$1.9 BN NIGER RAIL PROJECT: EX NBA CHIEF TAKES AMAECHI TO TASK

The controversy trailing the $1.9 Billion Nigeria-Niger rail project may not go away soon as former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani and Lagos lawyer, Mr. John Nwokwu have asked Transportation Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi to provide them with details of the proposed project.

The request dated September 29, 2020 and addressed to Amaechi is coming under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). The two lawyers stated that their demand for details of the rail project was premised on the need for transparency and accountability.

Some of the information sought by the duo include actual cost of the project, contract papers and the firm handling it, economic benefit of the project and where it is provided for in the 2020 Appropriation Act, including the source of  funding for the project.

They also requested to know the details of the deliberation and approval of such fund by the National Assembly.

The FOI letter signed by Joseph Igwe Esq. reads:

“Kindly provide the information to the best of your knowledge in the interest of transparency and openness which you have been at the vanguard.

“In a public statement credited to you, you did disclose to the media the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano to Maradi rail line in Niger Republic.

“Sir, you are hereby specifically requested to make available to our clients or grant them access to: The actual contract cost of the rail line cutting across Kano state in Nigeria through Maradi in Niger Republic and the termination of the track length.

“The awarded contract document(s), name of the firm and procedure of
the award of the contract to the preferred firm.

“The detailed information on where it is provided for in the 2020
Appropriation Act and the source of the generation of the fund for the
contract.

“The details of the deliberation and approval of such fund and rail project
by the National Assembly.

“The detailed economic benefit of the rail line project from Nigeria
through Niger Republic to the generality of the Nigerian populace.

“However, if you think that another agency of the Government has
greater interest in the information requested for, you are obliged under
Section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 to transfer this request
to the other agency within 3 days, howbeit not later than 7 days of
receiving this request.

“Our clients shall pay the necessary fees for the information. Be notified
that if you fail to provide the above information within the period
stipulated by law we shall proceed against you in accordance with the
provisions of the law.

“We have no doubt that you will accede to this request in the interest of the Nation you are serving meritoriously,” the letter concluded.

Ubani told a newspaper (not CITY LAWYER) that he would “feel personally sad if Amaechi fails, refuses or neglects to respond to the request.” He stated that he may head to court to compel Amaechi to provide the information if he fails to do so voluntarily.

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RPC: UBANI WITHDRAWS SUIT AGAINST MALAMI

* CITES PRESSURE FROM NBA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Firebrand human rights activist and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has directed his lawyers to withdraw his lawsuit against Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN over the controversial amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.

Ubani had dragged Malami to court over the “unilateral amendment” of the Rules, even as the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata directed lawyers to ignore the Rules, saying they were amended without proper authority. He also asked Malami to “immediately” rescind the amendment in the interest of the Bar.

But in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Ubani said that he was under pressure to withdraw the lawsuit to ensure that it is not used as an excuse to scuttle amicable resolution of the impasse.

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

CITY LAWYER recalls that a gazette had surfaced recently where Malami had issued an amendment of the Rules deleting several critical sections of the RPC.

Below is the full text of the statement.

INTENTION TO WITHDRAW SUIT NO FHC/CV/1174/2020 AGAINST ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION.

Recall that recently we took out a legal suit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN over the recent unilateral amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.

I took this drastic legal step in conjunction with some of my very learned colleagues in the profession because we deciphered a motive orchestrated to weaken arguably the umbrella body by the damaging amendments that failed to have the input of the Bar generally through the General Council of the Bar as prescribed by the Legal Practitioners Act.

The unilateral amendment with the consequential intendment to weaken NBA as a professional body was greeted with so much furore and anger for not following procedure as prescribed by the enabling law.

It has come to our notice that the NBA leadership has expressed their reservations about the unilateral amendment and has sought the reversal of same by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. They have written a letter to him to withdraw the gazetted Amendment as its effect will create great crisis and confusion within the bar. The purport of the letter is to provide a veritable platform to have the brewing crisis nipped in the bud and resolve the problem amicably.

The leadership of the bar at the highest level have reached out to me to have the lawsuit withdrawn to avoid an ugly situation where the issue of the case in court will be used as an excuse to scuttle the much anticipated resolution of this unnecessary rumble within our revered body.

As an unrepentant lover of the bar and a principled individual who fights for a cause with God’s wisdom, I have reached out to my colleagues in this struggle for us to have this case withdrawn to allow no reason whatsoever to be given for the failure to arrive at an amicable settlement over the matter.

It is my belief and hope that the Attorney General of the Federation will take into cognizance the larger interest of the bar and move quickly to withdraw the said gazetted Amendment and allow the General Council of the Bar to commence some of the intended amendments that will be highly beneficial to the Bar generally.

I hereby instruct my lawyers to withdraw the said suit in order to allow the anticipated amicable settlement to be exhaustively exploited by both parties.

Long Live the NBA
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Monday Onyekachi Ubani Esq (MOU)
Former Vice President of NBA.

 

RPC: 6,000 LAWYERS SIGN PETITION TO STRIP MALAMI OF SAN RANK

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

No less than 6,072 persons have so far signed a petition seeking to strip the nation’s chief law officer, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN of the coveted rank of “Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”

Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, made the headlines recently following media reports stating that he had issued “Statutory Instrument No. 15 of 2020” amending the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (RPC). The instrument provides that “the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.”

Started barely eight days ago by one Izu Aniagu, the petition which is still trending on www.change.org, the petition is titled “Sign to strip Nigeria’s AGF, Abubakar Malami the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.” The tagline states that “Izu Aniagu started this petition to Lawyers in Nigeria and 5 others.” The “Decision makers” listed on the petition are “Lawyers in Nigeria, Nigeria Bar Association, LEGAL PRACTITIONERS DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE, THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGE COMMITTEE, THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL and The Bar Council.”

The petition states that “Since assumption of office, the Attorney General of the Federation has continued to go rogue, from his disobedience to court order, to his lackluster prosecution, to his outright failure to prosecute, to allegations of corruption and bias against his person, to usurpation of office, to shielding of suspects, to his general dereliction of duty.

“This time, the AGF has decided to take his imprudence (sic) to top notch by unilaterally deleting the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct which provide for stamp and seal as well as bar practicing fee for government lawyers. The AGF does not have such power. Section 12 (4) of the LPA gives the General Council of the Bar power to make any such amendment and make other decisions concerning the NBA.

“There is no record of any meeting convened by the The (sic) Attorney General of the Federation who is the president of The Bar Council. The AGF took the decision alone and his actions constitute a threat to the rule of law. His action is totally shameful and is underserving (sic) of a lawyer in the rank of a Senio (sic) Advocate, let alone a Chief Law Officer of the federation.”

One of the signatories, Ogholaja Onesiosan gave the reason for signing the petition as follows: “The AGF has abused the rule of law and has not conducted himself in a manner that is expected of him.” CITY LAWYER could not confirm at press time that all the signatories are lawyers.

The amendment of the RPC has annulled the power of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to issue stamps to eligible legal practitioners, a practice that has been validated by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. This comes against the backdrop of a clamour for dismemberment of the NBA, leading to the formation of the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) by some lawyers.

Following a meeting with Malami in his office, NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had in a letter to the chief law officer dated September 15, 2020 demanded rescission of the amendment “immediately.”

He noted that “I have been duly informed, by NBA representatives on the Bar Council and other members of the Bar Council who have reached out to me, that to the best of their knowledge no meeting of the Bar Council was convened to discuss any amendments to the RPC or to approve the instrument. It, therefore, appears that the instrument was enacted without proper authority.”

Former NBA Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani had also dragged Malami to the Federal High Court seeking among others a determination whether the AGF has the power to “unilaterally, alter, amend and or make any rules of professional conduct, without a proper meeting of the general council of the bar, duly convened, and notices thereof, issued to other members of the general council of the bar.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee had stripped some senior advocates of the rank following their conviction for criminal breaches or successful petitions against them.

However, one Fred Ogundu-Osondu argues that the online petition against Malami is dead on arrival, saying: “If his actions can be interpreted as an abuse of the powers vested in him as Attorney-General of the Federation, then an actual petition can be lodged against him before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee. If the LPDC finds him guilty of professional misconduct, then the LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE may withdraw the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria from him. This was clearly stated in No. 5 of the GUIDELINES FOR THE CONFERMENT OF THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA, 2007. However, let us keep it in mind that the HAGF is the Chairman of the LPDC. The only other ground is if he is convicted for any offence that in the opinion of the LPPC is incompatible with the honour and dignity of the holder of the rank of SAN as an offence relating to breach of trust, theft or other offence involving fraud or dishonesty. Again, the HAGF is the Chief Law Officer of the federation, and may not allow such prosecution to see the light of day, as he is clothed with the constitutional powers of nolle prosequi.”

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NBA IKEJA ELECTION: UBANI QUITS, BLASTS CARETAKER C’TE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has resigned his position as a member of the NBA Ikeja Branch Caretaker Committee mandated to conduct election for the branch.

In a letter made available to CITY LAWYER, Ubani cited lack of obedience to NBA Bye-Law on elections as his major reason to throw in the towel, saying the conduct is an affront on his values.

His words: “Hypocrisy of this magnitude is a lethal sin. My nature abhors it. I hereby resign my membership of the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja of 2020 to avoid being part of the persons that will engineer an unnecessary crisis in my beloved Branch. Already I am aware of some members’ plans to drag the Branch into another round of crisis. It is unnecessary.  I had better walk away!”

It is recalled that the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN had dissolved the branch Election Committee following a joint petition by AWLA President and 6 others on the constitution of the Committee.

Usoro appointed a three-man Caretaker Committee to midwife the branch elections. Aside from Ubani, other members of the committee are Messrs Olabisi Ade-ademuwagun and Adebamigbe Omole.

LETTER OF RESIGNATION FROM THE CARETAKER COMMITTEE OF NBA IKEJA.

It is with regret that I tender my letter of resignation from the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja. The main reason for resignation is to avoid my name which I have built over the years to be dragged into the mud by anybody from the branch.

What makes my resignation imperative is the brazen stance of some members of the branch  to go against the National Body despite clear letters written by both the outgone and present National Exco that the Caretaker Committee should toe the line of legality in the conduct of our forthcoming election by adhering to the Resolution of NEC of NBA in Jos  and Benin both in 2016.

The major problem is with Article 6(3) of the 2015 Uniform Bye Law which bars a candidate from contesting for a new office if he or she has not spent the requisite number of years after occupying executive position twice at the Branch or at National office. At the branch level you are required to stay off for five years, while at the national level you are required to stay off for ten years.

The said article 6(3) was resolved at Jos NEC in 2016 to have retrospective effect and reiterated or reaffirmed in Benin NEC of same 2016. It is on record that I was the only person that raised a voice against the retrospective effect of that Article in Jos NEC of 2016 and was overruled.

Since then, the interpretation has been used to disqualify any candidate who has held two executive positions without allowing the requisite number of years to exhaust before seeking for a further office all over the branches and at the national level.

Part of the Caretaker Committee’s mandate is to conduct an election for the Branch for the year 2020. Having cleared and published the voters list, the next task was to clear the contestants. However we had a petition written against one of the candidates seeking for the chairmanship position alleging that he has held two executive positions at the Branch level and has not exhausted the requisite five years before seeking for the new office.

Our findings supported the allegation and to avoid being accused of bias the Committee sought clarifications from both the outgone and present national Secretariat and they in their various letters dated 5th of August, 2020 and 14th of September, 2020 reiterated the fact that Article 6(3) of the Uniform Bye-law be  applied retrospectively and advised the the Committee should not depart from the said application moreso since the interpretation as adopted in JOS NEC has not been reversed in any subsequent NEC, AGM or by the court.

The Committee of the branch met few days ago and on a sad note decided to proceed with the said election by clearing every person including the candidate that was caught up with Article 6(3) of the Uniform Bye Law of 2015  despite the clear clarifications of the National Body that set us up in the first place. I vehemently dissented with this view and insisted that the new National Exco be written seeking clarification to the said Article if we were still in doubt as to the interpretation of that section of the law.

The Committee had to retrace the wrong step they had earlier on taken by complying with the interpretation of the contentious section   after they got a response from the present Secretariat reitering the fact that we should abide with NEC Resolution of Jos 2016.

 The Committee thereby disqualified one of the Candidates who is contesting for the chairmanship position because he has held offices for two times and have not stayed off from contesting from five years as required by the said Bye Law.

The position of the law is that the said candidate stands disqualified from contesting the 2020 NBA Election. That is the status quo ante properly interpreted.

It is regrettably though, that I have to resign the membership of the committee that refused to do the right thing in the first place.  Such behaviour is not in tandem with what I believe and stand for in the NBA. It is improper to undermine the integrity and strength of our national body through our actions at the Branch level whereas everyone in our inner-most heart, desires a very strong and united bar. Hypocrisy of this magnitude is a lethal sin. My nature abhors it. I hereby resign my membership of the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja of 2020 to avoid being part of the persons that will engineer an unnecessary crisis in my beloved Branch. Already I am aware of some members’ plans to drag the Branch into another round of crisis. It is unnecessary.  I had better walk away!

God bless NBA!

Monday O. Ubani (MOU) Esq,
Former Chairman of NBA Ikeja and former 2nd VP of NBA.

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CLAMPDOWN: AUTO DEALERS TO SUE CUSTOMS

A group of automobile dealers in Lagos State has threatened to drag the Nigerian Customs Service to court over the sealing of their business premises.

In a letter to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service through the law firm of Ubani & Co, the group condemned the September 30, 2019 raid and sealing of their offices by customs operatives, saying that the action of the agency was “a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.” They also noted that all the cars in their business premises were duly cleared and appropriate duties paid to the Federal Government.

The group in the letter which was also forward to the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and Attorney General of the Federation, warned that if their business premises were not opened in the next 14 days with a compensation of N10 billion for businesses losses during the period of closure, they would have no other option than to approach the court for redress.

Part of the letter which also serves as a pre-action notice reads:

“We must state here with all sense of responsibility and patriotism that the action of Nigeria custom officers in this regard is a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.

“Though the Nigerian Customs & Excise Management Act gives you the power to examine, mark, seal and take account of any goods …, in this case, you did not examine, mark, seal and take account of the particular vehicles identified as not being properly cleared, but rather sealed up the entire premises without any form of examination or inspection of papers.

” This very act of yours has no protection under the Act, but smacks of impunity, illegality and flagrant abuse of executive power.

“No law under our law books, including the Customs & Excise Management Act, empowers you to take the steps you have taken in the manner you have taken it.

“The action of the Nigerian Customs is not only lawless but very oppressive. The moment when Nigerian Government agencies elevate the pursuit of revenue above the right and welfare of the citizens, Nigeria is doomed, but God forbid that things degenerate to that level.

“Take notice therefore that you have 14 days from the day you receive this letter to unseal all our Client’s members’ business premises to enable them carry out their lawful businesses as Nigerian citizens.

“Take further notice that you have a period of 30 days from the date you receive this letter to pay a compensation of N10Billion to our Clients for the severe hardship, suffering, embarrassment, loss of business, physical, mental and psychological torture and trauma your arbitrary, lawless and inconsiderate action has caused our clients and their families failing which our Client shall be left with no other option than to seek redress through a competent court of law.”

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SOWORE: ‘DO NOT INTIMIDATE JUDGES,’ UBANI WARNS DSS

The immediate past Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2nd Vice President, Mr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani has blasted the Department of State Security (DSS) for its refusal to release Mr. Omoyele Sowore, the Convener of #RevolutionNow.

He also lampooned the security agency for its alleged plan to drag Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court to the National Judicial Council over his decision to grant bail to Sowore. Justice Taiwo had refused to extend the 45 days detention order against the Sahara Reporters publisher and former students’ union leader.

Mr. Ubani said that he “is clearly at a loss as  how and when court’s decision has become a ground for petitioning NJC,” adding: “What is the allegation against Justice Taiwo Taiwo in the first place? Is it that he has no jurisdiction to release Mr. Sowore after the expiration of the detention order or that the court has lost all the powers under the law to make orders that do not favour DSS in Nigeria anymore? I cannot understand the meaning and substance of the alleged threat to petition him to NJC.”

Mr. Ubani warned that should DSS insist on the petition, “they must also not forget to report to NJC that it was the same Justice Taiwo Taiwo that granted them the detention of Mr. Sowore for 45 days in their detention centre. That information is very important to be disclosed to NJC.”

According to the human rights activist, “It is high time lawyers stood up against this calamitous destruction of the legal system by the security agencies in Nigeria. We lawyers cannot keep quiet anymore because they are trying to destroy the only area where we are operating, which is the court.

“Judiciary is the only place where we operate, so if they succeed in destroying it no one will have regard and respect for us and for the country. If lawyers allow the Judiciary to be emasculated by the executive we are finished, Nigeria is gone, the legal profession is finished.”

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CROSS RIVER: WHERE IS AGBA JALINGO? ASKS UBANI

In this piece, former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2nd Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani expresses worry over the alleged illegal arrest of Agba Jalingo

I have just been informed by Mrs Agba Jalingo that the Nigerian Police from Cross River State have arrested her husband, Mr Agba Jalingo for reasons that are not clear. Recall that Jalingo has been having a running battle with his State Governor, His Excellency Mr Ben Ayade. This stems from his criticisms of his inept leadership in Cross Rivers State, an act considered sacrilegious by the governor and his bootlickers.

The Commissioner of Police in Cross Rivers State is clearly on the side of the governor as he has not hidden his subservience to the governor and his desires which includes the arrest and public humiliation of Mr Agba Jalingo. This arrest may not be unconnected with that desire.

The surprise element in all this is that the same Police have invited him to come on the 26th August, next Monday and he has promised to honour their invitation. One is at a loss why the arrest on 22nd August, four days earlier than the day of the invitation.

I just hope that this arrest is not from Cross River State Governor as this will be clearly illegal and condemnable. Nigerians will survive this season of intimidation and harassment. Right Activists, Human Rights lawyers and Civil Society should condemn this. We are not under military regime for God’s sake!

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My ordeal with EFCC, by Ubani

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has shed more light on his face-off with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to Ubani, circumstances conspired to foist a state of helplessness on him, moreso as he personally persuaded his client and former National Insurance Trust Fund Chairman, Mrs. Ngozi Olejeme to return to Nigeria to face her charge.

His words:

Friends, thanks. It is not as if I was careless. See reasons for my action which now looks as if I was sentimental:

  1. I brought the said woman back with all her family members from South Africa to come and respond to her allegations.
  2. She had multiple operations prior to her coming and requested that her medical condition will not permit of any detention.
  3. Despite that fact, she was detained for 14 days in a hospital before release.
  4. Her health was deteriorating during that detention and pressure was mounted on me the lawyer to get her out on bail.
  5. She presented qualified sureties in accordance with the bail condition of EFCC but was rejected by them.
  6. They insisted on senior citizens and important personalities to stand.
  7. EFCC said that they won’t mind if I stand for her since I was the person that brought her back.
  8. The time for this discussion was 10 pm.
  9. The said woman had not taken her bath for the 14 days she was in detention due to her health condition.
  10. It would have amounted to a betrayal to her and a dent to my own integrity towards a woman I brought back to reject to stand for her when that window of opportunity was thrown open that my suretyship will suffice.
    11 Think what you will do if you were in my shoe.
    12 It is easy to criticize when you are not the one involved or if you do not have the full facts or know the full circumstances.
    She was later chased away for another matter that has nothing to do with the matter she came for. They invaded her home with several policemen and searched her house for over 3hrs. She was really scared and slipped away from her house when they left her to go for another matter. Since that day she ceased communication with me. I still went after her by getting INTERPOL to place her on Red Alert which was what I went to report at EFCC and was asked to be locked up for 24 days. IT SHALL END IN PRAISE! The experience while in there was a tremendous BLESSING FOR ME. THANKS FOR STANDING FOR ME AND WITH ME SIRS AND SISTERS. MOU.

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NBA, EBF, Igbo Lawyers Ask EFCC to Release Ubani


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has come under a flurry of attacks as the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other groups of lawyers demanded immediate release of former NBA 2nd Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani.

An ardent social critic, Ubani has been in EFCC custody for about three weeks for allegedly standing surety for his client and former Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) chief executive, Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Olejeme.

In a statement signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Edun, NBA described Ubani’s continued detention notwithstanding a court order for his release as “a gross violation of his constitutional rights to personal liberty. “

Noting that “Democracy thrives only where there is a culture of respect for rule of law and due process by all persons,” the lawyers’ body said: “The Nigerian Bar Association, therefore, demands that the EFCC immediately complies with the subsisting order of the Federal High Court by releasing Monday Ubani or charge him to court, if there is any reasonable cause to so do.”

In a similar vein, Otu Oka Iwu (Law Society), the umbrella body of Igbo lawyers noted that “It is a matter of deep concern and national embarrassment that the EFCC has chosen to brazenly disobey this order of the court.”

In a statement by its President, Chief Chuks Ikokwu, the influential body of Igbo lawyers said: “It is more worrisome that Mr. Ubani, an ardent critic, activist and social crusader, was asked to personally take his client on bail by Mr. Magu, the EFCC having rejected top civil servants it earlier demanded. Was this a ploy to silence the former NBA chieftain and unrelenting social critic?”

On its part, the Eastern Bar Forum (EBF) also chided the EFCC for its continued detention of the former NBA chieftain. In a statement signed by its Pulicity Secretary, Mr. George Fortune Igbikikuno, the EBF stated that “Nigeria is in a constitutional democracy where respect for rule of law reigns supreme,” adding: “The EBF seriously deprecates the EFCC’s disobedience to court order and urges it to do the needful.”

Below are the statements:


NBA CONDEMNS THE UNLAWFUL DETENTION OF MONDAY UBANI BY EFCC AND DEMANDS FOR HIS IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The attention of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN has been drawn to an order of Honorable Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the Federal High Court wherein His Lordship, on March 26, 2019 granted an ex-parte motion filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to charge, Monday Ubani, a former 3rd Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and his co-applicant to court on or before Friday, 28/3/2019.

The court in the alternative, ordered that

“If the Applicants are not charged to court on or before 28/3/2019, EFCC is directed to release them on bail”

It has been 3 days after the order of the court was made and the EFCC, has characteristically shown daring disobedience to the orders of the court by refusing to release Monday Ubani on bail or charge him to court before the 28/3/201.

By the provisions of Section 1(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is supreme and binding on all persons and institutions in Nigeria.

By the further provisions of Section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution “ Any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subsection (1) (c) of this section shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time.”

Mr. Monday Ubani still remains in the unlawful custody of the EFCC for more than three weeks, which is a gross violation of his constitutional rights to personal liberty.

Democracy thrives only where there is a culture of respect for rule of law and due process by all persons. The EFCC, being a product of law, must also be subject to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and therefore, cannot be above the law. The agency’s penchant for disobedience to orders of court is an ominous threat to rule of law and impacts negatively on Nigeria’s investment environment.

The Nigerian Bar Association, therefore, demands that the EFCC immediately complies with the subsisting order of the Federal High Court by releasing Monday Ubani or charge him to court, if there is any reasonable cause to so do.

The Nigerian Bar Association also urges the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari to closely monitor the activities of security agencies, like EFCC and DSS, and ensure that they obey the fundamental rights of Nigerians and respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the performance of their functions.

Kunle Edun
National Publicity Secretary, NBA.

OBEY COURT ORDER, RELEASE UBANI NOW – IGBO LAWYERS TELL EFCC


The Otu Oka Iwu (Law Society) has watched with dismay the flagrant disregard of a valid and subsisting court order and the 1999 Constitution by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) led by its Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

It is recalled that Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the Federal High Court had in a ruling on March 26, 2019 granted an ex-parte motion filed by Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN directing the EFCC to charge former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani and his co-applicant to court “on or before Friday, 28/3/2019.”

The court in the alternative ordered that “If the Applicants are not charged to court on or before 28/3/2019, EFCC is directed to release them on bail” upon fulfillment of some listed conditions.

It is a matter of deep concern and national embarrassment that the EFCC has chosen to brazenly disobey this order of the court. It has neither charged the former NBA Vice President to court nor granted him any administrative bail.

Aside from the EFCC and its leadership being in clear breach of the extant order of the Federal High Court, the continued detention of Mr. Ubani also violates Section 35 (4) of the 1999 Constitution which provides that “Any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subsection (1) (c) of this section shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time.” The maximum detention period is 48 hours, except extended by a competent court. Mr. Ubani has been in EFCC custody for about three weeks.

It also violates the detainees’ right to dignity of human persons, right to personal liberty, and right to freedom of movement as set out in sections 34, 35 and 41 respectively of the 1999 Constitution.

This culture of impunity as consistently exhibited by EFCC and its leadership continues to ridicule Nigeria in the comity of nations and sabotage efforts at attracting foreign direct investment. Investors only go to jurisdictions where the rule of law and respect for human rights are guaranteed while shunning countries where ‘rule of men’ predominate.

It is even more worrisome that this blatant disobedience of a valid court order by the Magu-led EFCC is coming on the heels of serial disobedience of court orders by the Federal Government directing the release from custody of former National Security Adviser, retired Col. Sambo Dasuki and leader of Shi’a Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife. Is Mr. Magu merely taking a cue from the Federal Government?

We note that by the continued disobedience of the order of Federal High Court, Mr. Magu and the EFCC have displayed utter contempt for our courts and the country’s judicial system. It is ironic that these are the same courts the EFCC routinely runs to for orders which they zealously implement in the discharge of their mandate under the EFCC Act. It is not for EFCC and its leadership to pick and choose which court orders to obey or disregard. That is an invitation to anarchy. What is more, he who comes to equity must come with clean hands.

It is further recalled that the courts have severally cited the EFCC and its chairman for contempt, even as stiff damages have been awarded against the commission, thereby dissipating scarce public resources.

It is more worrisome that Mr. Ubani, an ardent critic, activist and social crusader, was asked to personally take his client on bail by Mr. Magu, the EFCC having rejected top civil servants it earlier demanded. Was this a ploy to silence the former NBA chieftain and unrelenting social critic?

Also, the fact that EFCC is apparently complicit in the alleged disappearance of Mr. Ubani’s client further questions the modus operandi and institutional integrity of the anti-graft agency. This follows Mr. Ubani’s posers thus: “Why will EFCC from another unit (Enugu) invade the home of a suspect (Dr. Mrs. Olejeme) who is on bail with them, more so when the matter they came for is purely a civil matter which was already in court? Why the long wait to charge a woman whom EFCC declared wanted since last year and who came back in December and was granted bail early January and up to now, no charge? Was this issue of rejecting valid sureties and insisting that I should be the one to stand for her a ploy to embarrass me for bringing the woman back from abroad to respond to her charges? Why am I being asked to produce her when it is the same EFCC that invaded her home when she was under bail? It is pertinent to point out that later in the day, the investigating officer in Abuja confirmed that the EFCC officials who came from Enugu got permission from the Acting Chairman (Magu) to come and arrest Dr. Olejeme. These and many other questions demand answers!”

We demand immediate release of Mr. Ubani and his co-applicant in line with the subsisting order of the Federal High Court.

Further, we demand a high-powered judicial enquiry into the allegations of complicity and dereliction of duty leveled against the EFCC and its leadership. The time to sanitize EFCC and rid it of corruption is now! Enough is enough!

We urge the Federal Government to take immediate steps to ensure that EFCC does not derail its avowed commitment to the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights of citizens. This has become more pressing given the presence of many senior lawyers including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo SAN in the Buhari Administration.

The EFCC’s Gestapo-style regime of holding citizens for weeks and months without trial and at times without valid court orders must stop. Nigeria is not a banana republic. Attempts by institutions of state to ridicule the country and make it seem like a lawless fiefdom must be resisted by all citizens and the international community.

Signed
Chief Chuks Ikokwu
President
Otu Oka Iwu (Law Society)
01/04/2019

RELEASE MONDAY ONYEKACHI UBANI, ESQ AND HONOURABLE CHRISTOPHER ENAI ON BAIL!!!

The Governing Council and distinguished learned members of the Eastern Bar Forum ably led by Chief Arthur Elvis Chukwu, Esq., ACIArb., KSJI., hereby lend its voice and support to the order of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory Abuja that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that is currently keeping in its custody Monday Onyekachi UBANI, Esq and Honourable Christopher Enai since 19/03/2019, bring them before a court of law charged with the offences they are alleged to have committed or release them on bail as already ordered by the court. Nigeria is in a constitutional democracy where respect for rule of law reigns supreme. The EBF seriously deprecates the EFCC’s disobedience to court order and urges it to do the needful.

George Fortune Igbikikuno Esq., Publicity Secretary, EBF.

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