UWANNA, EKPIKEN SET TO WIN NBA LAGOS POLL

  • APATA HAS CALLED TO CONGRATULATE ME

Barring any last-minute upset, there are strong indications that leading corporate lawyer, Mr. Ikechukwu Uwanna will clinch today’s election for the chairmanship of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch. He may have polled over 500 votes as against his closest rival who polled 100 plus votes.

Uwanna told CITY LAWYER that “(Anthony) Atata has called me to congratulate me.”

Also, Ms. Nta Ekpiken, largely viewed as the ‘new kid on the block,’ is coasting home as the new branch Secretary, going by feelers from impeccable sources.

Meanwhile, the election is being conducted on the Vote-Now.com LLC voting portal, confirming CITY LAWYER’s report that the firm would be contracted by the Electoral Committee as its ICT Partner.

There are strong indications that Mr. Anthony Atata will take the second position for the chairmanship race while Mr. Seth Amaefule may bring up the rear. For the position of secretary, Mr. Shola Abiloye will take the second slot while Mr. James Sonde may place a distant third.

The poll took off smoothly today at 8 o’clock and is scheduled to end by 6 pm. Many branch members who voted early said the exercise was seamless, and hoped it would be devoid of rigging.

A key stakeholder who spoke to CITY LAWYER said both Uwanna and Ekpiken may have clinched the posts due to the gap between the candidates.

When CITY LAWYER spoke with Amaefule at around 5 pm today, he said: “I have been in court all day. I got a Hearing Notice for a Ruling late last night. I just received a call from someone saying, ‘Congratulations for a good outing.’ I am not in touch with my agent, as the agents are not allowed to go into the Situation Room with their phones.’

The Electoral Committee had set up a voting centre at the MUSON CENTRE, Lagos for eligible voters who may experience connectivity and other challenges during the exercise.

72 SANS: BOSAN BLASTS LPPC, WANTS AWARD SUSPENDED; CJN VOWS REFORM

• BOSAN ACCUSES LPPC OF LOWERING CRITERIA
• ‘YOU HAVE STRAYED FROM 50-YEAR STANDARDS’
• ‘WE WILL REVIEW SAN CRITERIA’ – CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad (CFR) has promised that the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) would review the criteria for award of the coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in order to maintain its prestige, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

The commitment is coming on the heels of a searing indictment of the Justice Muhammad-led LPPC by the influential Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN). To underscore the gravity of its discontent, BOSAN has demanded that the conferment exercise be immediately suspended for the next three years to enable a thorough revamp of the award process.

BOSAN had come down hard on the LPPC for allegedly making a mockery of the award with conferment of the rank on an unprecedented number of 76 senior lawyers in the 2020 exercise.

In a November 27, 2020 letter obtained by CITY LAWYER and personally signed by Prof. Ben Nwabueze (SAN, NNOM), Prof. A. B. Kasunmu (SAN), Chief Folake Solanke (SAN, CON) and BOSAN’s longstanding Secretary, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN), the body lampooned the 2020 exercise for whittling the prestige of the rank. Titled “LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE’S LIST OF 72 LEGAL PRACTITIONERS FOR CONFERMENT WITH THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA FOR YEAR (SIC) EXERCISE: A STRONG NOTE OF CONCERN FROM THE BODY OF SENIOR ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA (BOSAN),” the letter was addressed to Justice Muhammad and copied to all LPPC members and the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Noting that Section 5(2) of the revised Legal Practitioners Act LFN 2004 mandates the LPPC to confer the rank on legal practitioners who have “achieved distinction in the legal profession,” BOSAN stated that “The rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, like its equivalent Queen’s Counsel (QC) in the United Kingdom, is an award on the merit for excellence in advocacy in the higher courts.” It added that “The rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria is a hallowed and hard-earned privilege accorded a practitioner who has attained excellence in the profession.”

Turning to the 2020 exercise, BOSAN queried the steep rise in the number of awardees, saying: “However, we note with concern the number of persons namely 72 (seventy-two) listed for the conferment of the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria by the LPPC in the past week. Since April 3, 1975, when Chief F.R.A. Williams and Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas were conferred with the prestigious rank till 2019, we have a total number 545 Senior Advocates over 45 years, representing an average conferment of 12 to 13 Senior Advocates per year.

“Conferment in the last five years also show a gradual, incremental approach. For example, in 2015, 19 Senior Advocates were added to the fold, 22 in 2016, 29 in 2017, 31 in 2018 and 38 in 2019.”

In a damning indictment of the 2020 exercise, the senior advocates said: “BOSAN struggles to understand the rationale for the over 100% increase from the previous year and a 600% increase from a 45-year average. We are dismayed at this out-stepping from the norms and standards established over nearly five decades of our legal history.”

Delivering its final judgment on the exercise, BOSAN said: “We are of the strong and painful view, and it would appear to many, that the criteria have been whittled down and the bar/benchmark lowered to the extent of defeating the description of excellence as a sine qua non for attaining the prestigious rank.”

Underscoring the gravity of its position, BOSAN demanded that the 2021, 2022 and 2023 conferment exercises should be paused, saying: “In being economical with expression, we make bold to state that the weak and further weakened criteria for the conferment of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, including the extant guidelines, have combined to water-down the standard and core requirements of excellence and distinction. In the circumstances, and with all due respect, we strongly suggest that your lordship’s Committee put on hold the processes for the next three years (i.e. 2021, 2022 and 2023); and use the intervening period to conduct a credible and comprehensive review of the entire process.”

Mapping out the key areas of concern, the senior advocates said the review must include an appraisal of the guidelines and administrative processes leading to the selection, the personnel at the SAN/LPPC Administrative Secretariat/Department, proper pre-screening of applicants, as well as competitive processes and independent assessment free from lobbying, even as BOSAN pledged its “support of this critical review process in every way possible.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that BOSAN would today at its meeting appoint a committee to aid the planned review of the LPPC Guidelines.

In his response dated May 26, 2021, exactly six months after BOSAN’s complaint, and titled “RE: LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE’S LIST OF 72 LEGAL PRACTITIONERS FOR CONFERMENT WITH THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA FOR THE 2020 EXERCISE,” Justice Muhammad stated that the LPPC had considered BOSAN’s concerns “in detail,” adding that a review would be undertaken to strengthen the conferment process.

Signed on behalf of the committee by Hadizatu Uwani Mustapha, its secretary and the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, the letter read: “I have been directed by the Chairman of the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee Hon. Justice I.T. Muhammad, CFR to acknowledge receipt of your letter dated 27th November, 202 (sic), on the above subject matter and to inform you that the Committee has considered in detail, your letter and having regard to the role of your Committee decided to set up an Adhoc-Committee to look into ways to strengthening the criteria for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”

In an October 26, 2020 letter by Chief Solanke to Justice Muhammad obtained by CITY LAWYER and titled “2018 Guidelines for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria,” the foremost jurist and first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria had decried “disconcerting phrases” such as “national character,” “geographical spread”and “gender representation,” urging “that action be undertaken by the appropriate authorities to reconsider the disturbing phrases so that merit remains inviolate.”

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

 

AGC FEES: NBA-NEC COMMUNIQUE CONFIRMS CITY LAWYER REPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below is the full text of the communiqué.

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

1.0. INTRODUCTION

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

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

2.0. RESOLUTIONS

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

STATE OF THE NATION

Judiciary and Administration of Justice

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

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

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

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

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

Constriction of civic space

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

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

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

Increasing spate of insecurity

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

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

Lawsuit challenging elongation of IGP’s tenure

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

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

STATE OF THE BAR

Enrollment Number for New Lawyers

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

Scale of Charges and Remuneration of Lawyers

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

Encroachment of Non-Lawyers into the Legal Space

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

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

2.17 NEC further directs that:

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

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

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

Harassment of Lawyers

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

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

Attitude, language, and conduct of lawyers in public

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

Annual General Conference

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

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

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

Reports of Standing and Ad-Hoc Committees

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

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

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

NBA Abuja Branch Crisis

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

OTHER MATTERS
Resuscitation of Military and Paramilitary Fora

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

Establishment of New Fora

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

Young Lawyers Permanent Observers at NEC

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

Ratifications

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

Further information

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

Dated this 25th day June 2021

……………………………

OLUMIDE AKPATA
NBA PRESIDENT

………………………………..

JOYCE ODUAH
GENERAL SECRETARY

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

SPIDEL APPOINTS FALANA, AMADI TO HEAD KEY GROUPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

AGC REGISTRATION: YOUNG LAWYERS TO PAY 80K IF …

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

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

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

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

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

The full schedule of fees is available at this link:

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

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

 

NBA-NEC: SIGHTS & SIGHTS OF BARBEQUE DINNER, BREAKFAST

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

Below are faces at the events.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NBA LAGOS ELECTIONS POSTPONED

  • ELECTORAL C’TE CITES VOTERS’ REGISTER ISSUES

  • COMMITTEE HIRES VOTE-NOW, USA VOTING FIRM

The eagerly awaited Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Election has been postponed due to challenges encountered by the Electoral Committee in producing a valid voters’ register. The influential branch has by far the largest voting bloc in NBA.

Announcing the postponement of the election during the “NBA Lagos Manifesto Day” held last Friday, Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Mr. Wale Akoni SAN said the postponement was to avoid breaching the NBA Uniform Bye Laws which provides that the register must be published 14 days to the election. The election will now hold on June 30, 2021 as against the earlier date of June 28 fixed by the committee.

Akoni bemoaned the state of the branch database, saying that it was “really, really difficult” validating eligible voters for the poll. Noting that “We shouldn’t be here in 2021,” the leading litigator observed that “there is so much technology available” to deal with database challenges, adding that there should be a platform where information on members’ payments and attendance at meetings among others should be readily available.

The Electoral Committee also said that it is “still attending to questions and complaints” from branch members, notwithstanding that it had released the “Final list of eligible voters” containing 885 names, up from 832 provisional voters’ list. Some members have complained that they may be unduly disenfranchised due to the absence of their names on the voters’ register. The final voters’ list has 111 more eligible voters than the 2019 register with 774 voters.

The committee had in a rare email to members stated that “Elections are by electronic voting,” adding that “The link to the secret ballot will be sent electronically to all eligible voters. Eligible voters can vote online from their computers or mobile devices anywhere in the world.” The committee also plans to provide computers in yet-to-be-disclosed designated centres for eligible voters who may wish to cast their ballots there. The candidates’ manifestos have been published on the dysfunctional election website.

Meanwhile, barring any last-minute change of mind, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively reveal that the Electoral Committee has opted for Vote-Now.com LLC as the voting platform for the election. Vote-Now.com was the platform adopted for the 2019 rancour-free poll conducted by the Richard Akintunde-led Electoral Committee. The company prides itself as providing balloting services that “reduce the time, expense, and environmental impact of your election process, while increasing voter turnout and member participation in governance.”

According to the Jacksonville, USA based company, “The VTNW balloting system was specifically designed by University Scientists for use in Professional organization elections. With 23+ years of experience conducting web-based elections, we have assisted hundreds of business and academic professional organizations, HOA’s, non-profit groups, and universities with their balloting needs.” The branch paid about $2300 for the deployment of the platform, Akintunde told CITY LAWYER in an interview to herald the 2019 Elections.

Meanwhile, only two posts will be contested during the elections, as the other positions are unopposed. While Messrs Anthony Atata, Seth Amaefule and Ikechukwu Uwanna will slug it out for the coveted post of Branch Chairman, the race for who becomes the next Branch Secretary is between Miss Nta Ekpiken, Mr. Shola Abiloye and incumbent Publicity Secretary, Mr. James Sonde.

CITY LAWYER recalls that leading corporate lawyer and outgoing Branch Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe had  during the 2019 Elections polled 440 (56.8%) of the 774 votes to beat his closest rival, Mr. Adebola Lema who garnered 311 votes or 40.2%. 

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GADZAMA HOSTS NBA-NEC DELEGATES TODAY, HAILS AKPATA

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

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

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

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

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

Dress Code: Smart Casual

Below is the full text of the Goodwill Message.

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

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

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

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

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

God bless you all.

Thank you.

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

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