GADZAMA VISITS NBA PH, MAIDUGURI, MOURNS RELATIVE

Bar Leaders and young lawyers of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt and Maiduguri branches regaled Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN during his visit to the branches.

The visit t to Port Harcourt held at Bougainville Hotel, Abacha Road, Port Harcourt. In attendance were the Head of Civil Service in Rivers State, Mr. R. N. Godwins; Audu Mela Nunghe, SAN; Former Chairman of NBA Port Harcourt Branch, Mr. Emeka Ichoku; Fmr. Secretary of the branch, Mrs. Cordelia Eke; Mr. Kingsley Nyesom Chinda; Fmr. Chairman of NBA Okrika branch, Mr. Golden O. Tamuno; A. F. Dalton; Maureen Samuel, Obinna N. Victor; James A. James and Randolph Boma Fiberesima amongst others.

It was gathered that it was indeed a beautiful evening where the attendees relaxed and had general discussions about the progress of the bar. The attendees showered praises on the Learned Silk who has proven to be a model for all to follow.

In another development, Gadzama last Monday paid a surprise visit to the leadership of NBA Maiduguri at the NBA Bar Center, Maiduguri, Borno State.

Gadzama who visited his home State for a condolence visit to the family of a close relative, Late Mr. Buba Wathanafa Gadzama, deemed it fit to visit and encourage the members of the branch.

At the bar center, he was warmly received by the Chairman NBA Maiduguri branch, Abba Mallam Umate; the Secretary, Mohammed Usman Alibe; some executives and members of the branch. He encouraged them to remain focused and united. He urged them to assist the younger members of the bar at all times and however possible.

The Chairman appreciated the Learned Silk for coming back home. He stated that the Learned Silk is indeed a trailblazer and an inspiration for all and that the branch is proud of him. He mentioned the noteworthy fact that the Learned Silk had started his legal practice and took Silk in Borno as the first Silk from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State and the North-Eastern Region of Nigeria. More so, that one of the offices at the bar center was named after the said learned silk for his laudable accomplishments in the profession of law.

He commended the Learned Silk for keeping his legacy alive in Borno by maintaining a functional office in the State.

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ABUJA BASED SENIOR ADVOCATE DIES

An Abuja based senior lawyer, Mr. Johnnie Egwuonwu SAN is dead. Announcing his passing, factional Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abuja Branch, Mr. Ikemefuna Onyeka said: “NBA Abuja Branch regrets to announce the demise of her esteemed member J. N. Egwuonwu, SAN who passed on Friday 16th July, 2021 after a brief illness.

“It is our prayer that God will grant him eternal rest; give his immediate family, associates and NBA in general the fortitude to bear this great loss.

“Burial arrangement will be communicated to us as soon as the family announces.”

Among the early mourners were leading arbitrator and Bar Leader, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN who wrote on a social media platform saying: “What a sad piece of news. What a sad day. The learned silk has gone back home. Johnny Egwuonwu SAN worked with us as our Head of Chambers and took silk afterwards. He was a complete gentleman and Bar Leader per excellence. We shall sorely miss him. May his gentle soul rest in the bosom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ until we meet at His feet to part no more. Amen.”

In a terse post on a WhatsApp forum monitored by CITY LAWYER, Mr. Kunle Ogunba SAN wrote: “May his beautiful soul rest in Perfect Peace, AMEN!”

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MAKURDI ASSAULT: EFCC CHAIR SHUNS PARLEY, NBA MAY SUE

  • GBAGIR BRIEFS AKPATA

  • NBA MAY SUE EFCC

The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa has boycotted a meeting initiated by the commission to resolve the furore over alleged assault on Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Makurdi Branch Chairman, Mr. Justin Gbagir.

In an “update” on the assault made available to CITY LAWYER by Gbagir, he stated that though Benue State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Benue State, Mr. Michael Gusa had contacted him to intimate him of a plan by the EFCC helmsman to meet him and the Attorney-General in Makurdi, Bawa never showed up for the meeting as scheduled. His words: “As at the time of going to press around 10pm of 8th July, 2021, I am not aware that the EFCC Chairman has come to Makurdi as hitherto promised.”

Indicating that he has briefed NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata on the development, Gbagir called on “all those who were willing to offer one form of support for this course in one way or the other that the time is now. We cannot move with EFCC at their own space (sic) and convenience.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that barring last-minute rapprochement, Gbagir may in collaboration with the NBA soon press charges against the EFCC operatives.

The full text of the update is below.

UPDATE ON THE ASSAULTS ON THE NBA CHAIRMAN, MAKURDI BRANCH JUSTIN GBAGIR, ESQ. BY THE OPERATIVES OF THE ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC) ON THE 8TH JUNE, 2021
On the 8th June, 2021, I was brutally assaulted by the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at their Zonal Office in Makurdi, Benue State. In the early hours of 9th June, 2021, I made a report to the President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olumide Akpata from my hospital bed at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi and made the said report available on some social media platforms.

The NBA President immediately reach out to the Chairman of EFCC who promised to send a special investigator from Abuja to Makurdi for an investigation with a further commitment to ensure that the perpetrators of the dastardly act are brought to book and adequately punished. While the President was awaiting the outcome of the investigation, EFCC through Wilson Uwujaren, Head, Media and Publicity issued a statement denying the assault on me and further alleged that I was the aggressor who “led a gang of thugs to breach the security of the Makurdi office of the EFCC in an attempt to forcibly set free a suspect under interrogation by the EFCC”. The statement further accused me of “resorting to social media blackmail, posing in hospital bed and concocting a fantastic story of an imaginary assault by the EFCC.” The statement also alleged that my action was “indecorous and unbecoming of the leader of the bar” and that I “demonstrated embarrassing insensitivity to the delicate security situation of the state, and should be remorseful for my misguided action and not spew untruths in pliable sections of the media.”

Sequel to the said press release by the spoke person of the EFCC, Dr. Rapulu Nduka, Publicity Secretary of NBA issued a statement on behalf of the NBA President and the entire Bar wherein he stated the resolve of the Nigerian Bar Association to get to the root of the matter and ensure that the officers behind such brazen acts of inhumanity are brought to justice and that abhorrent acts do not reoccur.

The President of NBA, Mr Olumide Akpata in a letter to the Chairman of the EFCC dated 10th June, 2021 and made available to the media on the 15th June, 2021 raised sundry issues regarding harassment of lawyers and the general high level of unprofessionalism, crass abuse of power and inhumane treatment which EFCC have exhibited, and continue to exhibit at different times when dealing with lawyers at various offices of the EFCC across the country. The said letter which was titled “Assault of Official(s) of the Nigerian Bar Association by the Operatives of the EFCC and Related Incidents of Unprofessionalism against Lawyers: Demand for Investigation, Immediate Action and Cessation” concluded that “while I look forward to an expeditious investigation of the unjust treatment of Mr. Gbagir and a general refocusing of the approach of the EFCC in its dealings with lawyers, please accept, Mr. Chairman, the assurances of my highest consideration”. At the time of going to press, the EFCC Chairman to the best of my knowledge has not responded to this letter.

Suffice to state that on the 11th June, 2021 the NBA Makurdi Branch also issued a press statement wherein they stated that “we take very serious exception to the denigration of the legal profession by the EFCC and further contend that, this is one attack too many by the commission on legal practitioners and we shall vehemently and strongly stem and resist their excesses using all civil and legal means at our disposal.” The statement concluded that “…this matter without doubt shall be followed to its rightful, proper and judicious conclusion. The maxim is Úbi jus, ubi remedium’, which means that ‘where law has established a right, there should be a corresponding remedy.”

Meanwhile, the Director of Internal Affairs at the headquarters of EFCC was in Makurdi on the 10th and 11th June, 2021 where he took my oral and written statement at the office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice at the Ministry of Justice Headquarters, Makurdi. The Director of Internal Affairs who earlier in the interaction denied knowledge of the press release by the Head of Media and Publicity however, assured that after his report to the Chairman of EFCC, appropriate measures would be taken to bring the perpetrators to justice.

At the end of the quarterly National Executive Committee meeting of the NBA which held in Abuja on the 24th June, 2021, NEC resolved amongst others that “NEC reviles the circumstances leading to the brutalization of the Chairman of the Makurdi Branch of the NBA by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 8th June, 2021.” NEC commended the efforts taken by the NBA President thus far, and further directed that the NBA President should take the opportunity of the unfortunate Makurdi incident to finally put an end to the epidemic of brutalization and harassment of legal practitioners by law enforcement agencies in the discharge of the lawyer’s professional duties.

Several other human rights organization also issued separate press statements in condemnation of the assault by the EFCC. One of such statement is from Legal Defence and Assistance Project, based in Lagos. They condemned the assault and urged “the EFCC to publish an apology to the victim, and demanded that the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN) should prosecute the errant officers and further urged the EFCC to henceforth treat all lawyers with respect in all legal dealings with them”.

On the 30th June, 2021, the learned Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice of Benue State, Mr Michael Gusa called to intimate me that the Director of Internal Affairs at the EFCC headquarters called him and indicated that the Chairman of the EFCC would like to meet with me and him this week, and Thursday, 8th June, 2021 was tentatively scheduled for the meeting. On Tuesday, 6th July, when I sought to know from the Attorney-General when specifically we were meeting with the EFCC Chairman, he promised to revert back to me after further consultation with the Director of Internal Affairs. The Attorney-General later in the evening of Tuesday, 6th July, 2021 called to intimate me that the Director of Internal Affairs told him that the Chairman of the EFCC preferred to visit Benue State to meet with us on the 8th July, 2021 instead of us going to Abuja. As at the time of going to press around 10pm of 8th July, 2021, I am not aware that the EFCC Chairman has come to Makurdi as hitherto promised.

Meanwhile, after my discharge from the Benue State University Teaching Hospital on the 9th June, 2021, I was booked to attend a check-up on the 5th July, 2021. As a result of the challenges I was having to see with my left eye and challenges to hear with my left ear, I decided to attend the Nigerian Air force Base Hospital, Makurdi also to seek further medical attention. On the 5th of July, 2021, I attended the BSUTH Makurdi as was requested to do and was examined but requested to come back for further check up on the 26th July, 2021. I am still having challenges with my left eye and left ear.

This evening, I sought leave from the NBA President to issue this press statement to provide an update and to mark one month Anniversary of the assault and brutalization by operatives of the EFCC, and Mr President graciously granted me leave.

I wish to use this opportunity to appreciate the NBA President and all members of the Bar and the general public for standing with me on this issue. The President has assured me and I am confident that this fight is not mine but that of the entire Bar. I am not the victim, it is the entire Bar that is the victim. Members of the Bar have demonstrated that an injury for one is actually an injury to all.

In the circumstances of the foregoing, I wish to request all those who were willing to offer one form of support for this course in one way or the other that the time is now. We cannot move with EFCC at their own space and convenience. In any case, they have serially exhibited conduct that they cannot be trusted. If after the assault, they have the audacity to deny and attempt to change the narrative to favour them, they are capable of doing anything.

In further consultation with the NBA President, we shall be coming up with our next line of action without further delay.

Thank you all and God bless.
Justin Gbagir, Esq.
Chairman, NBA Makurdi Branch

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. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. 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.

AGC FEES: NBA-NEC COMMUNIQUE CONFIRMS CITY LAWYER REPORT

The controversy over the schedule of registration fees to be charged at this year’s Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference may have been laid to rest following release of the communique for the last quarterly meeting of NBA National Executive Committee.

Though CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report stated that “young lawyers will pay N80,000 for in-person attendance at the conference should they fail to register via the early bird and regular windows,” NBA had issued a Press Release describing the report as “misinformation” and urging stakeholders to disregard it.

In the statement issued by the Publicity Secretary, Dr. Rapulu Nduka, NBA said: “The attention of the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association has been drawn to the misinformation making the rounds with regards to the Annual General Conference 2021 registration fees.

“We urge members to disregard the said publication as the Technical Committee on Conference Planning will release the appropriate registration fees in due time.”

But the communiqué issued today by the NBA has validated the CITY LAWYER report, stating that “NEC further adopts the proposal of the TCCP that the 2019 conference registration fees be retained for the 2021 conference notwithstanding inflation and increased costs of goods and services.”

It is recalled that the 2019 Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) had in a Press Release stated that lawyers who are 1-5 years post-call would pay N15,000 and N40,000 respectively during the Early Bird and Regular windows while late registration would attract N80,000.

The communiqué also confirmed that the annual conference would be held during the last week of October in Port Harcourt, saying: “Taking into consideration the uncertainties, delays and other challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and other matters, NEC ratifies the proposal of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) that the 2021 Annual General Conference be held in the last week of October 2021 in Port Harcourt, Rives State.

“NEC approves the proposal of the TCCP that the conference be held both physically and virtually. NEC urges NBA President and the TCCP to interface with Rivers State Government and other relevant authorities to ensure a Covid-19 compliant environment for the physical conference and to ensure that the access roads to the conference location, and other necessary logistics of hosting a stress-free conference in the State are created.”

The NBA-NEC also took other far-reaching decisions on the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria, the conduct of “certain lawyers serving in the FGN” who fail to advise the government appropriately, increasing spate of insecurity in the polity, attacks on public assets, reported extra-judicial killings of citizens alleged to be associated with secessionist movements, the “inordinate delay in the issuance of enrolment numbers to new lawyers by the Supreme Court of Nigeria,” and encroachment of non-lawyers into the legal space, among others.

Below is the full text of the communiqué.

COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF THE QUARTERLY MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION HELD ON THURSDAY 24TH DAY OF JUNE 2021 AT THE NBA NATIONAL SECRETARIAT, ABUJA FCT

1.0. INTRODUCTION

1.1. The Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) held her 2nd National Executive Committee (“NEC”) meeting of 2021 on 24th June 2021 at the National Secretariat of the NBA.

1.2. Several issues were discussed including the recently suspended industrial action by Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (“JUSUN”); the shrinking of the civic space through recent actions and policies of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN); the State of the Nation including the deteriorating state of national security; the protracted crises within the Abuja Branch of the NBA; the welfare of lawyers; scale of charges and remuneration in the legal profession; the harassment of lawyers in the course of practicing their vocation; the incursion of the legal services space by non-lawyers; and other matters of interest to the NBA, in particular, and the society at large.

2.0. RESOLUTIONS

At the end of the extended deliberations, the following resolutions, among others, were reached:

STATE OF THE NATION

Judiciary and Administration of Justice

2.01 NEC observes the festering situation in the Gombe State Judiciary where the State Governor, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya, continues the elongation of the tenure of the Acting Chief Judge against the recommendation of the National Judicial Council (NJC) to the effect that Justice Beatrice Iliya should be appointed and sworn in as the substantive Chief Judge of the State.

2.02 NEC resolves that NBA must make a very strong case to the Governor of Gombe State on the unconstitutionality of his actions and of any further extension of the tenure of the Acting Chief Judge, with a demand for the Governor to desist from such constitutional breach forthwith.

2.03 NEC further urges the NJC to take decisive action on the flagrant flouting of its directives, else it could be viewed as being complicit in the Governor’s disrespect for the rule of law.

2.04 NEC observes with displeasure that of the over 24 months’ salary being owed some Magistrates in Cross River State, only one month’s salary has been paid since the NBA’s intervention. NEC resolves that the Chairman of NBA Calabar must, on behalf of NEC, further engage with the Chief Judge of Cross-River State and other stakeholders, with a view to bringing the impasse to an end.

2.05 NEC commends the leadership of the NBA for the various roles it played in seeing that the protracted JUSUN strike was suspended. NEC, however, urges the NBA President to ensure that the terms of the Memorandum of Action signed by JUSUN and the Nigerian Governors’ Forum are respected so that the strike will not be reactivated.

Constriction of civic space

2.06 NEC notes with grave concern (a) recent actions and policies of the FGN that appear to constrict the civic space and limit constitutionally guaranteed rights of citizens in a democracy. In particular, NEC condemns the recent suspension of the micro blogging site, Twitter, by the FGN; and (b) the embargo placed by Nigerian Broadcasting Commission on broadcasters from using contents generated from Twitter. NEC considers both acts as veiled gagging of the media, and suppression of the civic space by the government.

2.07 NEC further notes that such actions by the FGN have the tendency of undermining Nigeria’s democracy and investment attractiveness especially as such acts and policies may, if not challenged, be extended to other platforms and avenues that are available to citizens to express their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Accordingly, NEC supports and ratifies the decision of the NBA President to challenge the constitutionality of the said policies and actions through the NBA Public Interest Litigation Committee.

2.08 NEC decries the conduct of certain lawyers serving in the FGN who fail to advise the government appropriately thereby leading to policies by the government which either flout the fundamental rights of citizens or have the tendency of bringing the profession to disrepute. To this end, NEC directs the NBA President to reach out to lawyers serving in the FGN on the need to properly advise and guide the government in accordance with the dictates of the Constitution and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.

Increasing spate of insecurity

2.09 NEC strongly condemns the attacks on public assets such as INEC offices, police stations and military formations by the so-called unknown gunmen; the killing of law enforcement agencies and prominent citizens such as Ahmed Gulak and Justice Stanley Nnaji (Rtd.), amongst others. NEC further condemns the reported extra-judicial killings of citizens alleged to be associated with secessionist movements and demands that the government should deploy the carrot and stick approach in tackling the resurgent secessionist agitations so as not to exacerbate the crises.

2.10 NEC decries the worsening security situation in the Nigeria including the unabating insurgency, incessant abductions, unending crisis between herders and farmers, kidnappings and attacks on communities and individuals, and calls upon governments at all levels to take more proactive steps towards stemming this tide.

Lawsuit challenging elongation of IGP’s tenure

2.11 NEC rues the implications of the recent judgment of a Federal High Court which upheld the powers of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to elongate the tenure of the Inspector General of Police.

2.12 NEC notes the pendency of the lawsuit filed by the NBA through its Public Interest Litigation Committee on the same subject matter and urges the NBA to continue to conscientiously prosecute same through all levels of court in Nigeria as such is required to set a precedent for the future conducts and decisions of public office holders in similar circumstances.

STATE OF THE BAR

Enrollment Number for New Lawyers

2.13 NEC expresses deep concerns over the inordinate delay in the issuance of enrolment numbers to new lawyers by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. NEC accordingly urges the NBA President to continue to constantly liaise with the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria with a review to ensuring that the affected new wigs are issued their enrolment numbers.

Scale of Charges and Remuneration of Lawyers

2.14 NEC approves the work being done by the NBA Remuneration Committee in developing a realistic and enforceable scale of charges for lawyers and in addressing the issue of poor remuneration amongst lawyers, and directs the leadership of the various branches of the NBA with similar initiatives to work with the NBA Remuneration Committee in developing a central and robust framework that will be acceptable to lawyers.

Encroachment of Non-Lawyers into the Legal Space

2.15 NEC decries the continued encroachment of non-lawyers (including corporate bodies and other institutions) into areas that are considered to be the preserve of legal practitioners through the offering of legal services, in many cases with the connivance or support of some lawyers.

2.16 NEC also notes, with concern, the increasing trend of lawyers who offer their services in a manner that is inconsistent with the rules or practice of the legal profession.

2.17 NEC further directs that:

(a) the NBA Disciplinary Committee should promptly investigate any complaints against lawyers (including in-house counsel and heads of legal departments) who undertake, advise on, participate in, or supervise the establishment or operation of schemes that purport to, or have the tendency of, unlawfully encroaching into areas of practice of lawyers or who undertake other similar acts that are inconsistent with rules and practice; and (b) the leadership of the NBA Section on Legal Practice to take more proactive steps to address some of the known cases of infraction and possibly prompt the commencement of criminal prosecution of the offenders.

2.18 NEC notes that certain laws in Nigeria require that the services of Nigerian lawyers must be retained in relation to certain matters, and accordingly directs the NBA President to engage with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board and other relevant stakeholders with a view to ensuring that foreign and local investors retain indigenous legal practitioners and law firms for their legal services needs in the prescribed cases.

2.19 NEC charges the leadership of NBA Branches to be more pro-active and innovative in checking against sharp practices and other unethical practices by lawyers and court officials such as the use of affidavit to convey or transfer title over real property.

Harassment of Lawyers

2.20 NEC reviles the circumstances leading to the brutalization of the Chairman of the Makurdi Branch of the NBA by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on 8th June 2021.

2.21 NEC commends all the efforts taken by the NBA President thus far, in seeing that the officers involved in the act are disciplined by the EFCC, and further directs the NBA President to take the opportunity of the unfortunate Makurdi incident to finally put an end to the epidemic of brutalization and harassment of legal practitioners by law enforcement agencies in the discharge of the lawyer’s professional duties.

Attitude, language, and conduct of lawyers in public

2.22 NEC observes the deplorable and heightened trend of lawyers commenting in public fora on sensitive matters which are pending before the courts, and urges all lawyers to desist from this practice. NEC further observes that intemperate language is spreading among members of the Bar, both in dealings amongst lawyers and in dealings with the Bench. NEC deprecates such behavior and urges that disciplinary action be taken against lawyers who indulge in such conducts and that reports for disciplinary action be made against members of the Bench who are also found wanting.

Annual General Conference

2.23 Taking into consideration the uncertainties, delays and other challenges occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and other matters, NEC ratifies the proposal of the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) that the 2021 Annual General Conference be held in the last week of October 2021 in Port Harcourt, Rives State.

2.24 NEC approves the proposal of the TCCP that the conference be held both physically and virtually. NEC urges NBA President and the TCCP to interface with Rivers State Government and other relevant authorities to ensure a Covid-19 compliant environment for the physical conference and to ensure that the access roads to the conference location, and other necessary logistics of hosting a stress-free conference in the State are created.

2.25 NEC further adopts the proposal of the TCCP that the 2019 conference registration fees be retained for the 2021 conference notwithstanding inflation and increased costs of goods and services.

Reports of Standing and Ad-Hoc Committees

2.26 NEC approves the interim report of the following Standing and Ad-hoc Committees: (i) Constitution Review Committee; (ii) Welfare Committee; (iii) Human Rights Committee;

(iv) Digital Committee; (v) Legal Education Committee and (vi) Remuneration Committee.

2.27 NEC ratifies the appointment of six (6) Zonal Coordinators for the NBA Human Rights Committee which is aimed at ensuring easier coordination and facilitating the achievement of the mandate of the Committee.

NBA Abuja Branch Crisis

2.28 NBA President informs NEC that pursuant to the mandate given to him at the NEC meeting held in Uyo on the 18th of March 2021 to conclusively deal with the crisis in NBA Abuja Branch in the most expedient manner, he has decided to take the option of splitting the branch and will proceed to implement immediately and report back to NEC upon completion.

OTHER MATTERS
Resuscitation of Military and Paramilitary Fora

2.29 NEC resolves that the forum for lawyers in the armed forces and paramilitary should be resuscitated to reignite the interest of such members and to drive the discussions on issues affecting the Bar and the military and paramilitary agencies. NEC further mandates the NBA President set up the Governing Council of the fora for approval by NEC.

Establishment of New Fora

2.30 NEC approves the establishment of three new fora namely: (i) the Corporate Counsel Forum; (ii) the Law Officers Forum; and (iii) the Lawyers with Disability Forum, each to deal with issues concerning, and cater to the peculiar interests of, members who fall within these special interest groups and to engender diversity and inclusion in the affairs of the NBA. NEC further approves the membership of the Governing Council of the new fora as announced by the NBA President.

Young Lawyers Permanent Observers at NEC

2.31 In order to further engender inclusion, NEC approves that the appointment of 10 young lawyers as announced by the NBA President as Permanent Observers at all NEC meetings during the term of the current administration of the NBA, pending such time that the NBA Constitution is amended to allow for young lawyers to be appointed into NEC as members.

Ratifications

2.32 NEC ratifies: (a) the participation of lawyers in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and approves the partnership between the NBA and NHIS which will see lawyers and members of their families enjoy primary, secondary and tertiary health services at a deeply discounted rate of N15,000 per annum. NEC further ratifies that in order to test-run the scheme, NBA should pay the health cover premium for 1,000 eligible lawyers selected from across all branches of the NBA; and (b) the setting up of an NBA Help Desk within the CAC to address the service level issues being faced by lawyers pending such time that the current challenges at the CAC are holistically or satisfactorily dealt with.

Further information

Further information on the above resolutions, including details of other matters discussed, and resolutions passed, at the said NEC meeting can be found in the minutes of the NEC meeting which will be circulated to NEC members, a copy of which will be available for inspection at the NBA Secretariat from 1st July 2021.

Dated this 25th day June 2021

……………………………

OLUMIDE AKPATA
NBA PRESIDENT

………………………………..

JOYCE ODUAH
GENERAL 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. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. 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 APPOINTS FALANA, AMADI TO HEAD KEY GROUPS

The Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) has appointed fiery human rights lawyers, Messrs Femi Falana SAN and Sam Amadi to head its two key groups.

Speaking at the recent NBA National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) Meeting in Abuja, the Chairman of SPIDEL Governing Council, Dr. Monday Ubani stated that the Section has two main objectives which are pursuit of public interest issues and development of legal framework for accelerated economic development in the country.

He informed NEC that the leadership has established two groups, namely The Public Interest Law Group and The Development Law Group for the Section, adding that there is a strong link between law and economic development. While The Public Interest Law Group will be chaired by Mr. Femi Falana SAN, The Development Law Group will be chaired by Dr. Sam Amadi. The membership of the two groups would be announced soon.

He stated that would soon “engage in aggressive membership drive across the entire branches of the Federation. Towards this end, we have laid out a plan to appoint Coordinators and Secretaries in all the branches of the NBA. The Coordinators and Secretaries will recruit and at the same maintain existing membership of the Section in their various branches. Their second task is to help SPIDEL realize its objectives at the grassroot level in the pursuit of citizens’ rights generally.”

According to Ubani, “Membership of the Section is critical to its activities and a fulfillment of our mapped out objectives. Already we have started with aggressive gospel that every lawyer with conscience must first and foremost be a registered member of SPIDEL.

“We therefore solicit that every lawyer of conscience should without any further prompting from us register and join all the suitable committees to help actualize our dream country and legal practice. We need you and the nation needs you more as a lawyer with conscience.”

He informed NEC that the Section has set up an operational office in Abuja and employed a Program Officer to man the office. This is to accelerate the institutionalization process of the Section. The Section has also established SPIDEL Young Lawyers’ Forum. This is part of the institutionalization process and mainstreaming of SPIDEL objectives in the consciousness of young lawyers. “We must consciously and strategically groom our young lawyers to take the legal profession to the next level,” he said.

The Chairman stated that SPIDEL would engage in strategic litigation to push the frontiers of public interest, adding that this would be in collaboration with other NBA Sections and Committees such as the Public Interest Litigation Committee. According to Ubani, the recent Practice Direction issued by the Federal High Court in favour of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), a prospective litigant, “requires timely intervention by NBA as the only body that stands as a bulwark against oppression by any government in power.”

On the suspension of Twitter operations in Nigeria, the SPIDEL Chairman said that the Section is collaborating with the Public Interest Litigation Committee to seek legal reliefs, even as Ubani had in his personal capacity filed a lawsuit against the action.

He listed other thematic areas for the new SPIDEL leadership to include Niger Delta Development Project, Promoting the Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Federalism Project, and 2023 General Election.

Ubani informed the meeting that NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata launched a human rights App at the just concluded NBA-SPIDEL Annual Conference in Ibadan code-named “SOROSOKE”. The App is to aid victims of human rights abuses in reporting and tracking such abuses. He said that SPIDEL members at the branch level “would be utilised effectively to seek reliefs on behalf of victims of human rights’ abuses throughout Nigeria.”

He stated that the Section held a successful election after its sold-out Annual Conference, commending members of the Conference Planning Committee which he led as well as the Local Organising Committee and NBA Ibadan Branch “for a job well done.” According to Ubani, the election “marked the end of the eventful tenure of Prof. Paul Ananaba SAN.”

The Council consists of Ubani as Chairman, Dr. Princess Chukwuani (Secretary), Mr. Steve Abah (Vice Chairman), and Ms. Funmi Adeogun (Treasurer). Other Council Members are Dr. Paul Ebiala, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke, Ms. Anne Agi, Chief Kunle Adegoke SAN, Mr. Kunle Edun, Mr. Abdullahi Karaye, Mrs. Igbeaku Evulukwu, Mr. Echo Godfrey, Mr. Kola Omotinugbon and Prof. Paul Ananaba SAN.

The report was received by Akpata. Meanwhile, some NEC members commended the new SPIDEL leadership for paying attention to the Development Law mandate of the Section as well as its resolve to appoint Coordinators at the branch level.

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AGC REGISTRATION: YOUNG LAWYERS TO PAY 80K IF …

Barring any last-minute change of mind, young lawyers will cough out N80,000 to attend the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference (NBA-AGC) scheduled for Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

According to a schedule of fees obtained by CITY LAWYER, young lawyers will pay N80,000 for in-person attendance at the conference should they fail to register via the early bird and regular windows.

Lawyers of 6-10 years post-call will pay N120,000 as late registration while those of 11-15 years post-call will pay N140,000 late registration for in-person attendance.

There are strong indications that the conference will be a hybrid event, as the schedule contains options for in-person and hybrid attendance.

The Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) had at the recently concluded NBA-NEC Meeting in Abuja proposed the last of week of October as the date for the 2021 AGC. The committee is chaired by former NBA Port Harcourt Branch Chairman, Mr. Victor Frank-Briggs. It was unclear at press time whether the committee has put a seal of finality on the schedule.

The full schedule of fees is available at this link:

http://citylawyermag.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/NBA-AGC-2021-Conference-Fees.pdf 

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. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. 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-NEC: SIGHTS & SIGHTS OF BARBEQUE DINNER, BREAKFAST

Life Bencher and Bar Leader, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN today hosted Nigerian Bar Association National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) delegates to a Departure Sunrise Breakfast to mark the end of proceedings at the quarterly meeting. He had last Wednesday also hosted the delegates to a Welcome Barbeque Dinner & Dance at his state-of-the-art J-K Gadzama Court in central Abuja.

Below are faces at the events.

ANANABA HEADS LAW SCHOOL ‘CLASS OF 91’ 30TH ANNIVERSARY TEAM

Leading litigator and immediate past Chairman of Governing Council of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL), Prof. Paul Ananaba SAN has been appointed as Chairman of the Planning Committee for the 30th anniversary of his Nigerian Law School Class of 1991.

In a statement obtained by CITY LAWYER, the Leader of the Class and vocal senior lawyer, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN said the appointment followed the “the power given to me to constitute a Planning Committee to plan and organise a befitting anniversary celebration.”

Reeling out the terms of reference for the committee, Okutepa said: “They (committee members) are to plan for our 30th anniversary celebrations. They have the mandate to plan and organise a befitting 30th anniversary of our call to Bar.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that Ananaba was instrumental to the resuscitation of then moribund NBA-SPIDEL. Increasingly viewed as the go-to lawyer on issues of strategy and organizational turn-around, Ananaba spearheaded two SPIDEL annual conferences within three years, taking the section from the back waters of NBA activities to its present status as one of the foremost and coveted NBA sections.

Aside from Ananaba, other members of the committee are
1) Mrs. Abimbola Akeredolu SAN – Alternate Chairman
2) Aare Muyiwa Akinboro SAN
3) Dr. Soni Ajala SAN
4) Hon. Justice Muhammed Muhammed
5) Hon. Justice Emmanuel Ubua
6) Mrs. Joyce Oduah
7) Mrs. Bimbo Otahumele
8) Dr. Ezra Yakusak
9) Justin Chuwang – Alternate Secretary
10) Akeem Lawal
11) Supo Ati-John
12) Collins Boleigha
13) James Modupe Derby – Secretary
14) Sylvanus Tahir
15) Hon. Shaba Isah Ibrahim
16) Sam Kargbo.

Ex- officio members include Okutepa and former NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Alex Muoka.

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. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. 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.

 

ROTATIONAL PRESIDENCY: ELECTORAL REFORM C’TE WANTS NBA CONSTITUTION AMENDED

The Nigerian Bar Association Electoral Audit and Reform Committee (NBA-EARC) has called for the amendment of the NBA Constitution to clearly provide for rotational presidency.

In a 44-page report obtained by CITY LAWYER, the committee poked holes in the NBA Constitution as it relates to rotational presidency and recommended that “The NBA Constitution should be amended to specifically state/identify the different groups and/or sections in a geographical zone since different groups and/or sections do not appear to mean a state within the geographical zone.”

The committee “identified the issues that plagued the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections and classified them into three broad categories; namely: (i) Pre-election issues, (ii) Election Day issues and (iii) Post-Election issues.”

Specifically, it identified “Non-implementation of the rotational policy as it relates to the different groups and/or sections in a geographical zone as stated in the constitution” as a major stumbling block towards free and fair NBA elections.

Other challenges that hampered the elections were: Delay in appointment and appearance of lack of Independence of the ECNBA; Appearance of lack of transparency in the engagement of service providers; Negative impact of money driven campaigns on the election’s credibility; Involvement of the sitting NBA President in the electoral process; Non-implementation of the rotational policy as it relates to the different groups and/or sections in a geographical zone as stated in the constitution; Cumbersome verification process; Lack of integrity and late publication of the list of eligible voters; Lack of integrity of the NBA voting portal; Involvement of the NBA Secretariat in the electoral process; and Poor IT knowledge of some Lawyers.

Turning to the controversial issue of rotational presidency, the committee recommended that “The NBA Constitution should be amended to specifically state/identify the different groups and/or sections in a geographical zone.”

According to the committee which was chaired by respected senior lawyer and longstanding NBA Lagos Branch Electoral Committee Chairman, Mr. Ayodele Akintunde SAN, “The committee found that “Another area of concern is the interpretation of the constitutional provisions of zoning particularly with respect to the election to the office of the President.

“The rotational presidency of the NBA was initially an informal arrangement until it was formalized by its incorporation into the NBA Constitution. Sadly, what started out as an arrangement geared toward promoting an all-inclusive bar is now posing a threat to the unity of the Bar.

“The NBA is divided into three (3) geographical zones for the purpose of electing National Officers namely- Northern Zone, Eastern Zone and Western Zone. The list of states that make up the respective geographical zones are set out in Paragraph 1.2 (e) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution.

“The Northern Zone is made up of the following states: Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara and Abuja. The Eastern Zone is made up of the following states: Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Enugu, Bayelsa, Ebonyi, Cross River, Imo, and Rivers while the Western Zone is made up of the following states: Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and Oyo.

“Since the amendment of the NBA Constitution in 2015, the geographical rotation of the position of President of the NBA has been complied with. In 2016, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN from the Northern Zone was elected as President while in 2018, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN from the Eastern Zone was elected and more recently in 2020, Mr. Olumide Akpata from the Western Zone was elected as President.

“In past elections, members of the NBA have alleged that some ethnic associations within the NBA amass support for candidates from select states within a geographical zone thereby marginalizing candidates from other states despite the provisions of paragraph 2.2 (d) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution which provides for the rotation of a position in turn by the different groups and/or sections in the geographical zone.”

The committee therefore recommended that “The provisions of Section 9 (d) and Paragraph 2.2 (d) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution should be strictly adhered to in order to ensure that no group and/or section in a geographical zone is marginalized and the unity of the bar is preserved.”

It also urged that “The NBA Constitution should be amended to specifically state/identify the different groups and/or sections in a geographical zone since different groups and/or sections do not appear to mean a state within the geographical zone,” adding that “The ECNBA in its preliminary notice for the election of National Officers of the NBA should specify which group and/or section in a geographical zone the position is rotated to as a measure to ensure adherence to Section 9 (d) and Paragraph 2.2 (d) of the Second Schedule of the NBA Constitution.”

The Committee stated that it “is of the firm view that if the recommendations contained in this Final Report are implemented, future elections of National Officers of the NBA by electronic voting will be devoid of the controversies which have plagued past elections,” while urging the Olumide Akpata led association to “commit to making the required changes to its electoral processes and reference point for conducting credible, free and fair elections in Nigeria and rebuild confidence in the electoral process for the overall good of all. NBA must be true to its motto which is “promoting the rule of law”.

It is recalled that Akpata had during his inaugural address promised to reform NBA’s electoral system to ensure that it is devoid of the controversies that had trailed its elections especially since the advent of electronic voting. The committee was on September 30, 2020. CITY LAWYER gathered that the NBA-EARC Report was presented to the NBA-NEC Meeting at Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

The full report is available at this link.
http://citylawyermag.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/FINAL-REPORT-EARC.pdf

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. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. 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.

 

 

GADZAMA HOSTS NBA-NEC DELEGATES TODAY, HAILS AKPATA

Life Bencher, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN has described the Nigerian Bar Association National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) as the “engine room of the largest bar in Africa,” adding that it “bears on its members the burden of ensuring the legal profession in Nigeria progresses as expected.”

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the leading litigator also commended NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata led Executive “for their tireless work at ensuring the Bar in Nigeria remains alive to its duties and obligation,” adding that “I believe a lot if not all lawyers share this sentiment with me.”

Meanwhile, Gadzama has invited the delegates to Welcome Barbeque Dinner/Dance and Departure Sunrise Breakfast. The notice reads:

Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Abuja Branch has invited NBA-NEC Members arriving today Wednesday, 23 June, 2021 for the NBA-NEC Meeting to a Welcome Barbeque Dinner & Dance this evening by 8:00 pm at the Pent Floor Terrence, 4th Floor, J-K Gadzama Court, Plot 1805, Damaturu Crescent by Kabo Way, Off Ahmadu Bello Way, Garki 2, Abuja.

The learned silk also invites the NEC Members to a Departure Sunrise Breakfast by 7:30 am on Friday, 25 June, 2021 at the same venue before they depart for their respective branches.

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Below is the full text of the Goodwill Message.

GOODWILL MESSAGE FROM JOE-KYARI GADZAMA, SAN TO THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA) NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE (NEC) MEMBERS AS THEY HOLD THEIR ALL IMPORTANT NBA-NEC MEETING SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY, 24 JUNE, 2021 AT THE NBA AUDITORIUM, NBA HOUSE IN ABUJA

It is with profound humility and utmost pleasure that I felicitate and welcome the distinguished and hallowed Members of NBA-NEC to another meeting of the body in Abuja, my own primary constituency.

The NBA-NEC being the engine room of the largest bar in Africa bears on its members the burden of ensuring the legal profession in Nigeria progresses as expected. Therefore, I commend every member of the NBA-NEC for your efforts and dedication in ensuring that the legal profession in Nigeria thrives and competes favorably with its counterparts around the world. Posterity will indeed recognize all of your sacrifices.

Furthermore, I must especially commend the leadership of the Olumide Akpata led Executive for their tireless work at ensuring the Bar in Nigeria remains alive to its duties and obligation. I believe a lot if not all lawyers share this sentiment with me.

Once more, I congratulate and welcome NBA-NEC Members and wish them journey mercies to Abuja, successful deliberations and safe travels back to your respective Branches.

God bless you all.

Thank you.

______________________________
JOE-KYARI GADZAMA, OFR, MFR, SAN
Fmr. Chairman, NBA Abuja Branch
Pioneer Chairman, NBA-SPIDEL
Fmr. Vice-Chairman, NBA-SLP

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. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. 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.