owned up being the Ministries that engaged in this illegal invasion and locking up a private property that has a certificate of occupancy given by the same Lagos State Government? He was alleged to be the one that led the operation of 31st December, 2020. Who is him in all this plans to take over this property?

Why these questions are germane is because a lawyer who was representing the family at the police station when the family first invaded the land some months ago sent me a text this evening informing me that the family has terminated the contract of one Engr Abiodun Ariori whom they contracted to help grab the land from my client at that time. The said Engr Ariori whom I sued along with others, according to him is no longer acting for the family.

My conjecture from this information is that they have contracted this Engr Omotosho who perhaps is more “powerful” and more “connected” to be their consultant for the “recovery of the land” . The intimidating and frightening mobilisation of men and materials for the destruction of the site and its environs can only be the work of a very “powerful”, “fearless”, “tough”, “intimidating consultant and contractor” who are part of the people that own and determine what happens and who can own anything in Lagos State!

PLEASE KEEP THESE FACTS IN PERSPECTIVES.

1. The Land has a certificate of occupancy of over 30 years. The owner of the property has fenced the property round with gate and has been in effective occupation with tenants, tenancy agreement of over 20 years and evidence of payment of Land Use Charge up to date.

2. Some land grabbers led by one Engr Abiodun Ariori led the invasion of the land some months ago and he is not a member of the family but hired by the family because they know his antecedent in “this business”, and they claimed they have a supreme Court judgement which was delivered over 25 years ago.

3. They refused to use court bailiffs to enforce the said judgement but illegal mopol and thugs and now Special TaskForce on Land Grabbers after many years of having obtained the said supreme Court judgement.

4. At the Police station, they tendered warrant of possession that showed an address different from the present land in dispute. They also tendered several survey plans different from the one used in the case at the High Court.

5. When I sued them at the High Court to come and prove the validity of the supreme Court judgement with regards to the land in question, they declined appearance and defence up till date.

6. The High at Court Ikeja granted an injunction against them and they were served, yet they refused to respond or file any response till date.

7. At the police station Engr Ariori boasted to me how powerful he is and how they installed this present government and will use them to take over that land from me. He even implicated himself while talking to me at the Police Station how they killed a popular doctor that stood their way over the opposite land in the estate. I do not know whether he was serious about this claim or he was trying to use that to scare me. I have petitioned Area F over threat to my life after that story.

In one meeting before the police, Mr Ariori even said that my client was dead but was reprimanded by the officer from the IG Monitoring Unit whom they brought from Abuja to come and meddle into the land matter. Those ones withdrew from the matter when they discovered their inconsistencies and moreover the matter was already in court.

8. Worthy of note is the desperation of this group of people when they invaded the land by bringing surveyors from God knows where to come and start re-surveying the land. It was shocking because this is the land they said they had judgement on. Why re-survey a land you purportedly have judgement on? That to me was the turning point in my belief that these men are just unfortunate land grabbers using raw power to take by force what does not belong them.

9. Despite the court injunction, they did not stop parading the land regularly and threatening the tenants therein that they should remove their cars as they will start work on the property very soon on the property. I have a video of when they first invaded the land and had started to commence building until I was able to stop them using the police and the law court.

10. Before this invasion, destruction and locking up of a private property with an inscription on the wall that it is in respect of an unknown judgement, Ministry of Transport pasted a “notice of removal” of vehicles on the site within 48 hours. I raised an alarm and called on the Commissioner of Transport who denied knowledge of the Notice. Their press release still say so, however I have stated it earlier that the vehicles at the site were towed to Ministry of Transport Premises at Alausa with an instruction to the mechanics from the said Ministry officials to collect their vehicles on payment of fees.

11. Special TaskForce Unit in the Ministry of Justice signed a document which was sent to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State that the Unit was the one involved in the operation of the 31st of December 2020 in enforcement of judgement of the said Supreme court.

12. The police that I sent to the site on the day in question interviewed the people demolishing structures on the land and taking over possession, and they informed the police that they are from the Enforcement Unit in the Governor’s office. I have the video of the confirmation of where they said they came from.

13. The Ministry of Physical Planning is now claiming to be the Ministry that carried out the invasion, demolition and towing of the vans that were on the site on the grounds of approval from the Ministry of Justice and breach of an unknown planning laws without any prior notice of such breach to the owner.

14. Presently Area Boys and thugs have taken over site and some hanging around the site smoking dangerous weeds day and night, keeping vigil on the property with intention to have commenced building on the site the following day after the invasion but for my cry and shout that got the godly attention of His Excellency Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu who i believe will give me a listening ear over this matter that his officials want to use to embarrass him and the Centre of Excellence.

MY PRAYERS:

1. That His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State should not allow these desperate land grabbers to start any work on that site as that will mean that “might is right”. Our clients who have been in possession were chased out of the premises and the place taken over with an inscription that this is in respect of a judgemrnt of a court even though the Ministry of Physical Planning is claiming some other things in addition and to the contrary.

2. That the matter is presently in court and as a State that respects rule of law, we have a court injunction to which the defendants have not responded to up till now. Possession of a property is 9/10 of the law. No contrary court order has asked our client to be driven out of possession of the property in question. Justice must not only be done but be seen to have been done in this matter.

3.Since the State Government has asked his aides(Commissioners) to investigate this case and report back to him, I request that I should be given an opportunity to present my case in an unbiased atmosphere in order to hear me out concerning what is playing out in this case.

It is a pathetic case that the Lagos State Government should not have been involved in the first place.

LAST LINE:

1. Those governing us and presiding over state agencies should have this at the back of their minds that power is TRANSIENT AND EHPEMERAL; THAT NOTHING LASTS FOR EVER.

2. I have absolute faith in the government of His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to resolve this matter in favour of JUSTICE, NO MATTER THE PRESSURE/S FROM ANY QUARTER THAT BELIEVE THAT THEY OWN LAGOS AND BY EXTENSION THIS WORLD.
Our client should be restored back to his property after the truth is established that we are in lawful occupation before the unlawful invasion and ejection.

“CONSCIENCE IS AN OPEN WOUND, ONLY TRUTH HEALS IT”.

Mr M.O. Ubani Esq,
Legal Practitioner
4th of January, 2021.
ubangwa@gmail.com.

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VARSITY APPOINTS ANANABA PROFESSOR OF LAW

Leading lawyer and Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN has been appointed Professor of Law by Clifford University.

Founded in 2013, Clifford University, Owerrinta is a newly chartered institution by the Federal Ministry of Education of Nigeria following the recommendation of the National Universities Commission (NUC). It is one of the 144 tertiary institutions owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide.

Prof. Ananaba is a member of the Governing Council and Legal Adviser of Babcock University and Clifford University. He has served as an adjunct Professor at Adventist University of Africa, Kenya and Legal Adviser for Institute of Industrial Security and Safety of Nigeria.

He is a member and Fellow of several professional institutes and associations. A much sought after public speaker, Ananaba has written several books and articles. Prof. Ananaba is a draughtsman, mediator and arbitrator with over 27 years of experience in the legal profession.

He graduated from then Imo State University, Okigwe in 1990 and was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1991. In 2003 he received a Master of Laws degree in Legislative Drafting from the Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Law from Babcock University, Ilishan Remo in 2016.

An Associate Member of the Nigeria Institute of Management (NIM), Prof. Ananaba is also a member of the Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria (MAAN). He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration CIARB (UK) and a Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (NiCArb). A Notary Public for Nigeria, Ananaba is registered with Securities and Exchange Commission as a Capital Market Consultant. He was a Lecturer of Law at Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State and a visiting Lecturer/Facilitator at the Nigerian Institute of Management, Lagos.

He was a Member of the Students Representative Council, Abia State University, Uturu (1988-1989); Judge, NYSC Camp Court Wailo, Bauchi State (1992); Legal Advisor, West Central Africa Division, Seventh day Adventist Church (2016 till date); Member, Abia State Public Private Partnership Investment and Promotion Council (2017), and Member, National Executive Committee, Nigeria Bar Association (2017).

Prof. Ananaba has attended several national and international seminars and workshops as Guest Lecturer, Speaker and Facilitator. Among his several awards and recognitions are: Distinguished Award by Otu Oka Iwu (Law Society), 2014; Special Award by National Association of Polytechnic Students of Nigeria, 2015; Special Award by Nigeria Association of Adventist Lawyers, 2016; Abia State University Uturu Law Faculty Alumni Award, 2016 and Enyi Abia (The Elephant of Abia), 2018.

A ferocious litigator, Ananaba led Ukwa Ngwa lawyers in defence of former Senate President, Rt. Hon. Adolf Wabara in the suit for the position of Senate President. He also led Ukwa Ngwa lawyers pro bono in the suit at the Supreme Court against the excision of Osisioma Local Government Area from Abia South Senatorial Zone.

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NBA-SPIDEL ANNUAL CONFAB SET TO ELECTRIFY IBADAN

The ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo State will come alive on February 17 as lawyers and justice sector stakeholders descend on the city for the 2021 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) Annual Conference.

The conference will hold from February 17 to February 20, 2021 with the theme, “The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria.” Leading lawyers and political office holders are expected at the three-day conference.

The annual conference is coming on the heels of the popular 2019 edition which held in November 2019 in the commercial city of Aba, Abia State and relaunched SPIDEL as a leading NBA section.

Giving more insights on the conference, the Conference Planning Committee (CPC) Chairman, Mr. Monday Ubani and Secretary, Mr. Wole Jimi-Bada said in a statement: “Recall that the last conference of the Section took place in Aba, Abia State and was a tremendous success, as everyone that participated attested to the richness of the conference that was clinically executed by the Chairman of the Section, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN and the Conference Planning Committee headed by Mr. Chibuike Nwokeukwu SAN. Next year’s conference with the central theme of ‘The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria’ promises to be an earth-shaking event that will attract the crème de la crème of the noble profession and the political class in Nigeria.

“The three-day event has a load of sub-themes such as ‘Public interest and the respect of the rights of citizens to protest against certain policies of government,’ ‘The legality of Commission of Inquiry of the State Government over Police Brutality,’ ‘Enforcement of Judgement’ and ‘Locus standi in the light of the recent Supreme Court case of Centre for Oil Pollution Watch Vs NNPC’ among others.

“The event taking place in the ancient city of Ibadan in the South West promises to be an experience every lawyer whose interest is geared towards serving the cause of the masses will treasure for a long time. The various speakers that will be Resource Persons for the Conference will include the best array of experts on public interest litigation, top political decision makers and the shakers and movers of the Nigerian economy.

“The Conference will be declared open by the hardworking Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency, Mr. Seyi Makinde who has in his cabinet two active members of the Bar that were recently elevated to the Inner Bar. These are the Chairman of the Local Conference Planning Committee, Mr. Abiola Olagunju SAN who also heads the Oyo State Independent Electoral Commission and Professor Oyelowo Oyewo SAN, the Oyo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice. They will be pivotal to the successful hosting of the Conference next year in Oyo State.

“The indomitable President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. Olumide Akpata; the Head of the Secretariat, Mrs. Joyce Oduah, and the entire National Officers, including the National Executive Committee of the Bar have expressed their support for the forthcoming conference that promises not to be forgotten in a hurry for a long to come in the annals of NBA.”

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EXCLUSIVE: CJN RETURNS FROM DUBAI, RESUMES DUTY

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad has returned to Nigeria after a brief trip to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

An unimpeachable source told CITY LAWYER that Justice Muhammad flew back to the country yesterday.

“There are strong indications that the CJN is currently at his duty post in the office as we speak,” the source told CITY LAWYER.

A member of the Supreme Court, Justice Ibrahim Saulawa had reportedly told the audience at the unveiling of the national headquarters of the Muslim Lawyers’ Association of Nigeria (MULAN) in Abuja that Justice Muhammad had tested positive for coronavirus and had been flown to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates for treatment.

Justice Muhammad was absent at the new legal year ceremony of the Supreme Court where he was scheduled to preside over the inauguration of 72 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria, leading to anxiety over his health status. The event was presided over by the next most senior Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour.

Justice Saulawa’s comment was supposed to have doused the anxiety but the Supreme Court’s Director of Information, Dr. Festus Akande described the COVID-19 report as a rumour, adding: “In furtherance to the press statement earlier issued, I wish to state categorically clear that there is no medical report so far made available by anybody indicating that the Hon. CJN has tested positive for Coronavirus.

“Those peddling the rumour should go a step further to confirm from their sources and equally obtain the copy of whatever laboratory test result they are relying on.

“As of this moment of issuing this statement, no one has so far shown me or any other person in Supreme Court a copy of the test result they are referring to in the report.”

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NIN: UBANI SUES FG, ASKS COURT TO HALT DEADLINE

Fiery human rights activist and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has dragged the Federal Government to court over its directive to telecom networks to block all SIM cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers (NIN)

According to the court papers made available to CITY LAWYER and filed at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Ubani is seeking an order of the court “halting the said two weeks ultimatum given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to telecommunication operators to block all SIM Cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers (NIN).”

He is also praying the court to direct the respondents to “extend the deadline for the registration of SIM Cards with NIN for at least 1 year or to such period of time as the court may consider reasonable for the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to be able to register their SIM Cards safely without any rush that might result to avoidable loss of lives and injuries.”

Aside from the Federal Government of Nigeria, other respondents are the Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Communications Commission and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

The suit is brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 made by the Chief Justice of Nigeria pursuant to section 46(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

Ubani is also praying the court for “A DECLARATION that the two weeks (16th December, 2020 to 30th December, 2020) ultimatum given to telecommunications operators by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards that are not registered with National Identity Number (NIN), is grossly inadequate and will not only work severe hardship, but will likely infringe on the fundamental rights of the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to freedom of expression as guaranteed by section 39(1)(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as violate section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which prohibits the compulsory acquisition of right or interest over moveable property.”

The vocal public commentator is equally praying for a “DECLARATION that in view of the covid-19 pandemic and the rising cases in Nigeria presently, the two weeks deadline given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to the Applicant and over 200 million Nigerians to register their SIM Cards with NIN, will lead to a rush, thereby resulting to clustering of the Applicant and other Nigerian citizens in a NIN registration centre, subjecting him to the possibility of easily contracting the covid-19 virus, and such will amount to a violation of his fundamental right to life as protected by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

Among the grounds for the suit are:

“That the Applicant is a lawyer, activist and social commentator on national issues. He uses his MTN SIM Card for business communication, social communication and interaction with other Nigerians through phone and online through the social media. Like millions of other Nigerians, the Applicant’s SIM Card enables him to exercise his fundamental right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Section 39(1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, and blocking the Applicant’s SIM Card will violate his fundamental right over his SIM Card (moveable property) as guaranteed under section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

“That the short period of two weeks given for the Applicant and millions of other Nigerians to register their SIM cards with NIN (failing which their SIM cards will be blocked) is unreasonably too short and impracticable in view of the large population of Nigerians and the slow rate of registration by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

“That the two weeks deadline will lead to a rush and clustering of the Applicant and other Nigerians in registration centre thereby subjecting him to possibility of Stamped and contracting COVID-19 virus, which will endanger his right to life as guaranteed by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

In a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed by Ubani in support of the suit, he stated as follows:

“That I am a Nigerian citizen who uses MTN (one of the telecommunication operators) Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card for all my business communication and social interactions, including surfing the net, sending and receiving emails, attending online zoom meetings and conferences, and interact with family, friends and fellow Nigerians on all social media platforms.

“That like so many other Nigerians, I have till date not gotten my NIN despite several attempts as there are few NIN registration centres available, and most times the registration officials would complain of either network problem or lack of power supply to enable them function effectively.

“That the two weeks ultimatum given by the defendants for the telecommunication operators to block the SIM of all Subscribers (including myself) who have not registered their SIM with NIN is grossly inadequate, and will not only create unnecessary panic and inconveniences but will also cause severe hardship and suffering to me and millions of Nigerians who like me have not been able to get our NIN due to no fault of ours.

“That the Respondents’ directive to telecommunications operators to block the SIM of every person who has not registered their SIM with NIN after 30th December, 2020, is not a well thought out decision as same is too sudden, and will cut me and millions of Nigerians off from communication, and deny me the use of my SIM card which is my personal property, thereby infringing on my right to freedom of expression, and my entitlement to own a medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinion, as guaranteed by sections 39(1)(2), and 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“That the 1st Respondent who has been fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria since March 2020, and who has been advocating and enforcing social distancing did not avert her mind, when she and her agencies were taking such a decision, to the fact that COVID-19 is still present in Nigeria and cases of infected persons have been rising in recent time.

“That many prominent Nigerians have lost their precious lives as a result of not observing the social distancing, and other measures laid down by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to avoid contracting COVID-19.

“That the resolution/decision of the Respondents to the effect that December30, 2020 (two weeks) is the deadline for over 180 million Nigerians to register their SIM with NIN is reckless, inconsiderate and insensitive in view of the present reality in the country.

“That the Respondents before arriving at such resolution did not check to confirm the statistics of Nigerians that do not have NIN, which if they did, their resolution would have been different.

“That no doubt, trying to meet up with the said deadline will put me and millions of Nigerians in untold pressure, and same will lead to a rush and result to non observance of social distancing measures, consequent upon which contracting the COVID-19 virus will be inevitable, thereby endangering my right life and that of other Nigerians, which is guaranteed by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“That it will be proper and reasonable for the Respondent to extend the deadline to at least 1 year, and within that period of extension make deliberate and conscious efforts towards properly sensitizing Nigerians, and putting in place massive registration outlets in every ward of the Federation with good working facilities to ensure that easy access to registration is made possible.

“That trying to enforce this policy in a period where I, as well as most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stamped in the process of rushing to get registered, which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries, thereby violating section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That if the Court does not halt or order the Respondents to urgently halt their plans, this directive may result to unnecessary panic in the country which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerians, thereby causing more pain in an already pathetic situation.

“That I am aware that millions of other Nigerians are also uncomfortable, worried and complaining about the gross inadequacy of the two weeks ultimatum given by the Respondents to telecommunication operators to block all SIM not registered with NIN. As a matter of fact, the House of Representatives (that represent the people of Nigeria) has asked the 1st Respondent to extend the deadline for the provision of National Identification Number (NIN) by telecommunication service subscribers, describing the two weeks given to SIM card users by the 3rd Respondent to provide their NIN to service providers as grossly inadequate. This was reported by the Punchng.com, published on December 16, 2020. The said online report by Punch newspaper is attached herewith and marked Exhibit MOU2.”

According to CITY LAWYER sources, no date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

BREAKING: BODY OF BENCHERS OKAYS NOUN GRADUATES FOR LAW SCHOOL

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Nigeria’s Body of Benchers has approved admission of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) graduates into the Nigerian Law School, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

The decision by the apex regulator of the legal profession in Nigeria was taken at its meeting held today.

There has been a cat-and-mouse tussle between the Benchers and the NOUN graduates, as the body had insisted that NOUN graduates did not meet the requirements for admission to the Law School.

Before now, all pleas to the Body of Benchers to resolve the impasse met a brickwall until today’s breakthrough.

More details shortly.