BUHARI, ATIKU, SARAKI, ODINKALU, OTHERS HAIL AKPATA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Encomiums have continued to pour in for Nigerian Bar Association President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata over his victory at the just concluded NBA National Officers Elections.

In his congratulatory message, President Muhammadu Buhari said: “I congratulate Olumide Akpata on his election as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a crucial stakeholder in our democracy. I wish him every success in the new position, and assure the new leadership of the continued cooperation of our administration.”

Replying, Akpata said he was especially delighted that the president acknowledged NBA as a “crucial stakeholder in our democracy.” His words: “Your Excellency, thank you for your kind words, and in particular the acknowledgement of the @NigBarAssoc as a crucial stakeholder in our democracy and the assurance of your administration’s cooperation. It is a partnership that can only be beneficial to the Nigerian populace.”

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar said: “@OlumideAkpata’s victory at the just concluded @NigBarAssoc’s elections is proof that real power lies with the people. Congratulations, I am confident you will do well and also deliver convincingly on the mandate of which you now carry. –AA”

In his response, Akpata wrote: “Thank you Your Excellency @atiku. Indeed the people [lawyers] spoke, and in very clear terms too. Thank you for the vote of confidence. The real work starts now and it is my pledge that the mandate will be fulfilled and posterity will judge us well.”

Former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki also felicitated with the NBA President-elect on his verified Twitter handle, saying: “I offer my congratulations to @OlumideAkpata on his emergence as President of the
@NigBarAssoc. His was a blistering campaign which promised to revolutionise and reposition the NBA, not only for the benefit of its members but for the generality of the Nigerian society.”

Replying, Akpata wrote: “Your Excellency Dr @bukolasaraki Floreat! It was truly a blistering campaign and one which soon became obviously not about any one individual but a cause for the majority of Nigerian lawyers (both young and old). I commit to not letting them down. KC did not teach us that.”

Next in line was the Governor of Edo State, Akpata’s home State. He wrote: ” Congratulations to @OlumideAkpata on his emergence as the President of Nigeria Bar Association (NBA). He brings with him years of enviable success as a distinguished lawyer and is sure to steer the NBA to glorious heights. Congratulations, once more!”

“My Governor @GovernorObaseki,” Akpata wrote, “thank you for your kind wishes. It will be a thing of pride for us to be able to steer the @NigBarAssoc to glorious heights and make it value adding for our members and the general society. That is our minimum target.”

Also not left out is the Governor of Delat State, Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, who tweeted thus: “I congratulate my friend and brother, Barrister @OlumideAkpata, on his emergence as the next President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Over the years, Barrister Akpata has worked to strengthen the legal profession and empower a new generation of Nigerian lawyers.

“As he prepares to steer the affairs of the NBA, it is my fervent hope that lawyers across Nigeria work with the new leadership of the NBA and Barrister Akpata to provide more efficient and effective access to justice for all Nigerians.”

In his response, Akpata tweeted: “Your Excellency @IAOkowa I appreciate the glowing endorsement. Indeed the hardwork is just about to start. We are optimistic of a new dawn for the @NigBarAssoc.”

Popular social media influencer, Dr. Joe Abah was not left out of the outpouring of encomiums. He tweeted: “Congratulations, my brother @OlumideAkpata, on your election as NBA President. Please celebrate tonight because there’s a lot of work ahead. The noble profession can be a real force for change in this country. You can count on my continuing support.”

Akpata responded thus: “My brother @DrJoeAbah thank you. The amount of work to be done has never been lost on me. Indeed the unprecedented interest in the election even among the wider populace lends credence to your point. I will be counting on you on this journey. Thank you again, Ezemmuo.”

Akpata also found favour in the eyes of Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, a strident critic of the current NBA leadership. Having reviewed Akpata’s acceptance speech, Odinkalu tweeted: “Olu, this is a balanced statement. I’m particularly gratified by what you say about the #electoralprocess in @NigBarAssoc. In that, you’ll find lots of willing supporters. Welcome to the world of work,
@OlumideAkpata.”

Replying, Akpata wrote: “Thank you Prof @ChidiOdinkalu. My message about the electoral process remained consistent, before and after the poll. Indeed we can do better. With the support of the likes of you, we will approach the coming months and years with confidence.”

The NBA President-elect also received a congratulatory message from erstwhile NBA presidential aspirant and former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana and his group, Radical Agenda Movement in the NBA (RAMINBA ). Tracing the debacle that attended his quest, the group wrote: “However the indisputable fact is that a Leader has emerged and it is one Leader, who, right from the onset, has always had a formidable presence in the field and a constant leading contestant.”

Akpata also acknowledged receipt of congratulatory telephone call from his closest rival and former NBA presidential candidate, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN, saying: “This morning, I received a call from Dr. @BAjibadeSAN and I have also read his congratulatory message both of which were quintessential Tunde, the gentleman who I have known for a long time who is my brother & friend and will always remain so. As I said in my thank you message, I will count on his support and counsel as we work towards Securing a United Bar that Works for All.”

On his part, Nigerian Law School teacher, Mr. Sylvester Udemezue said that while he had called Akpata to congratulate him on his victory, “I have also chosen this medium to, again, heartily congratulate the NBA President-elect, Mr. Akpata, on his victory. It was a keenly contested election, but someone had to win. The term ‘election’ itself suggests a contest between two or more persons at the end of which one person must win and another or others must lose, while all must thereafter continue as one. Dear sir, I urge you to be high-minded in victory; to reach out to the other contestants, indeed to all camps and also to endeavour to carry everyone along in your leadership of the NBA, during the next two years. This you should do in order to succeed, and make the NBA better, because your camp or supporters alone cannot make you succeed; they can only make you remain for only one side! I sincerely hope you be guided by the words of Michael Watson who once advised, ‘true winners and strong people don’t put others down, they lift them up.’ ”

In its congratulatory message signed by its Convener, Mr. Chuma Akana, Innovation and Technology Lawyers Network wrote: “We believe the NBA is properly positioned to navigate the intersection of law and technology, as we look forward to a technology driven NBA. We also look forward to a Nigerian Bar Association that will encourage interested members to build capacity and jurisprudence in emerging areas of tech law including Fintech, blockchain, data privacy, artificial intelligence etc.”

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.

COVID-19: LAGOS CJ, FALANA, ODINKALU, ADEGBORUWA, OJUKWU, OTHERS TO X-RAY HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

Leading human rights activists will on Monday dissect the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on Nigeria’s human rights landscape.

Organized by the Human Rights Committee of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, the virtual conference will especially spotlight human rights violations in the wake of efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic while framing the roadmap for human rights protection in the COVID-19 era. The theme of the conference is “COVID-19, Access to Justice and Human Rights Violations.” Time is 3 pm.

Among the lawyers and jurists who have confirmed their participation as speakers are the Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Kazeem Alogba; Lagos State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN; Mr. Femi Falana SAN who will deliver a Keynote Address; Prof. Chidi Odinkalu who will speak on “COVID-19, Access to Justice and Human Rights Violations: The Role of Nigerian Bar Association,” and the Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu, who will speak on “COVID-19 and Human Rights Violations: Insights from the Field.”

Other confirmed speakers are Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa SAN who will x-ray the topic, “How Fair is Virtual Hearing in the COVID-19 era?” and Dr. Uju Agomoh, Executive Director, Prisoners Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA) who will tackle the topic, “Coronavirus, Correctional Centres and Rights of Awaiting Trial Inmates.” Renowned legal aid defence expert, Mr. Chino Obiagwu SAN will discuss “Coronavirus and Challenge of Legal Defence” while Mr. Muhammad Belgore SAN will contend with “Litigating Human Rights Cases in the COVID-19 Era.”

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Hakeem Odumosu is expected to offer useful insights on the task of policing in the COVID-19 era as he discusses “Policing in the COVID -19 Era: Challenges and Prospects.”

The Host for the much anticipated virtual conference is NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe while the Moderator is the Branch Vice Chairman & Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, Mr. Okey Ilofulunwa.

Facilitated by Messrs Olumide Babalola and Emeka Nwadioke, participants are expected to register for the virtual conference at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_3RikvKB9SzGF-7fWpfdcYg or www.shorturl.at/fgo46.

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.

‘HOW ECNBA CAN AVOID RIGGING OF 2020 ELECTIONS,’ BY ODINKALU

Human rights advocate and former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has predicted that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections scheduled to open on July 29 will be rigged. In an article titled “The 2020 Elections of the Nigerian Bar Association Will Be Rigged: Here is How,” Odinkalu outlines perceived gaps in the ongoing electoral process, expressing fears that the NBA leadership may lack the political will to conduct free, fair and credible elections.

THE 2020 ELECTIONS OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION WILL BE RIGGED: HERE IS HOW

By Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

In his infamous letter issued last month to the 1998 transitional President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NA), Chief T.J.O. Okpoko, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), senior Nigerian lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, himself also a SAN, appealed that “it will be a great failure of leadership for the senior advocate to surrender leadership to outer Bar when there are willing and able senior advocates.” In an election in which two of the three aspirants for the top prize of president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) are SANs, this was as close as anyone could come to openly advocating rigging the election à la carte, without calling the crime by its name. Barring last minute course correction by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), Chief Awomolo is likely to get his wish: these 2020 NBA elections, like the two before it in 2016 and 2018, have been set up to be rigged to order.

While Chief Awomolo may have provided the motive or rationale for rigging the NBA election, the mechanics of procuring the rigging are in the hands of the ECNBA. By way of context, it is useful to explain that the NBA elections are digital. In their 2018 book, How to Rig an Election, Nic Cheeseman and Brian Klaas point out that “once upon a time, to do the dirty of changing votes, you had to be present in the actual polling location. That is no longer true.” In an earlier piece of work on “Making Democracy Harder to Hack” published in the Michigan Journal of Law Reform in 2017, Scott Shackleford and his collaborators examined essential vulnerabilities that make rigging possible in digital democracy, focusing in particular on three aspects: who can vote (voter rolls); who you vote for (voting platforms) and vote computation. (how many votes each candidate receives). As will be shown shortly, all three vulnerabilities are deliberately built into the NBA’s electoral processes.

Essentially, there are four vulnerabilities that have been designed to guarantee rigging of the vote in the 2020 NBA election. These are voter rolls (register), portal integrity (or lack of it), voter verification opacity and prohibitive transaction cost, and lack of independence in the ECNBA. I will explain each of these briefly.

Voter Register: Voters in NBA ballot have to meet three conditions. First, they must be enrolled as lawyers in Nigeria. This is easily confirmed from the Roll of lawyers kept with the Supreme Court. Every lawyer on the Roll has an enrolment number, with which their enrolment can be verified. Second, the person must have paid their annual practicing fees by 31 March. The collecting bank for this is Access Bank. It should be easy to verify those who paid from the records or tellers of the bank. In reality, the only people who have access to this record are the President of the NBA and those whom he wishes to. Third, the voter must also have paid his or her branch dues by 31 March. The NBA comprises 125 branches. Each branch manages its own processes for collecting dues. These are not standardized. The list of eligible payees is at the say so of the different branch chairmen.

Without access to the records of the bank or of the branches, the register of voters lacks integrity and it shows. When the ECNBA issued the provisional register at the end of May 2020, it contained 21,067 names. By the time it issued what it called a final list one month later in June, it had ballooned by 186.65% to 39,321. A close reading of the list shows it contains multiple repetitions, omissions and even figments. People who did not pay the practicing fees are there while many who paid are not. Many branch chairmen have no records of people whom they have put forward as having paid branch dues. There are credibly attested reports of chairmen printing receipts of payment and backdating fictional payments. One particular voter on the list goes by the incredible name of “Opening Balance”. The joke is that this voter has a twin, who is also a lawyer called “Closing”. Their Dad, Mr. Balance, must be proud!

Portal Integrity: In 2018, the voting portal for the NBA election was from a compromised provider. In 2020 it is not clear who the provider is. The portal appears to be managed by the NBA itself. It is not clear who has built it. There is neither transparency to its provenance nor verifiability or falsifiability to its operations and computations. As such, its integrity can neither be investigated nor guaranteed. It should be easy to engage external monitors for this purpose or engage the leading campaigns to designate back-end agents to monitor and verify the integrity of the operations. Neither the leadership of the NBA nor the ECNBA constituted by it is willing to grant either.

Verification Opacity and Prohibitive Transaction Cost: By meeting the three conditions for getting on the voter register, a potential voter does not earn the right to vote as such. S/he only qualifies for the privilege of verification. To do this, the voter is required to go to the portal and key in their details, including uploading their qualifying certificate and providing an e-mail address to which a password can be sent to them. The uploading can take up to three to four days. Many voters find this frustrating and opt out. Passwords are generated by the portal and changed by it at will without the agency of the voter. The voting register does not contain the e-mail address of the voter, so it is impossible to verify in any forensic process whether an e-mail corresponds to any particular voter. On their part, the ECNBA and the NBA can put forward data-protection concerns for circumspection with publishing of the e-mail addresses. In response, surely, that cannot be cited to justify creating deliberate balloting vulnerability. This opacity guarantees inflation of actual voting. In 2018, this was precisely the vulnerability that allowed for clusters of voting to happen using fake Firemail addresses generated from one source. That is almost guaranteed to occur in 2020. The prohibitive transaction cost is engineered for targeted disenfranchisement of voting clusters or conurbations seen as favourably disposed to unfavoured candidates.

Lack of Independence in ECNBA: Appointed to supervise the NBA election, the ECNBA lacks independent appropriations and operations. It has to function through the NBA Secretariat under the direction of the NBA President. Despite the existence of an ECNBA, aspirants and candidates continue(d) to receive letters from the NBA Secretariat and the NBA continues to be involved in directing essential aspects of the election value chain. The absence of institutional and process independence could itself become a dent on the personal integrity of members of the ECNBA.

It happened in 2016 and 2018. The litigation commenced in 2016 against the outcome of the rigged election to the position of the NBA presidency was only concluded at the end of the tenure of the beneficiary in 2018. After the 2018 election, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the State Security Service (SSS) instituted investigations into the rigging of the ballot for the NBA presidency. Several staff of the NBA Secretariat were arrested. In one case, a young mother who works as staff of the NBA was arrested and detained for nearly two weeks.

The ECNBA has an opportunity even now 2020 to avoid these. It can easily infuse greater transparency into its operations. It can invite independent monitors to certify the integrity of its operations. All the accredited campaigns should be entitled to records that should enable them to certify the integrity of the process. These are not expensive steps. The only reason none will happen is because the NBA elections will be rigged. I will be happy to be proved wrong and to eat humble pie.

This, then, is the architecture of rigging that almost assuredly guarantees that Chief Awomolo and his gang of insecure, entitled antediluvians will get his wish. As I have said elsewhere, any system in which a minority feels entitled to rule over the majority has only one name: Apartheid. It should be resisted.

Odinkalu is Co-Convenor of the Open Bar Initiative and writes in his personal capacity.

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.

 

AMNESTY INT’L, ODINKALU, BALLASON, OTHERS SEEK ACCOUNTABILITY FOR MASS KILLINGS

Amnesty International and human rights advocates have warned that unless there is accountability for mass killings in Nigeria, the trend will not stop.

Rising from the 2020 Annual Lecture of the Molluma Medico-Legal Centre held recently at House of Justice, Kaduna, the panelists noted that survivors, victims and communities affected by mass killings deserve empathy from government as well as dignity and closure. The theme of the lecture was “From atrocity to closure: Managing victims and deploying forensics in the aftermath of mass killings”

Country Director of Amnesty International in Nigeria, Osai Ojigho, decried the acceptance of impunity and lack of accountability for mass killings in Nigeria. Ojigho, who was on the panel of discussants, referred to cycles of killings and reprisals by terror groups and security forces or in so-called inter-communal clashes and regretted the seeming lack of interest on the part of the Nigerian government to bring these cycles to an end.

She gave the example of the massacre of Shiites in Zaria, Kaduna State, in December 2015 where security forces were involved in the mass killing and disappearance of hundreds with no consequences and no closure for the families despite the recommendations of a judicial commission of inquiry.

Ojigho underscored the importance of the “right to truth”, pointing out that truth has often times been caught in between a citizenry who demand accountability and government officials who disdain the kind of work that groups like Amnesty do in pursuit of truth about mass killings.

The keynote speaker at the lecture was world-renowned geneticist, Mishel Stephenson, representing Fredy Peccerelli, Executive Director of the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (GAFG). Ms. Stephenson called attention to the needs of families affected by mass killings and disappearances and underscored the obligation of government to address these needs.

Her words: “Families affected by such killings or disappearances usually have a diverse range of emotions, needs and priorities, such as locating the bodies of their loved ones, knowing the cause of death (right to truth), according their loved ones a burial, finding closure or ensuring justice. The skills required to fulfill these needs are multi-disciplinary, and include genetics, anthropology and psycho-social support. Forensic genetics helps in identifying the bodies when they are located and could also help in prosecution of alleged perpetrators or bringing to justice persons behind mass atrocities for the purpose of truth and justice.”

Stephenson revealed that in Guatemala, the work of the FAFG has helped to locate over 3,500 victims and to bring many people, including a former President of the country, to justice. According to her, the families and communities of victims are the real victims and the driving force behind investigations of this nature.

She warned that investigating mass killings takes time, effort and could be excruciating but is the only way that the collective dignity and humanity of both victims and survivors could be validated.

Drawing from the experience of Indian-Administered Kashmir, Khurram Parvez, a panelist and Chair of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances stressed the obligation of government to protect its citizens and communities, pointing out that quite apart from their impact on individuals and families, mass killings also undermine bonds of coexistence and faith in institutions. Mr. Parvez explained the importance of ensuring effective documentation of such crimes even when it is not immediately evident that any prosecutions will take place. In Kashmir, he disclosed, they have worked to document over 6,700 mass killings and mass graves.

Another discussant, Abiodun Baiyewu, Executive Director of Global Rights said closure would be much easier to achieve if government were to show empathy and sincerity in investigating mass killings and bringing their perpetrators to justice. “…this is the most effective way to break the cycle of atrocities and reprisals. When this does not happen, atrocities and impunity can be said to be ‘state-backed’, “she argued

Ahmed Salkida, Editor-in-Chief, “HumAngle” and foremost conflict reporter from Nigeria, argued that mass killings and massacres will continue as long as government and its agencies neglect their primary duty which is to protect the citizens and their communities. He complained that in Nigeria, government deploys effective assets to protect property but often behaves as if its people are expendable. “The government must choose its citizens over properties”, said Mr. Salkida.

Advocate, Peter Kiama, Executive Director of Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) in Kenya, who was also a panelist at the event argued that mass killings do not occur by accident but are enabled by government policies which means that policies can also be made to curb or eradicate them. He also called attention to the need to address the trauma needs of survivors who are often affected in ways that society and government are unwilling or unable to pay attention to.

Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, who chairs International Advisory Board of the Molluma Medico-Legal Centre added that it is important for families to have closure and to be able to locate and identify the remains of their loved ones and that could be made possible if citizens and government learn to count and account for each other. Citing the examples from both Guatemala and Kashmir, Dr. Odinkalu underscored the importance for attention to detail, documentation and dignity in responding to mass killings. ‘All these require patience and time’, he said.

Participation in the lecture came from over 30 countries, including Botswana, Kenya, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States. They included former Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Justice K.B Akaahs, former Attorney-General of Kaduna State, Zakari Sogfa; Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Ghana at Legon, Professor Raymond Atuguba; and Head of Advocacy in Christian Solidarity World-wide (CSW), Dr. Khataza Gondwe.

Executive Director of the Molluma Medico-Legal Centre, Gloria Mabeiam Ballason, said that the 2020 lecture was necessary to empower citizens to put pressure on Nigeria’s federal government to ensure accountability for the instigators, sponsors, perpetrators, catalysts and enablers of the mass killing that now characterize the country. “These killings will not stop until no one benefits from them”, Ballason noted, concluding that Guatemala is a great example of the power in citizenship movements.

Commissioned in 2014, the Molluma Yakubu Medico-Legal Centre works to ensure accountability for victims of medical crimes and mass atrocities, and to give victims dignity even in death. The Centre is located in Kaduna, Nigeria. The 2020 lecture is the third in series.

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.

ODINKALU HAILS OGUNLANA’S DISQUALIFICATION, SET TO ENDORSE CANDIDATE

Leading human rights advocate, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has plotted a roadmap for the incoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) leadership, saying there are three defining issues it must confront and resolve.

The former National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Chairman also endorsed the disqualification of fiery NBA presidential aspirant and former Chairman of NBA Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana, urging him to face the hurdle of clearing his name in a financial embezzlement charge. Ogunlana has vowed to appeal his disqualification.

The full text of the statement is below:

The ECNBA has finally cleared the deck & the #NBADecides2020 campaign season is undeniably upon us.

I’m personally grateful that the ECNBA declined to present for the contest an aspirant who is presently undergoing prosecution on allegations of having misappropriated branch funds while he served as Chairman of his branch of the Bar. It would have been awful to do anything else. Obviously, that aspirant enjoys a presumption of innocence in accordance with law. While that persists, he will be well advised to focus on answering to those charges.

For reasons that are amply in the public domain, I have largely been on sabbatical from NBA affairs in the past two years. Events within & beyond Nigeria over that period – from Ethiopia to Kenya; Lesotho to Malawi & other places in which I have been personally involved – confirm me in the view, however, that an active Bar is an essential armour in a democracy.

#NBADecides2020 is an opportunity once more to attempt to give life to the NBA. The on-going campaigns are a window into what could happen thereafter.

I am taking an active interest in the campaigns because I intend to form an active view in the contests & to canvass for those I believe in.

These NBA elections matter life few in recent memory. We are at a generational inflection point institutionally, nationally & internationally. The president of the NBA who will be inaugurated in August 2020 will confront a pile-on of problems like none of his predecessors in recent memory. Young lawyers in particular, whose future is on the ballot in this contest have a duty to take sides & to do so actively.

All the cleared candidates have passed the threshold of Zoning. No one can claim to be more zonal than others who come from the same zone. The issue of zonal adoption must now be rested.

The issues do matter. In that respect, there are – for me – 3 defining issues:

#SkillsForAll: The #COVID19 pandemic has forced on our legal profession, an analogue-digital cross-over that had been begging for deployment. The needs unfurled by this imperative have no generational biases. There are very senior lawyers who can’t do SMS just as there are young lawyers who wonder what digital outsourcing means. The dichotomies between rural & urban branches have consequences in livelihoods & professional fulfilment. A leadership of NBA in 2020 must be willing & ambitious to invest in growing skills in our profession for the Post-COVID-19 world, without let or hinderance.

#NBAForAll : Our NBA is riven with all manner of debilitating, even antediluvian dichotomies that make no sense & make it easier for the rich & successful among us to capture the profession at the expense of the most, sometimes in ways that in themselves undermine value-for-money lawyering.

Every vocation deserves responsible seniors & elders. The dichotomies between Inner & Utter Bars, which should be a source of decent aspiration among desirous younger lawyers has become a free-for-all excuse in some cases for desperation.

Our female colleagues have a right to pursue the realisation of their fullest potentials without the patronising nonsense of being seen as “men in skirts”, a formulation that effectively calls them professional transvestites.

NBA deserves a leadership that can honour our past, be relevant to our present & have the capacity to prepare our younger lawyers for competition with Asian legal sweatshops of the immediate future. This means we need a Bar leadership with experience in building inter-generational institutions.

#NigeriaForAll : Over the past 2 years, while Nigeria has suffered, NBA has vegetated with our sights firmly fixed around our navel or below it. That is just not good enough.

Over the next decade & a half Nigeria will make a choice to prosper or perish. We will confront a unique mix of challenges like never before – fiscal insolvency, sclerotic or negative growth, demographic time-bomb, institutional melt-down, metastasis of nihilistic insecurity, energy exclusion, digital exclusion, hemispheric dissonance between north & south, & a sovereign crisis of demand of governance & supply of public goods.

The confluence of these issues will require deliberate & focused course-correction which only a centered leadership can evince. Absent that, our country will struggle to survive. If the country is imperilled, lawyers in the NBA can nary afford the pursuit of our vocation. An NBA of tribes & vibes will not be fit for purpose. A leadership for these times must see a country as bigger than the sum of its parts.

The defining issue will be Electoral Integrity . Any of the three cleared presidential candidates would be able to preside over a Bar. But this is not a season for an adequate leader. In 2020, a majority of our Bar should be willing to insist on an exceptional leader. NBA has struggled to survive two rigged national elections. It will not survive a third one. This ECNBA has a duty to ensure, like Caesar’s wife, that it is above reproach. It always easier to unite around a winner whose victory is above reproach.

These then are the issues around which we must find a leadership that can serve the NBA in these times. I am listening to the campaigns & consulting with my colleagues. I fully intend to take sides in #NBADecides2020 & will make my views public well before the vote because the issues have never been more urgent & being neutral – as Pontius Pilate taught us – is itself a position.

I remain City-Zen (Citizen) Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

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.

JUNE 12: ADEGBORUWA, FAGBOHUNLU, BALLASON HONOUR ODINKALU WITH HUMAN RIGHTS PARLEY

Leading human rights activists will on Friday hold a webinar in honour of foremost civil rights advocate and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu. The webinar is in commemoration of Odinkalu’s birthday anniversary.
Among those who are billed to speak at the webinar are fiery human rights activist, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN); leading woman activist, Gloria Ballason; outspoken human rights campaigner, Mr. Inibehe Effiong; former Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers’ Forum, Mr. Issa Adedokun and Cynthia Mbamalu of the ‘Not too young to run’ fame.

With Mr. Babatunde Fagbohunlu SAN, Partner and Head of the Litigation, Arbitration and ADR Practice Group at Aluko & Oyebode as Chairman, the webinar has “The Future of Human Rights In Nigeria” as its theme.

With Mr. Orji Ama Chinedu as the arrow-head, Odinkalu said of the conveners: “A bunch of young people whom I have mentored are setting this up as annual event on 12 June. They had wanted to start in 2018 but I told them my mum was in terminal condition. Last year, I told them I was still in mourning. It begins next (this) week. Please feel free to join if you can.”

The webinar is scheduled to hold on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 11:00 am. Prospective participants can register at the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZAuf-ypqDIjHtXjmd6dk-__2B3FSxxrhf5A. After registration, a confirmation email would be sent notifying the registrant on hot to join the conference.

Odinkalu is a Senior Team Manager at Open Society Foundations, a global charity that works with local communities to support justice and human rights, freedom of expression, and access to public health and education.

He received his PhD in law from the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science. Prior to joining Open Society Foundations, Odinkalu was Senior Legal Officer responsible for Africa and Middle East at the International Centre for the Legal Protection of Human Rights in London; Human Rights Advisor to the United Nations Observer Mission in Sierra Leone, and Brandeis International Fellow at the Centre for Ethics, Justice and Public Life of the Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.

Odinkalu has extensive networks across Africa built up over several years of working for human rights and social justice on the continent. He is associated with several non-governmental and academic institutions within and outside Africa. He is frequently called upon to advise multilateral and bilateral institutions on Africa-related policy, including the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States, and the World Economic Forum.
As well as acting as the Chair of IRRI’s Board, Odinkalu also serves on the Board of the Fund for Global Human Rights. In 2017 he was appointed Steering Committee Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section of Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) by the NBA President, leading to the resuscitation of the comatose entity.

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Odinkalu Calls NBA Election a ‘Racket,’ Raps Mahmoud

Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu has lampooned the recently concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Elections, saying it was a “racket.”

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Odinkalu who is increasingly assuming the role of the ‘Conscience of the Bar,’ also berated NBA President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN for the debacle, saying that “the  outgoing Bar leadership is incredibly tarnished by its role in this messy racket.”

Although Mr. Paul Usoro SAN was declared winner of the presidential election by the Prof. Auwalu Yadudu-led Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), both Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN and Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN who contested for the NBA Presidency also rejected the results, alleging that the election was marred by rigging among other vices.

The statement reads:

Concerning What AB Mahmoud & the NBA Have Done

Good morning colleagues.

It is unfortunate colleagues failed to heed the clear facts & evidence of a compromised process in #NBADecides2018. The contestants and their supporters mostly behaved desperate, conferring legitimacy on a process that manifestly lacked it from the get go.

Each campaign appeared to behave in such a way as to suggest they were best placed to benefit from a system configured for pre-determined outcomes.

This was not an election. It was not even a selection. It was a racket and a messed up one at that. Now, they will ask the NBA NEC to make this messed up racket their own & ratify it at the pre-conference NEC. That will be interesting.

This racket is a disgrace. The process was compromised and did not even pretend about it. The outcome lacks legitimacy and the declared winner has procured a compromised non-mandate.

Those who hope or expect that there will be an audit should come off that kind of hallucination – you don’t ask a burglar to investigate the burglary.

The outgoing Bar leadership is incredibly tarnished by its role in this messy racket. Yet, we are unlikely to learn. There are no plaudits to hand out, no congratulations to anyone and no one comes out of this a winner.

My name is Chidi Anselm Odinkalu. I am a City-Zen.

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ELECTIONS: Odinkalu Carpets NBA Again

Foremost human rights activist, Prof. Anselm Odinkalu yesterday took a holistic look at the process leading to the election and scored it low. Describing the election as “worse than shambles,” the former Chairman of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) heaped the blame on the doorsteps of the NBA leadership. Continue Reading

VERIFICATION: Odinkalu Blasts NBA, Electoral C’te

Former National Human Rights Commission Chairman, Professor Chidi Odinkalu has lampooned the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and its electoral committee for the hiccups that have attended the verification exercise for this year’s National Officers election.

Below is the full statement as sent to CITY LAWYER:

Good morning colleagues,

I have lost count of the number of people who have tried to encourage me to persevere with the verification process for these NBA elections. They are mostly people whom I respect. So I have paid them heed.

As much as I have tried, I have been unsuccessful so far and this is day 3 of trying. I can’t even begin to compute the amount of time it has cost me. Nor the hours in time I should have been asleep.

With so many of us stuck in this, I want to ask honestly why are we as a bunch of professionals so tolerant of clear incompetence? What happened to our capacities – collective and individual – for indignation?

Surely NBA’s election is not an accident. We know when it is supposed to happen. Every tenure in the NBA has 2 years notice to prepare for it. Yet here we are, out of time, with an election platform that is clearly untested, flawed in design, unknown to the electorate, not understood by the ECNBA and absolutely unfit for purpose.

As voters, we should be angry. As professionals we should be ashamed. This exercise has turned into cruel and unusual punishment of the kind that is clearly prohibited by our national constitution. No election should justify or involve this amount of pointless loss in transaction cost.

The result is that much of the electorate will be disenfranchised. Any mandate that emerges from this would have questions in legitimacy. The assurances of the ECNBA about electoral creibility are hollow, empty and utterly devoid of credulity.

I would like the NBA to have a leadership transition. I am not sure it should be purchased at the steep cost to institution credibility that we seem willing to sleep-walk into. Something has to change and fast too. We don’t have time…

I am Chidi Anselm Odinkalu

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VERIFICATION: Odinkalu, Adegboruwa, Ubani, Candidates Shut Out

• Hiccups Mar Exercise
• Lawyers Seek Extension
• Fake Website Casts Pall on Process

The long-awaited verification exercise for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers Election got off to a faulty start last night with many lawyers yet to be verified as at press time. Investigations by CITY LAWYER indicated that many lawyers are having sundry challenges in an attempt to verify their details. Continue Reading