Monday, 1 June, 2020

ELECTIONS: ‘NBA OFFERED US READY-MADE VOTING PORTAL,’ SAYS TAWO TAWO

• CONFIRMS CITY LAWYER REPORT
• SAYS FATE OF PORTAL UNCERTAIN
• VOWS THAT ECNBA IS ‘TOTALLY INDEPENDENT’

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has admitted that it was handed over a ready-made election portal for the forthcoming National Elections by the Mr. Paul Usoro SAN-led bar association. This confirms CITY LAWYER exclusive report which hinted that the ECNBA may have been preparing for the elections on the basis of the election portal bequeathed to it by the NBA leadership.

CITY LAWYER had in a recent report stated that “It was unclear at press time whether the vendor’s scope of work included a mandate to deliver an election portal for the forthcoming NBA Elections, given the notice issued by the ECNBA seeking proposals to recruit an ‘Information Technology Specialist.’ Among the work to be done by the IT Specialist/ECNBA Partner is, ‘Analyzing the new NBA Election portal system and infrastructure.’ The successful vendor is also required to train NBA staff ‘to use the new IT system.’ ”

Putting the issue beyond speculation, the ECNBA in a statement personally signed by its Chairman, Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN said: “The Committee was briefed that the NBA has its own e-voting platform/portal for elections developed by TAVIA, an IT firm. TAVIA was invited to brief the Committee in conjunction with the NBA IT Officer Umar Gezawa, on the said NBA election platform/portal.”

He emphasized the critical role of the election portal, saying “the success of the elections would depend to a large extent on the electronic or IT platform that would be deployed for the election.” He added that “The need to procure such a platform has been a priority.”

Giving more insights into the “briefing” received from the NBA leadership on the election portal, the ECNBA Chairman said: “Further to the said briefing, the ECNBA decided that in spite of the advantages of such a portal, exploring the use of other viable e-voting platforms if necessary is not foreclosed. As such there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant that would examine the NBA portal and critique same, its integrity, functionality and suitability or otherwise for the purpose of the elections as well as advise on other options.”

Highlighting additional roles of the consultant, the ECNBA Chairman said: “The Consultant would also be required to identify avenues for possible threats, and advise on how to contain same. Other issues to be addressed include the training of staff and all those associated with handling any part of the e-voting process by the consultant. They would be expected to verify electronically, the votes cast at the end of the exercise.”

Hinting on the fate of the election portal delivered by the NBA, Tawo who is said to be a born-again Christian noted: “Notwithstanding the above, the platform or portal to deploy for the election by the ECNBA would largely be dependent on the advice and report of the IT Consultant.” The ECNBA is currently sifting through applications received from its advertised request for expression of interest to pick its preferred IT consultant.

While the ECNBA Chairman did not state when the committee received the “briefing” from the NBA leadership, there are strong indications that this must have been before April 4, 2020 when the committee issued a “REQUEST FOR PROPOSAL (RFP): IT CONSULTANCY” which gave the scope of work of the IT Consultant to include “Analyzing the new NBA Election portal system and infrastructure.” CITY LAWYER recalls that the ECNBA was appointed by NBA-NEC on March 12, 2020.

At least three National officers who spoke to CITY LAWYER recently vowed that they were in the dark on the NBA website contract, adding that it was never discussed at any of their meetings. They also pleaded ignorance on the identity of the vendor or scope of work contained in the contract. The NBA did not respond to CITY LAWYER enquiries on the subject.

CITY LAWYER investigation however showed that Usoro informed NBA-NEC during its March 2019 meeting of his plan to “revamp” the verified NBA website to enhance its “functional uses.” He had stated that the websites for the Annual General Conference and NBA sections would be hosted on or linked to the NBA website while online payments and online platform for ordering stamps would be incorporated. However, the address was silent on the incorporation of a voting platform on the portal.

Though there are concerns among some stakeholders on the role of NBA staff in managing the elections, the ECNBA may have decided to give substantial roles to the staff. In its latest statement, the committee said: “Other issues to be addressed include the training of staff and all those associated with handling any part of the e-voting process by the consultant.” This aligns with item “f” of the “Scope of work” set out in the request for proposal which lists “Training staff to use the new IT system” as one of the deliverables of the IT Consultant.

While urging all stakeholders to shun “any activity that would be subversive and counter-productive to this exercise,” the committee however assured that it is “totally independent,” adding that “Mr. Paul Usoro SAN and his elected executive have given the ECNBA the needed liberty to do what is just and proper for the benefit of the profession in Nigeria. All candidates for the 2020 Elections shall be treated equally.”

The committee had published a Preliminary Notice of Elections as well as Election Guidelines in the run-up to the elections. Following its Call for Proposals from IT consultants, the ECNBA in its latest statement noted that it was “disheartening” for branches to shun the request to provide the data of eligible voters as requested by the NBA secretariat, warning that this may disenfranchise branch members. It however noted that it is in the process of compiling the Interim Voters Register as well as screening of IT proposals and interviewing of IT consultancy firms.

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NBA DATABASE: OLANIPEKUN, NGIGE, FALANA IN ‘OBOLLO-AFOR’ BRANCH

* Mixed reactions, as errors mar project
* ‘We are in the dark on website contract,’ say EXCO Members

There is palpable anxiety over the current state of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) database as uploaded on the NBA website. While some members have their data correctly inputted, prominent Bar Leaders such as former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN); former NBA presidential candidate and Chairman of the Council of Legal Education (CLE), Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN) and Mrs. Funmi Falana, wife of fiery human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) are among those whose data have errors. The trio are listed as members of NBA Obollo-Afor Branch. Continue Reading

SPECIAL REPORT: TAWO TAWO SAN – THE MAN WHO’LL MAKE OR MAR NBA

Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo SAN is obviously one of the most important stakeholders in Nigerian Bar circles today. In fact, it is believed that the fate of Africa’s largest Bar association may depend on what he does or fails to do in the coming weeks leading up to the 2020 National Officers Elections of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Continue Reading

FORMER SCRIBE HAILS NBA AT NEC

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 1ST Assistant Secretary, Mr. Okey Leo Ohagba has advised lawyers to be “more selfless in offering meaningful contributions towards repositioning the NBA as that Voice of the Voiceless.”

In a goodwill message to NBA National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) members, he also called on lawyers to “focus more on welfare and capacity building programs for lawyers (especially the young lawyers), so as to enable them compete more favorably in the emerging global legal market.”

Below is the full text of the message.

GOODWILL MESSAGE

It is my profound pleasure to felicitate with the NBA President, Paul Usoro, SAN, NBA NEC Members and observers alike, as we converge in Abuja for the National Executive Committee (NEC) Meeting of our dear Association, holding from the 4th to the 6th day of December, 2019.

As we gather to lend our voices for the good of our Nation and particularly our NBA, I call on us to be more selfless in offering meaningful contributions towards repositioning the NBA as that “Voice of the Voiceless”, particularly at a time when our nation’s core democratic foundations are being threatened, even more overtly.

Let me also remind us that the future of the Bar and Legal Profession in Nigeria can only be assessed by the level of investment we make today in younger members of the profession. Therefore, I urge us to focus more on welfare and capacity building programs for lawyers (especially the young lawyers), so as to enable them compete more favorably in the emerging global legal market.

Finally, I wish the NBA – NEC, fruitful deliberations and meaningful resolutions. Do have a pleasant stay in the Federal Capital Territory

and journey mercies to and fro your respective abodes.

With Compliments from;

Okey Leo Ohagba

Immediate Past NBA 1st Asst. Secretary

WE WILL BOYCOTT COURTS SOON IF…, WARNS USORO

  • PUBLIC PROTEST: FALANA STORMS ABA

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has warned that lawyers may soon embark on a boycott of the courts if judges of the Court of Appeal and Nasarawa Area Court are not freed by their kidnappers.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of this year’s Annual Conference of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) also tagged “revival” conference, Usoro said lawyers would soon have no option than to shun the courts to press their demand for release of the judicial officers.

His words: “We are the ones to speak for the judiciary; they do not have a voice. It behoves us (NBA) to speak on their behalf. A couple of them very very sadly have been kidnapped in recent days. You wouldn’t see any press release from the judiciary because they do not have a voice.

“It is we – the Nigerian Bar Association – that will fight for them, which will tell the authority that they have to take certain steps. If it gets to the extreme and – as we did not too long ago – we decide that we are going to boycott the courts to make a point, that is what we lawyers are for. If we are not united it becomes difficult for us to achieve. That is something I would like all of us to bear in mind.”

He noted that globally, lawyers are “recognized as the voice of the voiceless,” adding that “If you do not defend them, nobody will.”

It is recalled that Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Benin Division of Court of Appeal and Honorable Likita Ewa, a judge of an Area Court in Nasarawa State were kidnapped recently and are still in the kidnappers’ den.

Usoro urged members of the Aba Branch of the NBA to close ranks and resolve the crises rocking the branch, noting that “This is very important as without being united, it is very easy for people to further divide us. Our strength lies in our unity.”

Commending the SPIDEL leadership and the Abia State Government for its “magnanimity,” the NBA President also thanked the judiciary for attending the event in large numbers “particularly in these dangerous times when simply being seen with lawyers could be misconstrued.” He prayed God to give them the “wisdom to dispense justice without fear or favour.”

In his keynote address, Attorney General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN commended the NBA for using the law “as an instrument of social change.”

Saying that SPIDEL is facilitating its core objective of promoting public interest by organizing the conference, Malami who was represented by Mr. Aikomo Abiodun, his Special Assistant on Anti-corruption & Contracts Implementation, also commended SPIDEL Chairman, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN and his team for hosting the highly successful conference.

On his part, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu noted that “Our being human would be incomplete without enjoying these rights,” pointing at banditry, communal clashes, insurgency, kidnapping, farmers/herders crises, weak electoral system, unemployment, decayed infrastructure, poverty, and violation of rights by state actors as some of the factors that threaten enjoyment of human rights.

Represented by Mr. Olaniyi Omodara, the NHRC chieftain described the theme of the conference as “well thought out,” adding that the NBA and especially SPIDEL “is an important partner” in the commission’s quest to reform the regime of rights available to Nigerians.

The opening ceremony was followed by two technical sessions. The session on “Public interest lawyering: Global best practices and development” was chaired by Abia State Chief Judge, Justice Onuoha Ogwe. Leading human rights strategist, Dr. Sam Amadi was the lead speaker.

The session on “Executive orders as tools of governance – Prospects and challenges” drew the curtains on the day’s events. While the sessionwas chaired by Mr. Israel Usman, the lead speaker was Dr. Chukwudi Odoeme, Head of Legal Unit, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC). The panelists included former NBA General Secretary, Mr. Emeka Obegolu; former NBA Treasurer Joyce Oduah; former member of NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke and senior lawyer Udochi Iheanacho.

WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING

MR. ABUBAKAR ALIYU
Director General, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria

We have tried as much as possible to collaborate and cooperate with NBA especially SPIDEL to promote human rights. There is nothing more important than assisting indigent Nigerian to gain access to justice.

The kind of pleasure I derive from obtaining ordinary bail for somebody who has stayed five years in prison awaiting trial is indescribable. I commend SPIDEL for the work it is doing. I am always participating in SPIDEL activities, and will continue to collaborate with SPIDEL.

OLUMUYIWA AKINBORO SAN
Former NBA General Secretary

This is one of the best and most packed conferences I have ever attended. There are benefits that come by virtue of pro bono work. If one is to wait for that juicy brief, one may wait for a long time. However, by going to court and representing indigent clients, a lawyer may gain more experience and confidence. Everyday we go to court, we get better.

There is nothing that gives more satisfaction than helping another person. It is recalled that the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN and Mr. Femi Falana SAN became very popular through their public interest litigation work. You invariably end up being celebrated. I want to encourage us to take up the challenge of lawyering in the public interest.

DR. PAUL ANANABA SAN
SPIDEL Chairman

Nigeria is at a transformational stage; only public interest and pro people policies as well as development law initiatives is needed to provide credible and enabling environment for sustainable results. This need and service to the people are what SPIDEL stands for; NBA’s link and commitment to the rule of law and justice.

Through interactions on these issues at this conference, SPIDEL will be strengthened and positioned to lead NBA’s mandate as the watcher of government’s policies, governance framework, citizenship issues and so on. SPIDEL is ready to give urgency to activities that will reverse governance, administrative and legal failure to alleviate the suffering of the maases.

MR. IKEAZOR AKARAIWE
Chairman, Conference Planning Committee

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law is arguably the most important section of the NBA, the other sections being Section on Legal Practice and Section on Business Law. SPIDEL proposes a regime of public interest and development awareness. Public interest and development advocacy and litigation is why Nigeria escaped the long night of military dictatorship. This conference of SPIDEL is coming at a time when democratic fascism is on the rise and corruption has rendered development all but comatose.

The gains of this conference must be that every lawyer realizes that our priesthood in the temple of justice of necessity clothes us with the toga of development warriors. We must use the courts and responsible social media usage to advance the interest of the public and development in Nigeria. We can do no less.

The conference continues today with several technical sessions including the eagerly anticipated session on public protest law which has firebrand social crusader, Mr. Femi Falana SAN as the lead speaker.

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

NBA PRESIDENCY: AJIBADE JOINS THE RACE

  • THROWS SPANNER IN THE WORKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MIXED REACTIONS, AS AGC KICKS OFF

  • As final technical sessions hold today

The 2019 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Annual General Conference (AGC) took off on a bumpy note as some delegates swore that not much has changed from the hiccups that attended past exercises. While some delegates poked holes in some aspects, others heaped praises on the organisers. Notwithstanding a late start, the opening ceremony lived up to its billing as a favourite for most delegates.

Though NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN was on ground last Friday to assure delegates that distribution of conference materials would commence at 9 am when the week-long conference was billed to take off, some delegates complained of delay in commencement of the distribution exercise.

Said Olaoye Olalere: “Reporting from material collection center. Organisers not ready for us but the President has addressed members that they will start distribution by 9am. Fingers crossed!” He stated later: “Reporting from the same location as earlier, no distribution of materials yet. We don’t know when the distribution will start or whether the materials are at locus yet.”

Another delegate Cyprian Akao also aligned with Olalere, saying: “Collection is very disorganized.”

Olalere however stated at 9: 46 am that “the materials distribution has commenced, and it’s going on smoothly now.”

Others agreed with Olalere that the distribution was without hitches. Former NBA Lagos Financial Secretary Marian Jones said: “Seamless! Impressive.” On her part, Bar-man Amaka Aneke said: “Sleek and Smooth.” NBA Lagos Branch Publicity Secretary added his voice to the praises when he said: “Distribution is still ongoing seamlessly.”

Giving an indication that the distribution exercise may have been fraught with challenges, newly appointed NBA-NEC member Bob Ijioma said: “It ain’t easy asking learned people to be orderly during registration and collection of materials at the AGC today. Thanks to all TCCP and LOC Members. We put in a great job. Thank you President Paul Usoro, SAN and My Lady Mfon Usoro.”

Alluding to the torrid time the organisers had in managing the crowd on day-one, Mrs. Usoro especially hailed newly elected NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe for lending a helping hand, saying: “Lagos Chairman was superb at crowd control today at Harbour Point. Good job, Yemi.”

However, when CITY LAWYER visited the Harbour Point on Saturday, the cubicles were virtually deserted, with delegates trickling in to collect their conference materials. The cubicles were marked according to States while some States were merged.

But the aides said no notebooks were supplied contrary to the checklist, while assuring delegates that the brochure would be given to them during the technical sessions commencing today. However, a partner in one of the leading law firms whom CITY LAWYER met attempting to collect his conference materials was unable to do so as his name was not listed. He was advised to visit the nearby Secretariat to have his name tag printed to enable him collect the materials.

One of the aides also told CITY LAWYER that they had a hectic time processing delegates on Friday. This may not be unconnected with the fact that all delegates in the five branches in Lagos were repeatedly urged by the organisers to endeavor to collect their conference materials on Friday.

While the Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) had deployed many channels to publicize the AGC programme, indications emerged at the weekend that some communication gaps persisted. For instance, some members of the TCCP had to escalate posts on several whatsApp platforms to alert delegates that they need not wear wig and gown to the AGC Thanksgiving Service which held at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos. Wrote Chukwuka Ikwuazom, TCCP member and former NBA Lagos Branch Chairman: “Good evening colleagues, following inquiries from members about the dress code for the Church service, we wish to clarify that members are not required to wear their wig and gown to the service. Many thanks.”

This challenge also manifested in relation to the Welcome Cocktail hosted by the Chief Judge of Lagos State, Justice Kazeem Alogba. As feelers of a change of venue filtered in, one Azeezat Omolara quipped: “So the welcome cocktail venue has been changed from City Hall to Harbour Point which is better 7pm today (sic). Any confirmation for the above?”

In fact, a delegate called CITY LAWYER to complain that he was at City Hall for the event but met the place under lock. A post had however trended earlier in the day stating that “Please be informed that the NBA Conference Cocktail venue has been moved to Harbour Point by 5pm today.”

If the change of venue caught some delegates napping, the Welcome Cocktail itself left a sour taste in the mouth of many delegates. Comparing it with similar events, Omoniyi Onabule said that “Lagos Bar does better cocktail,” adding: “Na water men de sip. I haven’t seen this in my life.”

Another delegate Oliver Omoredia said: “Drinks finished before anything started. Nawa for this cocktail. May the rest of the events not be like this cocktail.” Yet another delegate, Awoyomi Damilola added cryptically: “I was disappointed.”

However, Omoredia urged the delegates to move over to the Friendship Centre – which was unveiled after the welcome cocktail – to shrug off their disappointment. His words: “Friendship centre was more like it!!! Bovi is so funny.”

Held at the high-profile Eko Convention Centre of the Eko Hotel & Suites, the opening ceremony was attended by heavyweights in the legal sector including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad; newly re-appointed Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami; International Bar Association President, Mr. Horacio Bernardes Neto and several Bar Leaders. This was followed by a surfeit of breakout sessions.

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

AGC: ‘WHY WE CAN’T RELEASE RATES NOW’

  • Prof. Ajayi is not a paid consultant

There are strong indications that the inability of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Technical Committee on Conference Planning (TCCP) to agree on the rate for international delegates at its last meeting in Lagos is delaying official release of the fees for the 2019 Annual General Conference (AGC).

An impeccable source within the TCCP told CITY LAWYER at the weekend that the need to attract more international delegates to the conference has necessitated more brainstorming on the matter.

“We want to attract more African delegates to the conference,” he said. “Some stakeholders are of the view that the proposed $500 rate is rather high and may discourage international participants. So, we are still consulting on the appropriate rate. That is why we cannot release the AGC rates now.”

Given that $300 is now the advertised rate for international delegates, it was unclear at press time whether the debacle over the fee for this category of participants has now been resolved.

According to the ranking TCCP member, other rates have however been agreed upon by the committee. “The committee resolved to address the fears of lawyers,” he said. “This led to very lively brainstorming among committee members and made the meeting to be long drawn.” NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN had while inaugurating the committee assured delegates of a “pocket-friendly” conference.

CITY LAWYER had reported that there was anxiety among the legal community on a possible hike in AGC fees as the committee met last Thursday.

The TCCP member however told CITY LAWYER that the committee would retain the 2018 rates, even as 25% discount has been extended to 1-10 years post-call lawyers on early bird rates to allay fears of a prohibitive AGC fees regime. The advertised rates on the 2019 AGC website are as follows:
1-5 years – ₦20,000.00
6-10 Years – ₦30,000.00
11-15 Years – ₦40,000.00
16-20 Years – ₦60,000.00
Above 20 Years – ₦100,000.00
Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Honourable Attorneys General, Benchers – ₦200,000.00
Magistrates – ₦50,000.00
Honorable Justices, Honorable Judges, Grand Khadis, Khadis – ₦75,000.00
Senior Citizens (Lawyers age 75 years and above) – ₦50,000.00
Non-Lawyers – ₦100,000.00
International Delegates – $300.00

When discounted for the early bird window, lawyers of 1-5 years post-call will pay N15,000 while those with 6-10 years post-call will pay N22,500.

Asked whether the rates are commensurate with the AGC package, the committee member answered in the affirmative. He said that apart from the huge overhead cost in delivering a world-class conference, each delegate would be given a “convertible, all-purpose” conference bag containing flash drive, charger, calendar “and other freebies.” CITY LAWYER also gathered that the committee is negotiating with some manufacturers and outlets to avail delegates with shopping vouchers with which to purchase items at discounted rates. “We want the delegates to have a feel of this year’s conference,” he emphasized. “But I can tell you that tablets are gone for good.”

“This is the first TCCP that has two chairmen,” he added. “This is informed by the need to deliver a world-class conference and ensure that members do not have any complaints whatsoever.” It is recalled that former NBA Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL) Chairman, Mr. Olumide Apata was recently co-opted into the committee. He was not in the original 42-member committee inaugurated by Usoro on January 18, 2019. The NBA-SBL has carved a reputation for organizing seamless conferences.

The TCCP member said that registration for the AGC would commence this month, even as he assured that the draft budget is ready and would be presented to the next NBA National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) meeting in June for approval. This is notwithstanding the “anticipatory approval” given to the committee at the last NBA-NEC in March.

On the controversy surrounding the appointment of Eventful Nigeria Limited as the “event planner” for the conference, the committee member argued that no member raised eye brows when the matter was discussed by the committee, adding: “Even when we asked the lady (Eventful) to leave the meeting briefly, nobody raised any issue. If any member had issues with the appointment or had special skills that would have made such appointment unnecessary, he or she should have said so when the matter was debated. That would have even led to more cost efficiency. However, we are lawyers; we are not event planning experts.”

Also speaking on the concerns being raised on the appointment of former TCCP Chairman, Prof. Konyinsola Ajayi SAN as a “consultant” to the committee, the member said the controversy was unnecessary. “The fact is that no TCCP member is being paid,” he said. “In fact, we use our own money to fund the activities of the committee, paying for our flight tickets and lodging among others. This is not in the public domain.

“Prof. Ajayi is not a paid consultant. It was decided that due to his privileged status as a former TCCP Chairman, he should be given a special title as ‘consultant.’ That is all. How much can you pay such a person?”

It is recalled that Usoro had while inaugurating the committee said: “The composition of this year’s AGC TCCP comes with some innovations and exciting bonuses. First is the selflessness of all the Committee members. I spoke with each of the 42 members and they all committed to serve on the Committee at minimal, if any, cost to the National NBA purse as it relates in particular to their transport and accommodation for Committee meetings. That is exemplary, and I cannot thank them enough for this commitment and sacrifice.”

This year’s conference, the 59th edition, is scheduled to hold between 23rd and 29th August, 2019 at Eko Hotel & Suites as well as Harbour Point, Ikoyi. The theme is “Facing the Future.” A provisional AGC programme has been uploaded on the conference website. However, the accommodation details are still reflecting the schedule for the 2018 conference held at Abuja.

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

AGC: FEAR GRIPS LAWYERS OVER FEES

  • AS TCCP MEETS TODAY

There is palpable anxiety within the legal circles as the Technical Committee for Conference Planning (TCCP) meets today to determine the fees for this year’s Annual General Conference (AGC).

The “proposed fees” which were presented to members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Executive Committee (NEC) at their meeting in March have been viewed by many lawyers as prohibitive. The TCCP also seems divided on the appointment of a Consultant and an Event Planner for the flagship conference.

CITY LAWYER gathered that till date, the committee has been working without a budget, even as it continues to make payments for some of the AGC activities.

According to a member of the committee who spoke on condition of anonymity, “I can tell you unequivocally that there is no budget yet at the TCCP. There is also no information on the package for which the AGC fees have been proposed. This issue was raised at the March NEC Meeting but till date, nothing has been done.”

The TCCP member said that “part payment” has been made for EKO Hotel & Suites which is the main venue for the AGC. Other venues being considered to host some AGC events are Nigerian Law School and the highbrow Harbour Point in Ikoyi.

Querying the appointment of a “Consultant” for the conference, the member said that the NBA “has never used a consultant to organize its AGC,” adding, “What is the fee for the consultant?” Prof Konyinsola Ajayi, SAN was appointed “Consultant” by NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN. The member stated that the Consultant has been sparsely attending TCCP meetings.

The TCCP member also carpeted the committee for hiring an “event planner” for the conference, saying that former NBA General Secretary, Chief Phillip Umeh kicked against the plan during the March 28, 2019 NEC Meeting in Abuja. “We have colleagues who can discharge these duties,” the member said. “But instead TCCP is using an event planner.” Eventful Nigeria Limited is the designated event planner for the conference. It has been alleged that such event planners are often used as conduits to siphon AGC funds. The allegations remain unproven.

The member stated that it was such alleged profligacy that led to the current NBA debt over-hang in excess of N50 million, with AGC arrears forming the bulk of the debt. It is also recalled that NBA is yet to redeem the 2018 AGC Raffle Car Prize won by Rabiu Ayuba, a lawyer.

Asked whether the appointment has been firmed up, the member said: “The event planner has been attending meetings, thereby siphoning NBA’s scarce resources. Everything is shrouded in secrecy.”

Reputed as the largest gathering of lawyers on the African continent, the AGC has often been beset by hiccups and occasional scandals. The NBA does not seem to have gotten a handle on the logistical nightmares posed by its flagship conference, with the result that every succeeding year has witnessed a litany of complaints by participants.

CITY LAWYER recalls that former NBA presidential candidate, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) had in a May 14, 2018 letter to former NBA President Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) called for a reduction in the 2018 AGC fees. He wrote: “At the NBA NEC meeting Kano, all the speakers (including me) spoke in support of a reduction of the conference fees and Mr. President graciously directed the TCCP not to impose fees more than that of 2017.

“Mr. President may need to guide the TCCP further on this especially on the amount to be paid by lawyers under 10 years for the early bird. There is need to review the rate of 2017 further down especially as members have rejected the use of tablets for the 2018 conference. While everything should be done to support a high standard conference, everything must also be done to reduce the burden on members. Our members are really seriously complaining.”

According to the proposed schedule of fees, lawyers who are 1- 5 years post-call are to pay a humongous N25,000 for early bird; N40,000 for regular fee and N60,000 for late fee. For 6-10 years, the fees are N35,000 for early bird; N50,000 for regular and N80,000 for late fee.

Lawyers who are 11-15 years post-call will pay N50,000 for early bird; N65,000 for regular and N90,000 for late fee. For 16-20 years post-call, the fees are N70,000 for early bird; N85,000 for regular and N100,000 for late fee, while for 20 years post-call, the fees are N100,000 for early bird; N150,000 for regular and N250,000 for late registration. For Senior Advocates, Attorneys-General and benchers, a flat N250,000 applies.

The inability of TCCP to generate a budget upon which expenditures are made seems to be a recurring decimal. Regarding the 2018 AGC, Ojukwu, a former Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, wrote: “Mr. President expressed surprise during his remarks at the NEC meeting that the TCCP did not submit a budget for the conference. It would be very necessary that this anomaly be rectified as an urgent action Sir to conform to Section 21(c) of our constitution and the principle of openness, transparency and accountability. In fact it is only by providing a budget shall we be able to assess the conference costs by determining what is necessary and reasonable cost we must incur at this time of members’ serious economic difficulties.”

Ojukwu had also queried the absence of the accounts for the 2017 AGC, saying: “At the Uyo NEC meeting of November 2017, the TCCP Report of the Annual General Conference was deferred to the next NEC meeting. See the Para 9.1 of the NBA NEC minutes of 28th Feb-2nd March 2018 at Ilorin.

“That 2017 account was not rendered at the Ilorin NEC or at the recent Kano NEC. It seems to me that this is a fundamental omission. I missed the matter earlier otherwise. I would have drawn your attention to it.”

A source told CITY LAWYER that there are no records at NBA House on the 2017 and 2018 AGC. But there are strong indications that the 2018 AGC Committee led by Mr. George Etomi presented accounts showing that N1.2 Billion was spent on the conference.

An attempt by Ajayi to present the 2017 AGC Report at Uyo NBA-NEC was truncated as NEC members demanded a more detailed breakdown. CITY LAWYER however learned that the accounts ran into troubled waters when Ajayi discovered that some National Officers who were also TCCP members allegedly incurred over N70 million hotel bill on “Bar Leaders,” claiming that was “the tradition.” The source said that while about N1.4 Billion was raised by the committee, the bulk of which was through Ajayi’s goodwill and hands-on marketing, the entire sum was allegedly frittered away. Ajayi was said to have sought a budget ceiling of N800 Million, with the remainder ploughed into NBA coffers. It was unclear at press time whether this has stalled the report. A member of the 2017 TCCP committee however told CITY LAWYER that members never made input into the draft committee report as it was not circulated to members.

The AGC fees were first jerked up in 2017 by almost 100%, with young lawyers who hitherto paid N8,000 compelled to pay N20,000 as “early bird” fee prior to a reduction by the NBA-NEC. Onsite registration was pegged at N25,000 for young lawyers. The hike was attributed to the introduction of tablets as a part of the AGC package. But some lawyers claimed that the tablets were of inferior quality. 2018 fees saw young lawyers in year 1-5 bracket cough out N20,000 each. Unlike 2017 when tablets were dangled as a bait, no such package was included. N25,000 has been proposed by TCCP for young lawyers for this year’s registration, even as the package remains unknown. However, the AGC portal http://nbaconference.com/loader/register_home.php records N20,000 as the early bird fee payable by young lawyers. But registration is yet to commence. 6-10 years post-call fee is N30,000 and 11-15 years post-call fee is N40,000. 16-20 years post-call is pegged at N60,000 while above 20 years post-call is set at N100,000. Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Honourable Attorneys, General Benchers are to pay an early bird fee of N200,000 while Magistrates pay N50,000. Honorable Justices, Honorable Judges, Grand Khadis, Khadis will pay N75,000 while another category tagged “Senior Citizens (Lawyers age 75 years and above)” is to pay N50,000. This category was introduced in 2017.

While inaugurating the 42-member AGC committee, Usoro had especially assured that the AGC fees would be “pocket-friendly.” His words: “In my discussions with the Committee, I have impressed on them the expectations of our members for the best and most memorable Conference in 2019, both in terms of content and in being pocket-friendly vis-à-vis the conferees and the Conference output. I have in that wise extracted the commitment of the Committee, through its Chairman, that the 2019 AGC will live up to those billings. As National Officers, we are mindful of the promises that we made to our members in my Inaugural Address and we shall strive to keep and live by those promises in the planning and hosting of the 2019 AGC.”

He also emphasized that the NBA-NEC must approve all the activities of the committee, saying: “The Committee would report directly to me and would, as required obtain specific approvals from NEC for its assignments.”

NBA Publicity Secretary Kunle Edun again echoed this commitment in a press release when he said: “At the last NEC meeting of the NBA held in Abuja in Abuja on 28/3/2019 the TCCP Chairman presented the Committee’s report to NEC. NEC approved the report and members will be advised soon on the conference fees, which would be pocket friendly.”

The TCCP is chaired by renowned lawyer, Mr. Gbenga Oyebode MFR. It remains to be seen whether the committee will retain the current regime of fees even in the absence of any significant package for conferees and in light of shrinking opportunities for lawyers.

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

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