Monday, 6 July, 2020

NBA ELECTIONS: ELECTORAL C’TE CLEARS ADESINA, AJIBADE, AKPATA, BARS 15 OTHERS

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• WITHDRAWS CLEARANCE TO GENERAL SECRETARY ASPIRANT
• DISQUALIFIES 2 INCUMBENT NATIONAL OFFICERS
• SETS JULY 15 DEADLINE FOR VERIFICATION
• VOWS TO DISQUALIFY CANDIDATES WHO FLOUT CAMPAIGN RULES
• SETS MONDAY DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION OF MANIFESTOS
• ASKS CANDIDATES TO DISMANTLE PARALLEL HELP DESKS

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has released the list of candidates to contest the forthcoming NBA National Officers Elections.

While 28 candidates – including three presidential candidates – made the final list, 15 aspirants could not pass through the crucible of the screening process, including two incumbent national officers.

While 19 aspirants were initially disqualified by the electoral committee, 18 filed appeals while one opted not to file any appeal. The ECNBA withdrew the initial provisional clearance granted an aspirant for the post of General Secretary, Barth Okoye-Aniche following a petition, while five aspirants succeeded with their appeals.

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report noted concerns among some disqualified aspirants over the delay in the screening process and the promise by the electoral committee to fast-track the appeals process.

In its ECNBA Statement No. 13 titled “Full List of properly nominated candidates for the NBA National Elections 2020 and verification of members,” the electoral committee stated that “Having concluded the Appeals process, the ECNBA now presents a list of 28 candidates cleared to contest various offices in the NBA National Officers Elections 2020.” The statement was dated July 3, 2020 and jointly signed by Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN and Mrs. Cordelia Eke, ECNBA Chairman and Secretary respectively.

CANDIDATES LIST

It urged the candidates to “submit an A4 size copy of his/her curriculum vitae (of not more than 4 pages), a comprehensive manifesto and other campaign materials (all in electronic form) on or before 6:00PM on Monday 6th July 2020, for upload on the NBA website.”

The committee emphasized that “campaigns can only be carried out by publication of campaign materials supplied to the ECNBA to be hoisted on the NBA website,” warning specifically that “Travelling across the country to solicit for votes is prohibited.” The committee warned candidates to abide by the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended) and the ECNBA Guidelines in their electioneering campaigns, vowing that “Any violation of these will be severely sanctioned including disqualification from contesting the elections.”

On the controversial final voters register, the committee emphasized “the need for members to verify and update their details on the NBA website on or before the 15th day of July, 2020. This is to ensure that everyone can access the voting portal during the elections as only those who are verified can vote.”

Leading human rights activist and former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu had poked holes in the voters register, saying: “After 2 #RiggedElections, @NigBarAssoc seems well on its way to a 3rd. The voters list produced by#ECNBA appears riddled wth some impressive non-persons. Voter No. 5500 is a person called “Opening Balance”?! There’s a way to stop this: verify the names with reference to receipts.”

Turning to the issue of parallel help desks set up by some candidates, the electoral committee frowned on the practice, describing it as “unacceptable.” “We advise that such efforts be dismantled immediately not to interfere with the mandate of the Committee, confuse our members or be interpreted as attempts to harvest members’ details for use at the elections,” it said. It urged eligible voters to rely instead on the Help Desk set up by the NBA to assist members having challenges with the verification process.

Among those cleared to run for the elections are Mr. Dele Adesina SAN, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN and Mr. Olumide Akpata who will battle for the coveted NBA Presidency slot. The position of First Vice President remains the most crowded field, with six candidates cleared for the race. They include John Aikpokpo-Martins, Oluwaseun Ajoba, Adebayo Akinlade, Adedotun Adetunji, Ganiat Siyonbola and Dawud Sulayman. Siyonbola was not in the list of aspirants provisionally cleared for the election.

While the race for Second Vice President is a straight fight between Adesola Abimbola and Kazeem Adeyemo, both aspirants for the position of Third Vice President – Promise Wobo Iwezor and Gerald Abonyi – failed to scale the screening hurdle.

With Barth Okoye-Aniche haven fallen by the way-side, the race for the influential post of General Secretary is now between Alex Muoka, Joyce Oduah, Okey Ohagba and Christopher Yakemewerigha. The battle for the post of Assistant Secretary remains unchanged, with three combatants – Anne Agi, Uche Nwadialo and Aigbokhai Osagie – cleared for the race.

Returnee candidate Mercy Ijato Agada and Raphael Anagor have clinched the positions of Treasurer and Financial Secretary respectively without a fight. While Caroline Ibharuneafe who sought the post of Treasurer fell under the disqualification hammer, Anagor seemed the solitary applicant for the post of Financial Secretary.

With incumbent Second Assistant Secretary Chinyere Obasi and Osahon Irehovbude having been disqualified by the electoral committee, the race for the post of Welfare Secretary promises to be a fierce battle between incumbent National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Edun and returnee candidate, Sabastine Anyia.

Following a successful appeal and the reinstatement of his name on the ballot, Olayinka Sokoya will slug it out with Rapuluchukwu Nduka for the post of Publicity Secretary while four candidates – President Aigbokhan, Charles Ajiboye, Ferdinand Naza and Dominic Ochenehi – will battle for the position of Assistant Publicity Secretary. While Ajiboye and Ochenehi had appealed their disqualification by the electoral committee, leading to their reinstatement in the race, Henry Chibuike Ugwu of Ihiala Branch and Oladotun Hassan of Epe Branch did not succeed with their appeals.

Among those who were also disqualified are controversial former Ikeja Branch Chairman, Adesina Ogunlana; S. O. K. Shillings, and incumbent Assistant Publicity Secretary, Akorede Habeeb Lawal who sought the substantive post of Publicity Secretary.

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.

‘WHY I’M BACKING AJIBADE TO WIN,’ BY CHIJIOKE OKOLI SAN

Frontline white collar litigator and former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (Lagos Branch), Mr. Chijioke Okoli SAN has given reasons for backing a leading presidential aspirant in the forthcoming NBA Elections, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade (SAN).

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the respected Bar Leader described the cerebral senior lawyer as “remarkable in many more ways than one,” adding that “he stands out as the best of the lot.”

Below is the full text of his statement:

THE MAN FOR THIS SEASON:
ENDORSEMENT OF DR. TUNDE AJIBADE, SAN-BY CHIJIOKE OKOLI, SAN.

This Nigerian Bar Association [NBA] national election year is hardly like any other. The legal profession in Nigeria and the country in general are at a momentous crossroads, with self-evidently daunting problems but behind which lies the promise of an enlivening new beginning. The situation is such that, more than ever before, we must be particularly careful with our leadership recruitment processes and choices. Luckily, the NBA is well served this year by an undoubtedly strong field of candidates for the NBA Presidency; three distinguished senior practitioners with good records of service to the legal profession.

I shall however speak of only Dr. Tunde Ajibade SAN who is remarkable in many more ways than one, especially because he stands out as the best of the lot. He brings to the table of the present NBA Presidential contest qualities which are sorely needed to tackle the present crippling problems of the legal profession and administration of justice in Nigeria in general. He epitomizes phenomenal breadth and depth of knowledge and expertise; belonging to that very rare breed of top-line litigators who are equally at home with transactional law practice. And his willingness to share and democratize legal knowledge is underscored by the annual Continuous Legal Education series organized by his law firm of which I have been privileged to attend a few times.

Perhaps most importantly, the present period of widespread anomie requires of the NBA leadership the exceptional personal and professional integrity which Dr. Ajibade exemplifies. More than at any time since the advent of our dysfunctional civilian rule, there is the urgent need for an NBA leadership capable of telling truth to power. His temperament is undoubtedly excellent for the task; possessing quiet but immense strength and courage which saw him visiting and showing solidarity with colleagues in the insurgency-ridden North East region of the country. And his instinctive courteousness and overall civility is unfailingly present in interactions with lawyers of all ranks and ages, in and out of the courtroom.

Finally, this. Whilst the generality of Nigerian lawyers owe the Austine Alegeh Presidency a debt of gratitude for the introduction of universal suffrage in NBA national elections, he was but a Paul who came to water the ground tilled by some of us Appollos; i.e., those who were appalled by the now jettisoned grossly unfair and corrupt delegates system and fought for its change. Part of the unfairness of the delegates system was that it badly shortchanged the larger branches exemplified by the Lagos Branch. Seeing it as my duty as Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch at the time [between 2009-2011] to see to the correction of the injustice to the Branch and vast majority of lawyers, I heartily campaigned for universal lawyers’ suffrage for the election of NBA national officers.

Whilst I recollect the likes of Anselm Chidi Odinkalu and Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN being in the trenches of the struggle, so to speak, Dr. Ajibade was one of those Lagos based senior practitioners who steadfastly encouraged me from the sides, sharing my view that the concept of equality at the Bar can hardly find more practical and appropriate expression than giving each Nigerian lawyer the right to a direct vote in the election of NBA national officers. Ultimately, the goal was achieved for the majority, properly so called, to determine who leads the NBA. And it is to this majority, all of us essentially, that I appeal to give their vote to Dr. Tunde Ajibade. I have no doubt at all that the NBA would be in very good hands with him as our President.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 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 ELECTIONS: VERIFICATION ‘HOT LINES’ GO COLD

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Doubts were yesterday cast on the functionality of the Help Desk set up by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to facilitate the verification exercise for the forthcoming NBA Elections, as the hot lines were unavailable. The elections are scheduled to hold on July 29 and 30, 2020 to elect new national officers for the association.

The NBA had in an online post by its Assistant National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Akorede Habeeb Lawal titled “NBA VERIFICATION SUPPORT” unveiled some telephone numbers to assist lawyers having challenges with the verification exercise.

The statement read: “In order to afford support for our members going through the verification process or having issues with accessing their personal portals on the NBA website, the NBA has introduced the following support lines which shall be available from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day of the week.” He also added that “Complaints may also be sent to support@nigerianbar.org.ng.”

However, when CITY LAWYER dialed all the four numbers between 7:33 pm and 7:35 pm yesterday, none of the numbers connected. Instead, each telephone number returned the message that “The MTN number you are trying to call is currently switched off. Please try again later.” The numbers are 08168011579, 08165374194, 08165037594 and 08167181605. It was unclear at press time how this will impact the verification exercise.

It is recalled that the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) had in its ECNBA STATEMENT NO 009 at the weekend announced the same numbers as help lines for the verification exercise.

In the statement signed by its Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN, the electoral committee stated that “Members who are yet to undertake the verification of their particulars on the NBA website are advised to do so without further delay. Members are required to activate their personal portal on the website upon verification not later than the 15th day of July 2020.

“A support system which will become operational from Monday the 29th day of June 2020 is being set up with the following dedicated lines 08168011579, 08165374194, 08165037594 and 08167181605 email: support@nigerianbar.org.ng.”

In an earlier statement dated June 21, 2020 the electoral committee announced commencement of the verification exercise, a critical part of the electioneering process, saying: “The ECNBA hereby request all eligible voters to immediately verify their details on the NBA Website to be able to vote in the elections.

VERIFICATION PROCESS
To be verified means that all the member’s necessary and relevant data (particularly phone numbers, email address, postal and home address) are with the Nigerian Bar Association. For you to vote, you are required to maintain an active portal on the NBA website:

(a) For members who have not previously been verified:
1. Visit https://nigerianbar.org.ng/membership-portal
2. Click on the Get Verified Option and do the following:

Enter your email address correctly and complete the verification form;
Upload a soft copy of your call to bar certificate;
Patiently wait for a confirmation email from the NBA, which will contain your Supreme Court enrolment number and a temporary password (that you can always change at your convenience).

3. Upon receiving a confirmation email from the NBA indicating that you have been successfully verified, do the following:

Go back to the NBA Membership Portal page;
Copy your enrolment number and password from the confirmation email and enter same on the portal as login details to avoid errors;
Ensure you type both the alphabets and figures of your Supreme Court Number together without space (E.G.: SCN111111).

(b) For members who have previously been verified but unable to login:

1. Visit https://nigerianbar.org.ng/membership-portal

2. Click Forgot Password

3. Enter Your Supreme Court Number and follow the instructions.”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 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 GENERAL SECRETARY: SAN, OTHERS BACK ALEX MUOKA

  • EX YOUNG LAWYERS’ FORUM CHAIR, TOO

The quest by former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Alex Muoka to clinch the influential seat of NBA General Secretary received a major boost today with his endorsement by leading white-collar litigator, Mr. Chijioke Okoli SAN.

A former (NBA), Lagos Branch Chairman himself, Okoli said that Muoka “unquestionably ticks all the requisite boxes” in the run-up to the elections, adding that having lived a life of service to the Bar, “I have no doubt at all that the NBA would be putting its best leg forward if we elect Alex Muoka as our General Secretary in the coming elections.”

Similar endorsements also came from former Chairman of NBA Lagos Branch Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF), Ms. Derin Fagbure and the Head of Chambers, A. Muoka & Co., Layo Olugbemi.

Below are the full texts of their endorsements:

CHIJIOKE OKOLI, SAN
ENDORSEMENT OF ALEX MUOKA FOR THE OFFICE OF NBA GENERAL SECRETARY
It is axiomatic that the bane of Nigerian socio-political space in general, of which the Nigerian Bar Association [NBA] is a significant stakeholder, has been the persistently faulty leadership selection processes and choices. Whilst strong institutions are crucially important, it is good men and women who are fit-for-purpose that could, and would, build those institutions. For the NBA, the Secretariat is its engine room and it is critical that care is specially taken in choosing its helmsman, the General Secretary. The occupant must have what it takes to meet the great demands of that high office.

It is for the reason that Alex Muoka unquestionably ticks all the requisite boxes that I am not only supporting him, I nominated him for election to the office. He has managed to be an outstanding lawyer whilst living a life of service to the Bar. As Secretary of the NBA Lagos Branch, apart from reorganizing the Branch Secretariat and making it palpably more efficient, he had a unique and refreshing spin to his writings that the members looked forward to reading minutes of branch meetings and reports the way John Grisham afficionados look forward to his new offerings.

Muoka went on to become Chairman of the Lagos Branch and continued with his record of excellent record of service to the Bar; bringing to the table of leadership good management of men and resources, gravitas, inclusiveness, strength of character and remarkable integrity. His cosmopolitan background and worldview also equip him well, as happened in his tenure as the Chairman of Lagos Branch, to navigate adroitly for optimum performance in the office of General Secretary of an NBA constituted of lawyers of diverse backgrounds and interests.

My dear learned friends, I have no doubt at all that the NBA would be putting its best leg forward if we elect Alex Muoka as our General Secretary in the coming elections.

DERIN FAGBURE
FORMER CHAIRMAN, NBA LAGOS BRANCH YOUNG LAWYERS’ FORUM

Mr Alex Muoka, ‘Oga mi’, as I call him, is a man of his words. He has a good command of language and could make a joke out of the most serious things. It is no wonder he is a highly sought-after compere at legal events, both formal and informal. Mind you, behind those jokes, deep thought is given to the legal implications of the conversation.

As a past Chairman of the Young Lawyers’ Forum of the NBA Lagos Branch, I can attest to the fact that he has the welfare of young lawyers at heart. He is a Senior who relates well with the younger members of the Bar, and appreciates the importance of mentorship. Mr Muoka is not one to make empty promises, and I, therefore, am truly convinced that he would carry out the promises in his manifesto, to the letter.

I wholeheartedly endorse Mr. Alex Muoka for the position of General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Ms. Derin Fagbure
Former Chairman
NBA Lagos Branch YLF

LAYO OLUGBEMI
HEAD OF CHAMBERS, A. MUOKA & CO
I have had the opportunity of working in the law-firm of ‘A. Muoka & Co.’ for more than a decade.

Alex Muoka is a fine gentleman who brings to bear the spirit of distinction in the way and manner he manages our firm.

I have no hesitation whatsoever in endorsing Alex Muoka as General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association – for he will bring the much desired unity to our Association.

He has justifiably paid his dues in the run up to this National office from his impressive antecedents as Secretary of the Lagos Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association and Branch Chairman as well.

His sterling qualities have endeared him to friends and colleagues, many of whom speak about him with admiration. A brilliant lawyer and erudite writer, very detailed, highly principled and purpose driven. He takes no prisoners in his resolute determination to succeed.

Therefore, Alex Muoka has all it takes to raise the Nigerian Bar to another level.

Layo Olugbemi
HEAD OF CHAMBERS, A. MUOKA & CO

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 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 ELECTORAL COMMITTEE FINALLY DISQUALIFIES OGUNLANA

I WILL HEAD TO COURT, SAYS FORMER IKEJA BRANCH CHAIR

Controversial NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana finally been  disqualified from contesting the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Confirming the incident to CITY LAWYER, a close aide of Ogunlana, Mr. Ayo Ademiluyi however said the former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman will “definitely” head to court to challenge his disqualification. He said Ogunlana will soon issue a statement on his disqualification.

He said that the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) hinged its decision on lack of a Letter of Good Standing from the branch chairman as well as the report of the committee allegedly indicting Ogunlana on the branch insurance funds. Ogunlana has argued that the committee report was not an indictment but merely asked him to account for about N12 million of the branch insurance fund.

Other aspirants whose appeals were also unsuccessful include incumbent NBA Second Assistant Secretary Chinyere Obasi, Messrs S. O. K. Shillings and Promise Wobo Iwezor.

Confirming her disqualification in an online post to her supporters, Obasi said: “Good morning my people. I regret to inform you all that the appeal was refused. ECNBA still stood on sec 8(3) of the NBA constitution 2015 i.e. not being a NEC member for two years before the close of nomination. I thank you all for your support and prayers thus far.”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 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.

ECNBA DISQUALIFIES OBASI, SHILLINGS AGAIN, KEEPS MUM ON OGUNLANA, OTHERS

• ELECTORAL COMMITTEE SCRIBE LOSES FATHER

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have concluded hearing of appeals from aspirants disqualified in the forthcoming NBA Elections.

There are strong indications that at least three of the appeals were unsuccessful, as the electoral committee sustained its decisions to disqualify the aspirants, including incumbent NBA Second Assistant Secretary, Miss Chinyere Obasi who was gunning for the post of Welfare Secretary, and Promise Wobo Iwezor, an aspirant for the post of Third Vice President.

Also disqualified is NBA Ikorodu Branch chieftain, Mr. S. O. K. Shillings who confirmed his disqualification to CITY LAWYER in a telephone interview. He was vying for the post of First Vice President.

CITY LAWYER gathered from impeccable sources that some of the disqualification letters dated June 25, 2020 were dispatched late last night by the electoral committee.

Several of the aspirants are yet to know their fate, including controversial NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana. The former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman told CITY LAWYER that he “is hopeful” of a favourable response from the electoral committee. Incumbent NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary, Mr. Habeeb Lawal also told CITY LAWYER that he had not heard from the electoral committee at press time.

Confirming her disqualification in an online post to her supporters, Obasi said: “Good morning my people. I regret to inform you all that the appeal was refused. ECNBA still stood on sec 8(3) of the NBA constitution 2015 i.e. not being a NEC member for two years before the close of nomination. I thank you all for your support and prayers thus far.”

Meanwhile, tragedy has hit the electoral committee as CITY LAWYER gathered that its Secretary, Mrs. Cordelia Eke has lost her father. The deceased was buried during the weekend. Mrs. Eke has since resumed duty again at the ECNBA.

Another big casualty from the earlier exercise is former NBA Ikorodu Branch Chairman, Mr. Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji who was also vying for the First Vice President. He also told CITY LAWYER he had not received any feedback from the electoral committee as at press time. The fate of Gerald Abonyi, another aspirant for the post of Third Vice President, also remained unclear at press time.

The NBA Elections is now rescheduled to hold on July 29 and 30, 2020.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 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.

AWOMOLO LETTER: WHAT SANs, BAR LEADERS, OTHERS ARE SAYING

Many Bar Leaders and lawyers have been weighing in on the recommendation by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN that the next president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should be sourced from the rank of senior advocates.

Aside from the presidential aspirants, many lawyers have also joined the fray in reacting to the controversial letter.

Awomolo had in a letter to former NBA President, Chief Onomigbo Okpoko SAN stated that “It will be a great failure of leadership for the senior advocates to surrender leadership to the outer bar when there are willing and able senior advocates,” urging him to convene a meeting of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to deliberate on the matter. Okpoko is yet to respond to the leaked letter.

Below are some of the views of Bar leaders, senior advocates and other lawyers on the letter.

KEMI PINHEIRO, SAN
Awomolo SAN expressed his personal opinion and conviction. That is a right guaranteed to everyone one. The NBA has had non SAN presidents before. So it is not going to be news if we have another pls. HEAVEN WILL NOT FALL. However those calling for a revolution should be reminded about what became of the movement to abolish the rank of SAN or the Revolution Now movement in the larger political space!!! A child who wants to become the head of the house while his father is still alive must first find out and understand how the house was built!!! More particularly those who say their candidate is opposed to parochialism must remember that the entire NBA constitution is anchored on parochialism by the zoning of offices to sections of the country and that by paying your branch dues you have subscribed to that constitution albeit parochialism!!

JIBRIN OKUTEPA, SAN
I do not think that anyone should be castigated for his or her views on an issue that the person feels too strong about. Prior to the views expressed in the letter of Chief A S Awomolo SAN on whether the position of the President of the Bar be reserved for SAN, many had expressed the views that the position should not be for only SAN. I think one of the hallmarks of democracy is the freedom of expression. There is no need for anybody to castigate Chief Awomolo SAN or those who hold contrary views. Chief Awomolo SAN has been playing leading role in bringing the members of the Bar together. As lawyers we are not bound to see things the same.

PROF. CHIDI ODINKALU
I have known and respected Asiwaju Gboyega Awomolo, SAN for long. This letter by him concerning #NBADecides2020 is at best ill-advised. The mind-set here inhabits a world of unearned privilege & entitlement with no sense of responsibility. I hope it no one takes it seriously. Any system in which a minority claim entitlement to rule over the majority has only 1 name: Apartheid.

OSAS ERHABOR
That statement by the learned Chief Awomolo is uncalled for both in terms of poor timing and context. It is very divisive and certainly not needed in the heat of campaign for the Presidency of the Bar. This also is my personal opinion.

TUNDE FAGBOHUNLU, SAN
A candidate’s qualification to lead the Bar should be a function of his/her competence and integrity. It is entirely immaterial whether he/she is or IS NOT a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

DAME CAROL AJIE
The position of Chief Awomolo SAN that the office of the President of NBA should be the exclusive reserve of SAN is impolite and disrespects the majority. As INEC counsel defending some democratic institutions Asiwaju ought to know that majority be respected. The duties and privileges of a SAN are clearly spelt out and restricted to the courts. Period! You have a distinct group known as Body of SANs? Only SANs should lead there not in NBA. I had thought you would deal with NBA constitutional issues of rotation within the sub-region. Why do you have such disdain for the NBA Constitution? It does not restrict the office of the President to SAN?

AHMED T. UWAIS
For me this is a game changer, some years ago my dear friend Afam was disqualified simply because he was not an SAN. Its not a provision in the NBA Constitution that in order to contest and be elected the NBA President you have to be an SAN. Though it has been long since any non SAN was elected the president of NBA, in my humble view this election is not about electing an SAN or not as the right person to lead our dear profession which has been declining in terms of integrity, respect and influence in our society.

CHUKWUKA IKWUAZOM
The decision to vote a candidate as President of the Bar should not be based on the titles that the candidates bear. It should be based on an objective assessment of the character, ability, track record and programmes of each candidate. In the same manner, I disapprove of any campaign to vote for a candidate because he/she is not a senior advocate, I disapprove of the statement allegedly issued by the very respected Silk, Chief Awomolo.

OLUKAYODE ENITAN, SAN
The forthcoming NBA elections should be made a revolution that we all should ensure succeeds in bringing forth the best of us in content of character, abundance of capacity and excellent antecedents devoid of parochial and pecuniary sentiments!

ANTHONY MALIK, SAN
Mr. Gboyega Awomolo, SAN is, by any parameter, a doyen of the Bar. I respect him and appreciate his overall contributions to the Bar and the enrichment of our body of laws. Regrettably, I am unable to navigate my way through the contents of his letter. In clear terms, his letter does not enjoy my endorsement in the least. We have a Constitution which has just been amended and it serves no good importing into it what is not contained therein. If it was the desire of the Association to make the Presidency of NBA the exclusive preserve of SANs, a provision along this line would have been inserted in the Constitution.

ADEMOLA ADEWALE
This statement credited to Highly respected member of BOSAN Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, is not only unfortunate but capable of boomeranging and destroying the chances of the very able and competent SANs who are in the race to become the next President of the NBA!!!!! To start with it comes across as arrogant and condescending!!!! Particularly when it is considered that most of the voting electorate is overwhelmingly non SAN!!!! So as we all await the NBA election that will lead to the emergence of the next President of the NBA, let our focus be on competence and vision of service to our great Association!!!! Not rank or status!!!!!

AFAM OSIGWE
I subscribe to the view that to attain leadership at the Bar, you do not have to be a Senior Advocate. If you are a Senior Advocate, that’s fine, if you are not, that’s also fine. If the NBA thought it was important for you to take the top job, you must be a senior Advocate, It would have put it in the NBA constitution. Since there’s no stipulation that one must be a Senior Advocate, then it’s a non-issue. To the question, “Is it imperative that one be a senior advocate to aspire to be president”, one must note that Dr Mudiaga Odjeh, Alao Aka Bashorun, Prince Bola Ajibola, Charles Idehen to name a few were NBA Presidents without taking Silk at the time of their election. And that tradition has continued to be maintained in our constitution.

GODWIN OMOAKA, SAN
I read with utter shock the letter by eminent Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo in which he argued that the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association should be reserved only for Senior Advocates of Nigeria. As a member of the inner bar, I strongly disagree with the views expressed by my respected leader and learned brother silk who appears to have lost touch with the current trend in the profession. The letter is, at the very least, discriminatory (it offends section 8 of the NBA Constitution), ill-thought out and clearly divisive. I see it as an attempt to pitch SANs against the majority of our colleagues in the outer bar.

AYULI JEMIDE
“It is a great failure of leadership for the Senior Advocates to surrender leadership to outer bar when there are willing and able senior advocates,” says Adegobyega Awomolo SAN. I consider this ‘inner vs outer’ notion as discriminatory.

SANNI ABBAS
The learned senior advocate has not written a letter as to the issue of welfare of lawyers, he has also not proffered an opinion on the minimum wage to be paid by senior advocates even when it is in public domain how much many senior lawyers pay lawyers (peanuts). It’s an open secret that some Silk do not even pay close to what non senior advocates are paying i.e he pays take home that is not even enough to take you home.

SILAS ONU
I was not surprised by the content, especially coming from Awomolo SAN. I must state for the sake of clarity, that I know as a fact, that so many Senior Advocates, properly so called, are not in support of the letter from Awomolo SAN and will never share his view on the NBA leadership. In the nearest future, the activism record of individual, public interest litigations and penchant for defending the right of person should be the core criteria for Bar leadership. Legal practice is different from leading the Bar. The Bar leadership requires a person who can jump in the mud with the masses to protest against abuse of human rights and unconstitutional actions of government.

KRUKRUBO AFFAIR: ‘THE REAL STORY,’ BY PORT HARCOURT BRANCH

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch has given an official account of the controversy trailing the alleged manhandling of Mr. Tonye Krukrubo, a senior lawyer with Tier 1 law firm, Aluko & Oyebode, during a victory party to celebrate winners of the recent branch election.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the branch stated that the party was “organised by the friends of the Chairman and the Chairman of the branch in his personal capacity.”

Signed by the Branch Publicity Secretary, Precious U. Dike, the statement noted that the party “was not a gathering of NBA PH branch but a private gathering of victorious candidates,” adding that not only was the party not bankrolled by a leading NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Olumide Akpata, “Indeed, a particular senior lawyer video recorded Mr. Akpata while felicitating with the Chairman but was called to order by a fellow lawyer to delete the videos which the senior lawyer did without any fisticuffs and nothing more.”

Earlier, former Chairman of the Branch, Mr. Victor Frank-Briggs had also countered the allegation that Krukrubo was rough-handled, saying that though he was challenged for recording Akpata, “Tonye Krukubo (sic) apologised and deleted the videos. He however expressed his displeasure in the manner in which the guest spoke to him and the guest apologised. That was the end of the story. Nothing more, nothing less.”

The full text of the press statements read:
Re: Commotion at the NBA Port Harcourt (Integrity Branch) Post Election Party: The True State of Happenstance.

The attention of the Chairman, NBA Port Harcourt branch has been drawn to the news making the rounds in various social media platforms over the above subject matter.

Ordinarily, the branch would not have bothered to dignify those who orchestrated the lies with a response but in a bid to liberate netizens and the reading public from the thraldom of malicious propaganda, we state thus:

1. The victory party organised by the friends of the Chairman and the Chairman of the branch in his personal capacity and attended by all the victorious candidates now officers of the aforesaid branch never held in Coral Reef Hotel or any other hotel, but rather in a private residence.

2. Port Harcourt branch of the Nigerian Bar Association is not and has never been known as the Integrity Branch.

3. The gathering as earlier stated was not a gathering of NBA PH branch but a private gathering of victorious candidates, sponsored by the newly elected Chairman and his friends.

4. The gathering complied in full with the established protocols of Covid 19.

5. Mr. Olumide Akpata, never did bankroll the hosting of the said party. He was in town for a private business and invited to the party at the instance of the Chairman who is his call mate and classmate at University of Benin. He did not campaign at the gathering.

6. Indeed, a particular senior lawyer video recorded Mr. Akpata while felicitating with the Chairman but was called to order by a fellow lawyer to delete the videos which the senior lawyer did without any fisticuffs and nothing more.

The general public is hereby urged to disregard the said news as it only happened in the figment of the imaginations of its peddlers.

Signed:

Precious U. Dike, Esq.
(Publicity Secretary, NBA PH Branch)

THE “UGLY SCUFFLE” IN PORT HARCOURT IS UTTER FABRICATION

My attention has been drawn to a publication in some online blogs about an “ugly scuffle” which supposedly took place at an after-party organised by The Integrity Group to celebrate the emergence of Prince Nyekwere as the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch and the other officers.

I have received calls from well meaning members of the Bar from all over the country requesting to confirm the veracity of the report and I wish to state categorically, and for the avoidance of doubt, that nothing can be further from the truth. The report is a poorly orchestrated fabrication by mischievous elements to engineer a crisis for reasons best known to them them but they will not succeed. To set the record straight, below is the true account of what transpired:

The Port Harcourt Branch of the NBA held Branch elections on Wednesday 24 June 2020 after which Prince Nyekwere emerged as Chairman of the Branch and was sworn into office, alongside the other newly elected Branch Executive officers.

Prince and I are members of The Integrity Group and consistent with our practice in the past 6 years, The Integrity Group organised and sponsored a victory party in honour of Prince Nyekwere and the other officers. Contrary to the fabrication that the event took place at Coral Reef Hotel, Port Harcourt, the celebration took place at a private residence in GRA Phase 2, Port Harcourt, in compliance with the State’s COVID-19 directives. Furthermore, some of the guests were hosted in the sitting room while others were seated outside. The event started around 6.30pm in the evening and ended in time to enable the guests return to their homes ahead of the 10pm curfew.

Around 8pm, Olumide Akpata who was the classmate of Prince Nyekwere at the University of Benin, and who I knew was in Port Harcourt on his personal business, came to the event, at the invitation of Prince and I. In the course of the evening, the Co-Chairman of the The Integrity Group, invited Olumide Akpata, as a guest in our midst, to say a few words of congratulations to Prince Nyekwere. There was no campaigning whatsoever.

Immediately after Mr Akpata started to speak, Tonye Krukubo, a partner in the firm of Aluko & Oyebode and the Coordinator of the Babatunde Ajibade campaign in Rivers State, started recording him. Another guest at the event, a legal practitioner and not a “private investigator” as mischievously reported accosted him and asked him (i) why he was recording Olumide Akpata without his permission and (ii) what was the motive behind his sudden decision to start recording having not done so for over three hours since the event started.

Tonye Krukubo apologised and deleted the videos. He however expressed his displeasure in the manner in which the guest spoke to him and the guest apologised. That was the end of the story. Nothing more, nothing less. The only correct thing in the entire reporting was that Olumide Akpata sat calmly throughout the episode and soon after the incident, he politely took his leave.

O. V. Frank-Briggs
Past Chairman
Port Harcourt Branch

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 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.

SANship: AKPATA, OGUNLANA FAULT AWOMOLO, ADESINA SPEAKS

More aspirants have condemned the call by Bar leader, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN that the next president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should be sourced from the rank of senior advocates.

Awomolo had in a letter to former NBA President, Chief Onomigbo Okpoko SAN stated that “It will be a great failure of leadership for the senior advocates to surrender leadership to the outer bar when there are willing and able senior advocates,” urging him to convene a meeting of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to deliberate on the matter. Okpoko is yet to respond to the leaked letter.

One of the presidential aspirants, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN had earlier dissociated himself from the call, saying that “The focus should be on the character, capacity and antecedents of persons who aspire to lead our profession and not on their title or rank.”

While Mr. Dele Adesina SAN did not issue any direct response to the controversial letter, he had prior to the publication of the letter and as a part of his law series, written an article which spoke to the issue. Titled “Insights: A Bar For All,” he wrote: “As a firm believer in the objectives of the Nigerian Bar Association and the role it plays to its members and the community, I believe our Association is at a critical point in history where unity of purpose and synergy among lawyers is in desperate need.

“As such it is not a time for members to instigate division either among the senior members of the Bar and juniors or among the Senior Advocates and Non – Senior Advocates. I believe as members of the NBA, the Association is for the benefit of all members irrespective of position or ilk.

“The Leadership of NBA must always ensure strategic collaboration between the NBA, its Sections, Forums and other bodies such as the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Law Officers Association of Nigeria, Law Teachers Association of Nigeria, Association of Lawyers with Disabilities in Nigeria, Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON), Muslim Lawyers Association of Nigeria (MULAN) and ‘Federación Internacional dé Abogadas’ a.k.a. ‘International Federation of Women Lawyers’, Capital Markets Solicitors, and any other interest groups among us.

“Our Association must continue to be a pillar of support and strength for the specialised bodies and individuals in pursuit of their goals and objectives. We must also resist any and all efforts to cause a division among our ranks, if the NBA must remain relevant, active and successful in its role.”

In a terse response on his verified Twitter handle, another presidential aspirant, Mr. Olumide Akpata said: “I have a lot of respect for the rank of SAN & I encourage those who aspire to it. But this letter by Awomolo SAN is a disservice to all lawyers who want a better Bar.” 

On his part, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, another presidential aspirant who was disqualified by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), in a broadcast on his verified Facebook handle described the letter as “extremely amusing,” adding however that the Bar leader “is entitled to his opinion.” Ogunlana has petitioned the ECNBA over his disqualification.

Hinting that the kernel of Awomolo’s “lamentations” is a quest to “protect the interest of his class”, he stated that Awomolo’s era “generally have failed this country. They have not added value most of the time – good value. They have failed us; it is a failed generation. They are used to privilege. He has not advanced merit in canvassing (Chief) T. J. O. Okpoko.”

He discredited Awomolo’s assertion that all NBA presidents since its rebirth from the 1992 Port Harcourt debacle have all been senior advocates, noting that Chief Lanke Odogiyan completed the tenure of Chief Bayo Ojo SAN.

He said that Awomolo has “exposed the inner thinking, inner workings and the pains and anguish of people they call Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, that there is a concerted effort to keep the leadership and all the things that connect to that leadership of the NBA in their ranks.”

Saying that this may explain why all the NBA committees at the national level are headed by SANs, Ogunlana added that “There is a clear intention given by the monopolistic hold of the senior advocates on the NBA that they are the repository of wisdom, that they are the repository of intellectual knowledge.”

He distinguished between the association and the profession, adding that the Bar leader has not only shown that he “is not a democrat,” but is advocating gerontocracy and plutocracy. Describing the rank of senior advocate as “fraudulent,” he stated that any move to amend the NBA Constitution to reserve the position of NBA president for only senior advocates “will be resisted.”

He stated that the issue of leadership of the association “should not be whether the aspirant is a senior advocate or not. “It should be, is this person competent? Does he have the know-how? What is the programme and what can he do? That is the issue?” He stated that voters should cast their ballots for either SANs or non-SANs based on their competence.

Describing Awomolo’s letter as “a gross insult to himself,” Ogunlana stated that the Bar leader has “betrayed that he doesn’t understand and accept democracy for what it is.”

Awomolo’s letter read: “Since you (Okpoko) became the president of the reformed NBA in 1998, and to avoid what happened in Port Harcourt in 1992, all successors to the office of the president have been senior advocates of Nigeria.”

“With respect, I believe you need to urgently call a meeting of the past presidents of the NBA and do all within your powers to preserve the integrity, honour and respectability of the office of the president of the NBA,” Awomolo said.

“What I hear is an unannounced but powerful and potent revolutionary move by our junior colleagues who are very much in larger numbers to wrestle the office of the NBA from the rank of SAN.

“That, in my view will be unfortunate for the rank. To the members of the public a ridicule of the rank and office of the president of the NBA.”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 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.

EDITORIAL: NBA ELECTIONS 2020 – OF OPPORTUNITIES AND THREATS

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2020 National Elections will hold barely 28 days from today. In fact, Paragraph 2.3 (d) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended) provides that “The full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote shall be published by ECNBA in conjunction with the National Secretariat of the NBA at least twenty eight (28) days before the date of the election.” The poll is scheduled to hold on July 24 and 25, 2020 via electronic voting. Continue Reading