Sunday, 5 July, 2020

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.

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.

NBA PRESIDENCY: AJIBADE COUNTERS AWOMOLO ON SANship

  • SAYS FOCUS SHOULD BE ON CHARACTER AND CAPACITY

One of the leading aspirants for the presidency of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN has disagreed sharply with the position of Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN on his call for position to be retained within the rank of senior advocates.

Awomolo had in a letter to former NBA President, Chief Onomigbo Okpoko SAN called for a meeting of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to deliberate on the matter.

But in a trending post on social media, Ajibade, a senior advocate, disagreed, 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.”

The full text reads:

THE OFFICE OF PRESIDENT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION IS NOT THE EXCLUSIVE PRESERVE OF SENIOR ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA – DR. BABATUNDE AJIBADE, SAN

My attention has been drawn to a statement made by Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN in which he suggests that the office of President of the Nigerian Bar Association is the exclusive preserve of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs).

I respectfully disagree with this position. There is nothing contained in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Constitution or in the history of the NBA to support this assertion.

There is near unanimous agreement that one of the most popular and effective Presidents the NBA has had is Late Alao Aka-Basorun and the NBA has had other non-SAN Presidents since.

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.

There are serious challenges facing the profession at this time and we need to unite the profession in order to effectively address them.

Dr Babatunde Ajibade, SAN, FCIArb.

NBA PRESIDENCY: AJIBADE JOINS THE RACE

  • THROWS SPANNER IN THE WORKS

Leading corporate lawyer, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade has joined the race to succeed Mr. Paul Usoro SAN as Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

The entry of the cerebral lawyer into the already crowded field has thrown spanner in the works, as many consider him a serious contender for the coveted seat. In fact, asked what Ajibade’s chances are to clinch the sought-after seat, a former NBA chieftain told CITY LAWYER that Ajibade is a “potential NBA President.”

Though seemingly a late entrant into the presidential race given that some of the aspirants have been making discreet moves for several months now to push their ambitions, CITY LAWYER gathered at the weekend that Ajibade is not leaving anything to chance in his quest to win the NBA Presidency.

A source close to the NBA Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) Advisor told CITY LAWYER that Ajibade has commenced aggressive consultations to intimate especially Bar Leaders on his ambition. Although a familiar face in the continuing legal education circuit where he is routinely engaged as a facilitator, there are strong indications that the recently concluded International Bar Association (IBA) conference in Seoul, South Korea may have offered Ajibade a platform to sell his candidacy.

To put the matter of his quest beyond debate, CITY LAWYER gathered from unimpeachable sources that the highly successful corporate lawyer has started telephoning and visiting key Bar Leaders to formally intimate them on his ambition. At least two Bar Leaders confirmed to CITY LAWYER that Ajibade spoke to them on his desire to lead the Bar while a former NBA chieftain said that Ajibade contacted him through a proxy.

In line with the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended), the next NBA President will emerge from the South West Zone comprising. According to Article 2.2(b) of the Second Schedule to the amended NBA Constitution dealing with ‘Election of National Officers,’ “The positions of the President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, 3rd Vice President and General Secretary shall rotate among the three zones. In determining the eligibility of a candidate to contest for any of the rotated offices, regard shall be had to a candidate’s Geographical Zone of origin and not the geographical Zone where he/she carries on legal practice.” On the other hand, Article 2.2(e)(iii) lists the States under “Western Zone” as Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Oyo.

Other aspirants who have been touted for the post of NBA President are another leading and successful corporate lawyer, Mr. Olumide Akpata; former presidential candidate and NBA General Secretary, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN and another erstwhile NBA General Secretary, Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro SAN.

Ajibade’s entry into the race has substantially altered the political dynamics for the NBA Presidency race. Aside from being a hugely successful corporate lawyer, Ajibade, like Akpata, is also from NBA Lagos Branch which has always had the largest bloc of votes in NBA elections. Though some question his credentials as a “Bar-man,” many view him as highly cerebral, self-effacing and not having any integrity deficit.

Several Bar Leaders who responded to CITY LAWYER enquiries on his candidacy stated that he is not only eminently qualified for the position but must be seen as a serious contender, adding that other aspirants would ignore him at their own political peril.

While Akpata was before now seen as perhaps the ‘anointed candidate’ of NBA House, impeccable sources told CITY LAWYER that his campaign may have suffered some reversals lately. CITY LAWYER reliably gathered that there is a major schism in Akpata’s camp, with speculations that a major power broker and backer may be having a serious rethink on his support for the highly successful corporate lawyer, immediate past Chairman of the NBA-SBL and Co-Chair of the recently concluded NBA Annual General Conference (AGC). Unless the rift which a source close to the power broker described as having “far reaching consequences” is resolved prior to the opening of ballot, it may eclipse a major support base for Akpata.

Like Alegeh, he is also from Edo State. This is seen as perhaps his biggest hurdle. What is more, Article 2.2(d) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution provides that “Where a position is zoned to any particular geographical zone, the position shall be rotated and held in turn by the different groups and/or sections in the geographical zone.” Akpata is seen as having the brightest chance to wrestle the NBA Presidency from the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria who have dominated the post for a long time. A similar potent quest by fiery former NBA General Secretary, Mr. Afam Osigwe was aborted midstream, as he was disqualified by the electoral body. He however blames his ‘political detractors’ for his fate.

Bar watchers told CITY LAWYER at the weekend that unless both Ajibade and Akpata are able to reach an understanding before the elections, they are bound to split their key support base – NBA Lagos Branch – down the middle. Usoro is a member of the branch. Ajibade’s emergence on the scene may have put him in a quandary, even as speculations are rife on whether the NBA President is privy to his quest.

Ajibade’s emergence has also seemingly torpedoed several permutations. A source close to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Lagos Zone Chairman told CITY LAWYER thus: “You will know that he would not have resolved to run for NBA Presidency without the support of past and present Bar Leaders.”

Some analysts however argue that his entry into the race has only given additional boost to Akpata’s quest, adding that the Bar is set for a repeat of the 2014 NBA presidential race when three core South West candidates ran against former NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN. With the three candidates – Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN, Chief Adeniyi Akintola SAN and Mr. Dele Adesina SAN – splitting the South West votes, Alegeh coasted to victory with a total of 691 votes. His runner-up, Adesina, SAN polled 370 votes, Adekoya garnered 255 votes, Akintola received 126 votes while Osas Erhabor brought the rear with 17 votes. The three core South West candidates polled 751 votes, 60 votes more than Alegeh’s.

Some analysts also argue that Ajibade is not a ‘Bar-man,’ adding that his candidacy is not materially different from Akpata’s since they are both successful commercial lawyers from the “Corporate Bloc” of the NBA. But his camp disagrees, saying that his litany of services to the Bar is there for all to see.

The advent of Alegeh has led to a string of successive NBA Presidents emerging from the corporate bloc or ‘big law firms.’ Feelers by CITY LAWYER at the weekend indicate that the face-off between the ‘corporate’ and ‘Bar-men’ blocs will continue and intensify in the forthcoming elections, as the ‘Bar-men’ are desperate to wrest power from their heavy spending corporate counterparts.

A veteran of sorts in the NBA Presidency race, Adesina has his major support base in Ikeja Branch where he held several posts. Ditto for Akinboro who is also a czar of sorts in the Abuja Bar circles. Both are seen as no push-overs in the forthcoming NBA Elections, though some Bar watchers contend that there are a few chinks in their armours which would become apparent as the campaigns heat up.

Ajibade is touted as a go-to lawyer by several international rating agencies including Who is Who Legal, Chambers Global and IFLR 1000. According to a biography by Who is Who Legal, Ajibade is the Managing Partner of SPA Ajibade & Co, a leading corporate and commercial law firm with offices in Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja, Nigeria.

“Babatunde is a dispute resolution specialist and has substantial expertise in international commercial arbitration, especially in the fields of company law, energy law, labour law, hospitality law and investment treaty law. He has acted as counsel in arbitration proceedings involving complicated shareholder disputes arising from alleged breaches of restrictive pre-emptive rights and damages claims arising from alleged breaches of hotel development and management contracts. He has also conducted several ad hoc references and is currently coordinating an investment treaty arbitration claim against a host state. Babatunde also sits as an arbitrator and is currently presiding as sole arbitrator in an international commercial arbitration with its seat in Lagos involving alleged breaches of the terms of an international executive employment contract and as a co-arbitrator in a complicated energy dispute involving crude oil handling, also with its seat in Lagos.

“Babatunde also has extensive experience in all aspects of corporate and commercial litigation. He has prosecuted and defended numerous claims relating to corporate disputes acting on the instructions of shareholders, directors or their companies. He has also prosecuted and defended several claims on behalf of and against banks and insurance companies. He has a firm grasp of the commercial issues involved in such litigation.

“Babatunde also has extensive experience in transactional corporate and commercial legal practice and has been involved in the formation, maintenance and regulation of all types of business entities in Nigeria. He has been involved in the Nigerian capital market as a solicitor in several public offers of securities and in mergers and acquisitions and was the pioneer secretary, vice chairman and is a past chairman of the Capital Market Solicitors Association. He was vice chairman of the rules and regulations sub-committee of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s capital markets committee, a member of council and vice chairman of the banking, finance and insolvency sub-committee of the Nigerian Bar Association’s section on business law.

“Babatunde is a vice president of the ICC Arbitration Commission’s steering committee, a member of the ICC’s Africa Commission, a director of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce International Arbitration Centre (LACIAC), a member of the LCIA’s African Users Council, a member of the Lagos Court of Arbitration and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) Nigeria branch.

“Babatunde was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989. He obtained a LLM degree in corporate and commercial law in 1990 and a PhD in private international law in 1996, both from King’s College London. He was elevated to the rank of senior advocate of Nigeria in December 2007. He was awarded the International Practice Fellowship of the International Bar Association in Madrid in October 2009 and he became a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK in January 2015.”

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

NBA PRESIDENCY: OBEGOLU BACKS ARTHUR OBI OKAFOR

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) General Secretary, Chief Emeka Obegolu has urged lawyers to elect Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN as the next NBA President.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER and titled “A New Bar Beckons,” Obegolu who is also the Vice President of Pan Africa Lawyers Union (PALU), said: Continue Reading