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activist and Bar Leader, “The leadership of the bar at the highest level have reached out to me to have the law suit withdrawn to avoid an ugly situation where the issue of the case in court will be used as an excuse to scuttle the much anticipated resolution of this unnecessary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

N1.26TR NATIONAL THEATRE SUIT: COURT SET OCTOBER 29 FOR PARTIES TO BATTLE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The forthcoming annual vacation of the Federal High Court has stalled speedy hearing of an application in a N1.26 trillion suit brought by Topwideapeas Limited seeking an order of the court to annul concessioning of a part of the controversial National Theatre edifice.

The plaintiff is praying for an interlocutory injunction restraining the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff’s rights as concessionaire of the fallow land adjoining the National Theatre. The substantive motion was earlier set down for hearing on March 10, 2020 but was aborted by the coronavirus crisis.

Among the defendants that were served by substituted means are Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Minister, Federal Ministry of Tourism, Culture & National Orientation, Attorney-General of the Federation and Central Bank of Nigeria as second to fifth defendants. Other defendants in the suit are National Theatre & The National Troupe of Nigeria Board, Access Bank of Nigeria Plc and its Managing Director, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, as first, sixth and seventh defendants respectively. The case is listed as FHC/L/CS/2392/2019, Topwideapeas Ltd V National Theatre & National Troupe of Nigeria Board & 6 Ors.

Though counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. Matthew Nkap had at the resumed hearing last Wednesday sought an early date to argue the pending application for an interlocutory injunction, Justice Ayokunle Faji stated that his hands were tied by the impending vacation. He adjourned the matter to October 29 to hear all pending applications. Barrister C. Opara represented the 4th Defendant while Mr. Adeniyi Adegbonmire SAN appeared for the 6th and 7th defendants.

The plaintiff had scaled a major hurdle last March when the court ordered that all the court processes should be served on some defendants by substituted means.

After listening to the Lead Counsel for the plaintiff, Mr. Chijioke Okoli SAN argue a motion ex-parte for substituted service on the defendants, the court had ordered the plaintiff to serve the writ of summons and statement of claim on the defendants via DHL courier service and also by publication in a national newspaper.

The court also ordered that hearing notice for an interlocutory injunction to restrain the defendants from interfering with the plaintiff’s rights as concessionaire of the fallow land adjoining the National Theatre should be served on the defendants, while the substantive motion was set down for hearing on March 10, 2020.

The plaintiff is seeking among others a declaration that the plaintiff has a valid and binding contract for the concession of the fallow land surrounding the National Theatre Complex in terms of the updated draft concession agreement between the Federal Republic of Nigeria (represented by the first and third defendants) and the plaintiff, the approval of the Federal Executive Council being a mere formality in the circumstances.

Topwideapeas also seeks a declaration that it is unlawful for the fifth to seventh defendants to purport to truncate and nullify the plaintiff’s right as the concessionaire of the fallow land in and about the National Theatre Complex Iganmu, Lagos, by inducing the breach of the plaintiff’s contract with the first to third defendants or by any other means.

The plaintiff prays the court to declare that it is contrary to public policy and constitutes a misappropriation of scarce public funds for the fifth defendant (CBN) to divert public funds towards any project concerning the National Theatre Complex, Iganmu, Lagos, when the plaintiff and its partners and privies have mobilised local and foreign private investment into developing the complex and surrounding land into a grand mini-city on a scale entirely beyond the legitimate capacity of the fifth defendant.

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.

SPIDEL 2019: WE HAVE GREAT EXPECTATIONS, SAYS ANANABA

The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN has assured delegates to this year’s SPIDEL Annual Conference that they are in for a pleasant surprise as the conference kicks off today with an opening ceremony.

Speaking with CITY LAWYER on the grounds of the conference at ADDREX Hotels, Aba, Ananaba said that many of the invited guests and speakers are already on ground, adding that each delegate would have his or her money’s worth.

Meanwhile, among the early bids cited by CITY LAWYER at the conference are Mr. Abiodun Aikhomu, a Special Adviser representing Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN; Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Onuoha Ogwe; Solicitor General of the Federation, Mr. Dayo Apata SAN; Justice Livingstone Eruba of Abia State High Court; former NBA General Secretary, Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro SAN; former NBA Section on Business Law Chairman, Mr. Olumide Akpata; former NBA Treasurer, Joyce Oduah who is sponsoring some delegates to the conference, and Mr. Okey Leo Ohagba, former NBA First Assistant Secretary.

Basking in the euphoria of the successful welcome cocktails hosted by Abia State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Uche Ihediwa, Ananaba said: “We are expecting a grand opening ceremony. The Attorney General & Minister of Justice’s (Abubakar Malami SAN) representative and his team are here already; the Chief Judge of Abia State and the Governor of Abia State and a few other governors expected are going to be there. We have some senior advocates of Nigeria from all parts of the country and very senior lawyers, former chairmen of sections and branch chairmen; it is going to be great here.

“You could see that even the welcome cocktail was described glowingly by one of the attendees, a veteran from the beginning of SPIDEL. He said that SPIDEL has never had a night like this! As I speak to you, two state delegations are on their way coming – one from Kano and one from Jos (Plateau), coming to join us. That is the spirit! And we are expecting that to be on display tomorrow morning (today).”

Speaking on the success of the welcome cocktails, the SPIDEL Chairman said: “It surpassed expectations – even my own expectations: live band, pool side, the two sets of caterers had varieties; people had their best expectations met.”

It is recalled that the opening ceremony starts by 9 am today and will witness the Conference Planning Committee Chairman and former NBA First Vice President, Mr. Ikeazor Akaraiwe giving the welcome remarks while Ananaba will deliver the opening remarks.

Goodwill messages will be received from former NBA President, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN; pioneer SPIDEL Chairman, Chief Joe Kyari Gadzama SAN, and Chairman of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), Chief Chibuike Nwokeukwu SAN. NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN will deliver his address, setting the stage for Malami’s Keynote Address. This will be followed by the Conference Opening Speech by Abia State Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and a cultural interlude by the Abia Cultural Troupe. A vote of thanks by SPIDEL Secretary, Mr. Kola Omotinugbon will draw the curtains on the opening ceremony.

Among the 16 technical sessions for the much anticipated conference which signals the resurgence of SPIDEL are Public Interest Lawyering, Global Best Practices and Development; Executive Orders as Tools of Governance – Prospects and Challenges; Public Protest and the Law, and Managing Security Challenges and Public Interest Issues.

Others are Business and Human Rights: Global Principles and Best Practices; Alternative Dispute Resolution: Utilizing Institutional and Legal Strategies for Managing and Resolving Companies-Host-Communities (C-H-C) Conflicts; Promoting the Rule of Law; Roles and Perspectives of Attorneys General as State Actors; Implementation of Nigerian Correctional Service Act 2019: The Role of Civil Society Organizations and Legal Community, and The Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Interest Litigations.

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.

Restore COSON’s Licence Now, MPAN Urges NCC

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