#ENDSARS: AKPATA STORMS PROBE PANEL, VOWS CLOSE MONITORING

  • PROMISES FREE LEGAL HELP FOR VICTIMS

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata yesterday stormed the inaugural sitting of the Lagos State Judicial Panel of Inquiry for Restitution for victims of #EndSARS-related abuses and the October 20 Lekki Tollgate shootings.

Briefing NBA Lagos Branch members after the visit, Akpata vowed that NBA will closely monitor the activities of the panel to ensure that justice is done to all victims of the crisis.

Akpata, who was addressing the lawyers during their monthly general meeting, said that NBA would also set up free legal assistance teams to help victims pursue their cases before the panel, even as he called for “sober reflection and positive action.”

He stated that he visited the Lagos State panel of enquiry to represent the association, adding: “My Lord Justice (Doris) Okuwobi gave me the opportunity to let the panel know that the NBA intends to be actively involved in this panel in Lagos and similar panels set up all over the country.”

Speaking specifically on NBA’s roadmap for the enquiry panels, Akpata said: “And just to latch on to the point made by my brother Emeka Nwadioke, our intervention will be two-pronged: firstly, as we have already indicated, we want to provide through our members pro bono service to victims – so that we can help them at all these panels, the 36 States and the National Human Rights Commission Panel set up in Abuja, help these victims articulate their petitions and also present their petitions.

“We are going to set up teams. We already have the Public Interest Team that we are putting together and a database of lawyers who have already indicated that they would like to be part of this process. He stated that the process is ongoing and urged the branch leadership to seek out more volunteers for the pro bono project.

Continuing, Akpata said: “The second leg of our intervention would be serving as independent observers in all of these panels, serving as friends of the court – or friends of the panel, as it were – to ensure that the panels are proceeding unimpeded.”

He stated that the Lagos State Panel of Inquiry leadership was “very delighted that the NBA is ready to play these roles, and has assured me that we would be given due recognition, and that our members who come in to play the independent observer role would be duly accorded recognition and audience as at when necessary.

“For Lagos, for example, by my calculation there would be 72 days of sitting for the next 6 months. So it will be important for us to set up committees. The volunteers can take turns to participate in the proceedings of the panel so that we can be the watchdog, play the watchdog role that is ours to play. We intend to be very involved.”

Turning to the protests, the NBA president noted that many lawyers bore the brunt of the destruction of properties. Noting that standing aloof is not an option, Akpata stated that there are “wider issues” involved. He said that beyond the #ENDSARS protests and the Lekki Toll Plaza killings, “there are root causes that we must address.”

He noted that “the masses are protesting,” adding that “we must attack the root issues, we must intervene in this process as the NBA, we must mediate in this process.”

On the efforts earlier made by the NBA, Akpata stated that in the days leading to October 20 when the crisis peaked with the killing of some protesters at Lekki Toll Plaza, NBA led efforts along with its branches and States Attorneys-General to free all detained protesters, adding that he is “very proud of the work our members did facilitating the release of members of the public who were arrested around the country.

“Beyond that, we very quickly collaborated with the National Human Rights Commission. As you know, we are working closely with the NHRC on the independent panel of enquiry that has been set up by the commission to look into the SARS protest. Our First Vice President is a member of that panel which is led by the Honourable Justice Suleiman Galadima.

“We are also working closely with the National Assembly. Working closely with the Speaker of the House of Representatives, we set up a 7-man Committee on tweaking the Police Service Commission Act to ensure that the new iteration of that law will cater for a transparency and accountability framework that will deal with erring police officers.

“As soon as the unfortunate event of 20th of October happened, we issued a statement where we made it categorically clear on behalf of the association that the event of that night was totally unacceptable – shooting at unarmed harmless protesters – totally unacceptable, and would not be entertained by the Nigerian Bar Association; that we would rise up in defence of any Nigerian so assaulted, which is what we are doing.

“Immediately, we called for a meeting of the NBA and at that meeting we discussed the issue extensively and came out with a communiqué which had since been issued. Essentially, the association has given us the mandate not only to do that which we are already doing – which is to support Nigerians who have come under attack from the security forces – but also to intervene in what has become an impasse, to intervene in a situation that is degenerating by the day because the society is looking up to us as the NBA to intervene in this process.

“Of course, you know that it has come close to home – uncomfortably so. We inspected the High Court at Igbosere and what we saw left us speechless. It is one thing to hear about the destruction, but to see it first-hand leaves you numb as it did to us yesterday (Sunday).”

He urged NBA Lagos Branch to “lead the way” in working with the judiciary “to see how we can come back to where we were before the unfortunate incident, and taking the opportunity to improve on the facilities that existed previously.”

Akpata also commiserated with members of the branch whose offices were vandalized during the carnage at City Hall.

In his response, NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe applauded Akpata intiitives taken by his administration to tackle the crisis, saying: “You have stepped in an.d taken leadership. We are proud of you as an esteemed member of this branch.”

Among many senior lawyers who attended the virtual meeting are former NBA presidential candidates, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN and Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN; Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN; Mr. Tunde Busari, SAN; Mrs. Olufunke Agbor, SAN; Mr. George Etomi, NPOM; NBA General Secretary, Mrs. Joyce Oduah and fiery Nigerian Law School teacher, Mr. Sylvester Udemezue.

The panel is made up of the retired Justice Okuwobi as chairman; Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa, SAN; Mr. Taiwo Lakanu, a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police and a founding member of SARS; Mrs. Oluwatoyin Odusanya, Director, Lagos State Directorate of Citizens Rights; Ms. Patience Udoh, Mr. Segun Awosanya (segalink) and two representatives of the youth.

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

LAWYERS’ GROUP, EBUKA, NBA PUBLICIST HAIL AKPATA AT 48

A group of lawyers under the aegis of Lawyers for Welfare Advocacy (LAWFWA) has felicitated with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata on his birthday today.

NBA Benin Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ogaga Emoghwanre has also congratulated Akpata on his birthday, describing him as “a  quintessential gentleman, effervescent, intelligent, savvy, spruce, dapper and a stylish personality.”

In separate messages made available to CITY LAWYER, they prayed for greater success for the NBA President.

Meanwhile, popular lawyer and TV host, Mr. Ebuka Obi-Uchendu has also joined in the flurry of congratulatory messages to Akpata. In the message posted on his verified Twitter handle, he wrote: “Happy birthday my presido @OlumideAkpata !!! More wins boss Folded hands

Below are the messages:

LAWYERS FOR WELFARE ADVOCACY (LAWFWA) CELEBRATES THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION PRESIDENT; OLUMIDE AKPATA ON THE OCCASION OF HIS BIRTHDAY.

The Lawyers for Welfare Advocacy wishes to congratulate the most innovative President of the bar in modern history; Olumide Akpata on the occasion of his birthday.

Sir, not only do you seamlessly adapt to addressing the emerging challenges from the persistent ones that we face in our country today, but you are also always striving to make things better with new approaches and such unfaltering determination and focus.

We therefore seize this opportunity to thank you for all of your amazing efforts in repositioning our dear bar, for your sagacity in making Nigeria better and for your pragmatic approach to addressing her numerous challenges for the betterment of all.

We wish you many happy returns today and always.

Happy birthday sir.

For: Lawyers for Welfare Advocacy
Ezekiel Ugwueze Esq.
National Secretary

OGAGA EMOGHWANRE, ESQ FELICITATES MR. OLUMIDE AKPATA, PRESIDENT OF THE NBA ON HIS BIRTHDAY.

Today is the oldest you have ever been and before it loses that privilege, I will attempt to eulogize your good self. Words may fail me in doing that, however, this eulogy is inextricably linked with verifiable facts.

Mr Olumide Akpata, before the day goes dim or lusterless, I want to say a huge Happy Birthday to you. You are a  quintessential gentleman, effervescent, intelligent, savvy, spruce, dapper and a stylish personality, I wish you all the best as you celebrate today.

Our President Sir, you are a man with a keen sense of beauty, a genius of the first magnitude, a man of transparent honesty, your amiable disposition, regal dignity and humility makes you a matchless colossus.

Today may be like any other day for some, but a special, glamorous and illuminating day for you. It is not the years of our lives that counts but the life of our years.

You are a man who breaks down barriers, explores new frontiers, sets records only to  break them.

You are  quintessential in all that you do, a leader par excellence. You are revolutionary and progressive in ideas.

To truly know you is to have a  piece of heaven as you are God’s hand on earth. Your philanthropy transcends mortal reasoning; a man with a heart of gold and accessible to all.

You are by every means a man of the people and loved by all. We are indeed blessed to have you around; a gift to humanity.

Mr Olumide Akpata is a detribalized Nigerian with a penchant for bringing everyone together. As a trailblazer who has shown light in so many ways, moreso as a unifying factor to lead the largest community of learned personalities in Sub Saharan Africa.

The internet is agog today, the 7th day of October, 2020 from both lawyers and non lawyers with so much encomiums and birthday wishes. This shows that the Support and acceptance that trailed your emergence as PRESIDENT of the NBA was vox populi and a testament of the fact that it was divinely orchestrated. 

As is true about life, some hard balls may be thrown at you at some point; some days are good and some are bad, pain is written on all our cards so we remember to value our good times.

But one thing I know is that you have the grace to always weather the storm.

There is no doubt and it is crystal clear that your vast knowledge is unprecedented and oceanic, these and so many of your stirling qualities endeared me to you and I am indebted to you with so much gratitude, thank you for all you have done and will still do.

Your birthday is an opportunity for me to express my sincere and unalloyed gratitude to you for everything.

My wish for you on your birthday is that you always be, happy and healthy.

May you live a prosperous and abundant life.

May God grant you more wisdom, knowledge and leadership prowess to pilot the affairs of our Association, the NBA.

Happy birthday once more sir. May this year bring for you all the graces you require to sustain the good works you have gained notoriety for.

Amen.

Cherish and savor the unprecedented love of God in your life and enjoy your Natal day to the fullest. God bless the President of Nigerian Bar Association Mr Olumide Akpata.

OGAGA EMOGHWANRE, ESQ.

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

AKPATA, UNILAG DEAN, OTHERS TO SPEAK AT LMDC/YOUNG LAWYERS’ FORUM

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata and foremost legal expert and Dean of Law, University of Lagos, Prof. Ayodele Atsenuwa are among leading jurists billed to speak at a webinar in preparation for the 1st Online Settlement Month in Africa themed ‘Resolving Disputes Through Technology in Africa.’

The virtual workshop is a partnership between the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers Forum (NBA YLF) and Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC).

Other speakers expected at tomorrow’s webinar holding at 11 a. m. are the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba; Lagos State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN; Justice T. Oyekan-Abdulai; Mr. Clifford Collings, Chief Operating Officer & Mediator, ACCORD as well as former NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Alex Muoka among others.

Below is the full text of the statement made available to CITY LAWYER.

************************

The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse invites you to attend a Webinar in preparation for the 1st Online Settlement Month in Africa themed ‘Resolving Disputes Through Technology in Africa’.

At the Webinar, you will gain first hand knowledge of the ODR Process; the effectiveness of ODR and the Online Settlement Month in the resolution of commercial and other types of disputes; understand the role of Counsel in ODR process and the types of cases that can be referred to the OSM.

As approved by the Hon. Chief Judge of Lagos State, Hon. Justice K. O. Alogba, The Lagos Multi-Door Courthouse (LMDC) will hold the 1st Online Settlement Month (OSM) in Africa from November 16 – December 11, 2020. The OSM is a product of the Annual Settlement and District Settlement Weeks held by the LMDC and sponsored by the Lagos State Government under its Security and Governance THEMES agenda. The purpose of the OSM is to ease Court congestion and create an opportunity for the mediation of cases online across Africa, despite the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The LMDC Panel of Neutrals has the requisite training and experience in Mediating disputes online which cut across Banking, Telecommunications, Maritime, Aviation, Landlord and Tenant, Building and Construction, Real Estate etc.

The beauty of the Online Settlement Month is that you can resolve your disputes from any location in the world for free without leaving your homes or offices. The Terms of Settlement will also be signed online.

Registration link: http://rebrand.ly/LMDCwebinar

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

‘MY FIRST MONTH AS NBA PRESIDENT WAS TOUGH,’ SAYS AKPATA

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata has written to lawyers chronicling his “achievements” in his first month in office.

Akpata was on August 28, 2020 sworn-in by the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN following a hotly contested presidential election.

In the email sent to lawyers today and titled “FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT: MY FIRST MONTH IN OFFICE (SEPTEMBER 2020),” Akpata stated that the communication was in fulfilment of his electioneering campaign promise “to regularly engage with you and to provide monthly updates from my desk on our activities in each preceding month.”

Noting that “My first month in office was as tough as it was busy,” Akpata however stated that “we are tackling these challenges while also setting the stage for more achievements in the coming months.”

Below is the full text of the address.

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT: MY FIRST MONTH IN OFFICE (SEPTEMBER 2020)

Dear Colleague,

I hope that my email meets you well.

One of the promises that I made to you during the recent electioneering season was to regularly engage with you and to provide monthly updates from my desk on our activities in each preceding month. It has been one month since I was sworn in as the 30th President of the NBA and I am writing to you to commence the fulfilment of that promise.

My first month in office was as tough as it was busy. Expectedly, it came with challenges like any other leadership role. But we are tackling these challenges while also setting the stage for more achievements in the coming months.

Details of some of our administration’s activities in September 2020 can be viewed by clicking HERE. A summary of the activities is as follows:
Electoral Audit and Reforms Committee: We established an Electoral Audit and Reforms Committee to audit the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections and recommend reforms for future elections. This is important to restore the confidence of our members and the society in our electoral system.

Parley with Northern Leaders: I held a crucial meeting with the Chairmen of about 40 branches of the NBA in the Northern Geopolitical Zone and some leaders of the Bar in the North to reassure every one of my interest in uniting the Bar and running a truly egalitarian association in which each member’s rights will be respected.

Death Sentence Appeal: As a mark of our commitment to human rights and rule of law, we intervened in the case of a certain Yahaya Sharif-Aminu who was sentenced to death by the Kano State Upper Sharia Court for alleged blasphemy but was denied access to lawyers for his appeal.

The Chief Judge of Cross River State (“CRS”): We have intervened in the crisis in CRS where there is currently no Chief Judge because the State House of Assembly has refused to confirm Hon. Justice Akon Ikpeme as Chief Judge following the expiration of the tenure of the acting Chief Judge. Our intervention in this matter, at all levels, is ongoing and we are determined to ensure that the Judiciary in CRS, and indeed access to justice in the State, is not hampered in any way.

Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 (“RPC”): The RPC was purportedly amended by the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (“HAGF”) in the month under review. We are exploring all options to ensure that appropriate actions are taken with respect to the supposed amendment. I have met with the HAGF and have also written to him. Based on the assurances that I received from him, I am hopeful that the said amendments will be reversed.

Lawyers with special needs: I met with the Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria to discuss and understand their peculiar challenges within the Bar. On your behalf, I pledged that the NBA will be more sensitive to their needs. We are currently exploring ways of dealing with some of the challenges that were identified.

An inclusive Bar: I had a meeting with the leadership of the Law Officers Association of Nigeria at which I got a better appreciation of the salient issues affecting law officers in Nigeria. We are currently setting up a Task Force to look into these issues and make appropriate recommendations.

“Ease” of Doing Business at the CAC: There are numerous complaints about the delay in service delivery at the CAC. Given the central role that the CAC plays in the professional lives of our members, I set up a Presidential Task Force to look into the complaints, identify the issues and engage the Registrar-General of the CAC with a view to finding workable solutions.

Eligibility for SAN rank: We have empaneled the General Purposes Committee (one of the standing committees under the NBA Constitution) to screen prospective candidates for the award of the rank of SAN. This is to assist the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee with the process of selecting the most suitable awardees for the rank in 2020.

A Kidnapped Lawyer: A lawyer, Mr. Uyi Frank Obayagbona was kidnapped around Edo State. Working closely with the Commissioner of Police Edo in State, we were able secure his release.

Branch visits: In keeping with the campaign promise of visiting as many branches as possible during my term, I commenced my visit to our 125 branches this September with a view to creating synergy between the branches and the national body. So far, I have visited and had interactive sessions with legal practitioners in Lafia, Keffi, Ungongo, Kano, Warri, Effurun and Asaba.

Ikeja Branch Crisis: There is a brewing crisis threatening to engulf the Ikeja Branch of the NBA. To forestall a full-blown and intractable crisis, I convened a meeting of stakeholders of the branch to deliberate and brainstorm on the way forward. I have also set up a caretaker committee to manage the branch following the expiration of the term of the caretaker committee appointed by my predecessor.

Supporting the Welfare of Judges: I was in Port Harcourt to participate in the commissioning of residential quarters donated by the Rivers State Government to the Court of Appeal and to serving Judges of the State High Court on an owner/occupier basis. I decided to participate at both events because the welfare of judicial officers is crucial and directly affects the ability of lawyers to practice proficiently and profitably.

Welcome to our New Members: On 15 September 2020, I joined the Body of Benchers in welcoming 1,758 “new wigs” into the profession and into our noble association.

A heart full of sorrow: A number of lawyers and judicial officers in Nigeria either passed on, or were buried, during my first month in office. Mr. Alfred Eghobiamien, SAN, Justice Jude Okeke, Justice Shehu Atiku and many others who contributed in several ways towards the advancement of the legal profession in Nigeria left to the other side of eternity.

While praying for the repose of their souls, I made out time to attend the funeral of some of them. The most recent was the funeral of Late Justice Karibi-Whyte, JSC (rtd) in his hometown in Abonema, Rivers State. His Lordship left an indelible mark in the profession and it was an honour to pay my last respects to him on your behalf.

The other was the funeral of Mr. Sunday Nnabuike Onah, a young man and member of the Enugu branch, whom I did not have the privilege of meeting or speaking with during his lifetime. Just before his funeral, I requested the NBA Secretariat to promptly process the death benefits due to his family from the NBA. On a related note, I will soon commence negotiations with our insurance providers to increase the life assurance and permanent disability pay-outs by 100%. I consider this an important component of the welfare scheme of the NBA for its members.

I thank you for your attention. Please be assured that I remain committed to delivering on your mandate and bequeathing a Bar that you will be most proud of.

Sincerely,

Olumide Akpata

President
Nigerian Bar Association

RPC: UBANI WITHDRAWS SUIT AGAINST MALAMI

* CITES PRESSURE FROM NBA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

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

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

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

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

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

Below is the full text of the statement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

An announcement on the book presentation states as follows:

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

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

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

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Meeting ID: 931 8388 3288

Passcode: 091502

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‘I’M NOT SURPRISED AKPATA WON’ – CHIJIOKE OKOLI

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Bar Leader and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Chijioke Okoli SAN has given a pass mark to the just concluded NBA Elections, saying he is not surprised that tier-one solicitor, Mr. Olumide Akpata won the presidential poll.

In an interview with CITY LAWYER, the fiery litigator stated that circumstances conspired to hand-over the mantle to NBA President-elect, even as he urged Akpata’s opponents to join hands with him to move the Bar forward.

His words:

“The election seems to be a significant improvement from the last one in which I could not even vote. Without prejudice to whatever genuine complaints some others may have, it was transparent in my view especially with the real-time results as the voting went on.

“It is therefore proper to commend the election committee for a good job. I know my Learned Brother Silk Chief Tawo as man of integrity, and he did not disappoint.

“As for the results, that of the President did not surprise me. Olu Akpata, truth be told, worked hardest and longest of all the contestants. And he rode the crest wave of the long lingering disenchantment of many – especially the vast horde of young lawyers – with the Bar status quo; an aspect of which is the bitterness some lawyers have for the institution of SAN and which was exacerbated by Otunba Awomolo’s rather unfortunate leaked letter to Chief Onomigbo Okpoko.

“Having said that, Olu proved with not only his top-tier firm and his stint in NBA-SBL that he possesses remarkable administrative capacity and vision. I congratulate him heartily as well as the winners of the other positions.

“I’m sure that if Olu works on the desk of NBA Presidency as hard as he campaigned for it then his tenure should be a refreshing and uplifting one for Nigerian lawyers. His cosmopolitan background and outlook should serve well in uniting a badly divided bar, including the seeming marginalization of the South West in the scheme of things. I’m sure he knows that a lot is expected of him, with the young lawyers especially investing fervent hope in his tenure for significant positive change in their professional fortunes.

“His task is enormous on many fronts, especially in leading the fight for the rule of law and enthronement of minimum standards in our administration of justice which are sadly lacking at the moment. The elections are over and we all remain friends at the Bar.

“I would urge all, especially his esteemed co-contestants and their supporters to rally round him to construct an NBA which works for all.

“Finally, the contest for the Assistant Secretary was such a closely fought one as to partake of an electoral thriller.”

Okoli had endorsed Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN in the run-up to the elections.

It is recalled that the Chairman of the Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN had on July 31, 2020 declared Akpata as winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020.

According to the ECNBA Chairman, Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Mr. Dele Adesina SAN polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear.  Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with infractions. The election was held via ElectionBuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

Though a total of 29,636 lawyers were accredited for the election, only 18,256 or 62 per cent of the voters succeeded in casting their ballots.

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

ECNBA APPEARS BEFORE TRUSTEES, REPLIES ADESINA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• CONTRADICTS ITSELF ON NUMBER OF VERIFIED VOTERS
• SET TO SUBMIT CLEAN LIST OF VERIFIED VOTERS TO BOT
• ELECTIONBUDDY SUBMITS CERTIFIED RESULTS
• ‘AUDIT WILL IDENTIFY EVERY VOTER, CHOICES’
• ‘THERE IS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT,’ SAYS TAWO

There are strong indications that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have appeared before the NBA Board of Trustees (BOT) yesterday as Trustees opened hearing in a petition filed by erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN seeking to overturn the election.

CITY LAWYER had reported that the committee was to adopt its response to Adesina’s petition at yesterday’s hearing. 

Meanwhile, the controversy over the exact number of voters on the register has refused to abate, as the electoral committee has now pegged the figure at 29,632 voters in its response to the BOT. The figure is different from the “total of 29,635 verified and duly accredited members who have fulfilled all requirements for voting in the NBA National Officers elections 2020” – as announced by the committee in its ECNBA STATEMENT N0. 018 ACCREDITED VOTERS LIST – or the “29636 eligible voters” which is still trending on the election results portal. 

In the response obtained by CITY LAWYER and titled “RE: PETITION BY JULIUS OLADELE ADESINA SAN IN RESPECT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (sic) 2020,” the electoral committee stated that it “through a transparent process, engaged an IT Consultant to advice the committee on the best possible options to achieve maximum result for the e-voting system and an enterprise voting platform to conduct the election.”

According to the ECNBA, “A record of Over 18,000 members of the NBA voters participated in the NBA national officers elections. In specific terms, the list of legal practitioners qualified to vote in the 2020 NBA national officers elections stood at 39,000.”

Though the electoral committee stated that “The verified voters were in excesses (sic) of 30,000,” it later declared in the response that “29,632 (75.36%) verified.”

Noting that 18,256 voters cast their ballot, “representing over 62% or verified/accredited Voters,” the ECNBA said: “The results were observed from all locations real time and same were later officially announced by the ECNBA. The election was adjudged by many as free, fair and transparent.”

Comparing the 2020 election with the 2016 and 2018 polls, the electoral committee stated that “In 2020, a total of 39,321 Lawyers made the final voters’ list, 29,632 (75.36%) verified, 18,256 voted representing 46.43% of the electorate and 61.61% of those verified by accreditation to vote.”

Responding specifically to Adesina’s petition, the committee in its 8-page defence dated August 5, 2020 and signed by its Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN said that “no illegal, inaccurate or flawed Voters Register was used in the 2020 National officers’ elections of the Nigerian Bar Association neither was the process subverted nor manipulated against or in favour of anybody by any person.”

The committee vowed that it did not deploy any illegal voters’ register for the elections, adding that “The Electronic voting platform is designed in such a manner that a post-election audit can identify every voter and his choices at the election.”

It also debunked Adesina’s allegation that the use of NBA stamp in compiling the voters’ register imperiled the elections, saying that the “stamp and seal list for 2020 was a mere handmaiden provided by the National secretariat based on data supplied by the Branches of persons who had paid their Bar practicing fees and Branch dues as prequalification for application for stamp and seal. The Branches sent further details to cover those whose names were not on the stamp and seal list.”

On the allegation that the final voters’ list violated the provision of the NBA Constitution which set out a 28 days deadline for the publication of the register, the committee said: “This (publication of the list of verified voters) must not be confused with the (39,321) final voters’ list of legal practitioners qualified to vote as required by Article 1.2.(d) to be published at least twenty-eight (28) days before the election.”

The committee also debunked the claim that there were names of lawyers on the accredited list without branches indicated, saying that “the said names already had their branches indicated in the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote which was published on the 1st of July 2020.”

On the controversial issue of “International diaspora” branch, the electoral umpire said that “the names that were erroneously tagged as International Diaspora, had their correct branches indicated on the aforesaid list of 1st July 2020. The error of the International Diaspora designation arose from the fact that same was amongst the list of branches on the NBA Verification portal (perhaps for futuristic projections) and became a default place holder for any member who did not indicate his/her Branch during verification. This was addressed in the contents of ECNBA Statement No.019 thereto.”

Noting that there was no untoward activity relating to uploading of the voters’ register “that would affect the outcome of the elections or disenfranchise any voter in the elections,” the committee added that it explained in its Statement No. 019 “the circumstances around the complaints of members that they were put in branches other than their own.”

The electoral committee promised to avail the Trustees with “accredited Voters’ list with the proper Branches of members reflected,” adding that “It may be compared with the names on the final voters’ list prior to verification/accreditation.” It also noted that the “active element” for the election or unique identifier for each member was the Supreme Court Enrollment Number (SCN). “At no time did the Committee receive any complain about ‘SAN Number’ which may well have been a reference to SCN number, if at all such an incident occurred. There is no such requirement for eligibility to vote in the elections,” the committee said.

Turning to the charge of “data diddling” as alleged by Adesina, the committee said: “The ECNBA reiterates that no data was programmed and/or preconfigured to a premeditated result “in any case of data diddling”. There was never and could never be any unholy alliance and collaboration between any candidate and the ECNBA.”

The committee declared that NBA portal was not deployed for the voting, adding: “Rather, it is a foreign enterprise platform called Election Buddy with a pedigree for the kind of electoral exercise conducted by the NBA. Prior to the voting exercise, the platform had been put through series of trials via mock elections involving the ECNBA members and national officers (excluding the NBA President), with a good showing. At the end of the elections, the Certification of the election results by Election Buddy (platform provider) has also been received by the ECNBA and is forwarded with this report.”

It stated that the committee “is not unaware that for two previous elections, the IT consultants/Service providers have been subject to litigations and invitations to the various organs of the States in a manner that have not given so much credit to the NBA,” noting that “This state of affairs has made many service providers wary of doing business with the NBA.”

The committee noted that the election portal “was programmed to deliver 5 notices of the election to each voter’s phone number and email and each failed attempt was aggregated. The failure to deliver the notices had nothing to do with the capacity of the platform but the phone number/email or the facility on the receiving device.”

Though the ECNBA denied that NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN usurped its powers to engage the Service Provider, it however admitted that “The MOU for the engagement for the ICT consultant was necessarily signed by the NBA because the ECNBA is a committee of the NBA and the former has no resources of its own to pay for the services.”

Concluding, the electoral committee noted that “There is no gainsaying the fact that there is room for improvement in the NBA electoral process, especially in the manner members’ data are maintained at the Branches and the need for Lawyers to optimize their digital skills to enable the e-voting system to be user friendly cannot be over-emphasized.”

It is recalled that Adesina had petitioned the electoral committee alleging irregularities and demanding a cancellation of the poll. In a letter to ECNBA Chairman dated 30th July, 2020 and personally signed by him, Adesina stated that the voters’ list “contained grave errors of omission and commission,” listing some of the errors as:

Leading solicitor, Mr. Olumide Akpata was on July 31, 2020 declared winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020. Announcing the results, Tawo said Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Adesina polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear. Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with infractions. The election was held via ElectionBuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

ECNBA RESPONSE

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

NBA TRUSTEES TO HEAR ADESINA’S ELECTION PETITION TODAY

EMEKA NWADIOKE

There are strong indications that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Board of Trustees (BOT) will today begin hearing in the petition filed by Mr. Dele Adesina SAN against the declaration of Mr. Olumide Akpata as winner of the recent NBA National Officers Elections.

It is expected that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) will appear before the panel to present its case against Adesina’s petition. A member of the committee told CITY LAWYER at the weekend that the board was scheduled to sit on the petition today, saying: “BOT is meeting on Monday. We are expected to formally adopt our response before them.”

It is recalled that Adesina had petitioned the electoral committee alleging irregularities and demanding a cancellation of the poll. In a letter to ECNBA Chairman dated 30th July, 2020 and personally signed by him, Adesina stated that the voters’ list “contained grave errors of omission and commission,” listing some of the errors as:

  1. Names of purported Lawyers without Branches ascribed to them from Serial Number 25171 to 29635;
  2. Names of Lawyers under the subheading “International Diaspora” from Serial Number 12182 to 12268. A clear violation of the provisions of the Constitution of the NBA;
  3. Inflation of the List of some Branches. For instance, Obollo-Afor Branch on the Final List for Verification had only 39 names on the List from Serial Number 30424 to 30462. Strangely, this increased to 662 on the Verified List;
  4. Deletion of Names of Members removed from the Final List;
  1. Many Members names found their way to Branches other than their own Branch.

He however queried why it was NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN that responded to his complaint as against the committee. He then petitioned the trustees.

In a petition dated 2nd August, 2020 and addressed to BOT Chairman, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Adesina stated that he “had the privilege of joining others to build the NBA before some of the god-fathers who are plunging the NBA into avoidable crisis today ever became involved in the affairs of the Association.”

Other members of the BOT are former NBA Presidents Joseph Bodunrin Daudu (SAN) and Augustine Alegeh (SAN), a former NBA General Secretary Obafemi Adewale and longstanding Bar Leader, Hajia Fatima Kwaku. Instructively, while Daudu threw his weight behind Adesina in the run-up to the election, Adewale endorsed Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN as the best man for the job. On his part, though Alegeh did not openly align with Akpata, he is said to be perhaps his most influential backer, even as he congratulated the NBA President-elect even before he was officially decalred as a winner of the election. 

Citing alleged infractions of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended), the erstwhile presidential candidate said: “Our I.C.T. Consultants informed us that though the voting site might have appeared credible on the surface as a decoy, it is apparent to state that the data uploaded to the site was programmed and preconfigured to achieve a premeditated result in an obvious case of data diddling.”

According to Adesina, “it is apparent to state that the data uploaded to the site was programmed and preconfigured to achieve a premeditated result in an obvious case of data diddling.”

In the petition titled “Re: The Nigerian Bar Association 2020 National Officers Election: A case of classical electronic fraud, illegal and unconstitutional process: call for cancellation and a new election conducted for the Nigerian Bar Association (nba)” and copied to all the trustees and NBA past presidents, Adesina warned that “The time has come to regain the integrity of the Nigerian Bar Association by putting an end to unconstitutional and fraudulent elections in our Association.”

It is recalled that the Chairman of the Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN had on July 31, 2020 declared Akpata as winner of the NBA presidential election held on July 29 or 30, 2020.

According to the ECNBA Chairman, Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Ajibade who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Adesina polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear.  Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with infractions. The election was held via ElectionBuddy, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

Though a total of 29,636 lawyers were accredited for the election, only 18,256 or 62 per cent of the voters succeeded in casting their ballots.

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