EXCLUSIVE: NBA ELECTIONS – WHY EFCC QUIZED NBA CHIEFTAIN

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have swooped on senior lawyer and Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) administrative lynchpin, Sarah Ajijola over an alleged cash payment received from one of the presidential candidates in the last elections.

An impeccable source who is familiar with the EFCC investigations told CITY LAWYER that Ajijola, NBA’s Director of Membership & Bar Services, was pulled in by the anti-graft agency for questioning over a N25,000 inflow into her bank account in the run-up to the controversial 2018 NBA Elections.

The EFCC is investigating the outcome of the elections following an alleged petition by Mr. Olumuyiwa Olowokure who was an agent to Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN, one of the presidential candidates in the elections. Olowokure is now deceased.

As the overseer of the NBA database, Ajijola worked closely with the Professor Auwalu Yadudu-led Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) in generating a register of voters for the elections. Reputed as highly knowledgeable in NBA affairs, Ajijola was quizzed for several days over the inflow. It was however unclear at press time whether the anti-graft agency was able to make a headway in its investigations into the elections following this latest effort to track those who allegedly rigged the Bar elections.

CITY LAWYER sent whatsapp messages to Ajijola requesting her response on the subject. When CITY LAWYER noticed that the messages remained unread, CITY LAWYER alerted Ajijola via SMS. Though there was compelling evidence that the whatsapp messages were read, Ajijola however did not respond to the enquiries even after CITY LAWYER made another request for a feedback.

CITY LAWYER gathered that Ajijola was released when NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN dispatched NBA Legal Adviser, Mr. Innocent Eze to Lagos to secure her release. It was gathered that Eze was able to persuade the anti-graft agency to let the NBA top officer off the hook. He was said to have processed the administrative bail granted Ajijola, leading to her release from EFCC custody.

Though some lawyers had frowned on Ajijola’s prolonged detention, there are strong indications that this may not be unconnected with the fact that key NBA chieftains were heading to Seoul, South Korea to attend the International Bar Association (IBA) Annual Conference barely a few days after she was picked up by EFCC operatives and whisked away to their Lagos Office.

Usoro was declared winner of the election, having polled 4,509 votes to beat Okafor and former Nigerian Law School Deputy Director General, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN. While Okafor garnered 4,423 votes, Ojukwu polled 3,313 votes to place third.

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CROSS RIVER: WHERE IS AGBA JALINGO? ASKS UBANI

In this piece, former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2nd Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani expresses worry over the alleged illegal arrest of Agba Jalingo

I have just been informed by Mrs Agba Jalingo that the Nigerian Police from Cross River State have arrested her husband, Mr Agba Jalingo for reasons that are not clear. Recall that Jalingo has been having a running battle with his State Governor, His Excellency Mr Ben Ayade. This stems from his criticisms of his inept leadership in Cross Rivers State, an act considered sacrilegious by the governor and his bootlickers.

The Commissioner of Police in Cross Rivers State is clearly on the side of the governor as he has not hidden his subservience to the governor and his desires which includes the arrest and public humiliation of Mr Agba Jalingo. This arrest may not be unconnected with that desire.

The surprise element in all this is that the same Police have invited him to come on the 26th August, next Monday and he has promised to honour their invitation. One is at a loss why the arrest on 22nd August, four days earlier than the day of the invitation.

I just hope that this arrest is not from Cross River State Governor as this will be clearly illegal and condemnable. Nigerians will survive this season of intimidation and harassment. Right Activists, Human Rights lawyers and Civil Society should condemn this. We are not under military regime for God’s sake!

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

BREAKING: SANs THWART EFCC’S BID TO ARREST USORO

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have failed failed to arrest Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN today. Also, the arraignment earlier scheduled for today could not hold. Continue Reading

BREAKING: EFCC TO ARRAIGN USORO DEC 10 OVER N1.4 BN FRAUD

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed a N1.4 billion fraud charge against the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Paul Usoro (SAN), at the the Federal High Court in Lagos.

Justice Muslim Hassan fixed December 10, 2018 for the EFCC to arraign Usoro, THE NATION reports.

The anti-graft agency, in a charge marked FHC/418c/18, alleged that Usoro, from Akwa Ibom, converted and laundered the money in connivance with the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel.

The charge sheet, signed by EFCC Counsel, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, did not list Emmanuel as a defendant.

The EFCC indicated that he is “currently constitutionally immuned against criminal prosecution”. It did, however, mention four other defendants.

They are: Nsikan Nkan, described as Commissioner for Finance, Akwa Ibom State; Mfon Udomah, described as the Accountant-General of Akwa Ibom State; Uwemedimo Nwoko, described as the Akwa Ibom State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice; and Margaret Ukpe, all of whom are said to be at large.

The commission alleged that Usoro, in connivance with the others mentioned, conspired to commit the offence “sometime in 2015 within the jurisdiction of this honourable court”.

The anti-graft agency claimed that the N1.4bn belonged to the Akwa Ibom State Government.

According to Oyedepo, the offences were contrary to Section 18 (a) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 15(3) of the same Act.

Though SAHARA REPORTERS wrote that Usoro was picked up yesterday and released on bail by the anti-graft body, this was disparaged by NBA Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Edun who said Usoro was busy preparing to chair the NBA National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) meeting holding tomorrow.

Reacting to a rebroadcast of the Sahara Reporters story by a legal blog, Edun said: “Pls, where did you get this information from. I have been in Abuja for the past two days. I was in Port Harcourt for SLP Conference on Monday. From Sunday till this moment I have been in contact with the NBA President.

“National officers had a meeting with him yesterday evening and left about few minutes past 12 am. I have seen Mr. President this morning. Presently he is in the office working hard preparing for NEC meeting.

“Pls, let us stop spreading false news. Away (sic) verify your facts before publishing. You could have easily reached me.
Your report is therefore false and should be retracted immediately. I hope you will also publish this refutal.”

Corroborating Edun’s account, another source who seemed abreast with Usoro’s itinerary wrote: “This is absolutely false. I was with the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN throughout yesterday, Tuesday, 05 December 2018 and at no point whatsoever was he arrested by the EFCC.

“The President left Abuja to Lagos on Monday, 03 December 2018, with Airpeace 1:20pm and returned to Abuja on Tuesday, 04 December 2018, with Azman 8am, for a workshop organised by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission.

“After the workshop, he was in the office (NBA National Secretariat) till about 12:03am where he had a long meeting with other National Officers of the NBA.

“Please see below, pictures of the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN chairing a session at the Workshop on Reform of the Value Added Tax Act, organised by the Nigerian Law Reform Commission yesterday, 04 December 2018, at Reiz Continental Hotel, Abuja.”

Former NBA Welfare Secretary, Mr. Adesina Adegbite was forced to intervene when his attention was called to the concerns generated on his whatsapp platform by the report.

He wrote: “My attention was just drawn to this by a senior lawyer and past General Secretary of the NBA.

“However, by the response of the National Publicity Secretary and as the Chief Administrator of this platform, I hereby demand an immediate retraction of this post right here on this platform.

“Pls let’s get our facts right before rushing to press with false/fake news. It does us as lawyers and our noble Association no good to tarnish its image with undignified posts like this.”

However, when a learned silk classified the report as “fake news,” fiery Bar activist, Dame Carol Ajie who recently fell out with the NBA President retorted: “You know I called owner of the link (blog) they picked my call and after listening to my question ref to confirm they said to me they have confirmed.

“You know it’s not been posted to OurCountryNigeria@yahoogroups.ca but when I see the charge sheet then I can share it. Response from Carol Ajie to my comment of ‘fake news.’ ”

As at the time of this report, the NBA is yet to issue any official statement rebutting the alleged arrest.

Lawyers Protest, Courts Shut as Police Detain Law Prof

• Lawyers Storm Police Station
• Police Cave In, Release Law Teacher, Apologize

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Umuahia Branch yesterday stormed the Umuahia Area Command of the Nigerian Police to rescue Prof. Patrick Ugochukwu from the clutches of police operatives. Continue Reading