EXCLUSIVE: LPPC TO UNVEIL 37 NEW SANs TODAY

  • Solicitor-General, Rhodes-Vivour, Others Make List

Barring any last-minute hitches, the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) will today unveil a list of 37 lawyers who successfully scaled its screening exercise for award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

The release of the long-awaited list is the climax of the sifting process which saw the LPPC issuing a final shortlist of 80 lawyers last May. In an advertorial heralding the list and signed by the LPPC Secretary/Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hadizatu Mustapha, the committee said the shortlisted lawyers had scaled the “first and second advocates’ filtration, academic pre-qualification exercise and the appeal process, preparatory to the award of SAN for the year 2019.” Among those shortlisted were leading human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa and 13 professors.

The committee had also invited complaints against any of the shortlisted candidates, saying: “Any complaint(s) presented to the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee must be accompanied with verifying affidavit deposed to

CITY LAWYER investigation shows that only 37 candidates made the cut this year, with 43 others falling by the way side. This is however higher than the 31 candidates awarded last year. While 20 applicants out of 124 received the rank in 2015, 22 SANs were appointed in 2016 out of 50 applicants. The number shot up to 29 in 2017 from 91 applicants, and peaked at 31 in 2018 from 106 applicants. 64 applicants were finally shortlisted for the rank in 2018 as against 80 this year.

Sources who are familiar with the process told CITY LAWYER that among those who made the sought-after list are Messrs Dayo Apata, Solicitor-General & Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice; Adedokun Matthew Makinde Esq; Daniel Chukwudi Enwelum Esq; Tuduru Uchendu Ede Esq, and John Onuegbulam Asoluka Esq; Others are Abiodun Adediran Olatunji Esq; Olusegun Omoniyi Jolaawo Esq; Olusegun Oyediran Fowowe Esq; Abdul Olajide Ajana Esq; Safiya Umar Badamasi, Katsina State Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, and Adedoyin Oyinkan Rhodes-Vivour Esq, wife of Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

According to the committee, the rank is a privilege “awarded as a mark of excellence to members of the legal profession who are in full time legal practice, have distinguished themselves as advocates and have made significant contribution to the development of the legal profession.”

The process for the award of Senior Advocate of Nigeria was approved by the body of benchers, the highest judicial body in Nigeria statutorily responsible for the regulation of the legal profession and for admitting persons who desire to become legal practitioners. The guidelines for the award of the rank were first made in 2007 “and have since been reviewed 4 times in a bid to further improve and straighten the process in the light of experience of past exercises. The current guideline is the one of 17th December, 2013.” The committee is headed by the Chairman who is also the Chief Justice of Nigeria with 15 other members, one of whom is the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Secretary of the Committee.

The committee states that “The guidelines provides for the identification of the very best applicants rigorously and objectively and promotes fairness, excellence and diversity and every effort shall be made to ensure that the conferment of the rank of senior advocate of Nigeria an (sic) applicants who have met the criteria reflect national character by achieving as much geographical spread and gender representation as possible. The exercise is an annual event and we will update the site from time to time to ensure implement (sic) in service delivery.” CITY LAWYER investigations however showed that the website was perhaps last updated in 2017.

Although the committee on one part states that the “current guideline” is the one of 17th December, 2013 it in another post states that “New LPPC Guidelines have been signed into effect by His Lordship, the Hon Chief Justice of Nigeria/Chairman Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee on 12th day of October, 2017. This new set of guidelines now determine the process of receiving applications, screening and selection of new Senior Advocates of Nigeria.”

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ENCOMIUMS, AS YEMI AKANGBE EMERGES NBA LAGOS CHAIR

• ICT PARTNER TO GET N700K

There is palpable excitement among members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch as the first-ever branch elections via electronic voting climaxed with the election of leading corporate lawyer, Mr. Yemi Akangbe as the new branch Chairman. Akangbe, a partner at the law firm of Sofunde, Osakwe, Ogundipe & Belgore, polled 440 (56.8%) of the 774 votes to beat his closest rival, Mr. Adebola Lema who garnered 311 votes or 40.2%. Bolatumi Animashaun came a distant third with 23 votes or 3%.

In the traditional show of sportsmanship that the branch has become accustomed to, some candidates have been calling to congratulate their opponents who won. The branch elections have often been rancour-free over the years.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that Vote-now.com, LLC, the Jacksonville, USA based ICT Partner for the elections may receive about $2300 or N703,000 for their efforts. Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN, Chairman of the Election Committee told CITY LAWYER in an interview that “The service provider will be paid at the conclusion of the election, depending on the total number of voters registered. Their fees are estimated at about $2300 but we will have a final figure at the conclusion of the election.”

It has also been encomiums galore for the Akintunde-led committee which once again delivered rancour-free polls. Akintunde had during an interview http://citylawyermag.com/2019/06/25/we-will-deliver-rancour-free-elections-nba-lagos-cte-chair-tells-city-lawyer/ with CITY LAWYER said: “I want to assure members of the NBA Lagos Branch, candidates, eligible voters and stakeholders that with their cooperation and support, the 2019 election by e-voting will be seamless. At the end of it all, we will all congratulate ourselves.” He has been involved in branch election management since 2009, three times as Secretary to the Election Committee. He is piloting the elections as Chairman for the second consecutive term.

Some members have taunted the national body, saying the NBA National Officers Elections should henceforth be conducted by the Akintunde-led committee. While Ngozi Onwuka said that “The voting process is so easy and stress free, unlike the national election,” Queeneth Hogan said: “I must say, the convenience of this process should be emulated by our National body. Very transparent process. Kudos to the Electoral Committee. Very well done.”

Another Bar Leader, Chukwuma Ezeala said: “May I use this opportunity to congratulate the Premier Bar for their commitment to excellence. I salute in particular our Chairman, Chukwuka Ikwuazom for visionary leadership, our Electoral Committee for their hard work. The contestants were great, our friend Lema and others with laudable projects who would not serve us now. To our Chairman Elect Yemi and other officers Elect congratulations and put on your seatbelts as you must surpass where our current Chairman has taken us to. The Premier Bar must lead and others follow. Finally I say bravo to our President, Paul Usoro SAN for his leadership at the National level and request him to recommend our system to other Branches to reduce the rancorous system in most Branches.”

Okey Ilofulunwa garnered 295 or 39.6 votes to become the Vice Chairman-elect, while Chuks Nwana polled 246 or 33.0 votes and Bode Omoboriowo brought the rear with 204 or 27.4% votes. Incumbent Publicity Secretary, Mr. Moshood Abiola polled 470 or 63.7% to clinch the coveted post of Secretary, beating Tochukwu Chukwumerije and Obinna Okereke who got 208 (28.2%) and 60 (8.1%) votes.

The post of Social Secretary went to Ngozi Egeonu with 406 or 54.7% votes while her opponent Adefowoke Ayo-Ponle polled 336 or 45.3% votes. Harry Ukaejiofor got 331 or 45.8% votes to beat his closest rival, Ben Ihesiulo who polled 245 or 33.9%. Dumgbara Torbari trailed the duo with 147 or 20.3% votes. Ifeoma Ben fought a hard battle to dust two of her rivals, polling 367 or 49.5%. Elo Adhekpukoli and Hammed Bakare got 260 or 35% and 115 or 15.5% votes respectively.

Other candidates whose nominations were not opposed were returned elected. These include Foluke Akinmoladun, Treasurer; Chinenye Oragwu, Financial Secretary; Anthonia Enitan Eke, Welfare Secretary; James Sonde, Publicity Secretary and Florence Chijioke-Duru, Provost.

Both Lema and Animashuan have congratulated Akangbe on his victory. Some other candidates have also congratulated their victorious opponents. In a whatsapp post barely an hour after close of polls, Lema wrote: “Good evening learned Seniors and Colleagues. Permit me to inform you that the result of the NBA, Lagos Branch 2019 Election has just been released by the Election Committee. The result showed Mr. Yemi Akangbe scored 440 votes as against Mr. Adebola Olarotimi LEMA who scored 311 votes. Mr. Yemi Akangbe has therefore been returned Chairman-elect of the Branch and l have called to congratulate him on his victory. I thank all members of our great Branch for your time, effort, energy, commitment and support. God bless NBA Lagos Branch. Adebola Olarotimi Lema.”

On her part, Animashaun wrote: “Congratulations to you, my brother, Yemi Akangbe! I wish you a successful tenure. Well done to our Electoral Committee for a job well done. Thank you all for your cooperation.”

A similar gesture was extended to Ilofulunwa when his opponent, Chuks Nwana wrote: “Well done to the electoral committee, it was a seamless process. To the winners Congratulations. Okey my brother special congratulations to you. It’s our Bar. Long live the Premier Branch.” On his part, defeated Assiatant Secretary candidate, Elo Adhekpukoli wrote: “I just called Ifeoma Ben to congratulate her.”

Members have commended the Election Committee for organizing a seamless and transparent exercise. Other members of the committee are HRM Chief E. A. Otokhina, Mrs. Sola Adegbonmire, Mr. Geff Eze and Mrs. Obosa Akpata, Secretary of the Committee.

At least one Bar Leader has commended the losing candidates for their show of sportsmanship. In a post seen by CITY LAWYER, former NBA presidential candidate and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education (CLE), Chief Emeka Ngige SAN gave Lema a pat on the back, saying: “Well done, Lema! A gallant fighter and true sportsman! It is well!”

On his part, senior lawyer, Chief Adewale Adeniji said: “Congratulations, Yemi. I am sure you will reach out to your co-contestants, if you’ve not done so already. I wish you well in your task of following a class Act that Chairman Chukwuka has been.”

Members have also commended the foresight of the Chukwuka Ikwuazom-led Executive Committee in initiating the electronic voting system in the branch. Fiery Bar commentator, Gerty Ben-Iloegbunam wrote: “I’m most grateful to God for the Spirit that entered and controlled Chukwuka Ikwuazom to appoint this Electoral Committee headed by the Learned Silk! His uncommon integrity has brought joy and acceptance of the outcome of this just concluded election. I’m most grateful to Almighty God. Thanks once more to the outgoing Exco, while I sincerely pray and hope that the New Exco will surpass in their duty. Congratulations all.”

Senior Partner at Olisa Agbakoba Legal (OAL), Victor Nwakasi added his voice to the encomiums when he said: “Chukwuka Ikwuazom! Character and strength are better proven. Thanks for being a great leader, truly proven by this process.”

Many branch members contend that Ikwuazom has raised the stakes in Bar governance, adding that the incoming regime has a tough task of taking the branch a notch higher.

Congratulating the winners on their victories, Ikwuazom wrote: “I congratulate Mr. Yemi Akangbe on his emergence as Chairman Elect of the great Premier Bar. I congratulate all the successful candidates in the election. To those who did not realize their ambitions in this election, I congratulate you as well for the good fight you all fought. To my dear brother Lema, I congratulate you for being such a good sport. You are a good man and an astute bar man. On behalf of the branch, I want to thank the Chairman and members of the Electoral Committee. I know the amount of work that you put in to give us a flawless election. God bless you all. We have demonstrated by this election that we are the Premier Bar and chart the course for other branches to follow. Long live the Premier Bar! Long live the NBA.”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

MIXED REACTIONS, AS LAGOS LAWYERS GO TO POLLS TODAY

888 Members to elect new Chair, Others
• Voters recount experiences

Voting has commenced in the Nigerian Bar Association (Lagos Branch) 2019 Elections as members are set to elect a new set of executives to administer the branch for the next two years.

According to figures published by the Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN-led Election Committee, 888 members are qualified to elect the new Executive Committee of the branch. While an initial 793 members made the voters’ list, additional lists of 90 and 5 members were later released by the committee following resolution of complaints filed by members who did not originally make the list.

However, the actual number of voters may be less, as about five names may have been duplicated on the voters list, bringing the final figure to about 883 voters.

Meanwhile, there has been mixed reactions regarding the voting process. While some voters took to whatsapp forums to announce that they had voted successfully, others complained that they had been unable to vote.

A senior lawyer reported that he received the following message when he attempted to vote: “The Internet connection between your web browser and the election server is currently experiencing a speed degradation. Please try again in a few seconds. If the problem persists, please send an email to support@vote-now.com and include the URL that you are attempting to load. We apologize for any inconvenience. Friday, June 28, 2019, 4:10:02 AM ET USA.”

When CITY LAWYER viewed the website, it indicated “Heavy Election Traffic” at 9:33 am.

Yet another eligible voter said: “I am yet to receive my link. My number and email was on the final list and I have resent it again to the above link provided, still no link.” A member however advised those who were yet to receive their links via email to telephone to “also check their spam (folder).”

On the suspicion that it was “heavy traffic” that was causing the disruption, a popular senior advocate disagreed, saying: “Heavy traffic slowing the voting process. 888 voters shouldn’t be heavy!” He however stated that “May be the rainfall is a contributory factor!”

Commenting on the “speed degradation” problem, a voter said: “I got the same message on my first attempt. But I tried it immediately thereafter and I was able to do it (vote).”

Some however poured encomiums on the Election Committee, describing the process as seamless. The Silk stated: “I eventually voted and have sent my comments as advised. I think with patience all eligible voters will be able to vote. There is still room for improvement in the process but all the same kudos to the election committee. Long live the Premier Branch!”

Social Secretary Uche Nwadialo was among those who reported that they had voted successfully, while another apparently excited voter said: “Voted. Electoral Committee members, kudos; very seamless. Thank you AKINTUNDE SAN for saving me from running around in the rains today. Our learned Silk Mr. AKINTUNDE SAN, you are too much.”

Twenty-two candidates http://nbalagoselections.com.ng/qualified-candidates/ are gunning for the 11 available votes, making an average of two candidates per post. Some of the candidates have however clinched their positions even before the voting commenced, as they are the only candidates vying for the posts. These include the posts of Treasurer, Financial Secretary, Welfare Secretary, Publicity Secretary and Provost.

Some voters had started receiving links to enable them access the voting portal on the eve of the elections. A sample of the text message received by a voter reads:
To: (Name of voter)
Registration code: xxxxx
6/28/19, 9:xx AM

“As you requested, the link below will load your record of the selections you made in the Nigerian Bar Association Lagos Branch 2019 Elections:

https://vtnw.com/mv.html?c==/elections/org/NBALagos/

You can print this web page for a hard copy of your choices if you prefer. The web address will be valid until the close of the election.”

An earlier notice by the Election Committee Chairman read: “ELIGIBLE VOTERS! PLEASE TAKE NOTICE ELECTRONIC VOTING FOR THE 2019 NBA LAGOS BRANCH ELECTIONS OPENED TODAY 28 JUNE 2019 AT 9.00 AM AND CLOSES AT 5.00 PM.” This was followed by another post thus: “PLEASE NOTE: Eligible voters who have not received the voting link should send their name email and phone number to nbaelection2019@gmail.com”

Akintunde had told CITY LAWYER in an interview that “Candidates will be allowed to nominate agents who will be granted some access to the Situation Room, where the ballot process will be monitored.” CITY LAWYER gathered that voting points and a Situation Room would be set up at the Lagos High Court Foyer. While eligible voters will utilize the voting points to cast their ballots, agents of the candidates will be permitted access to the Situation Room to view the election as it unfolds. However, only graphs showing the results being garnered by each candidate will be visible to the agents. The agents are also barred from going into the Situation Room with their telephones or recording the process.

A chairmanship candidate told CITY LAWYER that “this (Situation Room viewing centre) is an improvement from the 2016 NBA National Officers Elections which caused a lot of controversies.”

Sources at the stakeholders’ meeting told CITY LAWYER that the Election Committee assured that there would be a paper trail showing the entire voting pattern. It is not clear at press time whether an audit of the process will be done before release of the results or after completion of the exercise.

While Messrs Adebola Lema and Yemi Akangbe as well as Bolatumi Animashaun are gunning for the post of Chairman of the branch, Messrs Bode Omoboriowo, Chuks Nwana and Okey Ilofulunwa are vying for the Vice-Chairmanship position. The race for Secretary is between Moshood Abiola, Obinna Okereke and Tochukwu Chukwumerije.

The Social Secretary battle is between Ngozi Egeonu and Adefowoke Ayo-Ponle while Ben Ihesiulo, Harry Ukaejiofor and Dumgbara Torbari will square up for the post of Legal Adviser. Elo Adhekpukoli, Hammed Bakare and Ifeoma Ben will slug it out for the post of Assistant Secretary.

Candidates whose nominations were not challenged include Foluke Akinmoladun, Treasurer; Chinenye Oragwu, Financial Secretary; Anthonia Enitan Eke, Welfare Secretary; James Sonde, Publicity Secretary and Florence Chijioke-Duru, Provost.

The election ends at 5 p. m. today while results are expected immediately afterwards.

Vote-now.com, LLC (US) (VTNW) is the service provider and ICT Partner for the elections. According to the Jacksonville, USA based company, “The VTNW balloting system was specifically designed by University Scientists for use in Professional organization elections. With 21+ years of experience conducting web-based elections, we have assisted hundreds of business and academic professional organizations, HOA’s, non-profit groups, and universities with their balloting needs. Our experience makes a key difference in providing a smooth and easy to use election process for your members. We have served over 2375 ballots to date (millions of voters).”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

INVESTIGATION: UNVEILING NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS ICT PARTNER

VOTE-NOW.COM has been selected by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Election Committee as its service provioder for the election holding tomorrow. In this article, CITY LAWYER tracks the antecedents of the electronic voting company which has conducted similar elections for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Nigeria Branch. The article is culled from https://vote-now.com.

The VTNW balloting system was specifically designed by University Scientists for use in Professional organization elections. With 21+ years of experience conducting web-based elections, we have assisted hundreds of business and academic professional organizations, HOA’s, non-profit groups, and universities with their balloting needs.

Our experience makes a key difference in providing a smooth and easy to use election process for your members. We have served over 2375 ballots to date (millions of voters).

We offer a complete line of hybrid voting options, combining web-based, telephone and paper ballots, that will increase voter participation, reduce expenses, and improve accuracy.Votes remain anonymous and secure.

We designed Vote-Now.com with a wealth of features to make it both easy to use and powerful. Ballot participation rate, or full results (you choose) can be viewed “live” by your election officials. Printout and/or archive the results when the election closes.

For the election administrator: Are you someone who just needs to “get this done ASAP” and do not have the time to add another task to your schedule? Our experienced staff can set up and run your election. We act as an independent third party to administer the ballot and make sure that everything goes smoothly.

Ballot access is web based, so no special software is required for your members. We contact your members by email and/or post and provide the ballot registration information they need to vote. Voter turnout will improve. You take the credit. Do you have members who do not use email or even a computer? We have a solution.

For the voter: casting a ballot is quick and easy; all that is needed to vote is a computer, smart phone, or tablet with access to the internet, or just a regular telephone. If you have an email account, you can receive a link to your ballot electronically. We can also send you a first class letter or postcard containing your voting information which can then be used to vote on-line or you can mail back the paper ballot to us for counting. Try a Demo Vote.

We provide a variety of services and price ranges depending on the size of your voter group. Our system has been used by groups as small as 30 and as large as 60,000+ potential voters. The cost per voter is far less than the cost of printing and mailing a “paper” ballot, and since the results of the election are automatically tallied in real-time and available immediately, the labor and potential human error of vote counting is minimized.

Here are the steps (try it now) that a voter would take; total time, less than a minute:

Voter receives email invitation to vote in their personal email account and/or post card or ballot letter mailed first class.

(The invitation includes a link to our secure site with the voter’s personal registration code embedded. Once a ballot has been cast using this code, it will not work again.)

Voter clicks the link in the email invitation. The ballot automatically loads in the voter’s browser. No password typing needed.

Voter makes selections of candidates. A verification screen then shows the candidates chosen, and alerts about any undervotes. The voter can return to the ballot to make changes if necessary.

Upon submission, the voter can send comments about the election, or see current vote counts (both are administrative options). Done!

Paper ballots can still be used for those members that can’t (or won’t) use a computer, and vote tallies can be made electronically.

Vote-Now Advantages:

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WE WILL DELIVER RANCOUR-FREE ELECTIONS, NBA LAGOS C’TE CHAIR TELLS CITY LAWYER

  • UNVEILS ICT PARTNER

In this no-holds barred interview, Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch Election Committee, Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN says the elections will be free, fair and credible.

Please briefly introduce yourself.

I am Richard Ayodele Akintunde, SAN, the Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch 2019 Election Committee

How does it feel being asked to midwife yet another election for the Premier Bar?

I am honoured to be asked once again to Chair the Election Committee of the Premier Bar. I am particularly excited because this year branch elections will be conducted by E-voting. This is a historic event and my committee members and I are super excited to be part of this history making exercise.

How will you describe your team in the Electoral Committee?

I have an excellent team made up distinguished legal practitioners and members of the NBA Lagos Branch. The team consists of HRM Chief E.A. Otokhina, Mrs. Sola Adegbonmire, Mr. Geff Eze and Mrs. Obosa Akpata who is the Secretary of the Committee. We have an excellent working relationship and we are all committed to delivering a free, fair and credible electoral process.

There are concerns that the complaints procedure for members whose names were omitted in the voters’ register is not clear-cut. For instance, some argue that the notice was silent on members submitting Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues receipts and that this may discourage members from following through with the process. What is your view on this?

The complaints procedure is clear cut and straightforward and it requires Branch Members whose names were not included in the List of Eligible Voters published by the Committee to submit their complaints. To be Eligible to vote you must be a Financial Member of the Branch and must have paid your bar practicing fees and annual branch dues, as and when due, for the two (2) years preceding the election or since enrolment, if less than two (2) years post-call and you must have attended 5 monthly meetings in a 12 month period preceding the elections. The criteria for eligibility to vote is contained in the Uniform Bye Laws and it was widely published by the Election Committee.

Your name will not appear on the list of Eligible Voters if you have not met these criteria. As members of the branch we all know these requirements. It behooves you therefore in your complaint to show that you have met these criteria by providing useful information [such as receipts showing that you paid your practicing fees and branch dues as required and you attended the require number of meetings] to the Election Committee to enable the Committee include such member’s name in the Supplementary List.

When the Election Committee published the List of Eligible Voters, branch members whose names who had complaints were advised to submit their complaints by email. In the course of reviewing such complaints those whose names were not found on the list of Financial Members of the Branch supplied to us by the Branch Secretariat were requested by email to submit proof of payment of bar practicing fees and annual branch dues for 2018 and 2019 as required and we have been receiving their responses.

Also the names of members who sent in their complaints were checked in the Attendance books and the minutes of meetings from June 2018 to June 2019 to confirm if they attended the 5 monthly meetings required.

Members who meet the requirements have will be included in the Supplementary list of Eligible Voters to be published by the Election Committee.

The complaint process is designed to address any mistakes or omissions on the list of eligible after which a supplementary list will be published. Members who wish to participate in the election process should not be discouraged at all, the complaint process works and we have been using the complaints process for the last 5 elections to include eligible voters whose names were omitted on a Supplementary list.

The integrity of the voters’ register has also been questioned by the observation that some candidates already cleared by your committee had their names omitted from the list. How do you respond to this?

The name of one candidate [Obinna Okereke] was omitted and we have rectified the omission. The candidates whose name was misspelt has also been rectified. The omission of one person’s name is not enough to question the integrity of the list of eligible voters. The omission was an innocent one and his name will appear on the Supplementary list. The essence of publishing the list of eligible voters no later than 14 days before the elections is to afford branch members the opportunity to complain and for the Committee to take on board the complaints and make corrections if need be. We are working day and night to attend to all complaints received. I want to assure our members that the list of eligible voters and the supplementary one coming is credible.

Some have argued that the regularization of the voters’ register ought to have been done online, especially as some registered voters may be overseas during this period. Why did your committee opt for a manual complaints and regularization process?

The initial list of eligible voters was published in hard and soft copies. The list is available online at www.nbalagoselections.com.ng The Complaints process is not manual as complaints are to be sent to the Committee by e-mail to nbaelection2019@gmail.com . The complaint will be resolved by painstakingly going through the records provided to us by the Branch Secretariat manually to show that such member paid his practicing fees and branch dues as required and attended the 5 monthly meetings required. Once this is resolved the names of successful complainants will be published in hard and soft copies. The Supplementary list will soon be available online at www.nbalagoselections.com.ng

Resolution of the complaint can only be done manually by physically going through the Attendance Register of Meetings and the records of the branch for 2018 and 2019 of Financial Members. We are using technology in the best possible way and you don’t have to be in Nigeria to log on to the website or send an e-mail.

It has been said that there is no feedback mechanism for members to know whether their complaints have been resolved. How do you respond to this?

We are in touch with members who have sent in their complaints and trust me we are resolving their complaints. We will soon publish a supplementary list of Eligible Voters. We will also let members who sent in complaints know by email why their names are not on the Supplementary list.

Your committee has not provided any Help Desk or hotline for members to make enquiries on the electoral process? Is this deliberate?

We have an e-mail nbaelection2019@gmail.com which allows the members and the public to contact the Committee and we have been attending to various enquires from members and the public sent through this e-mail address. We will set up a Help Desk after the Final Batch of Eligible Voters is published and a hotline will be provided. Members are free contact the Election Committee via e-mail.

Some candidates say that your Committee has not been carrying them along, that the processes leading to the elections have been shrouded in secrecy. What is your view on this?

The Uniform Bye Laws sets out the duties of the Election Committee and we have been carrying out our duties as set out to the letter. We have a website where all the information relating to the election is published. We have printed posters, flexes and other online materials regarding the electoral process as required by the Uniform Bye Laws. I have addressed several monthly meetings to talk about the electoral process. The processes leading to the election is not shrouded in secrecy. We are constantly publishing online materials giving information about the election process. In the history of my involvement with the election process in the NBA Lagos Branch we have never published as much information as we have done in the 2019 elections. The Committee has constantly been posting online materials and flexes giving out information on the election process. The electoral process is open and transparent. We are having a parley with candidates, agents, stakeholders and the media on Tuesday, the 25th of June 2019 and we intend to continue to engage with them. Many candidates have been contacting the Committee on one thing or the other.

Do you plan to have a stakeholders’ meeting with the candidates before the elections?

We intend to have a stakeholders meeting with all the candidates, their agents, the branch exco and the media on Tuesday the 25th of June 2019 at the NBA Lagos Branch Conference Room at 12 noon.

Some have argued that enlightenment has been low on the electoral process, especially as the electronic voting model is being adopted for the first time by the branch. How do you respond to this?

We have constantly published online materials on various platforms to enlighten Branch Members of the Step by Step process for the E-Voting. At the last Branch Meeting, I addressed the June Branch Meeting and went through the step by step process for the e-voting. I also did a demonstration of the e-voting process. Members were given the opportunity to ask questions about the process and I provided answers. We intend to have a stakeholders meeting with all the candidates, their agents, the branch Exco and the media on Tuesday the 25th of June 2019 at the NBA Branch Conference Room at 12 noon to once again explain the e-voting process step by step and do a demonstration of the voting process. We will also do the same explanation at the Manifesto Day at the Foyer at 2.00 pm on the same day.

Why is your committee still keeping the ICT Partner for the elections under wraps even days to the election?

We are not keeping the Service Provider under wraps. At the June monthly meeting of the NBA Lagos Branch, I disclosed the name of the service partner in a demonstration to all members present. The Service Provider is: vote-now.com. They are a reputable ballot service provider, with extensive experience in providing secure ballot options to various professional organizations and associations all over the world since 2003. They have conducted 2,375 ballots by e-voting till date.

What is the level of access to be given to the candidates or their agents as to the backend of the e-voting platform?

Candidates will be allowed to nominate agents who will be granted some access to the Situation Room, where the ballot process will be monitored.

Are you confident about the integrity of the e-voting platform and its ability to withstand possible attacks from hackers among others?

The election servers are protected with encrypted connections and have valid SSL certificates. All web connections are made via https with 256 bit security. Vote-now.com is certified Grade A on security when tested with the SSL labs security test. We offer all members the highest assurances of rock-solid security of the voting process.

There are concerns that non-release of the June attendance list may lead to padding of the voters’ register. Are these valid concerns? Do you plan to release the list?

The attendance register for June has been provided by the Secretariat to the Committee to enable the Committee do its work and attend to complaints. The attendance register cannot be padded while in the custody of the election committee. It is the duty of the Branch Secretariat to release the attendance list of the June meeting not that of the Election Committee.

When are campaigns expected to cease, given that the deadline is not stated on the published Guidelines?

Candidates are expected to stop all forms of campaigns by 12 midnight on Thursday the 27th of June 2019.

Only 793 eligible voters were on the voters’ list published by your committee. How many voters are ultimately expected to participate in the elections?

We will able to determine the total number of voters that will participate in the elections after we have attended to all complaints and published the Supplementary List. Watch out the list is coming out soon.

Do you have any concerns regarding the elections?

The collation of data of Eligible Voters is very critical to E-voting. So far, the Election Committee has received about 200 e-mails from Eligible Voters updating their e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Eligible Voters are required to check their information on the NBA Lagos Branch Website nbalagos.org and update their information if necessary.

Accurate date is critical to the success of the 2019 elections by e-voting. We are working assiduously to harvest the required data required. I once again use this opportunity to appeal to all eligible voters to ensure that they check with the NBA branch secretariat that their emails and phone numbers are correct. Eligible voters can also supply their telephone and emails to the Committee at nbaelection2019@gmail.com

When are the results of the elections expected?

The results will be announced shortly after the conclusion of the e-voting exercise. Will there be a paper trail for the results of the elections? The service provider will make available a breakdown of the results after the election, showing a transparent and auditable process.

Is there any complaints procedure for candidates who may wish to contest the results?

There is no complaints procedure in the NBA uniform Bye-Law for Branches. Candidates have already signed on their nomination forms that they will abide by the result of the elections.

What are your last words for voters and other stakeholders?

I want to thank the candidates, the branch Exco and branch members for their cooperation thus far. I want to appeal to eligible voters to familiarize themselves with the step by step guide to e-voting which has been posted on several platforms and on www.nbalagoselections.com.ng

I want to assure members of the NBA Lagos Branch, candidates, eligible voters and stakeholders that with their cooperation and support, the 2019 election by e-voting will be seamless. At the end of it all, we will all congratulate ourselves. On behalf of the Election Committee, I thank you for this opportunity.

NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS: COMMITTEE DISPELS FEARS

  • SUMMONS STAKEHOLDERSMEETING
  • RELEASES GUIDELINES ON E-VOTING PROCEDURE

The leadership of the Election Committee for the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Elections has dispelled concerns over the elections, saying there is no cause for worry.

In a notice seen by CITY LAWYER, the Committee Chairman, Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN noted that it had always kept stakeholders in the picture as regards its activities, adding that nothing would be done to imperil the elections.

In a separate post by Akintunde, a longstanding chairman of the committee, the electoral body also summoned a meeting of all candidates in the election. The meeting is scheduled to hold tomorrow 12 noon at the NBA Conference Room. Candidates were directed to come along with not more than two agents each.

The committee has also released an elaborate 12-step voting manual titled “Electronic voting procedure: From start to finish.”

Below are the notices:

RE: NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS CONCERNS MOUNT ON E-VOTING SYSTEM

*The NBA Election Committee’s response to the concerns raised in the publication by CITY LAWYER.

Postponement of the Manifesto Day:

The Committee in its notice postponing the Manifesto Day to Tuesday, 25th June, 2019 explained the reason for the postponement. The schedule of the event in honour of the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke (Rtd) was not brought to the attention of the Election Committee when the relevant arrangements were made for the Manifesto Day. The postponement is regrettable but could not be helped in the circumstances.

Explanation of the e-voting process:

The Committee at the Branch meeting held on Monday, 10th June, 2019 went through step by step the e-voting process and thereafter conducted a demo of the e-voting process for the forthcoming elections. All questions asked by the lawyers in attendance were addressed by the Chairman of the Election Committee, Mr. Ayodele Akintunde, SAN.

In addition, the Committee has constantly published online materials on the step by step process for the e-voting. Members should please take time to read the materials to familiarise themselves with the process.

Please note that the Committee has complied with all publications required under the Uniform bye laws to the letter. In addition the Committee has published several online materials to explain the e-voting process.

The Committee appreciates the need to give the candidates, stakeholders and their agents an opportunity to raise any queries in respect of the elections. A meeting between the candidates and members of the Election Committee has been scheduled at which the candidates are required to attend along with their agents. The Committee intends to further explain the e-voting process to them and address any queries and concerns raised at the meeting.

List of eligible voters:

We are attending to all complaints by members whose names did not appear on the list of eligible voters published by the Committee. A supplementary list will soon be published of the names of members whose complaints were successful. The complaint process allows the Committee to address any omissions or mistakes. This has been the practice in the past.

We want to assure all candidates and branch members that the Election Committee is working tirelessly to ensure a free, fair and credible election. All concerns will be addressed as best as possible

We continue to solicit your support and cooperation and enjoin all eligible voters to contact the secretariat to ensure that there e-mails and phone numbers on record are correct.

Thank you.

Dear Sirs, NOTICE OF MEETING OF THE CANDIDATES AND MEMBERS OF THE NBA LAGOS BRANCH ELECTION COMMITTEE

Notice is hereby given that there will be a meeting of all candidates participating in the 2019 NBA Lagos Branch elections and members of the NBA Lagos Branch Election Committee as follows:

Date: Tuesday, 25th 2019
Venue: NBA Conference Room
Time: 12.00 pm

Candidates are to come along with their agents (not more than 2 each).

Agenda:

  1. To provide a further explanation of the e-voting election process.
  2. To address any queries/concerns.
  3. Any other business.

Signed: NBA Lagos Branch Election Committee

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NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS: CANDIDATES SCORE ELECTORAL C’TE, SEEK VOTES

As the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch Elections approach the finish line this Friday, some candidates http://nbalagoselections.com.ng/election-candidates/ for the election have been speaking on the performance of the Electoral Committee led by Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN. Akintunde has been a longstanding Chairman of the committee for several consecutive years. The committee is also made up of Chief E. A. Otokhina, Mr. Geff Eze, Mrs. Obosa Akpata and Mrs. Olusola Adegbonmire.

CITY LAWYER had sought the views of the candidates for the posts of Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary. While one chairmanship candidate responded, others had not responded at press time. All the candidates for the posts of Vice Chairman and Secretary however responded to CITY LAWYER enquiries at press time.

The candidates also stated why they consider themselves as the most qualified for the posts they are seeking. Below are their views:

BOLATUMI ANIMASHAUN
POST: CHAIRMAN
The Executive, through the NBA Secretariat, did its own part by submitting the real attendance registers signed by members at meetings to the Electoral Committee. In addition to this, is a compilation of list of members that made the 5 meetings attendance, a requirement of the 2015 Uniform Bye Law for NBA.

The Executive, through the NBA Secretariat, did its own part by submitting the real attendance registers signed by members at meetings to the Electoral Committee. In addition to this, is a compilation of list of members that made the 5 meetings attendance, a requirement of the 2015 Uniform Bye Law for NBA.

The Electoral Committee has a time table on the election which they are adhering to. The Electoral Committee has been effective in terms of disseminating information to candidates and members. I therefore think we are good to go.

The outgoing executive under the leadership of Chukwuka Ikwuazom has been regarded as the best thing that happened to NBA Lagos. I am the Vice Chairman and an active member of the Executive, I am the best for a seamless transition and continuity.

The Human Rights Committee under my Chairmanship witnessed an unprecedented achievement in the decongestion of Prison. Members of the Human Rights Committee put in their best within their limited personal resources and their efforts resulted in the release of over one hundred inmates and, about 4 were sentenced; matters are still going on in the various courts. Members of the Human Rights Committee are just wonderful and I believe there are still more like them in the Branch.

With my humility, friendly disposition, encouragement and hardwork, I usually get a lot of people who are willing and ready to walk and work with me to achieve my vision. I believe in setting goal with time frame. It is the best way to get things done as planned. Every member must have a sense of belonging.

There will be a definite and good working relationship between the Branch and the police. This is a promise. Henceforth, any police officer that acted unbecoming shall not go scotfree. However, there is need to tutor our members to always act like gentlemen that we are supposed to be. Once there is mutual respect, a cordial relationship will be established.

The same thing goes for the Bar and Bench relationship. Efforts will be made to improve on this. The relationship between the young lawyers and their employers shall also be addressed. Heads of Chambers will be encouraged to take more interest and be active in the Branch activities.

I have also initiated a 5 year plan to pay the Practising fee and Bar dues of 20 young lawyer between 1-5 years post call and 18 benefitted this current year. I did similar things during annual dinner. More senior lawyers will be encouraged to help in lifting up the younger ones.

There is need to establish an ‘in-house code of conducts’ by members for members that will distinguish us from other branches. This is not going to be totally different from our professional conduct but breaking the rules down to basic. If this is agreed to, members will put this together and decide on means of enforcement.

No more procrastination on the building of our Bar Centre. I am a stake holder by my one million naira contribution in 2016. Apart from building on Chukwuka Ikwuazom’s legacy, I will do more than I promised to do in my manifesto. I will stabilize the Branch with my experiences and maturity.

OKEY ILOFULUNWA
POST: VICE CHAIRMAN
The preparations have been good. We await the outcome of the online voting system which I believe will also be good. The character of the members of the electoral committee members gives credence to the voting system. I do not have any problems with the preparations and enjoin our members to give the committee an opportunity to show that it can be done.

On why I am best suited to be the Vice Chairman, I will simply refer you to my profile and my manifesto which I will send you shortly. They speak volume about the kind of person I am, what I have done in the past for NBA and what I will do in future as Vice Chairman. The Vice Chairman of NBA Lagos by our Bye-Laws heads the Human Rights Committee. The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a leading non-governmental organization, has agreed to work with me to train our law enforcement agencies on the tenets of human rights with particular emphasis on the implication of the far-reaching innovations introduced by Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

I will also create a special forum for all heads of legal departments of law enforcement agencies in Lagos. This will enable us to have a regular interface with these key stakeholders in discharging their mandate. It will also help to bridge the gap between lawyers and law enforcement agents in justice delivery to our clients.

Under my watch in Human Rights Committee, I will also reorganize the Committee to be more responsive to the needs of our members and the society. I will create a Corporate Social Responsibility framework to encourage law firms to sponsor the work of the Human Rights Committee. This will ensure that hardworking committee members are paid stipends for the work to encourage them to do more.

Welfare of our members: I will create a platform where businesses around Lagos can give discounts to our members who patronize their outlets. The names of such businesses will be listed on a portal where members can easily access them. Under this platform, I have also started discussing with electronics merchants to provide one-year interest-free hire purchase services to our members to buy electronics and household items.

CHUKS NWANA
POST: VICE CHAIRMAN
My impressions regarding the preparations for the election so far have been good.

I must also add that more enlightenment is needed now that we are embarking on a novel voting procedure “the electronic vote” for the first time in the history of the Branch elections. If we get it right, then the National body would come for tutorials.

I am the best candidate for the job because I have the necessary experience as I have been in Human Right Committee for 3 administrations consistently.

The Provisions of section 7 of our Uniform Bye Law stated that the Vice Chairman of the Branch should be the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee. During my University years I was a member of Amnesty International and before I graduated, I became the Director of Group 8 Unilag Chapter.

Moreover, I am not taking the post to start the work afresh but just to consolidate and advance the work we have been doing in the committee.

The innovations I would introduce if elected are as follows:

  1. Open and maintain a diary “The Human Rights Diary” and will also post Human Rights cases cause list in all NBA Lagos for a every weekend.
  2. Encouraging the participation of the seniors of the Branch in the Human rights activities.
  3. Encouraging Seniors to sponsor a pro bono case for a willing junior member of the branch and make sure there is a one-to-one interaction with the junior and the such seniors for direction.
  4. Using social networking medium to create and sustain a synergy between the various committees of the Branch and Human Right Committee.
  5. Encouraging more participation of the members in the activities of the Branch through the direct involvement of Human Rights Committee.
  6. Involve the members more with permission of the Chairman in some academic enhancing resources and welfare policies of the Branch.
  7. Creating more avenues to gather and utilize innovative opinions from the members.
  8. To carry out all delegated duties by the Chairman and the General House to the best of my ability at all times, as well as standing in to deliver quality services to the branch in the absence of the Chairman.

Finally, having seen what I am bringing on board you would agree with me that I am the best man for the post of Vice Chairman of our Premier Branch.

BODE OMOBORIOWO
POST: VICE CHAIRMAN
The role of Vice Chairman is not a child’ play. It requires an experienced fellow who has been up and doing in the affairs of NBA not just at the branch levels but National.

As former member of Human Right committee at both the branch and national. I want to believe that I have garnered enough strength and experience to make me the best candidate for the job. And if elected, I want to introduce more innovations that will make our branch occupancy its pride of place in the committee of all branches.

MOSHOOD ABIOLA
POST: SECRETARY
I am satisfied with preparations for the elections so far. The members of the Electoral Committee are seasoned legal Practitioners of high integrity and experience. The present Executive Committee of the Branch retained the members of the last Electoral Committee because of their excellent performance over the years. They are on top of the situation and I believe they have the capability to deliver a free and fair election as they have always done.

Our elections at NBA Lagos Branch has always been peaceful and devoid of rancor and desperation. You know we are the Premier Bar and we lead by example, we are a body of distinguished and classy lawyers. Interestingly the election this year is by electronic voting and I am excited by this. Electronic voting will ensure that our members who are out of Lagos or out of the country on the day of election can vote. This further confirms our enviable status as the Premier Bar. This is the first time an NBA branch election will be conducted online and we look forward to it with excitement.

The Premier Bar has had a chequered history. It has produced the finest lawyers in the country and very high standards have been set. This has been so because the best have always been chosen to pilot its affairs. Mediocrity has never been accepted at the Premier bar. Each executive committee has been an improvement on the previous one.

The present Executive Committee that has been led brilliantly by the effervescent and irrepressible Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom has raised the bar higher as a lot of our members will testify to and I am very proud to be a part of the team. The apathy hitherto shown by our members to branch activities has disappeared and members now feel a connect with the branch.

As Publicity Secretary, I have made my contribution to the many successes recorded by this administration. Beyond that I have worked with the Secretary as part of the website subcommittee that oversaw the rebuilding of the branch website and I was also part of the final recruitment process for the newly appointed Administrator for the secretariat.

In assessing the best candidate for the office of the Secretary, it is absolutely crucial to take a critical look at their capabilities, experience and track record. And in doing this, it is important to look at recent experience and track record and not experience from ten years ago because we are in the era of constantly evolving technological advancements. The way the secretariat of the branch was run ten years ago can no longer be applicable now.

Continuity in administration is key because the two-year tenure of the executive committee is usually not enough to achieve all the set goals. It is imperative that experienced persons are part of any incoming executive so that they can hit the ground running especially if they are part of the outgoing executive committee.

I am confident in my abilities to maintain the high standards set by this administration, and with my skills and experience, including those gained as Publicity Secretary, I believe I am the best candidate for the office of Secretary.

TOCHUKWU CHUKWUMERIJE
POST: SECRETARY
I am TOCHUKWU CHUKWUMERIJE, Esq and the founder of Bulwark Attorneys, a corporate/commercial law firm. Am the best candidate for secretary because I had the privilege of serving, the branch as 1st Assistant Secretary (2013-2015) wherein I also discharged the duties of Secretary for five months (march 2014- July 2014) after we lost our secretary through an accident. From 2015 to present date being serving as Secretary Nigerian Bar Association Disciplinary Committee Panel “B” For Lagos.

I was appointed Secretary of the Panel by Former President of Nigerian Bar Association Austin Alegeh (SAN) led administration, approved by National Executive Committee (NEC) and for an outstanding service was reappointed by A.B Mahmoud (SAN) led administration. Through experience I know the importance of an efficient and vibrant Secretariat. I will drive initiatives and formulate policies targeted at professionalizing the secretariat ie up-to-date digital legal directory, upgrade the website, photocopiers, free internet etc. I will engage in initiatives that promotes Law Firm development, partnership encouragement schemes, sponsoring and mentorship with a view of promoting independent firms among the young lawyers.

It is therefore with great sense of purpose and sincere steadfastness that I put myself forward in my continuing quest to serve, as the best man for the secretary job. Being the most experienced of all the contestants with proven performance I would draw from the significant secretarial skills I have learned and gained over the years The qualities of leadership, charisma, erudition, integrity, dignity, excellence and competence.

OBINNA OKEREKE
POST: SECRETARY
The preparations for the forthcoming Nigeria Bar Association Lagos Branch Elections has been top notch and concerted until the publication of Final List of Voters for the election. The omission of names of many eligible members of the branch with good standing from the list has cast doubts on resolve and preparedness of the Election committee to conduct free, fair & credible election. Worst still, omission of names of candidates vying for the election from the Final list who were recently cleared by the Election committee to contest in the election having been found to be eligible and of good standing pursuant to the NBA Bye Law even leaves much to be desired. As it is, my impression about preparedness of Election committee for the forthcoming election is one of doubt in view of the possibility of many eligible voters being disenfranchised and illegible (sic) members of the Branch voting in the election.

I am Obinna Nnaemeka Okereke, LL.M (Notary Public) the Principal Partner of High Refuge Attorneys a corporate and commercial law firm with office address at No.32 Association Avenue, Ilupeju Lagos State.

I attended University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC) where I obtained LL.B (Honors). After my call to Bar in May, 2002, I proceeded to University of Ibadan where I obtained LL.M (Master of laws) as one of the best students.

I have been an active member of Nigeria Bar Association Lagos Branch since 2002 and worked closely with some committees. Over, the years I had attended virtually all Nigeria Bar Association General Conference and Commonwealth Lawyers Conference as a member.

I was President of Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) at Nigeria Law School Lagos Campus as well as National Officer of the body for several years. Iam passionate to transform administration of secretariat of the Premier Bar to international standards and ensure seamless update of membership database in such a way that names of registered members of the Branch is regularly uploaded to the website.

Another reason why Iam best candidate for job of secretary is that I would work in synergy with Executive committee of the Branch to among other issues address challenges faced by Lawyers in Courts within Lagos Judicial Division by engaging Chief Judge of Federal High Court on ease of filing process at Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos.

I have all it takes to make our continuing Legal Education (CLE) expert and skill-training focused during our monthly meetings in those key areas of novel Law Practice such as Fintech law, E-Discovery practice, Internet crime Law Practice, Maritime Law, Aviation Law, private Infrastructure finance among other emerging new areas of Law Practice. I would do better than other candidates in using proper technology software to ensure seamless and accurate record of attendance at monthly meetings of the Branch and update record of members with good standing on the website periodically.

Iam in a better position to specialize and make continuing legal education for Young Lawyers more impactful because as Adjunct Lecturer of Nigeria Law School Lagos Campus I interviewed them during portfolio assessment and know what is needed to uplift their law practice mentorship.

I am best candidate for office of Secretary because Iam committed to deliver on these goals, my manifesto and other novel initiatives that would take our Premier Bar to greater heights.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS: CONCERNS MOUNT ON E-VOTING SYSTEM

Some stakeholders have raised concerns over the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Elections scheduled to hold on Friday.

The stakeholders told CITY LAWYER that while the integrity of the Electoral Committee is not in doubt, some of the processes leading to the high-stakes elections leave a sour taste in their mouth.

This comes against the backdrop of postponement of the highly anticipated “Manifesto Day” earlier scheduled for tomorrow to Tuesday at 1:45 pm. The postponement is not unconnected with the investiture of former Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice Opeyemi Oke as a Fellow of the Institute of Criminology and Penology at the High Court Foyer earlier slated for the Manifesto Day.

According to some of the candidates, enlightenment on the electronic voting system is poor, moreso as the branch is deploying the e-voting system for the first time.

They also poked holes in the complaints processes for the cleaning up of the voters’ register. According to them, many eligible voters may be disenfranchised as the initial notice on omitted names did not request members to send in their Bar Practicing Fee and Branch Dues receipts.

A notice cited by CITY LAWYER as published on the election website stated that “ANY COMPLAINT REGARDING THE FINAL LIST OF ELIGIBLE VOTERS FOR THE 2019 ELECTIONS SCHEDULED TO HOLD ON FRIDAY THE 28TH OF JUNE 2019 SHOULD BE SENT BY EMAIL TO nbaelection2019@gmail.com ON OR BEFORE WEDNESDAY THE 19TH OF JUNE 2019. ELIGIBLE VOTERS SHOULD PLEASE VISIT THE NBA LAGOS BRANCH SECRETARIAT TO VERIFY THAT THEIR EMAIL ADDRESSES AND PHONE NUMBERS ARE ACCURATE.”

“Several members reached out to us on this, saying it was only after they sent in their complaints that they were directed to attach these documents,” a candidate told CITY LAWYER at the weekend. “Some potential voters are even giving up after several attempts to send in their complaints.” It was also noted that there was no feedback from the Electoral Committee to members on whether their complaints are being resolved or not.

The stakeholders also say that barely a few days to the elections, they are in the dark as to the framework being put in place by the Electoral Committee for the elections. “We are worried that the disclosure levels are rather low,” said the candidate. “We are not being carried along. There is no information on the processes. We do not know who the ICT Partner will be. The integrity of the Electoral Committee is not the issue. How do you monitor an electoral process you know nothing about?”

Another stakeholder told CITY LAWYER that the integrity of the voters’ register must not be put in doubt. His words: “It is crucial that we have in place a credible voters’ register. This is non-negotiable. There is also no official Help Desk or hotline published by the Electoral Committee for potential voters to follow-up on their complaints.

“There is no reason why the attendance list for the June Branch Meeting should not be in the public domain by now; transparency demands that. We must eschew padding of the voters’ register.

“Till date, there is also no notice on when electioneering campaigns should cease. This is important so that everyone is on the same page on the electoral guidelines. This is the first time that e-voting is being used. This entails that we must be extra careful.

“Why is the database not published on the election website or online so that members can update their details there? I know some members who are overseas as we speak. Will they not be disenfranchised by this manual approach to the complaints? Why do we then call it electronic voting if members cannot update their data online and vote from any part of the world?”

One of the candidates told CITY LAWYER that it is imperative that the Electoral Committee convenes a stakeholders’ meeting to be attended by the media to unveil its framework for the elections. “We need to have a forum to ventilate our concerns to the Electoral Committee. So far, that has not happened. That needs to happen. What will be the level of involvement of our agents in the entire electoral process? We need to be in the server room as the votes are dropping; that is an irreducible minimum. We do not want a situation where the backend is opened to rig the process.”

It is estimated that Lagos Branch has about 14,000 nominal members. However, only 793 voters are on the voters’ register published by the Electoral Committee. More names may make the list following ongoing resolution of complaints by the Electoral Committee. Members of the longstanding committee are Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN, Chairman; Chief E. A. Otokhina; Mr. Geff Eze; Mrs. Obosa Akpata and Mrs. Olusola Adegbonmire.

When CITY LAWYER contacted Akintunde on the concerns, he assured that he would respond to all the issues raised by the stakeholders.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com.

Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

OYEBODE JOINS FORD FOUNDATION BOARD

Leading corporate lawyer and boardroom guru, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode, MFR has joined the Board of Trustees of Ford Foundation, a frontline global organization with the mandate to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.

Announcing Oyebode’s election in an email received by CITY LAWYER, Mr. Darren Walker, President of Ford Foundation described him as having “sharp legal acumen.” He stated that Oyebode is “a noted investor, philanthropist, and a founding board member of the Africa Philanthropy Forum.”

Ford Foundation trustees are elected by its board and serve up to two six-year terms. Trustees set broad policy relating to grant making, geographic focus, investments, governance, and professional standards, and they oversee internal and independent audits. The foundation’s trustees hail from four continents and have extensive experience in the worlds of higher education, business and finance, technology, law, government, and the nonprofit sector.

Thanking the Board for his election, Oyebode said: “I am honored and privileged to join the board of the Ford Foundation. I am delighted to be part of the foundation’s mission to address socioeconomic inequality, which is particularly relevant in the current global context. I look forward to working with my fellow trustees and the foundation’s staff as we strive for a more equal world.”

The statement by Walker reads:

Welcoming Marca Bristo and Gbenga Oyebode to our Board of Trustees

“It is my great pleasure to announce that the trustees have elected two new members to join the foundation’s board: Marca Bristo and Gbenga Oyebode. Both Marca and Gbenga are accomplished leaders who possess a commitment to Ford’s vision of a more just and fair world.

“Marca is a distinguished disability rights advocate and founder, president, and CEO of Access Living, a Chicago-based disability service and advocacy organization that empowers people with disabilities to lead independent, satisfying lives. She has worked for more than four decades on local, national, and international social and policy reforms that protect and promote the rights of people with disabilities. As a member of the US Task Force on the Rights and Empowerment of Americans with Disabilities, she worked to draft and win passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And, in 1994, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to chair the National Council on Disability.

“In Marca we gain an extraordinary leader and voice for large communities of people whose rights are often challenged. Her perspective will be critical as the foundation carries out its commitment to integrate disability issues into our work addressing inequality in all its forms.

“Gbenga, chairman of the Nigerian law firm Aluko & Oyebode, is a noted investor, philanthropist, and a founding board member of the Africa Philanthropy Forum. He serves on the Global Advisory Council of the African Leadership Academy and is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a director of Teach for All, and chairman of Teach for Nigeria.

“Gbenga’s sharp legal acumen and decades of advising with global corporations will bring invaluable insight to the board, particularly as the foundation works to strengthen connections between local and global efforts and make a broad, meaningful impact on the systems and structures that perpetuate inequality.

“You can read more about Marca and Gbenga in our press release, and learn about our board of trustees on our website.

“Please join me in giving both Marca and Gbenga a warm welcome!”

With thanks,

Darren Walker
President, Ford Foundation

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MARIJUANA: RETHINKING THE ‘WAR ON DRUGS’ IN NIGERIA

By Kayode Ajulo, PhD

In the recent times, there have been calls from different quarters on the need to legalize the use of Marijuana in Nigeria. This legal opinion considers the mischief behind the laws proscribing the production, possession, sale and use of Marijuana and thereafter considers the benefits of legalizing Marijuana in Nigeria.

Classified as an illicit drug in many countries, marijuana is outlawed by many governments. In Nigeria, it is often referred to as ‘Indian hemp’, in the country, Cannabis Sativa, which has enjoyed use as fibre, seed and seed oils, medicinal purposes, and as a recreational drug traces its origin to Central and South Asia. The drug also has many other aliases igbo, dope, ganja, sensi, kuma, morocco, eja, kpoli, weed, trees, etc. Though usually smoked, the plant can be soaked in alcoholic drinks dubbed ‘monkey-tail’, and consumed mostly in the south-south parts of the country. Some people cook food with it, some boil it to drink as tea, while others just chew the plant and seeds.

Physiologically, cannabis causes euphoria, relaxes the muscles and increases appetite. On the downside, the drug can impair motor skills, cause anxiety and paranoia and decrease short-term memory.

Deemed an illicit drug by the law, it had always been an offence in Nigeria to smoke marijuana, and it has largely been frowned upon by society. However, paradoxically, despite increased hounding of growers, sellers, and users, marijuana appears to be consumed in ever greater quantities.

The Agency saddled with the enforcement of drug laws in Nigeria is the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA). The Agency has the job of curtailing the consumption of drugs in Nigeria. The general powers of the Agency is contained in section 3 of the NDLEA Act.

Under the NDLEA Act, which came about by the promulgation of Decree Number 48 of 1989, the possession or smoking of cannabis, or even allowing one’s premises to be used for dealing in cannabis, can result in a prison sentence from 15 years to life. Its precursor, the Indian Hemp Act, was even harsher, carrying a maximum sentence of death.

Statistics show that cultivation to transportation and to sales, the marijuana industry connects different cities throughout Nigeria. At many outdoor markets and public motor garages, it is not strange to see marijuana smokers puffing away.

The 2011 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report stated that cannabis use was prevalent among 14.3 per cent of 15 to 64 year olds in Nigeria. The same report in 2014 revealed that Nigeria had made the highest number of cannabis seizures of any African country. Following this report, the NDLEA launched a programme dubbed ‘Operation Weed Eaters’ that aimed to rid the country of cannabis.

While marijuana can be grown in all parts of the country, according to the NDLEA, the states that are notorious for cultivating the plant are Ondo, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, Ekiti, Edo and Delta. In September, the NDLEA destroyed cannabis farms in Ute and Ose local government areas in Ondo State and arrested 30 suspects, seizing 31 kilograms of dried weed suspected to be marijuana in the Suleja area. Between January and June 2014, NDLEA arrested 4,511 suspected drug traffickers and seized 47,423 kilograms of drugs. Of that number, cannabis accounted for 45,875 kilograms. Though these seizure figures are high, large quantities of marijuana still find their way to the market baffling the law enforcement system.

Legalizing Marijuana in Nigeria
While it is important to note that many countries including Nigeria have enacted harsh laws against the cultivation, possession or sale of cannabis. In fact, dealing or using marijuana in countries such as Singapore, China, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia could land one from four years in jail to public beheadings.

But in recent years, some nations have adopted a different strategy of decriminalizing marijuana usage as a way of combating it. These societies have also often reduced the penalties for possession of small quantities of cannabis, so that it is punished by confiscation or a fine rather than by imprisonment. The idea has been to focus more resources on those who traffic the drug.

Uruguay made history by becoming the first country to legalise cultivation, trade and usage of marijuana in December 2013. In countries as varied as the Netherlands, Germany, Mexico, Peru, and Canada, the emphasis has shifted towards the decriminalization of marijuana. Jamaica, a country where marijuana smoking has long been popular, is set to decriminalize it too.

In 2018, Thailand’s military government unanimously approved medical marijuana use, which would make it the first country to legalize cannabis use in any form in Southeast Asia.

There are several laws in Nigeria which prohibit cultivating, possessing and using Marijuana.

Section of 11 of the NDLEA Act provides that:

Any person who, without lawful authority-
(a) imports, manufactures, produces, processes, plants or grows the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life; or

(b) exports, transports or otherwise traffics in the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life;

(c) sells, buys, exposes or offers for sale or otherwise deals in or with the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to be sentenced to imprisonment for life; or

(d) knowingly possesses or uses the drugs popularly known as cocaine, LSD, heroine or any other similar drugs by smoking, inhaling or injecting the said drugs shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not less than fifteen years but not exceeding 25 years.

See also Okewu v FRN (2012) LPELR-7834(SC); Nwadiem v. FRN (2018) LPELR-9845 (CA)

Similarly, section 7 of the Indian Hemp Act prohibits the use of Indian hemp.

From the above provisions, the law proscribes the illegal cultivation, use, sell and possession of Narcotics. The poser from the above is “whether there could be instances of legal cultivation, use, sell and possession of Narcotics?”

A careful perusal of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency Act will reveal that there was no mention of legal use of Narcotics. What could appear to seem as a provision for legal use is provided for under section 3 of the NDLEA Act. The section provides that:
(1) Subject to this Act and in addition to any other functions expressly conferred on it by other provisions of this Act, the Agency shall have responsibility for-…

(h) the facilitation of rapid exchange of scientific and technical information and the conduct of research geared towards eradication of illicit use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances;

It is on the heels of this provision that the NDLEA had given a letter of “No Objection” to Medis Oil Company Limited and two others to import seeds of industrial cannabis for research purposes.

Similarly, Under Article 3 paragraph 5 of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs to which Nigeria is signatory to, it is envisaged that as a result of research, a drug may be deleted from schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention if researches reveal its therapeutic advantages. At the risk of repetition but for the sake of emphasis the Paragraph provides:

A Party shall, if in its opinion the prevailing conditions in its country render it the most appropriate means of protecting the public health and welfare, prohibit the production, manufacture, export and import of, trade in, possession or use of any such drug except for amounts which may be necessary for medical and scientific research only, including clinical trials therewith to be conducted under or subject to the direct supervision and control of the party.

A careful reading of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs reveal that Narcotics may be used by signatory states for research and medical purposes. Cannabis plant or its resin or extract with THC content lower than 1% is considered as CBD (medical) cannabis and not psychoactive.

Economic benefits of Marijuana: Thailand as Case Study

Despite the facts that the mischief which several stringent laws against Narcotics seek to prevent is the harm they do to human health, recent medical studies have also indicated that marijuana can also be beneficial to health.

Thailand’s military government unanimously approved medical marijuana use, which would make it the first country to legalize cannabis use in any form in Southeast Asia.

It is apropos to note that Thailand was once infamous for its harsh penalties on drug users, including the death penalty. Cannabis was also once extensively used in Thailand for medicinal purposes as well as clothing, where fibers from both marijuana and hemp plants were used in creating fabrics. Thailand’s cannabis is one of the country’s largest exports.

Globally, the medicinal cannabis industry is projected to be worth $55.8 billion dollars by 2025. Considering the High rate of employment in Nigeria, legalizing Marijuana will provide job opportunities for many Nigerian youths.

Health Benefits of Cannabis
One of the first big medical issue that cannabis was shown to effectively treat is Glaucoma. Ingesting cannabis helps lower the pressure in the eyeball, giving patients at least temporary relief. It can improve lung health. Some conditions like lung cancer and Emphysema have been shown to regress when cannabis is thrown to the mix.

Cannabis can also offer serious relief for arthritis, especially when using quality cannabis creams and balms. It’s helpful for those with post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). It could help regulate metabolism: as it helps your body process and deal with food and obesity, it also helps maintain and regulate metabolism.

It also helps people with AIDS/HIV in the sense that cannabis helps those living with it cope by helping them maintain their diets and handle associated pains and aches. It proved effective for treating nausea: chemical compounds in cannabis react with brain receptors to regulate feelings of nausea. Cannabis could potentially treat headache naturally and won’t chew through your stomach lining or take its toll on ones body.

It has also been found to be at least somewhat effective in the treatment of a handful of sexually transmitted diseases, including Herpes and Chlamydia. It could help with speech problems: if anyone has an issue with stuttering, cannabis can help in the same way that it helps calm spasms and twitches. It can improve skin conditions and treat skin conditions like eczema vide cannabis topical.

Recreational Benefits of Marijuana

Apart from the argument for the legalization of cannabis for medical and medicinal purposes, there is the argument that its possession and use for recreational purposes should be decriminalized. As would be seen, some countries have passed legislation that decriminalizes possession up to certain amounts and allows recreational use and cultivation up to certain amounts too.

Notwithstanding, there remain ethical questions to its widespread use. At the core of this ethical debate is the question: Is it morally wrong to be high? I am certain that we will agree that we might not have a winner in that debate. If we are to go by the fact that it impairs cognitive abilities, then it might be morally wrong to ingest anything that impairs our sense of judgment in any way.

Conclusion
Taking clue from the Utilitarian theory that “actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness”, from the facts and benefits highlighted above, there is really a need to legalize the use of Marijuana in the country.

It is succinct to point out that war on drugs is often far costlier than the drugs themselves. Thus if the money pumped against the use of drugs could be redirected in cultivating Marijuana for economic use, there will be a great boast in the economy of the Country.

Finally, one of the greatest problems in policing the illegal use of cannabis is the enforcement of the laws governing its illegality. This in itself has been one of the big drivers for the calls for its legalization across many countries of the world. Most of the proponents of the legalization of its use for both medical and recreational purposes have stated that its criminalization has not stopped its increasingly widespread use but instead, has helped deny people of its ‘wonder working powers’, as a drug, especially in treating chronic pain as earlier mentioned.

Having considered the benefits accruable to the production, sale and use of Marijuana, it is hereby recommended that the National Assembly should be lobbied to amend the provisions of the NDLEA Act and other relevant laws in order to make room for the legal production, manufacturing, sale and use of Marijuana in Nigeria which in turn boast the economy of the Nation as a whole.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency should also enforce the provisions of 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and allow the use of Marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Please email citylawyermag@gmail.com

Copyright 2019 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.