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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ELECTIONS: UBANI URGES AFRICAN COUNTRIES TO DEPLOY TECHNOLOGY

The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr. Monday Ubani has urged African countries to deploy technology in order to enable the populace to elect quality leaders that will turn around its fortunes.

Ubani spoke while presenting a paper as a Panelist at the ongoing African Bar Association (AfBA) Conference in Lilongwe, Malawi.

The session, which was chaired by Dr. Samson Osagie, former Minority Whip in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, had its theme as “Good Governance: Firming up the pillars of Good Governance in Africa – Building strong institutions as a critical factor.”

The NBA-SPIDEL helmsman stated that for the African continent to throw up the kind of leadership that will resolve its myriad of challenges, “the electoral system must be re-engineered and sanitized through reduction of human interference in the process. What that means is that technology should replace the human interface in certain critical areas of our electoral system.”

He gave example of Nigeria’s new Electoral Act 2022 which identified accreditation and collation as areas where destructive disruption occurs, saying that “The new Act has deployed technology in those critical areas and the consequence is that Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) and transmission of results from the polling units to INEC server are now part of the substantive law and Electoral Guidelines in the country.”

Ubani pointed out that Nigeria has utilized the new Electoral Act in two recent elections at the State level “with positive effect,” adding that “It is almost a hundred per cent reflection of the mandate of the majority in favour of those who were elected.”

He observed that the new Act “has rekindled peoples’ interest in the electoral process and eliminated voter apathy that has been the bane Nigeria’s democratic experience,” noting that deployment of technology in the electoral systems in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Malawi and Kenya “has led to opposition parties securing victory at the polls, a practice that was hitherto a taboo on the continent.”

The top Bar Leader urged African countries to sustain full deployment of technology in all aspects of the electoral process including registration, accreditation, voting, collation and announcement of results, adding that the teething problems associated with such deployment “will be overcome through effective governance.”

According to the leading human rights lawyer, “The African continent has every reason to push for the deployment of technology in the electoral process for therein lies our salvation for the enthronement of the kind of leadership that Africa requires to drive the continent to development and progress.

“It is my extrapolation and I hope we all shall buy into this, and go back home with this idea that our policy makers, lawmakers, and the executives must agree to the wholesome application of technology in our electoral process.”

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‘OGAGA GAVE HIS ALL TO THE BAR,’ SAYS NBA

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has mourned the death of the Secretary of its Welfare Committee, Mr. Ogaga Emoghwanre who died yesterday in Warri, Delta State.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the association described the deceased as “an amiable fellow and a consummate Bar man who gave his all to the Bar and the legal profession.”

Signed by the NBA Publicity Secretary, Dr. Rapulu Nduka, the statement added that “The news of his death has been devastating not only for the leadership and members of the NBA, but also for his wife, three kids and other family members whom he left behind.”

The NBA stated that it is liaising with his family regarding his funeral plans, adding that it “will keep our members apprised of developments. In the interim, we urge our members to pray for the repose his soul and allow members of his family time to gradually heal from this irreparable loss.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

THE NBA MOURNS THE TRAGIC LOSS OF MR. OGAGA EMOGHWANRE

Dear Colleagues,

As many of you may be aware, yesterday, the 10th of August 2022, we lost one of our members – Mr. Ogaga Emoghwanre – to the cold hands of death.

Until his demise, Ogaga was a member of the Benin Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) who served the NBA at different levels and in various capacities including most recently as a member of the National Executive Council, the Secretary of the NBA Welfare Committee and as a Special Assistant to the NBA President. More importantly, he was a friend and worthy colleague to many of us.

Many who came across or had any dealings with Ogaga would attest that he was an amiable fellow and a consummate Bar man who gave his all to the Bar and the legal profession. The news of his death has been devastating not only for the leadership and members of the NBA, but also for his wife, three kids and other family members whom he left behind.

The NBA is currently liaising with his family regarding his funeral plans and will keep our members apprised of developments. In the interim, we urge our members to pray for the repose his soul and allow members of his family time to gradually heal from this irreparable loss.

May the soul of our dear friend and colleague, Ogaga Emoghwanre rest in perfect peace.

Dr. Rapulu Nduka
Publicity Secretary,
Nigerian Bar Association

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TCCP SET TO HOLD GROUND-BREAKING NBA-AGC

Preparations are in top gear for the 62nd Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference (NBAAGC) themed “Bold Transitions”. In a matter of days, lawyers from all corners of Nigeria will converge on the audacious Eko Atlantic City in Lagos for the annual conference that has over the years been known to be the largest gathering of lawyers anywhere in the world.

As the August 19th date for the commencement of the conference draws close, and with the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) having unveiled the various conference activities, indications are emerging that the Olumide Akpata-led NBA administration is on course to deliver a legacy conference that sets a standard that will become a benchmark for subsequent NBA conferences.

Tobenna Erojikwe, the TCCP Chairman, had earlier said the core objective of the NBAAGC 2022 is “to host a world-class conference, with in-depth discourse on critical issues affecting the legal profession and the country, facilitated by the most eminently qualified resource persons able to galvanize all conference attendees towards the path of becoming better legal practitioners and experts in their chosen fields; shape public opinion on critical issues; and inspire lawyers to build the law firms of the future”.

So far, the activities lined up for the 2022 Annual General Conference are generating a high level of interest and enthusiasm among lawyers. One exciting event for many lawyers who have registered for the conference is the Presidential Candidates’ session, where the candidates of the major political parties in the 2023 presidential elections are expected to speak on “Democratic Transitions in 21st Century Nigeria: 2023 and Beyond”. Already, the TCCP has confirmed that two of the four leading candidates, Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and Peter Obi of Labour Party (LP), have given their word that they would be present, while Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) are yet to confirm their availability.

Underscoring the importance of the Presidential Candidates’ plenary, a first in the history of the NBA AGC, the TCCP said it would present an opportunity to critically assess Nigeria’s democratic journey since 1999, identify key challenges which have perennially bedeviled the polity, and evaluate sustainable solutions to these challenges. The session will also aim at encouraging greater citizen participation in the governance of Nigeria with lawyers playing a leading role.

“With the poor state of our economy, mounting insecurity, comatose education system, decaying infrastructure, persistent inter-ethnic crises and general high cost of living, the 2023 elections may be a watershed moment for Nigeria. This session will provide a platform for the key presidential candidates in the 2023 elections to give insights on their respective roadmaps for addressing Nigeria’s key challenges and leading Nigeria’s next democratic transition,” Erojikwe said.

Many prospective participants are also looking forward to the Keynote Speech by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, Americanah, and several other works. The multiple award-winning author who has delivered two landmark TED talks – her 2009 TED Talk “The Danger of A Single Story” and her 2012 TEDx Euston Talk “We Should All Be Feminists” – will be speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference.

For some others, the attraction comes from the topics lined up for discussion at the sessions. These include, among others, “AfCFTA: Nigerian Lawyers’ Capacity to Service a Globalized Economy”; “Building a Respectable Bar: Issues Arising on the Regulation of the Legal Profession in Nigeria”; “The Fit for Purpose Lawyer: Reflections on the State of Legal Education in Nigeria”; “Legal Ethics and Etiquettes: Restoring the Dignity of the Legal Profession in Nigeria”; “Lawyers’ Earning Capacity: A Discussion on the NBA Remuneration Committee Report”; “Technology and the Law: Creating a Digital NBA”; and “Spotlight on Brutality, Abuse of Office and Harassment of Lawyers by Security Agencies”.

The Meta session, where Meta, owners of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, will lead the conversation on the topic “Towards an Effective Privacy and Data Protection Regime: The Role of the Nigerian Lawyer”, is also another attraction. Of course, many see the Meta collaboration with NBA, for a conference themed “Bold Transitions”, as significant. Meta, one of the world’s most valuable companies which is considered among the Big Five American information technology companies, builds technologies that help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses. Its Facebook, launched in 2004, heralded a bold transition as it changed the way people connect, while apps like Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world.

NBA branches as well as football lovers are looking forward to the NBA-AGC Male and Female Football Competitions slated to hold between Thursday, 18th August and Tuesday, 23rd August 2022. The football competitions will see the winning team for both the male and female matches cart away a prize of not less than N500,000.

Among young lawyers, their excitement is built around the many activities lined up for them. For instance, there is the Young Lawyers’ Forum (Job Fair), where senior and vastly experienced legal professionals will provide insights and share their career experiences with young lawyers. The session, which is in tandem with a cardinal focus of the present NBA administration to improve the welfare, and career development, of young lawyers, will also identify diverse opportunities for young lawyers within the legal profession and explore practical tips and strategies for sustainable career growth and development.

But that is not all. There is the AGC Creative Talents Show, which seeks to support local talents among lawyers in Nigeria and give them a platform to showcase their talent at the forthcoming Annual General Conference. The AGC Creative Talents Show, with iLLBLISS, Nigerian rapper, businessman and owner of ‘The Goretti Company’, as its Creative Director, is seen as one capable of launching talented young lawyers into a successful career in the creative industry.

Young lawyers also have a chance to get a sponsored place at the AGC if they emerge victorious in a pitch contest where they are expected to express their understanding of the 2022 theme ‘Bold Transitions’ in a 250-word script accompanied with a video of their voicing these expressions.

But there are many other exciting sessions. The session on “Financing Your Practice and the NBA Access to Finance Scheme” will seek to create awareness and enlightenment on how the NBA Access to Finance Scheme, one of the most impactful initiatives and welfare agenda of the current NBA administration, operates and also provide practical tips and guidance to lawyers on managing their finances.

There is the Health and Wellbeing session, which will provide tips on how lawyers can achieve a decent work-life balance notwithstanding busy schedules and the demands of their jobs. The session will also examine habits which lawyers ought to inculcate and maintain to stay fit and healthy while on and off work, as well as provide useful tips and advice on how lawyers may deal with, or seek help for, depression and mental health challenges.

There is a session dedicated to lawyers with disabilities. This session will x-ray the peculiar challenges faced by lawyers with disabilities both in practice and as members of NBA, and proffer practical solutions towards achieving inclusiveness and equality.
And there is the attraction of the host city itself. Without a doubt, Lagos is the epicentre of Nigeria’s thriving technology sector, the country’s economic capital and the lifeblood of its civil society. But the attraction goes beyond Lagos itself. Eko Atlantic City, the venue of the conference, is a classic story of bold, innovative thinking. One of the world’s cutting-edge new cities, Eko Atlantic City stands on 10 million square metres of land reclaimed from the Atlantic Ocean and protected by the Great Wall of Lagos, an 8.5km-long sea wall constructed primarily of rock and faced with concrete accropode armour. The city, which is being developed to be self-sufficient and sustainable to meet the needs for financial, commercial, residential and tourist accommodations with infrastructure in line with modern and environmental standards, has been variously described as the new economic capital of Africa and Africa’s Manhattan, because it is planned to be the size of Manhattan’s skyscraper district.

To cushion the effect of rising cost, the TCCP went into an arrangement with NACO Logistics to ensure that delegates attending the 2022 NBA Annual General Conference get hotel accommodations at discounted rates.

With a few days to go, the TCCP, composed of a fine selection of some of the best minds within the NBA, is leaving no one in doubt that it is capable of meeting the target set for it by the present NBA administration – to organise a conference akin in quality of content and ambience to the World Economic Forum, the International Bar Association Conference and African Development Bank’s (AfDB) Conferences.

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‘WE ARE NOT PROBING NJC SCRIBE,’ SAYS BODY OF BENCHERS

The Body of Benchers (BoB) has stated that it is not investigating the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Mr. Ahmed Gambo Saleh for alleged payment to a contractor.

Citing a CITY LAWYER report on the issue, the BoB stated that “at no point did the Body of Benchers cause an investigation to be carried out against the Secretary of the National Judicial Council as reported,” adding that “Indeed the Body of Benchers does not have the jurisdiction to carry out such an investigation.”

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER and signed by its Secretary, Mr. Daniel Tela, the apex regulator of the legal profession added that “the statement to the effect that the Body of Benchers will, at its meeting slated for 29th September, 2022 discuss the report of a Committee on the subject is unfounded and incorrect.”

The full text of the statement reads:

RE: BODY OF BENCHERS PROBE NJC SCRIBE OVER N800M PAYMENT

The attention of the Body of Benchers has been drawn to an online publication by the CITY LAWYER alleging that the Body of Benchers is investigating the Secretary of the National Judicial Council, Ahmed Gambo Saleh, Esq on payments made to a Contractor.

Consequently, I am directed to make necessary clarification to the effect that at no point did the Body of Benchers cause an investigation to be carried out against the Secretary of the National Judicial Council as reported. Indeed the Body of Benchers does not have the jurisdiction to carry out such an investigation.

Furthermore, the statement to the effect that the Body of Benchers will, at its meeting slated for 29th September, 2022 discuss the report of a Committee on the subject is unfounded and incorrect.

Thank you.

Signed:

Daniel M. Tela
Secretary, Body of Benchers

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HOW AKPATA’S TOP AIDE, OGAGA EMOGHWANRE DIED

Details have emerged on how Mr. Ogaga Emoghwanre, the Special Assistant to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata died today in Warri, Delta State.

Multiple sources told CITY LAWYER that the erstwhile candidate for the position of NBA Publicity Secretary passed away today in Warri while attending a two-day workshop titled, ‘The Role of the Nigeria Police in the Implementation of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and Compliance with Principles of Human Rights in Law Enforcement.’ The workshop was organised by NBA in collaboration with MacArthur Foundation.

CITY LAWYER gathered that the charismatic Bar-man and incumbent NBA Benin Branch Publicity Secretary suddenly took ill and collapsed yesterday during the workshop. He was rushed to a top-notch hospital in Warri where he was placed on oxygen.

There were strong indications that he remained in that condition for about 24 hours while colleagues hoped that he would come through the bend soonest. He however passed away today.

A source at NBA Benin Branch told CITY LAWYER that the deceased had a similar challenge about a week ago while participating in a friendly match between the Branch and a local team, adding that he had to be substituted when he “nearly collapsed” and was advised to take a rest.

Ogaga, as he was fondly called, polled 15,369 votes in the last NBA Elections, 2,281 votes less than the 17,650 votes polled by his opponent, Mr. Habeeb Akorede Lawal who was declared winner of the election for the position of NBA Publicity Secretary.

He is survived by his wife and three children.

There are strong indications that his death has thrown the NBA Presidency into deep mourning, even as Akpata did not immediately respond to CITY LAWYER enquiries on his passing. A top Akpata aide told CITY LAWYER that he had to cancel all engagements since receiving the news, adding that “I am still in shock.”

Speakers at the ACJA workshop included Akpata; Hon. Justice Anthony Olotu Akpovi of Warri Criminal Division of Delta State Judiciary; Mr. Saka Azimazi, former Deputy Director, Legal and Investigation, National Human Rights Commission; Mr. Idris Bawa, a security expert, as well as Chief Victor Otomiewo, former Delta State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, among others.

A communique issued today at the end of the workshop expressed concern about “the slow pace of Criminal trials resulting in the high number of awaiting trial inmates in the correctional centers,” adding that “The consequences of this loss of confidence in the system include resort to jungle justice and self-help.”

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‘I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH BENCHERS’ BUILDING PROJECT,’ SAYS NJC SCRIBE

The Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Mr. Ahmed Gambo Saleh has told CITY LAWYER that he has no connection whatsoever with the building of the recently commissioned national headquarters of the Body of Benchers (BoB).

CITY LAWYER had reported that a three-man panel was set up by the Body of Benchers to probe the allegation by former Court of Appeal President and Member of the BoB Building Committee, Hon. Justice Umaru Abdullahi concerning payment of N800 million to Boygues (now BGL Nigeria Limited) without following due process.

In a telephone conversation with CITY LAWYER, Saleh stated that he was not under any probe, adding that “I have absolutely nothing to do with the (Body of Benchers) project.”

Saleh stated that the NJC only made disbursement to the Body of Benchers in line with its approved budget by the National Assembly, adding that while the project was initially billed to cost N13 billion, it was pruned down through due diligence.

He noted that every court and judicial body prepares and defends its budget at the National Assembly, adding that “the project had its own personnel. I do not disburse money on projects. I am not a part of the project. I did not administer the project. I only disburse funds to courts and judicial bodies based on budgets approved by the National Assembly.”

In a veiled confirmation of the probe, Saleh told CITY LAWYER that a report on the investigation had been submitted to the Body of Benchers in plenary, adding that he was not indicted by the report.

He said that his travails were being orchestrated by a “sponsor.” He warned CITY LAWYER to either retract the report and apologise “or I will report you to LPDC or EFCC.” The apparently angry NJC scribe also said that he would not hesitate to explore a legal action in the matter.

Though the Secretary of Body of Benchers, Mr. Daniel Manasseh Tela said that he would get back to CITY LAWYER “with the facts” of the matter, a source who was at the BoB meeting told CITY LAWYER that the probe report generated serious controversy during deliberation in plenary, “especially as it related to conflict of interest regarding a member of the probe panel.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that the report determined that there was no case of culpability against any official, and was eventually adopted by the general meeting.

CITY LAWYER had reported that the Body of Benchers had on February 24, 2022 set up an investigative committee headed by Senator Mike Ajegbo SAN to investigate the disbursement of the N800 million. Other members of the probe panel are former Chief Judge of FCT High Court and current Chairman of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Justice Ishaq Bello and Mr. Adeniji Kazeem SAN.

Saleh joined the Supreme Court in 2008 as a Special Assistant to the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Between 2010 and 2014, he was the Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation Department). He was elevated to the position of Chief Registrar in 2014, until July 1, 2017 when he was appointed Secretary of the National Judicial Council.

He was recently accused of involvement in a N10 billion “bribe and federal racketeering” allegedly being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The report was promptly dismissed by NJC spokesman, Mr. Soji Oye who stated that the allegation was aimed to “smear the good image of Ahmed Gambo Saleh at all cost.”

According to Oye, “It is imperative for the members of the public to be aware that before his emergence as the secretary of the NJC, some forces who tried to scuttle his appointment as the secretary of the council have re-emerged with antics aimed at tarnishing his image and bringing his good name to disrepute.”

He said that “It is on record that these forces, in a bid to stop his emergence as the NJC Secretary after the interview to consider his appointment, came up with false allegations in the media alleging that he had diverted N2.2 billion from the Supreme Court from 2009 to 2016 on the day the council meeting was to hold.”

The NJC also dismissed the charges filed against Saleh by the Federal Government in November 2016, saying the case was withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation because “the charges could not be substantiated”. It added that “It should be noted that there has never been a time when Mr. Saleh admitted committing any crime before anybody or law court.”

The NJC stated that “The sponsors of these malicious allegations believe they own the Judiciary and nobody can become anything within the Judiciary without their approval.

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EXCLUSIVE: BENCHERS PROBE NJC SCRIBE OVER N800M PAYMENT

The Body of Benchers (BoB) has set up a three-member committee to investigate the payment of about N800 million to a contractor by the Secretary of the National Judicial Council (NJC), Mr. Ahmed Gambo Saleh, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Impeccable sources told CITY LAWYER that the probe was as a result of an “alarm” raised by former Court of Appeal President and Member of the BoB Building Committee, Hon. Justice Umaru Abdullahi concerning payment of the money to the contractor “without following due process.”

One of the sources told CITY LAWYER that the former Court of Appeal helmsman has a “prominent role in monitoring and payments.” The Building Committee is chaired by Mrs. Hairat Balogun, unanimously elected the first female Chairman of the Body of Benchers in 1998.

Appointed on February 24, 2022, the investigative panel is headed by Senator Mike Ajegbo SAN. Other members are former Chief Judge of FCT High Court and current Chairman of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Justice Ishaq Bello and Mr. Adeniji Kazeem SAN.

The payment was made in respect of the Body of Benchers building which was funded by the NJC, with Saleh as the “Accounting Officer,” said the source.

CITY LAWYER gathered that a crisis of confidence may also be rocking the committee as a member of the investigative panel is alleged to be a Director in the beneficiary company.

There are strong indications that the committee’s report will be presented by the committee at the next meeting of the Body of Benchers scheduled for September 29, 2022.

CITY LAWYER was unable to reach the former Supreme Court Chief Registrar for comments, as repeated calls to his verified telephone number returned the message that the telephone was “switched off.” A text message to the telephone number did not receive any response at press time.

Saleh joined the Supreme Court in 2008 as a Special Assistant to the Chief Justice of Nigeria. Between 2010 and 2014, he was the Deputy Chief Registrar (Litigation Department). He was elevated to the position of Chief Registrar in 2014, until July 1, 2017 when he was appointed Secretary of the National Judicial Council.

He was recently accused of involvement in a N10 billion “bribe and federal racketeering” allegedly being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The report was however promptly dismissed by NJC spokesman, Mr. Soji Oye who stated that the allegation was aimed to “smear the good image of Ahmed Gambo Saleh at all cost.”

According to Oye, “It is imperative for the members of the public to be aware that before his emergence as the secretary of the NJC, some forces who tried to scuttle his appointment as the secretary of the council have re-emerged with antics aimed at tarnishing his image and bringing his good name to disrepute.”

He said that “It is on record that these forces, in a bid to stop his emergence as the NJC Secretary after the interview to consider his appointment, came up with false allegations in the media alleging that he had diverted N2.2 billion from the Supreme Court from 2009 to 2016 on the day the council meeting was to hold.”

The NJC also dismissed the charges filed against Saleh by the Federal Government in November 2016, saying the case was withdrawn by the Attorney-General of the Federation because “the charges could not be substantiated”. It added that “It should be noted that there has never been a time when Mr. Saleh admitted committing any crime before anybody or law court.”

The NJC stated that “The sponsors of these malicious allegations believe they own the Judiciary and nobody can become anything within the Judiciary without their approval.

“It is important to reiterate that there is no iota of credibility in the petition as they are not after the truth but are out to smear the good image of Ahmed Gambo Saleh at all cost.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) had, while speaking at a recent Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Justice Sector Summit in Abuja, taken a swipe at the Judiciary for lack of transparency and accountability, asking why the N104 billion provided for the Judiciary in the 2021 Budget was insufficient. He stated that the Executive was not in a position to answer “because their (judiciary’s) books are not open.”

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FOREMOST LAWYER, PROF. UCHE DIES IN LONDON

A senior lawyer and foremost legal scholar, Professor Uche Uko Uche is dead. He was almost 60 years at the Bar, having been admitted to the English Bar, Gray’s Inn, London in 1963

Uche is touted as perhaps the first Black lecturer at the University of London where he rose to the position of Professor of Law. He was also a visiting lecturer at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA).

CITY LAWYER gathered from unimpeachable sources that Uche died in London where he had gone for medical treatment some weeks ago.

Born on November 9, 1934 in Ohafia, Abia State, the senior lawyer had his early education at Aggrey Memorial College, Arochukwu between 1948 and 1952 before gaining admission to Teachers’ Training College, Uyo (1954-1955). He proceeded to the University of Ghana, Accra (1958-1961) and was subsequently admitted to the University of Oxford, England for his Master of Laws and PhD degrees (1962-1965).

He was engaged in private legal practice at Messrs A. K. Uche Chambers, Aba between 1965 and 1966. He returned to England and became a Lecturer in African Law at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London between 1965 and 1976.

A Queen’s Counsel at Messrs Dingle Foot and Desmond Ackner between 1967 and 1972, Uche was appointed Professor of Public Law at the University of Nairobi, Kenya. He became a Consultant at Waruhiu and Waruhiu in Nairobi, Kenya between 1972 and 1977 and established a partnership with Professor Sundstorm in Nordic Law and a Consultancy with Common Market Practice in Brussels, Stockholm and Geneva between 1973 and 1982.

According to BLERF’S Who is Who in Nigeria, Uche has been the Managing Partner of U. U. Uche and Associates, Lagos since 1978 aside from his role as a Senior Legal Consultant for the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). He was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Centre for African Family Studies, Nairobi, Kenya and a member of the Board of Directors of Development Law and Policy Programme, Centre for Population and Family Health, Columbia University, New York, USA (1981). Uche was also the Chairman of the Board of Directors of African Continental Bank (ACB), Lagos and a member of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL).

A prolific text writer and former President of Otu Oka Iwu (Law Society), Uche holds the traditional title of Ugwumba of Isiama, Ohafia, Abia State. His publications include Contractual Obligations in Ghana and Nigeria (Cass, 1971); Law and Population Growth in Kenya (1974); Law and Population Change in Africa (East African Literature Bureau, 1976), and Civil Procedure in Anglophone Africa (East African Publishing Bureau, 1976). His hobbies included lawn tennis and golf.

Speaking on his return to Nigeria, Uche told a national daily that “Before I finished my Masters programme and register for my PhD in the University of London. I was appointed a lecturer at the University teaching law at the School of Oriental and African studies which was one of the five colleges of the University of London.

“As a staff, I got seconded to the University of Nairobi, Kenya as Dean of Law originally for two years and after two years they wanted a second helping for four years and four years, they wanted some more helping for six years but I said no that I have to go back to London.

“I went back to London but the pressure to come back to Nigeria was strong because my uncle who was then the first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos told me he was in bad health and that I should come back to Nigeria. I was visiting professor at the Institute of International Affairs for one year and in 1978 started a law practice.”

Uche got married to Gladys Adaibe Nwuke, a former Director of National Library of Nigeria in 1964. They had two sons and three daughters, including Mrs. Ijeoma Onyeator of CHANNELS Television.

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NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL 2001/2002 CLASS HOLDS REUNION DINNER AUGUST 23

The Nigerian Law School Class of 2001/2002 has announced plans to host a Reunion Dinner to mark its 20 years anniversary.

The dinner will hold on August 23, 2022 at Colonades Marquee, 21 Kingsway Road, Ikoyi, Lagos from 5 pm.

The announcement reads:

It has been 20 years already!!!

Get ready for the 1st Nigerian Law School Class 2001/2002 Reunion Dinner!!!!!

Venue: Colonades Marque Ikoyi, Lagos

Date: Tuesday 23rd August 2022

Time: 5pm.

Dress Code is formal/semi-formal with a touch of gold.

Attendees will be expected to fill out an online Google form and pay a minimum token of N5,000 (not barring larger donations), to enable us confirm attendance, provide quality food and drinks and make it a memorable event.

Payment should be made to Polaris Bank a/c No. 1763529714 – the designated account of one of us Bolanle Olafunmiloye.

If you live outside Nigeria and wish to be part of the event, kindly get in touch via +2348056050532 (on WhatsApp)

Let’s share wonderful memories from the different Law School Campuses.

If you have any, send in old photos of your experiences on our Interactive Telegram platform – https://t.me/+UQ_9LuSdJB5mMWRk

Make it a date!

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OLANIPEKUN: OGUNDE QUITS LAW PRACTICE, VOWS TO ‘RETURN’

Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, the Partner at Wole Olanipekun & Co at the centre of the controversial email to SAIPEM SPA that has led to a call for Body of Benchers Chairman, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to recuse himself from the post, has temporarily quit legal practice over the debacle.

In a Press Release obtained by CITY LAWYER, Ogunde decried the controversies that have trailed her email, adding that “I will take a leave of absence from legal practice and get involved in community and social work pro bono, with a few selected NGOs.”

She stated that she “will also during this time undergo necessary courses to equip myself better in dealing with professional and life issues.”

She however vowed to return to legal practice, saying: “I will return to legal practice after some time, in consultation with my parents, senior colleagues, and well-wishers.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a complaint by former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN over an email from Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, allegedly soliciting to take over a brief his law firm was handling from his client, SAIPEM SPA. Following his demand for an apology, Wole Olanipekun & Co apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

Below is the full text of the Press Release.

MY EMAIL CORRESPONDENCE OF 20TH JUNE 2022 AND SUBSEQUENT EVENTS

The email I sent to SAIPEM on 20th June 2022 has, for several weeks, become the subject of discussion, debate, and diatribe among lawyers and the general public on various social media platforms. My public statement issued on 27th June 2022, which was aimed at expressing remorse for the anguish the said email caused to Ajumogobia & Okeke, my Firm, Wole Olanipekun & Co., and my parents and also to debunk the wrong conclusions drawn by many lawyers that the partners and/or associates at the firm knew about or consented to the content or delivery of my email did not also achieve the purpose in the opinion of some people.

Since I issued that public statement, I have read on social media a complaint filed against me at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee by the First Vice-President of the NBA and the letter written to my Firm’s Founding Partner, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, OFR that he should recuse himself from his position as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers.

I cannot deny the fact that I am at the centre of every main or collateral issue that has arisen out of the said email. It may appear as if neither Wole Olanipekun & Co nor me has taken any concrete step to ameliorate the effect of the email by way of discipline, education, reform, and rehabilitation concerning me. I wish to state that the firm took such steps but did not believe that its actions should be for the attention of the media.

Unfortunately, the matter has now become rather complicated and has not only affected me psychologically but also Wole Olanipekun & Co and my family. It has bred bad blood and, to my great pain, thoroughly embarrassed our Firm’s Founder, the innocent and dignified Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, OFR, and as well as the Firm.

As the one through whom all these have arisen, I have consulted with my family and the Firm and after a deep and thorough examination of all the facets of this hydra-headed problem, I have decided to take the following steps:

1. I will take a leave of absence from legal practice and get involved in community and social work pro bono, with a few selected NGOs.

2. I will also during this time undergo necessary courses to equip myself better in dealing with professional and life issues.

3. I will return to legal practice after some time, in consultation with my parents, senior colleagues, and well-wishers.

This statement is issued to enable me to move to the next stage of my life. I will no longer be issuing any public statements.

I thank all those who have helped me to pass through this very trying period of my life, particularly my parents, partners, and associates of Wole Olanipekun & Co, my friends, and my parents’ friends.

God bless you all.

Adekunbi Ogunde

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MAIKYAU TO BE SWORN IN, AS GADZAMA BOWS OUT

Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN has again vowed not to appeal the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association presidential election notwithstanding the resignation en masse of members of the NBA National Election Appeal Committee (NBA-NEAC).

This clears the way for senior lawyer, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau SAN to be sworn in as the next NBA President, having been declared winner of the July 16, 2022 election by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA).

In a press release made available to CITY LAWYER, Chief Chukwudi Oli, a close aide of the ranking Bar Leader, said that “The NBA-NEAC instant resignation is now of no moment and whatever bias this belated attempt aims at curing is long spent and overtaken by event since it is well outside 10 days from the announcement of the election results by the ECNBA within which petitions are to be filed before it.”

Signed by Oli, Director-General of J-K CampaignTeam, the statement noted that “the NBA-NEAC, as with all Standing Committees, is constituted by the President of the NBA, subject to ratification by the National Executive Council. Therefore, a reconstituted NBA-NEAC will no doubt still require the ratification of NEC to lawfully function.”

According to Oli, “If anything, the instant resignation buttresses premeditated and predetermined objectives; for how best can it be explained that the instant resignation is coming well outside of the time limit the NBA-NEAC had itself stipulated in para 3.2 of its “GUIDELINES FOR HEARING AND DETERMINING COMPLAINT(S) FROM CANDIDATES IN THE 2022 NBA NATIONAL ELECTIONS.””

Titled “RE: RESIGNATION OF MEMBERS OF THE NBA NATIONAL ELECTIONS APPEAL COMMITTEE,” the Campaign Team chided the NBA-NEAC members for claiming that the earlier letter to NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata was penned by Gadzama, saying that “in the present instance and for clarity, the referenced letter of July 26, 2022, was even neither signed nor circulated by Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN on social media as alleged by the NBA-NEAC.

It also berated the NBA-NEAC members for the tone of their joint resignation letter, saying that “as legal practitioners and conscionable persons, we understand the virtue of being temperate in language and making variable assertions; and therefore make bold to say that expressing reservations about a process, especially in view of the manifest likelihood of bias, cannot and should not be misread as ‘unfortunate, and undeserving’ or ‘most uncharitable’, as was erroneously averred by the NBA-NEAC.”

The Campaign Team stated that “Considering that the notice of the constitution of the National Elections Appeal Committee for the NBA National Election was released on May 21, 2022, every member of the NBA-NEAC had ample notice to recuse themselves, especially where such member(s) has/have a preference as to candidate(s) in the national elections and have manifestly or tacitly, either by their actions and/or inactions, exhibited such.

“We are ultimately charitable to the truth and our convictions for a better bar. It is in itself most uncharitable to refer to such conviction as uncharitable.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

PRESS RELEASE

RE: RESIGNATION OF MEMBERS OF THE NBA NATIONAL ELECTIONS APPEAL COMMITTEE

The letter dated July 30, 2022, from the NBA-National Elections Appeal Committee (NBA- NEAC) to the President of the NBA refers.

In the aforementioned letter, all 9 members of the NBA- NEAC have resigned their membership due to a letter of July 26, 2022, addressed to the NBA President, which the Committee has alleged was purportedly written and circulated on social media by Chief J-K Gadzama, SAN.

The NBA-NEAC also declared that the alleged “mischaracterization” ascribed to some members of the Committee is most “unfortunate, and undeserving”. It further alleged that the comments made by the learned silk in what it called the “globally circulated letter” was “most uncharitable” and thus that its “mass resignation” was due to their “indignation and principled opposition to the uncharitable comments and accusations of Chief J-K Gadzama, SAN”.

To put a method to this, we will be chronological:

1) Firstly, it is well within anyone’s rights to circulate whatever publication of substance they deem fit, in the present instance and for clarity, the referenced letter of July 26, 2022, was even neither signed nor circulated by Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN on social media as alleged by the NBA-NEAC. The referenced letter of July 26, 2022, was ably signed by Chief C.P Oli, the Director General, J-K Gadzama Campaign Team, and co-signed by Mr. O.E Oluwabiyi, the Admin Officer of the J-K Gadzama Campaign Team, and further addressed to the President of the NBA, with the NBA-NEAC in copy. Words and actions should not be arrogated without recourse to factual stream of events. Posterity is always kind to the truthful.

2) Secondly, as legal practitioners and conscionable persons, we understand the virtue of being temperate in language and making variable assertions; and therefore make bold to say that expressing reservations about a process, especially in view of the manifest likelihood of bias, cannot and should not be misread as “unfortunate, and undeserving” or “most uncharitable”, as was erroneously averred by the NBA-NEAC. We are ultimately charitable to the truth and our convictions for a better bar. It is in itself most uncharitable to refer to such conviction as uncharitable.

3) Considering that the notice of the constitution of the National Elections Appeal Committee for the NBA National Election was released on May 21, 2022, every member of the NBA-NEAC had ample notice to recuse themselves, especially where such member(s) has/have a preference as to candidate(s) in the national elections and have manifestly or tacitly, either by their actions and/or inactions, exhibited such.

4) The NBA-NEAC instant resignation is now of no moment and whatever bias this belated attempt aims at curing is long spent and overtaken by event since it is well outside 10 days from the announcement of the election results by the ECNBA within which petitions are to be filed before it. If anything, the instant resignation buttresses premeditated and predetermined objectives; for how best can it be explained that the instant resignation is coming well outside of the time limit the NBA-NEAC had itself stipulated in para 3.2 of its “GUIDELINES FOR HEARING AND DETERMINING COMPLAINT(S) FROM CANDIDATES IN THE 2022 NBA NATIONAL ELECTIONS.”

5) Furthermore, under S.14 (1) (l) of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as Amended in 2021), the NBA National Election Appeal Committee is listed as a Standing Committee. By S.14 (3) (i) of the said Constitution, the NBA-NEAC, as with all Standing Committees, is constituted by the President of the NBA, subject to ratification by the National Executive Council. Therefore, a reconstituted NBA-NEAC will no doubt still require the ratification of NEC to lawfully function.

6) It is against these serious and all-important backgrounds that we restate our commitment to a better bar is as unwavering as the rock of Gibraltar. It is a job that must be done and rightly so.

Long live the Nigerian Bar Association!

Signed:

Chief C. P. Oli
Director-General
J-K Campaign Team 
01/08/2022

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‘AKPATA’S RECUSAL DEMAND NOT ROOTED IN LAW’

BY TOONI BAMISAYE

It has become imperative that the letter written by Mr. Olumide Akpata requesting that one of his predecessors in office who is also one of the undisputed leading lights of the legal profession, Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN recuses himself as the chairman of the Body of Benchers (BOB) because of a pending petition against a member of his firm be objectively considered against the backdrop of applicable laws. Olumide Akpata is himself a lawyer and currently president of the NBA, thus imbuing him with responsibility to make representations that align with law in manners that are not easily questionable if not all together untenable.

Olumide Akpata had confidently asserted as the basis of his letter that:
“As you know, LPDC is a Standing Committee of the BOB whose processes come under the supervision of the Chairman of the BOB – an office which you currently occupy”

The letter did not state any law relied upon by the NBA President to inform the conclusion that the processes of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) come under the supervision of the Chairman of the BOB. Supervisory powers over an adjudicating body like the LPDC is one of law and not conjecture and this must be obvious to the President of the NBA. One would have expected the NBA President to validate his assertion with statutory provisions since he was writing about organizations set up by law and with clearly defined and written statutory documentation regulating their operations. The reason he chose not to do this is easily discernible, and it is because there is no statute that supports his position. Conversely, statute(s) expressly negate(s) his position. It is expected that every lawyer or at least the NBA President is familiar with the Legal Practitioners Act. Section 12 (7) of the Legal Practitioners Act, in respect of punitive directions given by the LPDC, provides:

“The person to whom this section relates may, at any time within 28 days from the date of service on him of notice of the direction, appeal against the direction to the Supreme Court; and the disciplinary committee may appear as respondent to the appeal and…..”

What is clear from the above is that, it is the Supreme Court of Nigeria and not the Chairman of the Body of Benchers that exercises Jurisdiction over the LPDC. It is the Supreme Court that has the authority to review, set aside or affirm the decision of the LPDC. Will the NBA President claim ignorance of this?

The LPDC is a juristic person, just like the Body of Benchers is also a juristic person. Both entities can sue and be sued in court and have, on several occasions been sued in court in their individual names. A claim against the LPDC is not tantamount to a claim against the Body of Benchers and vice versa. Proceedings before the LPDC are regulated by rules made by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, the extant one, being the LPDC Rules, 2020. The rules that relate to the consideration and determination of whether a complaint against a Legal practitioner discloses a case to answer are as reproduced below:
“5.— (1) An Application made in accordance with rule 4 shall initially be considered by a member of the Committee (“the initial committee member”) on the directive of the Chairman for consideration for the question of whether there is a case to answer in respect of the allegations made in the Originating Application.
(2.) If the initial committee member considers that there is a case to answer in respect of any or all the allegations made and is not of the opinion that the question is one of doubt or difficulty then the initial committee member must certify that there is a case to answer.
(3.) If the initial committee member is minded not to certify that there is a case to answer in respect of all or some of the allegations made or is of the opinion that the question is one of doubt or difficulty, the question must be considered by a panel of three members of the Disciplinary Committee. The initial committee member may be a member of the panel. If the panel considers that there is a case to answer in respect of the allegations made, then it must certify that there is a case to answer in respect of those allegations.
(4) If the panel decides that there is no case to answer in respect of any of the allegations made, it may refuse or dismiss the Originating Application, or part of it, without requiring the respondent to answer the allegations and without hearing the applicant must be provided with written reasons explaining the decision.
(5) If a panel or committee member certifies that a case to answer is established in respect of all or any of the allegations made, the Secretary must serve a copy of each of the documents referred to in rule (4),(5) or (6), as the case may be on each respondent.”

No role in any of the above is reserved for the Body of Benchers. Order 7 of the LPDC Rules expressly states the parties to proceedings before the LPDC and the Body of Benchers is conspicuously not listed. It is the LPDC to the exclusion of the BOB that conducts hearing of complaints and by Orders 21 and 22 of the LPDC Rules, it is the LPDC itself that can make a finding of guilty or not guilty.

Furthermore, Order 24 of the LPDC Rules gives the LPDC the power to revoke its own findings in certain circumstances. As lawyers, we know that statutory provisions are interpreted according to the ordinary dictionary meanings of the words in the Statute and that the express mention of a thing in a statute is the exclusion of all other things. See the Supreme Court decisions in the cases Abegunde v. OSHA & Ors. (2015) LPELR – 24588 (SC) 41 and Marwa & Ors. v. Nyako & Ors. (2012) LPELR – 7837 (SC) 172 (cases which coincidentally were handled by the law firm of Wole Olanipekun & Co.). There is no single provision of the Legal Practitioners Act, RPC, or LPDC Rules on substantive hearing of a complaint that reserves any decision-making role for the BOB or its chairman and I challenge the NBA President to state any if it exists.

In the face of all these statutory provisions stating the contrary, on what basis did the President of the umbrella Body of lawyers in Nigeria conclude in his letter that the processes of the LPDC come under the supervision of the Chairman of the BOB? The NBA President went on to state in his letter that:

“As Lord Denning put it “Justice must be rooted in confidence; and confidence is destroyed, when right-minded people go away thinking that the Judge is biased”

The NBA President could not even bother to be detailed or meticulous enough to state the exact case where Lord Denning MR made the postulation. In any event, it was Metropolitan Properties Co (FGC) Ltd v. Lannon (1969) 1 QB 577. As lawyers, one of our basic trainings is to reference cases properly and deploy precedents appropriately in subsequent circumstances. Accordingly, it will be necessary to do a brief recap of the circumstances that made Lord Denning MR to make the comments stated in the NBA President’s letter. In the said case, the respondent, Mr. Lannon (a legal practitioner) was living with his father at a flat in Regency Lodge, Swiss Cottage London and was also helping his father out in a dispute on appropriate rent payable with his Landlord. Other tenants were involved in the dispute, and it was referred to the Rent Assessment Committee where Mr. Lannon sat as the Chairman. The said committee fixed the applicable rent at a ridiculously low rate, that was even lower than the amount proposed to be paid by the tenants. It was on realizing the relationship of Mr. Lannon with the property that the Appellant made a case against his qualification to sit as chairman of the Rent Assessment Committee. Therefore, Mr. Lannon was actual decision maker and Judge. Is Olanipekun a Judge in the same manner as Mr. Lannon when it has been shown statutorily that the BOB and its chairman do not participate in the decision-making process of the LPDC and Olanipekun is not also a member of LPDC?

If anything gives the impression of injustice, it is the request by the NBA president and 1st Vice President to the LPDC for a determination of whether Olanipekun is liable to be disciplined by the LPDC. Imagine the incongruity – the NBA President wants the LPDC to first determine Olanipekun’s liability so that, after a determination of that liability, a complaint will now be made to the same LPDC for a trial to enable the same LPDC formally make a decision in line with its earlier finding on liability. Would the trial not be a circus or dress rehearsal and case of “come and receive your predetermined verdict”. And all these requests are made in a petition where Olanipekun is not a party. What a crass breach of fair hearing.

Any lawyer who paid proper attention at University (Nigerian) and Law School will still recall the celebrated case of Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee v. Chief Gani Fawehinmi (1985) LPELR -1776 (SC) where the Supreme Court held that the LPDC populated by the same members who already had a guilty predisposition against the iconic Chief Gani Fawehinmi could not sit to try him for professional misconduct.

I had made my points in this write up with both case law and statute unlike the NBA President’s letter which referred to none. Would it be that the NBA President is not aware of these statutory provisions and case law or he chose to ignore them? Either scenario is unpalatable. The Legal Practitioners Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) mandate lawyers to be candid and not present positions that are clearly untenable. In fact, Rule 32 (a) requires lawyers to disclose positions of law that are adverse to their case if same is known to them. Can it be said that Akpata’s submission to the general public that the processes of the LPDC are under the supervision of the Chairman of the BOB is candid? I do not think so.

The National Judicial Council (NJC) is the appointor and employer of all Judges in Nigeria; yet litigants sue NJC successfully before courts manned by Judges and Justices who are NJC employees. That is even in more direct relationships and yet, nobody asks Judges to disqualify themselves in these cases; NJC even loses some of these cases and an example is the Court of decision in National Judicial Council v. Hon. Justice P.N.C Agumagu & Ors. (2018) LPELR-25403 (CA) – a case also handled by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN. Is Akpata also impugning the characters of the members of the LPDC by stating that they are susceptible to influence? So many questions that beg for answers.

My advice to Olanipekun is that he should remain calm. These times shall pass and he will continue to stand tall and tower. As for me, I pray that I will be like Olanipekun and let those who don’t pray for similar feats like his genuinely pray to God that they will not be like him. These kinds of orchestrated attacks were made against those before him, and this will also fail. What further evidence of orchestration does one need aside that of Akpata himself that his own role in was to write the letter and he has done it but it was the role of others to challenge Olanipekun at the recent BOB meeting as if it is a relay race where batons are being passed. If I may query, why did Akpata write a letter to Olanipekun as sole addressee, and he decided to send it to every single member of the BOB even before a response from Olanipekun? This is aside the fact that he released the letter to the entire world before even delivering same to Olanipekun.

The real addressees of the letter are obvious and its intention palpable, which is to set up a mob against Olanipekun and put him on a slab. All of these will also fail. As for John Aikpokpo-Martins who swore to the affidavit in support of the Petition against Ms. Ogunde, he should please refer to the implication of giving false evidence under Order 17 of the LPDC rules especially as it relates to his inconsistent position on Ms. Ogunde’s ostensible authority from the other Olanipekun partners even when he had stated under oath that both Ms. Ogunde and the firm expressly stated that she had no such authority. He has not brought evidence to show the said ostensible authority and he also knows when ostensible authority can be presumed under the partnership law of Lagos State.

  • Tooni Bamisaye, a legal practitioner, writes from Victoria Island, Lagos.

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INDUSTRIAL COURT PRESIDENT SET TO HOST SPIDEL CONFEREES, DINNER HOLDS FRIDAY

Delegates to the eagerly awaited Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) Annual Conference will be hosted to tasteful cocktails by the President of the National Industrial Court (NICN), Justice Benedict Kanyip.

The cocktails will hold at the NBA HOUSE on Wednesday, August 3, 2022 as a Welcome Party for delegates to the popular annual intellectual and networking fiesta.

Aside from networking and packed technical sessions which hold on Thursday and Friday, curtains will be drawn on the Annual Conference on Friday with an exquisite and sumptuous Dinner at A Class Event Centre, Maitama, Abuja.

The Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola will declare open the Annual Conference on Thursday, while another Supreme Court jurist, Justice Inyang Okoro will deliver the Keynote Address on the theme, “Undermining judicial authority in democracy: Causes, consequences and solutions.”

Meanwhile, LawPavilion is set to launch a mobile app, JustEase which is a one-stop socio-legal and exciting tool for effective citizen engagement, security intelligence, crime and rights violation tracking, as well as a digital evidence bank for the judiciary.

Speaking on preparations for the Annual Conference, NBA-SPIDEL Chairman, Dr. Monday Ubani said: “We are focused on delivering a best-in-class conference for many delegates who have registered to be a part of this momentous annual event in NBA’s calendar. I must commend the Conference Planning Committee (CPC) for securing the attendance of a most intimidating repertoire of leading activists and speakers that Nigeria can boast of. I can assure you that the Annual Conference will be talked about for a long time to come for its richness in discourses that touch on human rights and development as well as in networking and fun activities.”

A surfeit of A-List speakers have confirmed attendance for the Annual Conference which has caught the interest of justice sector stakeholders since its relaunch in 2019 in Aba while the last edition held at Ibadan to much applause.

The speakers include foremost human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN; fiery human rights advocate, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN; NBA President-elect, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN; pioneer NBA-SPIDEL Chairman, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN; former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Kanu Agabi SAN, and Executive Secretary of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu SAN.

Other confirmed speakers for the eagerly awaited Annual Conference are the Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Mr. Modibbo Tukur; Lagos State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN; his Abia State counterpart, Mr. Uche Ihediwa SAN; former Jigawa State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Sani Hussaini Garun-Gabbas SAN, two-time Lagos State Commissioner, Dr. Muiz Banire SAN and former All Progressives Congress National Legal Adviser, Mr. Babatunde Ogala SAN.

Also confirmed to speak at the Annual Conference are the President of the National Industrial Court, Justice Benedict Kanyip; Justice Mabel Taiye Bello of Federal High Court, Owerri Division; Associate Professor & Dean of Faculty of Law, Ave Maria University, Dr. Sam Amadi; Deputy Vice Chancellor of Afe Babalola University and United Nations Independent Expert on Business and Human Rights, Prof. Damilola Olawuyi SAN, and immediate past NBA-SPIDEL Chairman, Prof. Paul Ananaba SAN.

Others are former Director General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Prof. Adedeji Adekunle SAN; former Senior Special Assistant on Justice Sector Reform & General Counsel to Lagos State Governor, Mrs. Oyinkan Badejo-Okusanya; former NBA General Secretary, Mazi Afam Osigwe SAN; pioneer United Nations Special Rapporteur on Summary, Arbitrary and Extrajudicial Executions in Nigeria, Prof. Valerie Azinge SAN, and Secretary of the Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) on Human Rights Violation by Defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and Other Specialized Units, Mr. Hilary Ogbonna.

NBA 1st Vice President and IIP Member, Mr. John Aikpokpo-Martins; Executive Director of Gender Awareness Trust (GAT) and IIP Member, Dr. Lydia Umar and the Chief Executive of Law Pavilion, Mr. Ope Olugasa have also confirmed attendance at the annual conference.

Aside from speeches from NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata and NBA-SPIDEL Chairman, Dr. Monday Ubani, Goodwill Messages will also be received from UNICEF Chief Child Protection Officer, Ibrahim Sesay and National Programme Manager, British Council’s Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Programme (RoLAC), Mr. Danladi Plang.

Among the topics to be dissected by the array of confirmed speakers are “Disobedience to court order and the slide to state of anarchy;” “Strengthening judicial authority in a democracy through effective and sustainable strategies;” “The impediments to seamless execution of court orders in Nigeria: Any way out?;” “A disruptive approach to public safety and access to justice using technology,” and “Independent Investigative Panel (IIP) on Human Rights Violation by defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) and other specialized units: The process, enforcement of the panel’s decisions/rulings, challenges, achievements and lessons learnt.”

The facilitators for the sessions are Executive Director of PRAWA and Co-Chair of the NBA-SPIDEL Development Law Group, Dr. Uju Agomoh; NBA-SPIDEL Council Member, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke and NBA-SPIDEL Publicity Secretary, Mr. Godfrey Echeho while NBA-SPIDEL Secretary and Local Organising Committee Chair, Dr. Princess Frank-Chukwuani will deliver the vote of thanks.

The conference is laced with lunches, closing dinner and networking opportunities. To register for the annual conference, please visit www.nbaspidel.ng or www.nbaspidel.ng/nba-spidel-conference-2022. For enquiries, call 08034461082, 08063088182 or email info@nigerianbar.org.ng.

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VOX POPULI FOUNDATION LIFTS KEFFI PRISON WITH GIFTS

Director-General, Vox Populi Foundation Leads Members of the Foundation to Donate Towards the Improvement of the Keffi Correctional Centre, Nasarawa State

On Wednesday, July 27, 2022, Chief C.P Oli, the Director-General of Vox Populi Foundation, in the company of other distinguished members and representatives of the President of the Vox Populi Foundation, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN, visited the Keffi Correctional Centre, Nasarawa State.

The Vox Populi Foundation is primarily geared towards advocating for good governance and making a positive impact on society and by way of contributing their quota to society, the DG and other members present at the correctional center interacted with the Officer in Charge and the Welfare Officer of the correctional centre.

The Director General of the foundation commended the laudable efforts of the officers of the correctional center who have been working ceaselessly to ensure that inmates are able to access education. He noted the essence of public-private partnership in the society and stated further that the primary aim of the visit was to render assistance to the correctional center by sponsoring those inmates who are set to take the upcoming examinations of the National Business and Technical Examinations Board (NABTEB). In addition, Chief Oli stated that the foundation shall also offset the fines of two inmates who are unable to afford their freedom.

The Officer in Charge of the Correctional Center, Mr. Simon Raphael Kaigama pronounced encomiums on the DG and the other members of the foundation, including Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, for their support and contribution to the correctional center. He informed all present that education is a form of rehabilitation and as a firm believer in this, efforts have been taken to ensure that several inmates are currently enrolled in the National Open University to pursue their first degree, Masters and even, Ph.D in their various areas of interest. The inmates whose fines were paid were presented to the DG and other members of the foundation. Both of them expressed their heartfelt gratitude to the foundation.

Thereafter, the Director-General of the foundation presented the token for the inmates and the correctional center from the foundation to the Officer in Charge of the facility. He also assured the facility that steps are presently in motion to render pro-bono services to inmates in order to decongest the facility. Members who were present include: Love Chukwumerije, Hillary A. Ojeke, Nafisat Abisola Ibrahim, Hajara Sorondinki, Precious Ulasi, Magai Magaji, Farida Lanre-Ipinmisho, Ebube Okpogu, Promise Godwin, Elizabeth Ibrahim Auta, Cynthia Igwedibia, and a host of other eminent personalities, who collectively represented the President, Vox Populi Foundation, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN.

Indeed, it was an excellent outing as service to mankind is service to life.

Signed:

Hassan Sherif
Publicity Secretary
Vox Populi Foundation

 

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NBA-AGC SOCCER: ‘WHY WE FIXED DIFFERENT PRIZES FOR MALE, FEMALE COMPETITIONS,’ BY TCCP

The Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) for the 2022 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference has clarified the difference in the prize winnings for the male and female NBA inter-branch football competitions slated to hold between Thursday, 18th August and Tuesday, 23rd August 2022.

The TCCP said the clarification became necessary following the debate raging amongst lawyers, especially on social media, over the difference in the prizes for the victorious teams.

The TCCP had, in an earlier notice, announced N500,000 as the winning prize for the inter-branch male football competition and N200,000 for the female football competition.

This has, however, generated some tension among lawyers some of whom viewed it as discriminatory.

But offering explanation for the difference, the TCCP said the fixing of the prize winnings was dictated by prudence and realistic expectations as the sports events at the AGC were structured to fund themselves.

In a statement issued on Thursday and signed by Tobenna Erojikwe, its Chairman, the TCCP explained that the male football competition is viewed as totally distinct from the female football competition with completely different consideration, having been around for many years. On the other hand, the female football competition is being introduced for the very first time in the AGC to promote inclusiveness and expand the scope of activities at the AGC, the TCCP said.

“In providing sports activities as part of the AGC, the TCCP exercises prudence in the management of funds as such sports, if not fully funded by itself or sponsored by third parties, have to be subsidised by the NBA,” Erojikwe said in the statement with the subject”Prizes for NBA Inter-branch Female Football Competition”.

“The male football competition has been a regular feature of the NBA over the years and so it is much easier to project income derivable from the competition. For instance, last year, a total of 16 male football teams registered for the male football competition with N1,600,000 received as registration fees,” he said.

The TCCP Chairman said considering the novelty of the female football competition, it was difficult to project the amount that could be generated from it.

Therefore, in order to arrive at an informed view of the prize for the winner of the female football competition, the TCCP carried out an inquiry to determine the number of existing female football teams in the branches of the NBA.

“Our research suggested that there were only two established NBA female football teams in the country, and this informed the decision regarding the amount stated as prize for the competition,” he said.

Erojikwe said the only way the prize winnings for the female football competition could be increased was to raise the registration fees payable by branches, which the TCCP does not consider a feasible option at this time.

“The above considerations led to the decision to fix the above referenced prize winnings for the different competitions. We also deem it necessary to add that the decision to introduce female football as part of the sports events at the AGC is an important development which the TCCP is committed to having entrenched at future AGCs,” he said.

He, however, assured that the TCCP was actively seeking sponsorship for the female football competition and would raise the prize winning as soon as such sponsorship materialised. He pledged that the TCCP would dedicate every amount received as sponsorship and registration fee for the female football competition to the prize money.

“We hope that the above explanation provides context and clarification regarding the subject. We would please ask that the level of interest that has been shown regarding the female football is sustained through the conference and that we make it a competition that we can all look forward to every year,” Erojikwe said.

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EGBE AMOFIN BACKS OLANIPEKUN, WARNS OF ‘ETHNIC AGENDA’

The umbrella union of Yoruba lawyers, Egbe Amofin O’odua has thrown its weight behind embattled Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER and signed by the Chairman of its Governing Council, Mr. Isiaka Abiola Olagunju SAN, Egbe Amofin, otherwise called the Yoruba Lawyers Forum, described as “unwarranted” the call for Olanipekun to recuse himself from the seat over alleged professional misconduct by Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co.

Describing itself as “the foremost body of Yoruba lawyers association in the country,” Egbe Amofin stated that there is “the apparent underlining witch hunt and delibrate (sic) attempt to smear the name of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN by subjecting him to a calculated public opinion trial.”

The association recalled “that the agitation to subvert the established and settled procedure for the elevation to the Chairman of the Body of Benchers which favoured Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN was attempted by some senior lawyers.”

Continuing, Egbe Amofin stated that “but for the principled, objective and pure professional stand taken by some prominent Lawyers and respected Justices on this issue, we would have been tempted to believe that the initial opposition to Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN becoming the Chairman of the Body of Benchers and this unjustified call for him to step down as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers is an ethnic agenda.”

It wondered why there is a clamour for Olanipekun to step aside “for the alleged misconduct of another in the face of the provisions of Sections 2 (1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act which had been interpreted to draw a distinction between a law firm and the individual Legal Practitioner making up the law firm?”

The association stated that though the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee is a committee of the Body of Benchers, “it is however an independent standing Committee whose Chairman and members had been appointed before Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN became the Chairman of the Body of Benchers,” adding that its decision or direction “is not in anyway subject to the control or influence of the Body of Benchers. Appeal against the decision or direction of Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee goes to the Supreme Court and not the Body of Benchers.”

Stating that the matter “is now subjudice and should not be subjected to further public commentary,” the resurgent regional bloc warned that “The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee should be allowed to do its job.”

Egbe Amofin urged stakeholders to desist from media trial, adding that “Those trying to pull down Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN should realize that in reality, they are casting serious aspersions on the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee by sending a wrong signal that the Committee cannot be trusted to take fair, independent and honest decisions or directions on disciplinary matters that come before it. This is no doubt a vote of no confidence on the membership of the committee.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a complaint by former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN over an email from Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, allegedly soliciting to take over a brief his law firm was handling from his client, SAIPEM SPA. Following his demand for an apology, Wole Olanipekun & Co apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

Below is the full text of the statement.

THE MEDIA TRIAL OF CHIEF WOLE OLANIPEKUN SAN AND MS. ADEKUNBI OGUNDE: DESECRATION OF SACRED CARDINAL RULES OF JUSTICE AND FAIR HEARING.

The attention of the Governing Council of Egbe Amofin O’odua: (The Yoruba Lawyers’ Forum) has been drawn to the calls on Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN to recuse himself as the Chairman of Body of Benchers by some commentators and groups in the Legal profession.

As the foremost body of Yoruba Lawyers association in the country, we have refrained from talking to the press or making any official statement on the unwarranted call by some members of our common platform, Nigerian Bar Association, on Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN to step down as Chairman of Body of Benchers for the alleged infraction of our Rules of Professional Conduct by a Partner in his Law Firm. This is even with the apparent underlining witch hunt and delibrate attempt to smear the name of Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN by subjecting him to a calculated public opinion trial.

Sadly, we recall that the agitation to subvert the established and settled procedure for the elevation to the Chairman of the Body of Benchers which favoured Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN was attempted by some senior lawyers, but for the principled, objective and pure professional stand taken by some prominent Lawyers and respected Justices on this issue, we would have been tempted to believe that the initial opposition to Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN becoming the Chairman of the Body of Benchers and this unjustified call for him to step down as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers is an ethnic agenda.

The pertinent question here is what is the basis of punishing Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN by asking him to step down as the Chairman of Body of Benchers for the alleged misconduct of another in the face of the provisions of Sections 2 (1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act which had been interpreted to draw a distinction between a law firm and the individual Legal Practitioner making up the law firm? Though, the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee is in law, a Committee of the Body of Benchers, it is however an independent standing Committee whose Chairman and members had been appointed before Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN became the Chairman of the Body of Benchers.

Further to the above, whatever decision or direction taken by the Legal Practitioner’s Disciplinary Committee is not in anyway subject to the control or influence of the Body of Benchers. Appeal against the decision or direction of Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee goes to the Supreme Court and not the Body of Benchers. Most importantly, the petition having been filed before the LPDC, the matter is now subjudice and should not be subjected to further public commentary. The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee should be allowed to do its job.

Those trying to pull down Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN should realize that in reality, they are casting serious aspersions on the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee by sending a wrong signal that the Committee cannot be trusted to take fair, independent and honest decisions or directions on disciplinary matters that come before it. This is no doubt a vote of no confidence on the membership of the committee.

In the circumstance, we humbly enjoin us all to desist from making further comments on this issue until its final determination by the LPDC.

As lawyers we must not allow trial by social media or newspapers’ or trial by television’ or ‘trial by any medium rather than the court of law.

Long Live NBA
Long Live Egbe Amofin Oodua.

Aare Isiaka Abiola Olagunju,SAN
Chairman, Governing Council, Egbe Amofin O’odua: ( The Yoruba Lawyers’ Forum)

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EXCLUSIVE: NBA ELECTION APPEAL C’TE MEMBERS RESIGN EN MASSE, BLAST GADZAMA

All members of the Nigerian Bar Association Election Appeals Committee (NBA-NEAC) have resigned their appointment, citing a petition “circulated on social media by Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN, one of the presidential candidates in the recently-concluded National Elections of the Nigerian Bar Association.”

In a letter obtained by CITY LAWYER and dated 30th July, 2022, the erstwhile Appeals Committee members wrote: “Regrettably, we the members of the NBA-NEAC have taken the collective decision to resign our appointment in order to pave the way for you to constitute a new National Election Appeals Committee in which Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN would have enough confidence to ventilate his grievances against the conduct of the recently-concluded elections.”

Addressed to NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the signatories are Mrs. Funmi Roberts (Chairperson), Huwaila Mohammed Ibrahim, Dr. Rosemary Chinelo Chikwendu, Hubert Nwoye, Austin Ajineh (Secretary), Stephen Obajaja, Okey Ohagba, Grace Selre Mamswa and Mathew Egbadon.

The former NBA-NEAC members described as “most unfortunate and underserving (sic)” the “mischaracterization ascribed to some members of the Committee.”

They stated that many NBA-NEAC members refrained from voting during the election “all in an effort to ensure that the process would not in any way be tainted by accusation of bias,” adding however that Gadzama “has decided to take the innocuous act of liking a post that celebrates Children’s Day globally on 27th May, 2022, by Mrs Funmi Roberts, and ascribed bias into it.”

Perhaps admitting the culpability of one of its members, the signatories stated that “In the case of Ms Huwaila Muhammed Ibrahim, if Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN had filed an appeal before us and objected to her participating whilst same is being considered, she would have had to recuse herself,” adding that “this accords with best international practice.”

The NBA-NEAC members also stated that their findings revealed that Mr. Okey Ohagba “was never at any time the co-ordinator of the opposing aspirant (sic),” adding that “had Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN filed an appeal before the Committee and objected to his participation, he would also have recused himself.”

Saying that the “comments by learned silk in the globally circulated letter is therefore, most uncharitable,” the former Appeals Committee members however stated that “we hold the very strong view that the Nigerian Bar Association is greater than the sum total of all the members of the Committee, and it is the duty of all members of our Association to strive at all times to shield her from anything that would taint, not only her image, but also that of any process put in place by the Association.”

The former members stated that though the mass resignation would “cause great inconvenience” to Akpata and members of the NBA Executive Committee, “this is a time when our indignation and principled opposition to the uncharitable comments and accusations of Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN must give way to the greater good of our Association.

CITY LAWYER recalls that Gadzama’s close aides had in a letter to Akpata informed him that the former presidential candidate would not approach the NBA-NEAC for redress over the recent NBA Elections due to concerns on its neutrality.

In a letter made available to CITY LAWYER and signed by Messrs Chukwudi Oli and O. E. Oluwabiyi, the Director-General and Admin Officer respectively of Team J-K Gadzama SAN, the organization stated that “we wish to bring to your attention that our candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN will not be exploring the option of approaching the Committee on the following grounds…”

Titled “RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE NBA NATIONAL ELECTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE (NBA-NEAC),” Team J-K Gadzama SAN alleged that the Chairperson of the Committee, Mrs. Funmi Roberts is “more of a supporter of Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN by liking posts on LinkedIn.”

The organization also doubted the neutrality of former NBA National Officer and Appeals Committee member, Mr. Okey Ohagba, saying that he “was an active Coordinator in Port Harcourt for Y. C. Maikyau, SAN.”

Team J-K Gadzama SAN again alleged that another member of the Appeals Committee, Mrs. Huwaila Muhammed Ibrahim “actively and openly posted contents on her Facebook platform projecting Y. C. Maikyau, SAN.”

The organization stated that the “non-neutrality” of these members of the Appeals Committee “poses elements of bias by virtue of their active participation in the campaign activities of Y. C. Maikyau, SAN in the recently concluded National Elections which held on Saturday, 16th July, 2022.

“We sincerely believe that the aforementioned persons will not be able to discharge the duties of the Committee devoid of sentiments and biases and hence, present no guarantee of credibility and fairness in administering unbiased decisions and findings. We have attached some screen pictures of displays by these persons in support of Y. C. Maikyau, SAN during the period of campaign activities. Please see Annexure NBA1 and Annexure
NBA2;

“The refusal of the ECNBA to allow an election audit which would examine the Election/Result Logs and the platform for the election as requested by our candidate’s Agent, Andrew Agbo-Madaki in his letter dated Saturday, 16th July, 2022 further renders our cause a herculean task if not an impossible one before the Committee, whose duty is essentially factfinding.

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LPDC: ‘AKPATA IS FIGHTING PROXY WAR WITH OLANIPEKUN,’ SAYS OLASUPO OJO

Fiery senior lawyer, Mr. Olasupo Ojo has alleged that the demand by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to step aside from the seat is a proxy war being waged by NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Ojo, a former Secretary of the NBA Constitution Review Committee, also alleged that the demand for Olanipekun’s recusal is a “propaganda war” “being sponsored by a clique,” urging lawyers not to be hoodwinked by the alleged plot.

Noting that those gunning for Olanipekun to recuse himself “are opportunists stoking the matter beyond its scope and trying to use the NBA to drag the BOB Chair down with it at all cost,” Ojo urged “discerning” lawyers “not to join a facade wagon whose true destination is hidden.”

According to Ojo, “Those gunning for chairmanship of the BOB should come out openly and tell the truth about what transpired at a recent meeting of the BOB where the NBA President read out his memo on the proposed amendment to the LPA during which he spoke rudely to the BOB and he was roundly lambasted by members of the BOB. The next shot to be fired was to exploit the issue of the letter written by a lawyer in the office of the Chairman of the BOB to get at him in retaliation.”

He wondered what “hidden personal axe” those who are pushing the recusal demand have with Olanipekun, warning that “The NBA is not the only Association of Lawyers registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria hence the false impression should not be given that the NBA letter for recusal has the backing of all Association of Lawyers in Nigeria.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a complaint by former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN over an email from Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, allegedly soliciting to take over a brief his law firm was handling for SAIPEM SPA. Following his demand for an apology, Wole Olanipekun & Co apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

Below is the full text of the statement.

STILL ON THE NBA LETTER OF RECUSAL TO THE CHAIRMAN OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS.

I have this morning read the statement credited to a group called Justice Reform Project, (JRP), an NGO like the NBA, formed by some senior lawyers. I also had the benefit of reading the statement issued by Oluwemimo Ogunde SAN, a member of the JRP and father of the lawyer who wrote the letter in issue.

Based on the two statements, it is now obvious that this whole issue is being sponsored by a clique. They are opportunists stoking the matter beyond its scope and trying to use the NBA to drag the BOB Chair down with it at all cost.

I find it difficult that I should be choked because of a letter written by a lawyer in my firm without my authorisation and who has claimed responsibility for same.

Those gunning for chairmanship of the BOB should come out openly and tell the truth about what transpired at a recent meeting of the BOB where the NBA President read out his memo on the proposed amendment to the LPA during which he spoke rudely to the BOB and he was roundly lambasted by members of the BOB. The next shot to be fired was to exploit the issue of the letter written by a lawyer in the office of the Chairman of the BOB to get at him in retaliation.

I am just looking and laughing at those screaming their heads off in support of the recusal letter. You are all victims of social media trial. They are using you all as mobs to shout-out their cause in the market place. I advise you to be circumspect and not continue to fall prey to the antics of an exploitative clique.

Why are they using the NBA to cry more than the bereaved who has already filed his process with the LPDC on the same matter?

Why are they throwing stones as if they are saints?

Is the Chairmanship of the BOB an issue in the substantive matter?

Why is the NBA now being used as their platform to launch a propaganda war against the person of the BOB chair who is a former NBA President?

What is the hidden personal axe they have to grind with him as the BOB chair?

Why did they wait until now to seize on the issue of a letter wrongly written by a lawyer in his law firm without his knowledge or authorisation as admitted by the same lawyer who wrote the letter?

How many of us have been crucified just because a lawyer in our firm wrote an unauthorised letter and is this the first or last time such will happen in our law firms?

Can you hold the principal partner of a law firm vicariously liable for an unauthorised letter written by a lawyer in the firm under the Rules of Professional Conduct?

Why are they unable to cite just a rule of the RPC that has been breached by the BOB chair?

I URGE ALL MATURE AND DISCERNING LAWYERS NOT TO JOIN A FACADE WAGON WHOSE TRUE DESTINATION IS HIDDEN.

WHY CANT THEY WAIT FOR THE ALREADY IGNITED LPDC DUE PROCESS TO BE FOLLOWED TO LOGICAL CONCLUSION AT THE SUPREME COURT?

SINCE THERE IS NOW A DIVISION, WHO IS THEIR CANDIDATE FOR THE POSITION OF THE BOB CHAIR AND WHY CAN’T THEIR CANDIDATE AWAIT HIS OWN TIME?

AT OUR LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE, WE SHOULD NOT BE AMONG THE MOBS.

The NBA is not the only Association of Lawyers registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in Nigeria hence the false impression should not be given that the NBA letter for recusal has the backing of all Association of Lawyers in Nigeria.

THANKS.

OLASUPO OJO ESQ.
July 30, 2022.

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OLANIPEKUN: OKUTEPA CRIES OUT OVER CRITICISM BY SENIOR LAWYERS

Fiery senior lawyer and former Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has distanced himself from a statement by the Justice Reform Project (JRP) asking Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to quit his office as Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB).

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the outspoken Bar Leader said he “left JRP long ago when I perceived the way things were being done without consultations.”

Leading senior lawyer and Chairman of JRP Governing Board, Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN had told CITY LAWYER yesterday that both Okutepa and former Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Olasupo Shasore left the group “on issues of personal principle.”

He also berated “eminent members of the Bar” for chastising him over the recusal saga, adding that he never called Olanipekun a “superior member of the Bar.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a complaint by an apparently embittered senior lawyer and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN where he referenced an email to the SAIPEM from Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, and demanded an apology from the law firm. The firm apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

The NBA has filed a petition at the LPDC where it not only demanded sanctions against Ms. Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, for alleged solicitation of briefs from Saipem SPA, but invited the Committee to “consider whether the Partners of the Firm of Wole Olanipekun & Co. are not liable to be disciplined by this august body seeing that the Respondent has the ostensible authority to act as a Partner and indeed acted for and on behalf of the said Firm.” Olanipekun is the Founding Partner of the law firm. The LPDC is a committee of the Body of Benchers.

Below is a full text of the statement.

My attention has been drawn to an unsigned statement said to have been issued by Justice Reform Projects, JRP in which my name was mentioned.

While I have no quarrel with whatever informed the reasons for the statement, I want to say categorically that I am no more a member of JRP. I left JRP long ago when I perceived the way things were being done without consultations. Prof Ojukwu SAN and many members of JRP can testify to this. Those who issued the statement should have been kind enough to have indicated that I have long withdrawn my membership of JRP.

My name is being used by different persons for different reasons on this alleged issue of professional misconduct. Many have attributed to me on social media what I did not say. For instance I did not describe Chief Olanipekun SAN as Suprior member of the Bar and couldn’t have said so yet eminent members of the Bar have gone to the media to pour venoms on me for what I did not say.

I will not support or shield any member of the legal profession who breaches or who is alleged to have breached our rules of professional Conduct in the legal profession, no matter his or her status in the legal profession, but nobody should use my name in any statement I did not authorize or attributes to me what I did not say, no matter how noble the intention may be.

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LPDC PROBE: OGUNDE QUITS JRP OVER STANCE, BACKS DAUGHTER, OLANIPEKUN

The father of Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, the senior lawyer in the middle of the clamour for the Body of Benchers Chairman, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to recuse himself from the seat, has finally broken his silence, throwing his weight behind his embattled daughter and Olanipekun.

In a statement obtained by CITY LAWYER, Mr. Wemimo Ogunde SAN dissociated himself from a statement by the influential Justice Reform Project (JRP) calling on Olanipekun to quit, saying that he was not consulted before release of the statement.

Responding to an online publication (not CITY LAWYER) where he was said to have endorsed the JRP statement, the senior lawyer stated that “I want to state categorically that I do not wish to be associated with that statement. At no time did I participate in any meeting or discussion where the content of the statement was tabled or my consent sought or obtained.”

Ogunde hinted that he has quit the justice sector reform body as “my membership of JRP has now become untenable,” adding that “Many members of the JRP already know my difficult situation in this matter. For that reason I expected that i should have been consulted so that I would have had the opportunity to have dissociated myself from it internally, and the statement could then have been framed in a way to make my stance very clear, rather than putting me in this clearly embarrassing and awkward situation.”

He exonerated Olanipekun and other partners in the law firm from the solicitation debacle, saying: “However, one thing that is clear is that the innocence of the other partners has been clearly expressed. Whether they are vicariously liable for the acts of Ms Adekunbi Ogunde is one of the questions already submitted before the LPDC. Until then, the presumption of innocence of everyone involved, a constitutional right, ought to be respected.”

Ogunde stated that “My focus as a father at this time, is to assist my daughter prepare her defence,” adding that while the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has filed a complaint against his daughter, “I think as lawyers, the sanctity and independence of that body (Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee) should be respected.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a searing complaint by an apparently embittered senior lawyer and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN where he referenced an email to the oil company from Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, and demanded an apology from the law firm. The firm apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

The NBA has filed a petition at the LPDC where it not only demanded sanctions against Ms. Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, for alleged solicitation of briefs from Saipem SPA, but invited the Committee to “consider whether the Partners of the Firm of Wole Olanipekun & Co. are not liable to be disciplined by this august body seeing that the Respondent has the ostensible authority to act as a Partner and indeed acted for and on behalf of the said Firm.” Olanipekun is the Founding Partner of the law firm. The LPDC is a committee of the Body of Benchers.

The association followed this up with a letter personally signed by Akpata which urged Olanipekun “to recuse yourself from chairmanship of the BOB henceforth and to allow for the emplacement of an interim leadership of the BOB, in order to enable the LPDC carry out this particular assignment, amongst others, without coming under an undue suspicion of impartiality.”

The full text of the statement is below.

THE CALL FOR THE RESIGNATION OF CHIEF WOLE OLANIPEKUN SAN AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS: MY POSITION AS A MEMBER OF THE JUSTICE REFORM PROJECT

Today, 29th July, 2022, my attention was drawn to a publication by BarristerNG, an online law newspaper that 20 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (including me) who are members of the JRP have called for the resignation of Chief Olanipekun SAN on account of the email written by my daughter.

I want to state categorically that I do not wish to be associated with that statement. At no time did I participate in any meeting or discussion where the content of the statement was tabled or my consent sought or obtained.

The NBA has filed a complaint against my daughter before the LPDC and I think as lawyers, the sanctity and independence of that body should be respected. It must be noted that no complaint was filed against any other partner and Mr Odein Ajumogobia SAN has neither filed any complaint nor deposed to any statement in support of the NBA’s complaint. My focus as a father at this time, is to assist my daughter prepare her defence. However, one thing that is clear is that the innocence of the other partners has been clearly expressed. Whether they are vicariously liable for the acts of Ms Adekunbi Ogunde is one of the questions already submitted before the LPDC. Until then, the presumption of innocence of everyone involved, a constitutional right, ought to be respected.

In the circumstances, my membership of JRP has now become untenable. I believe and support my daughter’s solemn declaration expressed privately and publicly, that the email was written unilaterally, without the knowledge of any other partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co. Those who have a contrary view are also entitled to their opinion, but in the interest of justice, we all have to await the verdict of the LPDC.

Many members of the JRP already know my difficult situation in this matter. For that reason I expected that i should have been consulted so that I would have had the opportunity to have dissociated myself from it internally, and the statement could then have been framed in a way to make my stance very clear, rather than putting me in this clearly embarrassing and awkward situation.

I am grateful to all those who have contacted me privately, particularly those who also know Adekunbi very well. May the Almighty God bless you and yours always.

OLUWEMIMO OGUNDE SAN

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LAWYER REUNITES WITH KIDNAPPED TODDLER

Oyo-based lawyer, Mr. Aderemi Adebiyi has reunited with his three-year-son barely 24 hours after he was whisked away from their residence by kidnappers.

Adebiyi told CITY LAWYER that the toddler was released after spending hours in the kidnappers’ den.

Also announcing the release in an online post, Adebiyi said: “To God be the glory, just like my neighbour, Michael Adetayo Adebiyi has been reunited with us, while my brother is still recuperating. Thank you all for your love, interest and prayers.”

He sent “special thanks” to the men of the Nigeria Police Oyo State Command and the Amotekun Corps “for the active role they played during the trying moment,” adding that “Surely, Nigeria’ll be better.”

CITY LAWYER had reported that the distressed father had yesterday sent a Save-Our-Soul message that bandits struck last night at their Bode Thomas Estate, Offametta, Oyo, Oyo State residence, shot his brother and whisked away his child.

His words: “The insecurity situation in this country is not limited to any region, my house was attacked today by some Fulani men around midnight, and my younger brother was shot in the process and he’s currently receiving treatment. My 3-year-old boy has also been kidnapped and we are praying for his safe return.”

According to Adebiyi, “I’ve also been reliably informed that one of my neighbours was equally kidnapped,” adding: “Please pray for us. It seems our estate is now their target. It’s on record that this is the second time we are experiencing this sort of incident.”

Adebiyi told CITY LAWYER that the bandits had not made any contact with him, adding: “But they’ve contacted my neighbour’s relative demanding for 100 million (naira).”

There has been heightened insecurity in the country, even as President Muhammadu Buhari recently held a series of meetings with his security chiefs towards containing the menace.

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SENIOR ADVOCATES ASK OLANIPEKUN TO QUIT OVER LPDC PROBE

A coalition of leading senior lawyers, civil society activists and users of court services under the aegis of Justice Reform Project (JRP) has added its voice to the growing call on the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to resign.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) had asked the former NBA President to recuse himself from the seat to pave way for an unfettered investigation of its petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) against the foremost senior lawyer and other partners in his law firm.

In a statement obtained by CITY LAWYER, the group comprising over 20 senior advocates and other justice sector reform advocates urged Olanipekun to “step down” from his position as BoB helmsman, adding that such move would be a mark of honour.

It said: “JRP takes the position that the learned silk ought to step down from his position as Chairman of the Body of Benchers to enable investigations to be concluded with the requisite confidence. This should have predated the steps taken by the NBA and subsequent public commentary. Such an action on his part would not be a mark of culpability, it would be a matter of responsibility and honour. In his exalted position, he should ordinarily be instigating such a complaint.”

The body decried Olanipekun’s failure to recuse himself, saying: “The learned silk’s continued stay in office is, consequently, an indiscretion which will come at a cost to the integrity of our profession. The tribal sentiments being stoked by senior members of the bar are not helpful. Neither are allegations of witch-hunting or ulterior motives.”

The JRP also berated the BoB Chairman for the alleged “innuendos” in his speech during the recent Call to Bar ceremony, saying that that has only reinforced the call for his resignation.

According to the group of justice sector reform advocates, “On a related note, the innuendos in the learned silk’s speech at the Call to Bar ceremony, suggesting that opposing views were indicative of a ‘pulling down syndrome’, can only reinforce the call for his resignation, even though a formal complaint against him has not been lodged.”

It commended the Olumide Akpata-led NBA for its position on the saga, saying: “The NBA, and its leadership, must be commended for taking a bold step in upholding the standards of our profession, even in circumstances involving a man who commands an enormous amount of respect from the entire profession. This is the true test of our will to revive our dying profession and, all of us, including the learned silk, have a responsibility to put the profession first in circumstances like this.”

The JRP added that “The NBA leadership has done its job. Their actions have marked a new era in the enforcement of ethical standards in the legal profession and we must all stand behind the NBA to ensure the integrity of our profession.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a searing complaint by an apparently embittered senior lawyer and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN where he referenced an email to the oil company from Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, a Partner in Wole Olanipekun & Co, and demanded an apology from the law firm. The firm apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

JRP was set up in February 2019 with membership cutting across senior and junior lawyers, civil society activists and users of court services interested in reform of the justice system.. The group co-hosted the recent Justice Sector Summit. CITY LAWYER gathered that the JRP is an offshoot of the G20 group of senior advocates who in mid-2019 at the peak of the controversy surrounding the removal of former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, issued a statement saying they “feel embarrassed and deeply concerned by the recent events surrounding the suspension of Honourable Justice W. S. N. Onnoghen as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.”

Among the signatories to the Onnoghen statement were Messrs Ebun Sofunde SAN, Kayode Sofola SAN, Kola Awodein SAN, Ademola Akinrele SAN, Eyimofe Atake SAN, Olufunke Adekoya SAN, Oluwafemi Atoyebi SAN, Yemi Candide-Johnson SAN, Olasupo Shasore SAN, Babatunde Ajibade SAN, Osaro Eghobamien SAN, Babatunde Fagbohunlu SAN, Wemimo Ogunde SAN, and Jibrin Okutepa SAN. Others Messrs Olumide Sofowora SAN, Ernest Ojukwu SAN, Olatunde Adejuyigbe SAN, Adewale Olawoyin SAN, Adeniyi Adegbonmire SAN and Oyesoji Oyeleke SAN.

More recently, the JRP brought a lawsuit at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja to restrain President Muhammadu Buhari from appointing as judges, 21 persons recommended to him by the National Judicial Council (NJC), saying that “it is concerned about the dysfunctional justice system in Nigeria.”

It was unclear at press time whether all the senior advocates that endorsed the Onnoghen Statement are still members of the JRP, moreso as Okutepa has criticized the approach adopted by Akpata in seeking Olanipekun’s recusal while Ogunde is the father of Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, the partner in Olanipekun’s law firm who has been dragged to the LPDC by NBA.

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BANDITS KIDNAP LAWYER’S CHILD, NEIGHBOUR, DEMAND N100 MILLION

Gunmen have kidnapped the three-year-old son of an Oyo based lawyer, Mr. Aderemi Adebiyi, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

In a post by the distressed father, he stated that the bandits struck last night at their Bode Thomas Estate, Offametta, Oyo, Oyo State residence, shot his brother and whisked away his child.

His words: “The insecurity situation in this country is not limited to any region, my house was attacked today by some Fulani men around midnight, and my younger brother was shot in the process and he’s currently receiving treatment. My 3-year-old boy has also been kidnapped and we are praying for his safe return.”

According to Adebiyi, “I’ve also been reliably informed that one of my neighbours was equally kidnapped,” adding: “Please pray for us. It seems our estate is now their target. It’s on record that this is the second time we are experiencing this sort of incident.”

Adebiyi told CITY LAWYER that the bandits had not made any contact with him, adding: “But they’ve contacted my neighbour’s relative demanding for 100 million (naira).”

There has been heightened insecurity in the country, even as President Muhammadu Buhari recently held a series of meetings with his security chiefs towards containing the menace.

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INIBEHE EFFIONG: NBA WADES IN, VOWS TO RESIST HARASSMENT OF LAWYERS

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said that it is making moves to secure the release of human rights lawyer, Mr. Inibehe Effiong, even as it warned that it would resist attempts to intimidate and harass lawyers.

In a statement by NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the association noted that it has mobilized its Uyo Branch members to secure Effiong’s freedom, adding: “While not going into the merits of this particular matter yet, suffice it to say that the NBA is strongly opposed to, and will continue to resist all attempts to intimidate, threaten or harass our members while properly carrying out their professional responsibilities.”

The fiery human rights lawyer was committed for contempt and sentenced to one month imprisonment yesterday by the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State, Justice Ekaette Obot.

Titled, “RE: DETENTION OF MR. INIBEHE EFFIONG IN AKWA IBOM STATE,” the statement reads:

“I have received with great concern the news of the detention of one of our members, Inibehe Effiong, at a correctional facility in Akwa Ibom State, on account of what transpired on Wednesday 27 July 2022 during proceedings in the court of the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State.

“Since receiving this news, I have been in touch with the Chairman of the Uyo Branch of NBA who has mobilised his team to look into and address this. This morning, I have also mandated the NBA 1st Vice President to visit Uyo immediately to join the ongoing efforts and ensure the release of Mr. Effiong.

“The NBA is therefore on top of this, and I am confident that Mr. Effiong will regain his freedom shortly.

“While not going into the merits of this particular matter yet, suffice it to say that the NBA is strongly opposed to, and will continue to resist all attempts to intimidate, threaten or harass our members while properly carrying out their professional responsibilities.

“The NBA will also not condone acts of indiscipline and insubordination against judicial officers from our members no matter the provocation. Ours is a rule-based profession and there is a procedure for airing grievances. The NBA 1st Vice President will also conduct fact finding investigation to determine what transpired and recommend next steps.”

OLUMIDE AKPATA
NBA President
28 July 2022

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LPDC PROBE: YEMI CANDIDE-JOHNSON ASKS OLANIPEKUN TO RESIGN, OKUTEPA QUERIES AKPATA’S APPROACH

More pressure is being piled on the Chairman of the Body of Benchers (BoB), Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to step aside from the seat as the former President of Lagos Court of Arbitration, Mr. Yemi Candide-Johnson SAN has asked him to resign.

This is coming against the backdrop of a similar call today by the influential Eastern Bar Forum (EBF).

Meanwhile, erstwhile Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) Prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has berated the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata for his approach in the matter.

Candide-Johnson, who is a leading justice sector reform advocate and Chairman of the Board of Directors of Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, said in an interview that “In the face of public allegations of egregious professional misconduct, I would expect him to defend the profession first before himself and accordingly to resign from the office that leads the profession. It’s a matter of responsibility and of honour.”

His words: “Wole Olanipekun is a leading Nigerian lawyer and recognized by many important offices as a leader of the profession. It is of the utmost importance that such an individual always conducts himself and regulates his practice in a manner that is exemplary.

“Any implication that he acts below optimum standards makes his position, especially as chairman of an important professional organ untenable. In the face of public allegations of egregious professional misconduct, I would expect him to defend the profession first before himself and accordingly to resign from the office that leads the profession. It’s a matter of responsibility and of honour.

“The appearance of corruption by itself is deeply damaging. My own view generally is that nobody is above the law and the bane of our profession to this time has been that the most senior are often the most badly behaved. It is intolerable and unsustainable. The law and its due and proper administration is more important than any individual.”

Okutepa lampooned Akpata for allegedly going public with the demand for Olanipekun to recuse himself from the seat, saying the BoB helmsman deserved a better treatment.

His words: “The letter was not in the best tradition of how things are done irrespective of what anybody feels about it. Chief Wole Olanipekun was a past President of the Nigerian Bar Association and whether we like it or not, he is a superior member of the bar and if I were to be in the position of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, I won’t write such letter. I would go to meet with Chief Wole Olanipekun or involve senior members of the Bar, elders, past Presidents, and then meet with him and have discussion because whether anybody likes it or not, he is the leader of the bar.

“To do a letter to him and before he gets it, it is on social media, it is a very terrible thing that he ought not to do. You may not like Wole Olanipekun as a person but the institution that we all belong to must be preserved by the decorum we accord to ourselves.

“I’m not saying Wole Olanipekun is above disciplinary process and I am not going to go to any argument as to whether or not what happened is correct or not correct, but there are better and respectful way of dealing with issues that affect the profession.”

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report cited a searing complaint by an apparently embittered senior lawyer and former Minister of Energy and Petroleum ministries, Mr. Odein Ajumogobia SAN where he referenced an email to the oil company from Ogunde and demanded an apology from the law firm. The firm apologized for the debacle and disowned the Partner.

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LPDC PROBE: EASTERN BAR FORUM ASKS OLANIPEKUN TO STEP ASIDE

The Eastern Bar Forum has asked the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN to step aside “to save that august institution and the legal profession further embarrassment and opprobrium.”

In a statement signed by the Chairman of the EBF Governing Council, Chief Uba Anene, the forum alleged that Olanipekun has “grave integrity issues hanging over his head.”

According to the influential forum, “The EBF also calls on the Chairman of the Body of Benchers to save that august institution and the legal profession further embarrassment and opprobrium by stepping aside while issues pertaining to his integrity and that of his eponymous office is being dealt with. There can be no better way to lead by example.”

It also urged the Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State to reverse the imprisonment of fiery human rights lawyer, Mr. Inibehe Effiong.

The full statement reads:

IN THE MATTERS OF INIBEHE EFFIONG AND CHIEF WOLE OLANIPEKUN, SAN

It is not the best of times for the legal profession in Nigeria.

Yesterday, at a hastily relocated venue due to the pervading state of insecurity in Nigeria, 1507 candidates were admitted to the noble profession at a ceremony presided over by a Chairman of the Body of Benchers with grave integrity issues hanging over his head.

Yesterday also, east of the Niger, a learned presiding Chief Judge wielded the ultimate judicial hammer and clamped a learned colleague Inibehe Effiong into prison for daring to raise procedural issues in a politically sensitive case involving the Akwa Ibom State governor, in which her impartiality had been called to question by way of a properly filed and served application for recusal/transfer.

These incidents leave a sour taste in the mouth.

The EBF calls on the Honourable Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom State to take another look at the matter, rescind her committal order immediately and transfer the pending case to another court so that justice may not only be done but also be seen to have been done.

The EBF also calls on the Chairman of the Body of Benchers to save that august institution and the legal profession further embarrassment and opprobrium by stepping aside while issues pertaining to his integrity and that of his eponymous office is being dealt with. There can be no better way to lead by example.

Chief Uba Anene
Chairman, EBF Governing Council.

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NBA-SPIDEL LAUDS UBANI AS HE CELEBRATES BIRTHDAY TODAY

The Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) wishes its indefatigable Chairman, Dr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani a very happy birthday as he adds another year today.

Dr. Ubani is a relentless human rights crusader, an unrepentant good governance advocate, an activist and social critic of note, a painstaking public interest litigator, a committed community leader and philanthropist, and an endearing family man.

He showed his mettle as a former NBA 1st Vice President, a trait he has carried into his current role as NBA-SPIDEL Chairman.

Dr. Ubani is a trailblazer and a visionary leader whose daring and can-do spirit is matchless.

The NBA-SPIDEL Council applauds you and especially your uncommon track record in the public interest and development law sphere.

Your landmark cases have opened new frontiers in public interest matters and fostered the entrenchment of human rights in Nigeria.

As you celebrate today, we pray for God’s continued guidance and protection on you. We are confident that posterity will be kind to you in your relentless pursuit of the public interest.

We wish you many more years of happiness and service to humanity.

SIGNED:

Dr. Princess Frank-Chukwuani (FICMC),
Secretary, NBA-SPIDEL
PP: NBA-SPIDEL COUNCIL

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‘WHY CHIEF JUDGE SENT ME TO PRISON,’ BY RIGHTS LAWYER INIBEHE

Fiery human rights lawyer has given an account of why he was sent to prison detention by the Akwa Ibom Chief Judge, Justice Ekaette Obot.

His words: “The Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom ordered a Premium Times reporter to leave the court. I said my lord, we were thinking that since the proceeding is public, that members of the public should be allowed to observe the proceeding. My Lord asked me to proceed with cross examination.

“I obeyed. I informed the court that I was not feeling comfortable and safe having two armed mobile policemen seated inside the courtroom, that it was strange and that I felt unsafe. I applied for the judge to excuse the armed policemen from the courtroom.

“The Hon. Chief Judge then ordered me to step out of the Bar, that she was sending me to prison. She then ordered the policemen to take me to Uyo prison. And that I should be in jail for one month. I am waiting inside the courtroom for them to bring the conviction warrant.

“I will be going to the Uyo Correctional Centre now. I have not done anything. I wasn’t even (given) opportunity to say anything before the “conviction”. Two lawyers in court appealed to the Hon. Chief Judge but my Lord insisted that I must be jailed.

“This is in the suit filed by Governor Udom Emmanuel against a lawyer, Leo Ekpenyong, for alleged defamation.”

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OLANIPEKUN RECUSAL: ‘IS NBA PLAYING TO GALLERY?’ ASKS CHIJIOKE OKOLI

THE NBA’S PUBLIC DEMAND OF RECUSAL OF CHIEF OLANIPEKUN, SAN AS CHAIR BODY OF BENCHERS PENDING CONCLUSION OF INVESTIGATION AGAINST A COLLEAGUE IN HIS CHAMBERS LEAVES MUCH TO BE DESIRED: STATEMENT BY CHIJIOKE OKOLI, SAN

1. It is an understatement that these are not the best of times for our country in general, the legal profession inclusive. The very unfortunate incident involving a junior colleague in what is arguably the leading litigation law firm in the country, Wole Olanipekun & Co., has arrested the attention of the Nigerian Bar Association and many of its members, with several disconcerting consequences for the reasonable and fair-minded observers and stakeholders.

2. It is against the foregoing backdrop that one was astounded to read in the social and other media the unfortunate ethnicization of the distressing developments by Silk, Chief Yomi Aliu, SAN. He accused the N.B.A. President/leadership of tribalism for their call for the recusal of Chief Olanipekun from the Body of Benchers pending the investigation of his said junior colleague for possible professional misconduct. The needless hysteria which underpins Chief Aliu’s position notwithstanding, there are some genuine concerns over the nature and manner of the N.B.A.’s call. But more on that later.

3. Chief Aliu obviously did not think through his rushed defence of Chief Olanipekun, and essentially calling on South-West lawyers to rise to the defence of “their Leader”. He unwittingly seeks to diminish the esteemed Bar Leader whose leadership constituency is way beyond the South-West, but is rather unquestionably national. Chief Olanipekun is a Leader amongst leaders of the Nigerian Bar, with mentees of all categories in all nooks and crannies of the country ready to stand up to his defence if occasion calls for it. Chief Aliu may therefore need to reconsider his unhelpful and incendiary statement with a view to a retraction of same.

4. Now, lawyers acknowledge as article of faith that oftentimes procedure is as important as the substantive, indeed that there is frequently a coalescence of both categories. It is in the foregoing light that the manner of NBA’s communication with Chief Olanipekun leaves a sour taste in the mouth. It is not too much to expect that if the NBA leadership felt that he should recuse himself from the Body of Benchers then the President should have met with and intimated him accordingly so that he could do so voluntarily. Even if he was approached as suggested but did not immediately see the point, it would still suffice to enlist some ranking practitioners and judicial officers to reiterate the message, and only after which recourse to letter writing could be justified.

5. As distasteful as the rush to write a letter to Chief Olanipekun was, even worse was the fact of it gracing the social media hardly before the ink on it had dried. For all its presumed good intentions of maintaining rules and order in the profession, this action unfortunately leaves the NBA leadership open to questions as to its motives, with complaints, by no means outlandish in the circumstances, of playing to the gallery and seeking to maximize Chief Olanipekun’s embarrassment. The fact that he apparently had not even been served with the letter before its release for the titillation of netizens and consumers of the social media is most unfortunate and detracts from the sobriety required in such delicate circumstances.

6. Finally, the present insistence that Chief Olanipekun deserved better, i.e. a more decorous engagement, from the NBA leadership is in no way suggesting the dismissal of the principle of equality before the law. However, an unnuanced application of the law almost invariably leaves it appearing crude and harsh; which is why, for example, we do not complain when a lawyer, especially a ranking one, who finds himself in the dock is given bail on self-recognizance. There is perhaps need for the reminder that the history of NBA and its pantheon of heroes extend well beyond the past one decade or couple of years. Chief Olanipekun’s place in that pantheon is beyond any contest if we remember his courageous and exemplary leadership of the NBA during the challenging times of the Obasanjo Presidency which frequently stretched the rule of law to the breaking point, with history recording Chief Olanipekun as NBA President firmly leading the defence line, leading to such feats as getting the Executive to surrender the Chief Justice’s official residence which it had seized for the Vice President’s occupation.

7. It is sincerely hoped, without suggesting that the Association become a ‘timorous soul’, that henceforth the NBA leadership appreciates the need for sobriety in its engagement in sensitive matters and that there are times and circumstances when discretion is the better part of valour.

Signed:
Chijioke Okoli, SAN

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GADZAMA SHUNS NBA APPEALS C’TE OVER BIAS CONCERNS, DG WRITES AKPATA

Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN will not approach the NBA NBA National Elections Appeals Committee (NBA-NEAC) for redress over the recent NBA Elections due to concerns on the neutrality of the committee, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

In a letter made available to CITY LAWYER and addressed to NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, Team J-K Gadzama SAN stated that “we wish to bring to your attention that our candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN will not be exploring the option of approaching the Committee on the following grounds…”

Signed by Messrs Chukwudi Oli and O. E. Oluwabiyi, the Director-General and Admin Officer respectively of and titled “RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE NBA NATIONAL ELECTIONS APPEALS COMMITTEE (NBA-NEAC),” Team J-K Gadzama SAN alleged that the Chairperson of the Committee, Mrs. Funmi Roberts is “more of a supporter of Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN by liking posts on LinkedIn.”

The organization also doubted the neutrality of former NBA National Officer and Appeals Committee member, Mr. Okey Ohagba, saying that he “was an active Coordinator in Port Harcourt for Y. C. Maikyau, SAN.”

Team J-K Gadzama SAN again alleged that another member of the Appeals Committee, Mrs. Huwaila Muhammed Ibrahim “actively and openly posted contents on her Facebook platform projecting Y. C. Maikyau, SAN.”

The organization stated that the “non-neutrality” of these members of the Appeals Committee “poses elements of bias by virtue of their active participation in the campaign activities of Y. C. Maikyau, SAN in the recently concluded National Elections which held on Saturday, 16th July, 2022.

“We sincerely believe that the aforementioned persons will not be able to discharge the duties of the Committee devoid of sentiments and biases and hence, present no guarantee of credibility and fairness in administering unbiased decisions and findings. We have attached some screen pictures of displays by these persons in support of Y. C. Maikyau, SAN during the period of campaign activities. Please see Annexure NBA1 and Annexure
NBA2;

“The refusal of the ECNBA to allow an election audit which would examine the Election/Result Logs and the platform for the election as requested by our candidate’s Agent, Andrew Agbo-Madaki in his letter dated Saturday, 16th July, 2022 further renders our cause a herculean task if not an impossible one before the Committee, whose duty is essentially factfinding.

“As a result of the aforementioned grounds and circumstances, personal reasons of Chief Gadzama, SAN have also arisen.

“In precis, we firmly believe that the leadership of the NBA has a duty to maintain a level playing ground for all stakeholders and parties, and to guarantee the integrity of the post-election process.”

The NBA is yet to respond to the allegations. Maikyau was declared winner of the election conducted on July 16, 2022 via electronic voting.

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