NBA PH MEETING: AFAM OSIGWE URGES LAWYERS TO INNOVATE

NEWS RELEASE

Innovate to Thrive: Afam Osigwe, SAN, Urges Lawyers at NBA Port Harcourt Meeting

Afam Osigwe, SAN, attended the monthly branch meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch. During this significant gathering, he delivered a thought-provoking speech titled “Making a Choice About Innovating, Succeeding, or Dying Out.”

In his address, Afam Osigwe, SAN, underscored the crucial crossroads at which the legal profession currently stands. He highlighted the rapid advancements in technology, evolving client expectations, and increasing competition as key factors that necessitate a strategic choice: innovate and succeed or face obsolescence.

The Learned Silk emphasized that innovation is not merely an option but a necessity for legal practitioners who aim to thrive in the modern legal landscape. He elaborated on the various forms of innovation, including the adoption of cutting-edge legal technologies, streamlined practice management, and the development of new service delivery models. By embracing these changes, lawyers can enhance efficiency, improve client satisfaction, and maintain a competitive edge.

He also discussed the importance of continuous professional development and staying abreast of global legal trends. Osigwe encouraged members of the Port Harcourt Branch to invest in learning opportunities, attend relevant workshops and seminars, and actively engage in knowledge sharing within the legal community.

Afam Osigwe, SAN, addressed the potential risks of resisting change. He warned that failing to innovate could lead to diminished relevance and potential extinction in an increasingly dynamic market. He urged legal professionals to be proactive, adaptable, and forward-thinking to ensure their success and longevity.

The meeting concluded with a renewed commitment among attendees to embrace innovation and strive for excellence. Afam Osigwe’s impactful speech left a lasting impression, inspiring the legal professionals present to make strategic choices that will drive their success and sustainability in the years to come.

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TOBENNA EROJIKWE CALLS FOR STRUCTURAL REFORMS IN LEGAL PROFESSION

NEWS RELEASE

Embracing Change: Tobenna Erojikwe Calls for Structural Reforms in the Legal Profession

In a captivating address during the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Port Harcourt Monthly Branch Meeting, Tobenna Erojikwe, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the NBA Institute of Continuing Legal Education (NBA-ICLE), delivered an insightful speech on “Structuring for Growth” within the Nigerian legal profession. Erojikwe’s thought-provoking remarks resonated with the legal community, emphasising the need for a comprehensive restructuring of the overarching framework governing the practice of law in Nigeria.

Erojikwe highlighted the importance of adapting to the evolving landscape of the legal profession, driven by factors such as globalisation, technological advancements, and shifting societal dynamics. He underscored the urgency of passing the Legal Practitioners Bill, a crucial step towards aligning the legal practice framework with these new realities.

“The Nigerian legal profession is at a pivotal juncture,” Erojikwe stated. “To achieve sustainable growth, we must embrace structural reforms that reflect the demands of the modern era. The Legal Practitioners Bill presents an opportunity to fortify our regulatory framework, fostering innovation, enhancing competitiveness, and promoting ethical practices.”

Erojikwe’s vision for “Structuring for Growth” encompassed various aspects, including the establishment of robust mechanisms for continuous professional development, leveraging technology to streamline legal services, and fostering collaboration with international legal entities. He also emphasised the need to build competence within the Nigerian legal profession to reshore legal work that is currently outsourced to foreign law firms.

“We possess immense talent and expertise within our ranks,” Erojikwe asserted. “By investing in capacity building and creating an enabling environment, we can reclaim our rightful place as the preferred choice for legal services in Nigeria. This will not only strengthen our profession but also contribute to the growth of our nation’s economy.”

Erojikwe’s impassioned call for structural reforms resonated deeply with the attendees, sparking discussions and igniting a renewed commitment to embrace change. As a thought leader in the legal community, his advocacy for visionary policies and progressive strategies has garnered widespread support, paving the way for a more resilient and future-ready legal profession in Nigeria.

The NBA-ICLE, under Erojikwe’s stewardship, continues to play a pivotal role in championing legal education, fostering collaboration, and driving positive transformation within the Nigerian legal landscape. As the legal community grapples with the challenges of the modern era, Erojikwe’s vision for “Structuring for Growth” serves as a beacon, guiding the profession towards a more prosperous and impactful future.

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CAN OF WORMS, AS ANOTHER MEMBER WRITES BODY OF BENCHERS

  • ‘WE’RE BEING PUNISHED FOR REJECTING CHAIRMAN’S WIFE’S NOMINATION’

  • ‘THE RECONSTITUTION FAVOURS ONE ETHNIC GROUP’

  • ‘THIS CRISIS POSES EXISTENTIAL THREAT TO THE BODY’

A Life Bencher and former Attorney General of Plateau State, Mr. Edward Pwajok SAN has alleged that the recent reconstitution of the Body of Benchers committees may not be unconnected with the refusal of the Appointments Committee to approve the appointment of the wife of the Chairman.

It is recalled that Body of Benchers Chairman, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN recently reconstituted the elite body’s committees.

In a letter obtained by CITY LAWYER, Pwajok who was until the controversial reconstitution a member of the Appointment Committee and the Special Duties Committee, rejected his recent designation as a member of the Finance Committee.

Unleashing a can of worms, the former Attorney General stated that “Already tongues are wagging that the Chairman took umbrage at the Appointments Committee because his wife’s name was on the list that we did not approve. While I hold the Chairman’s wife in the highest esteem as a reputable Lawyer who is worthy of being appointed a Bencher and will not vote against her if she is duly nominated, is the Chairman’s action not fuelling suspicion particularly if she is nominated to join the Body during his tenure?” 

In the letter dated May 17, 2024 and addressed to the Secretary of the Body of Benchers, he stated that “I must put on record my suspicion that the reconstitution was motivated by the decisions of the Appointments Committee earlier this year in not approving the nominees of the immediate past Chairman as Life Benchers and Benchers. Is it a mere co-incidence that the only member who survived the ‘reconstitution’ was the only one who supported the lists of the past Chairman but all the others including the respected (Committee) Chairman, Rtd, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, a past (Benchers) Chairman were removed.”

Continuing, he asked: “Is it now an offence to insist on abiding by the Rules of the Body of Benchers? Is this reconstitution meant to punish the Chairman and Members of the Appointments Committee, to serve as a deterrent to subsequent members of that committee to become a rubber stamp to automatically approve the decisions of the Chairman, even if they violate our Rules?”

He also stated that there are “loud complaints on the lop sidedness (sic) in the composition of the Committees,” adding that “six out of twelve Committee Chairmen are from the same ethnic group with the Chairman. Is this not a violation of Federal Character principles enshrined in our Constitution which the Body of the highest distinction in the legal profession is supposed to uphold?”

Pwajok warned that the crisis may “constitute existential threats to the Body,” saying: “May I with humility and every sense of responsibility advise that we do not take the stability of the Body for granted.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN was the first to lampoon the reconstitution exercise, vowing not to relinquish his position as Chairman of the Appointments Committee. He has now dragged Awomolo and the body to court on the matter.

The leadership of the body is yet to respond to the flurry of attacks against the reconstitution exercise.

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ALLEN AVENUE LAW FIRM SEEKS 5-10 YEARS POST-CALL LAWYER

URGENT VACANCY FOR A QUALIFIED LAWYER

A REPUTABLE LAW FIRM IN ALLEN AVENUE, IKEJA, LAGOS, REQUIRES URGENTLY THE SERVICES OF A LITIGATION LAWYER.

INTERESTED CANDIDATES MUST POSSESS THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:

  EXCELLENT LITIGATION SKILL
  FLUENCY IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE
  COMPUTER AND ICT LITERATE
  GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILL/DRESS SENSE
  GREAT KNOWLEDGE OF LEGAL DRAFTING
  LIVE WITHIN IKEJA OR ITS ENVIRONS

REMUNERATION: N2,400,000 PER ANNUM PLUS BONUSES

Interested persons should submit application/resume to:
INTERVENERS & JOE NWOKEDI SOLICITORS,
SUIT 59, SHAHADATU HOUSE, 70D ALLEN AVENUE, IKEJA, LAGOS STATE or E-mail intervenersandkedjoe@gmail.com 

ONLY SHORTLISTED CANDIDATES WILL BE CONTACTED.

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CRISIS ROCKS NBA PORT HARCOURT AS LAWYERS SEEK PROBE

  • BRANCH VOWS TO INVITE SOLDIERS IF ….

The crisis rocking the Port Harcourt Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) does not seem to have abated, even as observers note that today’s monthly meeting of the branch may be a feisty affair.

CITY LAWYER gathered that a group of young lawyers known as “CONCERNED LAWYERS” had filed a Motion for Suspension of the Branch Chairman and Secretary for alleged abuse of office.

It is recalled that the Branch Chairman, Mr. Viktor Benibo has been under the searchlight for allegedly under-declaring a donation received from the Rivers State Government. He denies the allegation.

CITY LAWYER gathered that the motion was filed within 21 days prescribed by the NBA Uniform Byelaw for Branches and Sections, indicating that the motion is ripe for hearing at today’s meeting.

The branch leadership has issued a notice that henceforth attendance at meetings and other branch events would be on presentation of the branch identity card. In a notice obtained by CITY LAWYER and signed by Assistant Secretary Barbara Abayomi, the branch stated that “in light of the current circumstances, and in order to ensure full participation in branch activities, members will now be required to present their valid branch identity cards to gain access to and participate in all branch events and meetings.” It warned that “this requirement takes effect immediately and will be strictly enforced.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that the Branch Welfare Secretary Godwin Odimabo has allegedly warned that the branch leadership would invite Armed Forces personnel to enforce the requirement.

The alleged invitation has raised dust within the branch, with a member saying: “This is my problem with the overzealous in our Branch. This threat, in my opinion, is condemnable and I condemn it with every fibre in me. What is it in aid of really? Why do we have to see threats of violence to members in the run up to our elections? Seems some people have not outgrown the cult infested/aluta Students Union/Campus politics. So we’ll involve soldiers in our affairs and when they manhandle lawyers tomorrow, we’ll wonder why it happened.”

When CITY LAWYER contacted Odimabo on the alleged invitation of soldiers, he said: “I am asking you where you see (sic) the information or who gave you, you have not answered me. I am not aware of what you are talking about. Let the person who gave you the information confirm what you want.”

But some branch members allege that the latest requirement is a ploy to allow only pro-Benibo members into today’s crucial meeting.

At least one Bar Leader and chairmanship candidate for the forthcoming branch elections, Cordelia Eke has challenged the requirement, raising several posers. She wondered why members are being restricted from attending branch meetings “just before Branch elections when they should be encouraged to participate in the activities?”

Asking whether a Branch Chairman and Secretary can “take such an arbitrary decision without recourse to the House,” Eke wondered whether the notice is “not setting the stage for confusion before Branch elections.” She also alleged that there are reports of financial members who applied for ID card since January “and the cards are not ready as at today. What happens to such persons?

“One would have thought that this EXCO would concern itself more about putting its reports together and providing ID cards for all members who applied for same, before the elections, rather than taking such steps as contained in the published notice. I am therefore appealing to elders of the Bar to intervene on this issue so that we can avoid confusion during this transition period in the Branch.”

Meanwhile, the branch leadership has petitioned some arrowheads of Transparency Lawyers Initiative to the NBA Ethics and Disciplinary Committee, alleging infamous conduct, cyber bullying and “mutilation of branch attendance register” among others. The group has been in the forefront of the quest for a probe of the branch chairman over allegation of corruption.

But the leader of the group, one Comrade Chetam Thierry Nwala, vowed not to back down, saying the petition is designed to intimidate him and his members. In a post obtained by CITY LAWYER and titled “WHY THE STRUGGLE WITH NBA PH BRANCH CHAIRMAN AND SECRETARY?” Nwala wrote: “All I and my team have demanded from the NBA Chairman Mr. Viktor Benibo and Chinwe Omodu is transparency and accountability.

“This is a picture of the newly deroofed and reroof NBA PH House, that the Chairman claimed to have spent over 28 Million.

“A closer look at the picture shows that a part of the roof was reroofed with old roofing sheets and the rest with substandard materials. Without the help of an expert even a layman could tell the difference.

“This is the reason we have called for an Independent Investigative Panel of Enquiry but rather than set up one, they have resorted to all means of grandstanding and intimidation.

“They wrote petitions to the LPDC against us, now they have written to the Police to arrest me. The truth is, by the grace of God, I am not easily intimidated.

“Mr. Viktor Benibo and Chinwe Omodu should recuse themselves and allow for an investigation, that has been our simple call. These measures will not help them.

“It is time well-meaning leaders of the Bar speak up.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that the crisis rocking the branch may not be unconnected with the forthcoming Branch Elections scheduled for Thursday, June 27, 2024.

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AFAM OSIGWE IN KADUNA, CONSOLES AG ON FIRE OUTBREAK

NEWS RELEASE

AFAM OSIGWE, SAN COMMISERATES WITH THE KADUNA STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL OVER FIRE INCIDENT

Afam Osigwe (SAN) paid a visit to the Attorney General of Kaduna State, Sule Shu’aibu, SAN, at the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday, 28th May 2024. The visit was to commiserate with the ministry, following the devastating fire outbreak that gutted part of the building and destroyed valuable records.

During the visit, the learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria expressed his sympathy over the incident, recognizing the significant impact it has on the administration of justice in Kaduna State. The destruction of important records is a severe setback, not only to the ministry but also to the legal community and the public at large.

The learned Senior Advocate of Nigeria emphasized the importance of the Ministry of Justice in upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice for all citizens. He acknowledged the hard work and dedication of the ministry’s staff and expressed hope for a swift recovery and restoration of the damaged infrastructure and records.

Mr. Sule Shu’aibu SAN expressed gratitude for the visit and the words of encouragement from Afam Osigwe SAN. He assured that the ministry is taking all necessary steps to recover from the incident, including initiating measures to prevent future occurrences and exploring ways to restore lost records.

Afam Osigwe also highlighted the need for enhanced safety measures and better infrastructure to safeguard critical records and assets within judicial institutions.

The visit underscored the solidarity within the legal community and the shared commitment to overcoming challenges and ensuring the continuous and effective delivery of justice.

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NBA ELECTION: SABASTINE ANYIA ASKS LAWYERS TO VERIFY DATA

VERIFY YOUR DATA

1. Visit www.ecnba.org/prel.vot.list.search.php or visit www.ecnba.org

2. Click search

3. Insert SCN number starting with SCN…then click submit button

4. Confirm phone number & email address. If landline number, change to GSM number. Add +234. Do not include the first zero on your phone number.

5. For corrections, click the Green Banner Indicator, fill the form.

6. Verification runs from 28th May, 2024

7. For support contact info@ecnba.org

If in difficulties, consult Sabastine Anyia Esq.

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NBA IKORODU CHAIR ELECTION: ADEOLA’S REVOLUTIONARY MANIFESTO

Dear Distinguished Colleagues,

Permit me to once again address you all, particularly in my capacity as the Spokesperson for Ms. Olawunmi Adeola Strategic Team.

As you are all aware, Ms. Olawunmi Adeola has crossed the hurdles of Appeal after her disqualification by the Branch Electoral Committee and has now been reinstated to run for the 2024 Ikorodu Branch General Election.

I hereby use this channel to officially unveil her TWELVE POINTS MANIFESTO on emergence as the Branch Chairman. This Manifesto will undoubtedly be the road map for the Branch in the next dispensation (next two years).

Additionally, may I once again solicit your continued support for her and more importantly your VOTES for her to emerge as the Chairman-Elect come 3rd June, 2024.

This is not just an election, it’s a revolution for change.

Be part of positive history, and you’ll be glad you did.

Thank you.

L. O. Jaiyeola, Esq.
Spokesperson, The Strategic Team

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BREAKING: COURT BARS AWOMOLO FROM REMOVING ALEGEH AS BENCHERS’ C’TE CHAIR

  • ‘REMOVE AWOMOLO AS BENCHERS’ CHAIR UNTIL ….,’ ALEGEH BEGS COURT

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has barred the Body of Benchers and its Chairman, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN from removing former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN as the Chairman of the Benchers Appointment Committee.

In the ruling obtained by CITY LAWYER, the court held “That an Order of Interim Injunction is granted restraining the Defendants from removing the Plaintiff/Applicant and/or interfering with his duties as Chairman of the Body of benchers appointment committee during his tenure from 28th March, 2024 to 27th March, 2027, pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction.”

Justice Ambrose Lewis-Allagoa granted the order following an ex-parte application brought by Alegeh.

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report noted how Alegeh disagreed sharply with the recent reconstitution of the Body of Benchers committees by Awomolo. The Body of Benchers Chairman had during the reconstitution exercise appointed respected Bar Leader, Mr. Yusuf Ali SAN in Alegeh’s stead.

But in a fiery protest letter dated 2nd May, 2024 Alegeh warned on the dangers of side-stepping the Rule of Law, saying “that I accepted to serve the full term of three [3] years and I have not resigned my appointment as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers Appointment Committee. I believe there must be an error which I respectfully request should be corrected immediately.”

In the clearest indication that he was ready to do battle over the matter, he vowed that “I therefore would continue to act as Chairman of the Committee in the terms stated in my Letter of Appointment.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that the committee met last Wednesday and notwithstanding some altercations, Alegeh held court and spearheaded proceedings during the meeting.

Though Alegeh had also urged the court to bar Awomolo “from further acting as Chairman off (sic) the Body of Benchers pending the hearing and determination of the Motion on Notice for Interlocutory Injunction,” the court deferred consideration of the prayer till hearing of the motion.

Justice Lewis-Allagoa adjourned the matter to July 8, 2024 for hearing of the Motion on Notice.

The Motion Ex-parte was dated May 21, 2024 while the ruling is dated 27th May, 2024. Named as defendants in the suit are Awomolo and Body of Benchers. 

In a letter dated 28th March, 2024 and titled “APPOINTMENT TO SERVE AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS APPOINTMENT COMMITTEE,” Alegeh was named as the Chairman of the all-important committee.

Signed by Mr. Daniel Tela, the Secretary of the Body of Benchers, the letter stated that the appointment “shall be for a period of three (3) years.” The former NBA helmsman accepted the appointment the same day and vowed to “discharge the functions of the office with great responsibility and commitment to the ideals of the Body of Bencher.”

However, less than six weeks in the saddle, the Life Bencher was yanked off the seat through the reconstitution exercise by Awomolo. The exercise was communicated to benchers through an email by Tela.

Tela had told CITY LAWYER that the Body of Benchers was aware of Alegeh’s May 2, 2024 letter and would tackle all the issues raised. His words: “We are in receipt of the letter and the attention of the Chairman has been drawn to it. The issues raised will be addressed by the Chairman.”

 

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BENCHERS’ C’TE HOSTS SESSION FOR YOUNG LAWYERS ON MENTORING SCHEME

NEWS RELEASE

BODY OF BENCHERS MENTORING COMMITTEE HOSTS SUCCESSFUL BRIEFING SESSION FOR YOUNG LAWYERS ON THE FORTHCOMING MENTORING PROGRAMME

The well advertised Briefing Session on the 2nd edition of the Mentoring Programme for young lawyer organized by the Mentoring Committee of the prestigious Body of Benchers was held on Tuesday, May 28, 2024.

The virtual Session was attended by prominent personalities including the Chair of the Body, Asiwaju Adegboyega
Awomolo, SAN; the Mentoring Committee Chair of the Body, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama, OFR, SAN; the former Chief Judge of Delta State, Hon. Justice Marshal Umukoro, Rtd.; Mrs. Mfon Usoro, a Bencher; the Secretary of the Body, Daniel M. Tela, Esq., among others.

In his briefing as the Mentoring Committee Chair, Chief J-K Gadzama, SAN highlighted the guidelines and modalities for the Mentoring Programme, stating that successful applicants will be paired with Life Benchers and Benchers (from the Bar, the Bench, the Academia or the Parliament) across the country as mentees and mentors for the duration of the mentoring program. He further stated that it is within the discretion of the mentors to conduct the programme physically, virtually or hybrid.

While noting the apt timing of the Programme geared towards providing positive guidance for young lawyers and promoting best standards in Law Practice, Chief Gadzama pointed out that the benefits of the Mentoring Programme includes guidance and support, skill development, career advancement, networking, confidence building, goal setting and problem-solving.

The Briefing Session was very incisive and interactive as so many young lawyers from various parts of the country, who were in attendance, utilized the opportunity to ask career-optimizing questions to which elucidating answers were satisfactorily proffered by the members of the Body.

It is interesting that about 580 young lawyers have already registered for the Mentoring Programme including the Chairman of the Young Lawyers Forum (YLF), Abdulrauf Tijani Aboki, Esq. It is expected that with sufficient enlightenment and publicity among the young lawyers, the number of mentees for the 2nd edition of the program will be by far greater than that of the 1st held the previous year.

The Mentoring Programme, which is scheduled to last for 6 months, kicks off on Monday July 1, 2024.

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BODY OF BENCHERS: ALEGEH WINS, RETAKES SEAT AS COMMITTEE CHAIR

Life Bencher and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN has  retaken his seat as the Chairman of the Benchers Appointment Committee of the elite Body of Benchers, CITY LAWYER can report.

CITY LAWYER had in an exclusive report noted how Alegeh had disagreed sharply with the recent reconstitution of the Body of Benchers committees by its Chairman, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN.

He queried his removal as Chairman of the Benchers Appointment Committee, noting that he is yet to serve out his three-year tenure as the duly appointed chairman of the committee.

Citing several alleged infractions of the Benchers Regulations 2024, the former NBA helmsman wrote: “I am surprised to see that whereas my tenure has not expired, my respected big brother and Life Bencher, Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN, whom I hold in very high esteem, and who has a rich history of respect for the Rule of Law, was published in your email as the “Chairman” of the same Committee.”

But CITY LAWYER gathered that Alegeh is now back in the saddle as the Benchers Appointment Committee Chairman.

An impeccable source who is familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that though a recent meeting of the committee started on a feisty note, Alegeh later retook the mantle of leadership and spearheaded the meeting.

The source said there were “initial altercations” on the leadership question, adding that Alegeh however “presided over the very successful meeting” which held last Wednesday at 11 am at the Body of Benchers Complex in Abuja.

THISDAY reports that the meeting was attended by former NBA President Okey Wali SAN; Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN; Hon. Justice Adamu Galinje, JSC (Rtd); Hon. Justice Fatima Abubakar, CJ (Rtd); Tijani Inuwa Dutse; Chief John Ochoga; Lady Debbie Obodoukwu; Prof. Ogugua Ikpeze; Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba, SAN and Senator Edward Pwajok, SAN. The committee has scheduled its next meeting for Wednesday, 26 June, 2024.

Alegeh had vowed that he would not relinquish the position without a fight, saying that “I therefore would continue to act as Chairman of the Committee in the terms stated in my Letter of Appointment.”

Body of Benchers Secretary Daniel Tela had told CITY LAWYER that the Body of Benchers was aware of Alegeh’s May 2, 2024 letter and would tackle all the issues raised. His words: “We are in receipt of the letter and the attention of the Chairman has been drawn to it. The issues raised will be addressed by the Chairman.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that Awomolo had however expressed displeasure over our report on the matter, stating that it breached the Cybercrimes Act and that the controversial email was a “private” communication among benchers.

It is unclear how the Body of Benchers leadership will address the position of respected Bar Leader, Mr. Yusuf Ali SAN who was appointed by Awomolo as the Chairman of the Benchers Appointment Committee. The issue may take the front burner at the next Body of Benchers meeting said to have been slated for June 27, 2024.

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ECNBA SETS JUNE 3 DEADLINE FOR VOTER VERIFICATION

NEWS RELEASE

VERIFICATION OF VOTER DATA FOR THE 2024 NBA GENERAL ELECTIONS

Distinguished Colleagues,

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has published on its website ECNBA Notice 8 – requesting all members to proceed to verify their personal details and data on the Voters’ Database.

According to the ECNBA, “This verification is crucial to ensure the accuracy and integrity of our voter database of members and to facilitate a smooth and transparent election.”

To verify your details on the Voters’ List, kindly click on the link below
and follow the prompts to verify and update your information where
necessary. Please go to www.ecnba.org/prel.vot.list.search.php

You may also visit www.ecnba.org and click on “Voters List.”

The ECNBA Notice 8 contains further guides, and it is attached.

Thank you.

Akorede Habeeb Lawal
National Publicity Secretary, NBA

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AFAM OSIGWE IN ZARIA, PREACHES BETTER REMUNERATION FOR LAWYERS

NEWS RELEASE

Afam Osigwe, SAN Leads Panel Session on Improved Legal Remuneration at Nigerian Bar Association Zaria Branch Law Week

The Chairman of the Remuneration Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, Afam Osigwe SAN, took center stage as the lead presenter during the panel session at the Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association, Zaria Branch. The session focused on the critical topic: “Improved Legal Remuneration: A Pivot for Quality Legal Service Delivery and a Tool for Fair Dispensation of Justice in Nigeria.”

In his comprehensive presentation, Afam Osigwe SAN delved into the multifaceted issue of legal remuneration, underscoring its fundamental role in enhancing the quality of legal services and ensuring the fair dispensation of justice. He began by highlighting the current challenges faced by legal practitioners in Nigeria, including inadequate compensation, which often leads to a myriad of issues such as reduced motivation, increased susceptibility to unethical practices, and overall decline in service quality.

Afam emphasized that improved remuneration for legal practitioners is not merely a matter of financial gain but a critical factor that influences the entire justice system. He argued that well-compensated lawyers are more likely to be committed, diligent, and ethical in their practice, which in turn leads to better representation for clients and a more efficient justice delivery system.

He proposed several strategies for achieving improved legal remuneration in Nigeria. These included advocating for the enforcement of the Remuneration Order 2023, policy changes that ensure fair compensation, and fostering a culture of continuous professional development that justifies higher pay through increased expertise and efficiency.

The session also featured a lively interactive segment where participants engaged in a robust discussion on the practical steps that can be taken to implement the ideas presented. Attendees, including young lawyers, senior advocates, and judiciary members, shared their perspectives and experiences, enriching the dialogue with diverse viewpoints.

Afam Osigwe SAN reiterated the importance of collective action and persistent advocacy in achieving the goal of improved legal remuneration. He called on the Nigerian Bar Association and other stakeholders to prioritize this issue as a means to uplift the legal profession and ensure that justice is not only done but seen to be done.

The panel session was a highlight of the Law Week, providing valuable insights and sparking important conversations about the future of legal practice in Nigeria. It underscored the crucial link between fair compensation and the overall health of the justice system, and the need for continued efforts to address this pivotal issue.

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‘YOUNG LAWYERS UNIQUELY POSITIONED TO SHAPE LEGAL PROFESSION,’ SAYS AFAM OSIGWE

NEWS RELEASE

Young Lawyers are Uniquely Positioned to Shape and Navigate the Legal Profession: Afam Osigwe, SAN, at the Nigerian Bar Association Young Lawyers’ Forum, Awka Branch Dinner

Afam Osigwe, SAN, delivered the keynote speech at the Dinner of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Young Lawyers’ Forum Awka Branch summit. The theme of this year’s summit was “The Role of the Young Lawyer in Contemporary/Modern Practice,” held on the 25th of May, 2024.

Although Afam Osigwe, SAN, could not attend in person, he was represented by Mrs. Amaka Ezeno, who eloquently conveyed his insights to an enthusiastic audience of young legal professionals.

In his address, Afam Osigwe, SAN, emphasized several critical areas where young lawyers can make significant contributions to contemporary legal practice:

1. Adaptation to Technology:
The learned silk underscored the necessity for young lawyers to embrace technological advancements. He highlighted the importance of being proficient with legal tech tools such as legal research databases, case management software, and e-filing systems, which are essential for enhancing efficiency and staying competitive in the modern legal landscape.

2. Mentorship:
He stressed the value of mentorship in a young lawyer’s career. Afam Osigwe encouraged young lawyers to seek guidance and mentorship from more experienced colleagues. This relationship is vital for professional growth, offering valuable insights, support, and knowledge transfer that can shape a successful legal career.

3. Continuous Professional Development:
Continuous learning and professional development were key themes in Afam Osigwe’s speech. He advised young lawyers to engage in ongoing education through attending workshops, obtaining certifications, and specializing in niche areas of law. This commitment to lifelong learning ensures that lawyers remain knowledgeable and adept at handling the complexities of modern legal issues.

4. Ethical Responsibility:
Maintaining high ethical standards is paramount, Afam noted. He emphasized that integrity and professionalism are the cornerstones of legal practice. Young lawyers must adhere to ethical guidelines and conduct themselves with honesty and fairness, building trust and a solid reputation within the legal community and with clients.

5. Social Responsibility:
Beyond their professional duties, Afam called on young lawyers to engage in social responsibility. He highlighted the role of lawyers in advocating for justice and contributing to the betterment of society. Participation in pro bono work, public interest litigation, and community service were presented as ways young lawyers can make a meaningful impact.

Mrs. Amaka Ezeno’s delivery of Afam Osigwe’s address resonated deeply with the attendees, offering practical advice and encouraging young lawyers to embrace these key areas in their professional journeys. Her presentation reinforced the significance of these themes in navigating the evolving demands of contemporary legal practice.

The summit provided a platform for vibrant discussions, networking, and the exchange of ideas among young lawyers. It served as a reminder of the dynamic nature of the legal profession and the crucial role that young lawyers play in shaping its future.

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‘LET’S PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ABUSE, EXPLOITATION’ – AFAM OSIGWE

NEWS RELEASE

WE MUST PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ALL FORMS OF ABUSE, NEGLECT AND EXPLOITATION – AFAM OSIGWE, SAN ON CHILDREN’S DAY

Today, as we celebrate the joy, innocence, and boundless potential of every child, it is crucial to reflect on the responsibilities we hold towards ensuring their well-being and future. Every child deserves to grow up in a safe, nurturing environment where their rights are respected and protected.

The Child Rights Act, which enshrines the fundamental rights of children to education, health care, protection from abuse, and the opportunity to participate in decisions affecting their lives, is a vital framework for safeguarding their future. Yet, for many children, these rights remain unfulfilled promises.

On this special day, let us renew our commitment to prompt and full implementation of the Child Rights Act across all regions. It is our collective duty to ensure that every child has access to quality education. Let us work towards building schools, training teachers, and providing the resources needed to create an inclusive and supportive learning environment for all children.

We should also ensure that healthcare services are available to all children, ensuring they grow up healthy and strong. This includes regular medical check-ups, vaccinations, and nutrition programs.

Children must be protected from all forms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. We need robust systems in place to safeguard children’s rights and ensure their safety in all settings, whether at home, in school, or the community.

Children also have the right to express their opinions and be heard in matters affecting their lives. Let us create spaces where children can freely share their thoughts and participate actively in decision-making processes.

As we honor our children today, let us renew our commitment to making their rights a reality. By working together—governments, communities, families, and individuals—we can create a world where every child is empowered to achieve their full potential.

Remember, the future belongs to our children, and it is our actions today that will shape their tomorrow. Let’s make it a future filled with hope, opportunity, and love.

Happy Children’s Day!

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AFAM OSIGWE CONDEMNS KIDNAP OF SOKOTO LAWYER

NEWS RELEASE

AFAM OSIGWE CONDEMNS THE ABDUCTION OF RUKAYYAT MUSTAFA ESQ. IN SOKOTO: SAYS ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

I strongly condemn the abduction of our colleague, Rukayyat Mustafa, on Sunday, 26th May 2024. She was taken from her residence in Bado, Sokoto by suspected bandits around 1:00 AM. Ferdinand Okotete, a Notary Public and the Principal Partner of the law firm where Rukayyat is employed confirmed the incident. The assailants abducted her to an unknown location, leaving her family and colleagues in distress.

This event follows my recent call for improved security after the murder of Mr. Awa Peter Awa in Anambra and the abduction of Mr. Rolland Ipuole in Calabar. Attacks on legal practitioners highlight the urgent need to address the broader insecurity in our country.

Rukayyat is a dedicated lawyer known for her commitment to justice. Her abduction is an attack on the rule of law and our profession.

I urge authorities to ensure her safe release and bring the perpetrators to justice. The state must take decisive action against such criminalities. Enough is enough. Law enforcement must show their commitment to citizens’ safety. Criminal elements have made some areas lawless and dangerous. The state must act to protect us and eradicate these threats.

I demand a swift investigation and call on the Sokoto State Police Command and other security agencies to expedite efforts to apprehend the culprits and secure Rukayyat’s release.

I also call on the government to enhance security measures to protect citizens. Lawyers as well as other persons are increasingly becoming very vulnerable in the face of seemingly unrelenting violent attacks, kidnappings, and other forms of criminalities. Ensuring the safety of citizens especially those who work for peace and order in our society should be paramount to maintaining the rule of law and public confidence in our judicial system.

My thoughts and prayers are with Rukayyat and her family during this difficult time.

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NBA PORT HARCOURT ELECTORAL C’TE UNVEILS CORDELIA EKE, OTHERS’ MANIFESTOS

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Branch has published the manifestos and curriculum vitae of gladiators for the forthcoming branch elections scheduled for June 27, 2024.

Also unveiled by the committee are the campaign flyers of the candidates already cleared for the election.

Among those whose manifestos have been unveiled is the pioneer female branch secretary Cordelia Eke who is aspiring to make history as also the pioneer female chairman of the highly influential branch.

Others to slug it out with Eke, who is viewed as a leading candidate, are Geoffrey Joseph and Felicia Nwoke.

Among the list of candidates whose manifestos were published are Ezechimenum Adums, Chijioke Amadi, Modupe Babalola, Elijah Briggs, Kelechi Chinule, Mary Samuel and Cordelia Eke. Others are Cleopas Esu, Atonye Ezekiel-Hart, Francis Ibekwe-Allagoa, Emmanuel John, Geoffrey Joseph, Nnenda Kejeh, Felicia Nwoke, Obumneme Nwoye and David Onyema.

While Amadi and John are to slug it out for the position of Vice Chairman, Briggs and Nwoye will duel for the influential position of Branch Secretary.

The race for Assistant Secretary is between Esu and Ibekwe-Allagoa while Babalola and Ezekiel-Hart will battle for the position of Financial Secretary.

Candidates who are going into the election as unopposed include Chinule (Publicity Secretary), Onyema (Welfare Secretary), Kejeh (Treasurer), Mary Dikibo (Social Secretary) and Adums (Provost).

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NBA IKORODU: APPEALS C’TE DISQUALIFIES CHAIR ASPIRANT, APPROVES OTHERS

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Election Appeal Committee (West) has upheld the disqualification of chairmanship aspirant Blessing Ene by the NBA Ikorodu Branch Election Committee, leaving three candidates to head into the forthcoming branch chairmanship elections.

CITY LAWYER gathered that Ene was disqualified on the basis of “the inability of her sponsor to meet the requirement of attendance at meetings and not his post call age.”

Meanwhile, the committee has upheld the appeal of Olawunmi Adeola over her disqualification as a chairmanship candidate. Adeola will now head into the tripodal poll against Ezeikel Ogbaide and Adebowale Aromolaran for the chairmanship race.

In its ruling, the committee held that “Blessing Ene Esq., was rightly disqualified by the Committee as her sponsor did not meet the Constitutional requirements for attendance at meetings contained in Article 14 of the Uniform byelaw for Branches, Sections and Fora.”

On Adeola, the committee held that the “substance” of her appeal was whether her sponsor “in the name of Theresa Ngozi Ojeikere is one and the same person as Tessy Ngozi Osakwe.”

Ruling on the appeal which had a similar ground as another appeal by branch Publicity Secretary candidate Lukman Jaiyeola, the committee held as follows: “the Committee by a unanimous decision of members hereby allow the appeals, set aside the decision of the Branch Election Committee of the Ikorodu Branch and direct that:

“a. Theresa Ngozi Ojeikere is one and the same as Tessy Ngozi Osakwe; Osakwe being her maiden surname more so that the Ikorodu Branch at different times have addressed the same person by both names

“b. There is no inconsistence (sic) as to the owner and holder of the Branch Dues receipt issued in the name of Theresa Ngozi Ojeikere, and the attendance register in the name of Tessy Ngozi Osakwe as they are one and the same person

“c. The disqualification of the Appellants on the sole ground of inconsistency in the name of the sponsor, Theresa Ngozi Ojeikere vis a vis, the contents of Annexure F1 and F2, the explanation by the Branch Financial secretary who issued the Branch receipt under reference, is improper.

“d. The Appellants, Adeola Olawunmi Esq and Lukman Jaiyeola Esq., were properly sponsored by Theresa Ngozi Ojeikere also known as Tessy Ngozi Osakwe.

“ORDER: That Adeola Olawunmi Esq., and Lukman Jaiyeola Esq., having been wrongly disqualified by the Election Committee, their disqualification from contesting the position of Chairman and Publicity Secretary respectively, is hereby quashed. We hereby reinstate Adeola Olawunmi Esq., and Lukman Jaiyeola Esq,. to the electioneering process/ballot.”

The Vice Chairmanship race is a straight fight between fiery Akinola Olajide and Olamipo Kazim while Michael Olamona and Khany Thany will slug it out for the position of Branch Secretary.

Esther Afolabi and Sophia Osobase will duel for the position of Social Secretary while the disqualification of Lukman Jaiyeola as the sole aspirant for the position of Publicity Secretary was annulled by the Appeal Committee.

CITY LAWYER investigation shows that other candidates who have won their positions as sole candidates even before the opening of the ballot are Omobisola Adetula (Financial Secretary); Tiwatope Ebinum (Treasurer); Victoria Onerije (Welfare Secretary), and Monsurat Ayeni (Assistant Secretary).

The Appeal committee has Mr. Ama Etuwewe, SAN as Chairman while Catherine Ogunjebi is the Secretary. Other members are Dele Oloke (Alternate Chairman), Rotimi Olorunfemi, Folake Abiodun, Dotun Adetunji, K. Ajose, Akintokunbo Oluwole, Oluwatoyin Omomehin, Mena Ajakpovi and Isitor Raymond.

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NBA AGC TO HOLD AT TAFAWA BALEWA SQUARE, LAGOS

The 2024 Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will hold between August 23 and 28 at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos, CITY LAWYER can report.

Originally called “Race Course” because it was initially used as a horse racing ground, the Tafawa Balewa Square is a rectangular 3.9615 hectares ceremonial ground. It is constructed of mass concrete with 6 entrance gates into the parade ground. 

TBS also has a pavilion with a sitting capacity of 55,000.00 people and a multi-purpose hall with a floor space of 1,289.61 square metres. It also has a school building with floor space of  220 square metres. The once iconic facility was concessioned to Build Hope Services International Limited (BHS) “to efficiently maintain the Tafawa Balewa Square Complex for 30 years and provide additional facilities that will improve the use of the complex for the benefit of the general public.”

There are however strong indications that this dream has not been realised, as the facility has not attained the world-class status anticipated prior to the concession.

In a March 2023 investigative report, THE PUCH reported that “Tafawa Balewa Square, the once beautiful pride of Nigeria, is a shadow of its former self,” adding that “Nigeria’s independence monument has failed to fulfill its world-class tourist site potential.”

Continuing, the newspaper states that “Although it remains distinctive, Tafawa Balewa Square, which is located at 45/57 Massey Bamgboshe Street on Lagos Island, Lagos has become a shadow of itself. The sight of hawkers, hooligans, food vendors, watch repairers, itinerant cobblers, and commercial tricycle riders taking over the entrance of this monument has overwhelmed its splendour.

“The walls devoid of paint, the concrete buildings attempting to hide protruding irons, and deteriorated gates which have been replaced with iron bars paint a picture of the current despicable state of Tafawa Balewa Square.”

It is however not all sad tales about the AGC venue, as the report notes that “Despite the dilapidated state of the square, the square occasionally hosts large public events and gatherings such as political rallies and church programmes. Notable among them is the Experience, a gospel musical concert organised annually by the House on The Rock Church on the first Friday in December.”

While the forthcoming AGC has been overshadowed by the controversy over high fees especially for young lawyers, with NBA Ikeja and Warri branches vowing to boycott the event due to the controversial fees, CITY LAWYER observes that, aside from massive traffic gridlock, perhaps the biggest challenge for the AGC Planning Committee (AGCPC) is how to ward of the itinerant and die-hard miscreants that dot the TBS axis.

This is moreso as the TBS is in central Lagos where the miscreants have easy access, unlike the more detached and exclusive Victoria Island neighbourhood where the 2022 Annual Conference was held.

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LAWYERS IN BUSINESS INSTITUTE (LIBI) LAND-BANKING SCHEME FOR LAWYERS AND OTHER PROFESSIONALS

The Lawyers In Business Institute [LIBI] is about driving group investment, knowledge for earning, innovation, skills, Tech, multiple streams of income and a more dignified life for members.

Landed Property is a sure way to bank your money in this unstable economy. Money kept in the Bank is simply wasting. Land-Banking is your surest bet.

Call/Chat:08060266163
Visit: Suite A8, Kenuj Mall, Behind Games Village Abuja.

If we recommend any investment, it means we guarantee authenticity and undertake to pay you back should anything turn out wrong. This is the trust with which you should deal and deal fast!!

In Abuja, we have some Plots of Land that we have acquired, which members can own individually or in a group of 15 members/100 Members.

OUR LAND IS WITH FCDA ALLOCATION, AND FCDA/DEVELOPMENT CONTROL APPROVED BUILDING PLAN.

Our Land Banking Scheme is Open to everyone including non-Lawyers and “Anonymous Members/Subscribers” of LIBI, who don’t want their names put out there.

You can pick as many slots as possible!!

At the Elite Group, 15 OF US CONTRIBUTE ONE MILLION NAIRA EACH TO BUY THE 300SQM PLOT [LOTUS] FOR 3 BED FULLY DETTACHED DUPLEX, CONVERTIBLETO 4 BED DUPLEX FOR FAMILY OR 1 BEDROOM FLAT DOWN STAIRS AND ANOTHER TWO BEDROOM FLAT UPSTAIRS FOR RENT.

WITH 15 MILLION NAIRA, WE WILL BE ABLE TO BUY, EXCAVATE, SET OUT AND BUILD TO DPC AND MAYBE START THE FENCE, THEN SELL LATER AND SHARE PROFIT according to how many slots one picked.

Kindly click below to join our LIBI ELITE LAND-BANKING SCHEME
https://chat.whatsapp.com/FsLGwIDrFQ7KzZeU1JRzYF

Bellow is the General LAND-BANKING Group of 100k Contribution by 100 persons to own their own Plot and share profit later.
https://chat.whatsapp.com/JSAM91XdOcsBVTDKQ5HfLX

Our Land is Situate between the boundaries of Galadimawa and Lugbe Abuja.

Please Note: it is only payment that confirms you have a slot[s].

All payments are made into Lawyers in Business International: 6060440751. Fidelity Bank.

As you pay, plan to attend our Physical/Hybrid meeting slated for 6th June 2024, at Royalton Hotel, 16 Gongola Street, Area 2Garki Abuja. Time is 4:Pm Dot.

Call/Chat: 08060266163.
Visit suit A8 Kenuj Mall, Behind Games Village Abuja.

Silas Agbara Esq.
[Director, Solar For All Ltd/ Convener, Lawyers In Business Institute]

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SOLAR4ALL: MUSIBAU ADETUNBI SAN (RAJI CHAMBERS ABUJA/IBADAN) IS OUR “STAR CLIENT OF THE WEEK”

FEATURED

We were at the brand new Abuja office of the cerebral Silk, Musibau Adetunbi SAN, for a 5KVA Solar System installation to power one Air Conditioner and other basics in the new office.

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  • The views expressed in this featured report are entirely those of the author.

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MAIKYAU UNVEILS NBA-ICLE VIRTUAL LIBRARY DONATED BY OLANIWUN AJAYI LP

NEWS RELEASE

NBA PRESIDENT IMPLEMENTS NBA-ICLE PARTNERSHIP WITH OLANIWUN AJAYI LP, LAUNCHES VIRTUAL LAW LIBRARY

Following the recent partnership between the Nigerian Bar Association Institute of Continuing Legal Education (NBA-ICLE) with Olaniwun Ajayi LP to develop a centralised digital repository for legal resources, the NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau (OON) has launched the NBA-ICLE Virtual Library. The NBA President announced the launch yesterday in an email to all Nigerian lawyers.

The Virtual Law Library features a comprehensive collection of NBA-ICLE training materials developed from multiple trainings carried out under the leadership of the Chairman of the NBA-ICLE Board, Tobenna Erojikwe. The training materials, including carefully-curated PowerPoint presentations, and multiple resource documents from previous trainings of the NBA-ICLE, are available for free download for all lawyers. The library will be managed by the NBA Technology (IT) Unit, and will further be regularly updated with materials supplied by the NBA-ICLE, to ensure that the content of the library remains up-to-date and relevant.

The launch of the Virtual Library is expected to, amongst numerous other benefits, further democratize access to crucial legal knowledge to members of the NBA for self and professional development. In so doing, the NBA-ICLE would have succeeded in achieving one of its crucial goals: ensuring the members of the Association consistently have access to materials for self-development and expand their knowledge base.

The NBA-ICLE is grateful to the leadership of the NBA and the host of stakeholders, including various partners, sponsors and facilitators whose efforts saw to the development of the NBA-ICLE materials now hosted on the NBA Virtual Law Library.

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EMIR: ‘COURT ORDER STALLING SANUSI’S RETURN RAISES LEGAL ISSUES’ – UDEMEZUE

IN RE “COURT STOPS KANO GOVERNMENT FROM REINSTATING SANUSI”: LEGAL AND PROFESSIONAL ISSUES IMMEDIATELY ARISING

By Sylvester Udemezue

A breaking news carried by The Nation Newspapers on 23 May 2024 under the head, “KANO GOVERNOR REINSTATES SANUSI AS EMIR” had it that “Kano State Governor, Abba Yusuf, on Thursday, May 23, reinstated former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Lamido Sanusi as the 14th Emir of Kano. Sanusi was dethroned by the Abdullahi Ganduje-led administration that created an additional four emirates.

Yusuf on Thursday dethroned Alh. Aminu Ado Bayero and four other first-class emirs in the state. He gave the sacked monarchs 48 hours to hand over to the deputy governor and vacate the palaces. Governor Yusuf announced this after signing the proposed Kano State Emirate Council Law 2024 passed by the Kano State House of Assembly into law”. The same report had appeared in several other newspapers, including Punch, The Sun, Guardian, Vanguard, Daily Trust,, Leadership, etc on the same 23 May 2024. However, at about 01.52am on 24 May 2024, another breaking news published by dockaysworld.com.ng under the head, “COURT STOPS KANO GOVERNMENT FROM REINSTATING SANUSI” emerged with the following report:

‘A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has granted an ex-parte order stopping the Kano State Government from reinstating Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II. According to DAILY NIGERIAN, Justice Liman gave the order on Thursday night despite the fact that he is reportedly in the US. The case was filed by a traditional title holder, the Sarkin Dawaki Babba, Aminu Babba-Dan’Agundi. Granting the order, the judge granted leave to the Plaintiff/Applicant to issue and serve their Concurrent Originating Motion as well as all other court processes on the 6th Defendant (IGP) in FCT Abuja and outside the jurisdiction of the Honourable Court.

“That parties are hereby ordered to maintain status quo ante the passage the and assent of the bill into pending hearing of the Fundamental Rights application.

“That In view of the Constitutional and Jurisdictional Issues apparent on the face of the application, parties shall address the Court on same at the hearing of the Fundamental Rights application which is fixed for the 3rd of June, 2024.

“That in order to maintain the peace and security of the state, an Interim Injunction of this Honourable Court is granted restraining the Respondents from enforcing, executing, implementing and operationalizing the Kano State Emirate Law Council (Repeal) Law.

“That parties are hereby ordered to maintain status quo ante the passage and assent of the bill into pending the hearing of the Fundamental Rights application. The judge therefore adjourned the case is adjourned to 3rd day of June, 2024 for hearing of the Fundamental Rights application.’ The Suit No of the case is: FHC/KN/CS/182/2024 (ALHAJI AMINU BABBA DAN AGUNDI V. KANO STATE GOVERNMENT & 7 ORS).

QUESTIONS ARISING AND MY HUMBLE OBSERVATIONS

(1). Is this lawsuit not an abuse of the process of Court, considering that the subject matter is a chieftaincy dispute over which the Federal High Court does not, under any circumstances, have jurisdiction?

(2). If issue one is answered in the affirmative, does it not amount to professional misconduct for lawyers to have filed this case in the Federal High Court, considering the subject matter and the cause of action as reported?

(3). Is the presiding judge judge not equally guilty of unprofessionalism in having granted this application after having raised issues of jurisdiction, without resolving the jurisdictional issues raised?

(4). Was/Is this matter properly brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009?

(5). If the report that the order from the Federal High Court was granted in the night of 23 May 2024 is anything to go by, then the question arises as to whether an injunction can stop/restrain a completed act, considering that as of the time the Federal High Court made the said interim restraining order, Governor Yusuf had already signed the Bill into law as a well as reinstated Emir Sanusi Lamido? Is the restraining order not a sort of medicine after death?

MY OBSERVATIONS ON THE ISSUES

(1). ISSUE ONE: On whether this lawsuit is not an abuse of the process of Court, considering that the subject matter is a chieftaincy dispute over which the Federal High Court does not, under any circumstances, have jurisdiction, it is respectfully submitted that the suit is most likely an abuse of the process of Court by the Plaintiff. In my humble opinion, the Federal High Court does not seem to have jurisdiction in the matter; there is hardly any way one would frame the relief to succeed in bringing the suit within the jurisdictional competence of the Federal High Court of Nigeria. It’s a chieftaincy dispute, pure and simple, over which the Federal High Court is incompetent to adjudicate.

(2). ISSUE TWO: On whether it does not amount to professional misconduct for the Plaintiff’s lawyers to have filed this case in the Federal High Court, considering the subject matter and the cause of action as reported, I respectfully submit that the lawyers who filed the case may be considered to have committed an act of professional misconduct in view of the provisions of Rule 15 of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC), 2023. What’s the business of the Federal High Court in a chieftaincy dispute in Kano State? The lawyers knew/know or ought to know that under the Constitution the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is both EXCLUSIVE (meaning that it doesn’t share its jurisdiction with any other Court) and LIMITED, meaning that the Federal High Court is competent to hear ONLY disputes arising from or connected to the matters/items expressly listed in *SECTION 251(1) OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, 1999*. Chieftaincy disputes are clearly outside of it, every lawyer ought reasonably to know. Filing the suit at the Federal High Court is a form of disloyalty to the extant law, which is forbidden by *RULE 15(3)(a),* which provides that “a lawyer must not give service to the client which the lawyer knows or ought reasonably to know is capable of causing disloyalty to the law or bringing disrespect to the holder of any public office”. Also, by virtue of *RULE 15(1)(a)&(b),* a lawyer ought to keep strictly within the law notwithstanding any contrary instructions by his client and must use his best endeavours to prevent his client from causing a breach of the law”. Finally, *RULE 15(3)(b)&(c), RPC* provides that “a lawyer shall not file a suit or knowingly advance a Claim that is unwarranted under existing law”. In my opinion, the lawyers who filed the case at the FHC could be caught under the web of Rule 15 (1),(2)&(3) of the RPC, and as such may be qualified as candidates for professional legal disciplinary processes pursuant to Rule 74(1) RPC, 2023 which provides: “A lawyer who acts in contravention of the provisions of Chapter 1 of these Rules or fails to perform any of the duties imposed by that Chapter, commits professional misconduct and is liable to punishment as provided in the Legal Practitioners Act”. Types of professional misconduct in the legal profession and punishment for professional misconduct are provided for under *SECTIONS 12 AND 13 OF THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ACT, CAP L11, LDN, 2004*

(3). ISSUE THREE: On whether the presiding judge was not equally guilty of unprofessionalism in having granted this application after having raised issues of jurisdiction, and without resolving the jurisdictional issues raised, I respectful submit that the action of the presiding judge who reportedly made this order (that is, if the order was really made), may be viewed as a display of unprofessionalism and may also be seen to amount to a breach of the Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers. Rule 1(1.2) &(1.3) of the REVISED CODE OF CONDUCT FOR JUDICIAL OFFICERS OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA provides that “1.2. A Judge shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all of the Judge’s activities both in his professional and private life. 1.3 A Judicial Officer should respect and comply with the laws of the land and should conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary”. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Code dealing with APPLICATION OF THE CODE provides that “The Code applies to all categories of Judicial Officers throughout the Federation as defined in this Code. 2. *Violation of any of the Rules contained in this Code shall constitute judicial misconduct and or, misbehavior and shall attract disciplinary action”*

The judge in present case is quoted to have started by observing during the proceedings, that “…In view of the Constitutional and Jurisdictional Issues apparent on the face of the application, parties shall address the Court on same at the hearing of the Fundamental ights application which is fixed for the 3rd of June, 2024.” After this, the judge still, reportedly, went ahead to grant the injunctive orders sought by the Plaintiff/Applicant. It is my humble view that since the judge had found/agreed that the application raised Constitutional and especially JURISDICTIONAL issues (Thank God the judge had SUO MOTU raised the issue of jurisdiction, which is commendable), the judge ought to have waited to resolve the JURISDICTIONAL ISSUES before proceeding to grant such ex parte orders or any other at all in the lawsuit? With which jurisdiction did the judge grant the orders reportedly sought? Can a Court make any order when it has no jurisdiction? The law is (I respectfully submit) that where issues of jurisdiction are raised, the Court shall FIRST OF ALL settle them before going into the matter proper. See *OMOKHAFE V. MILITARY ADMINISTRATOR, EDO STATE* (2005) 2 MJSC, 173 at 176. Thus my lord, the Hon Justice Liman should have proceeded to resolve the jurisdictional issues before assuming jurisdiction on the matter. With due respect to the judge, granting an order of interim injunction when your jurisdiction is in issue is tantamount to assuming jurisdiction in the case, I respectfully submit. A court of law can sit over and entertain a case before it but only when it has jurisdiction over the matter. See *BRONIK MOTORS V. WEMA BANK* (1983) 6 SC, 158. Jurisdiction is fundamental in any proceeding and lack of it is fatal to such proceedings . See *OTUKPO V. JOHN* (2000) 8 NWLR (pt 669) 507 at 524. In *SANUSI V. AYOOLA* (1992) 9 NWLR (pt 265) 275, Ogwuegbu, JSC, held that where there is any defect in competence of a court to adjudicate on a matter, such defect is fatal and the proceedings a nullity, however well conducted and decided they may be. It is immaterial however sympathetic the cause or application may seem.

At this juncture, let’s draw an analogy from how Hon Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court had handled a lawsuit wherein an applicant sought an interim restraining order in circumstances similar to the present scenario. Madam Aisha Binani (Governorship candidate of the APC in 2023 in Adamawa State) and the APC had in a Motion Ex Parte marked *FHC/ABJ/CS/510/2023,* sued the Independent National Electoral Commission, the Peoples Democratic Party and its candidate, Governor Fintiri, as 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents respectively. However, when the Motion Ex Parte came up before the Federal High Court in Abuja, on 08 April 2023, the presiding Judge, Hon Justice Inyang Ekwo, refused to hear the ex-parte motion citing issues of jurisdiction. About what had transpired in the Court in that case, the Punch Newspapers reported:

‘Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to hear an ex-parte motion filed by the All Progressives Congress candidate in the Adamawa governorship election, Senator Aisha Ahmed, popularly called Binani. Justice Inyang Ekwo, instead, ordered the APC candidate’s counsel, Mohammed Sheriff, to address the court on the issue of jurisdiction…. The judge said though he was ready to hear Sheriff, the lawyer must address the court on issue of jurisdiction before he proceeded. “I am ready too but you have to address me on jurisdiction,” he said. Justice Ekwo, who ordered Sheriff to address him on whether the court had the jurisdiction to hear the matter, held that the application would be taken together with the issue of jurisdiction on the next adjourned date. He, consequently, adjourned the matter until April 26 for hearing of the motion and an address on jurisdiction’. (See: *”ADAMAWA POLL: COURT REFUSES TO HEAR BINANI’S MOTION OVER JURISDICTION”;* Punch.com, 18 April 2023). I submit that this is the proper procedure, and Hon Justice Liman should have, in the present case, adopted a similar approach.

(4). ISSUE FOUR: On whether this matter was/is properly brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules, 2009, I hold the respectful view that it is obvious that this was a dispute over the chieftaincy stool of the Emir of Kano. In my opinion, couching the relief to try to create an impression of Fundamental Rights enforcement where none exists, is an unnecessary gimmick to deceive. The Federal High still does not have jurisdiction because the application is not an application for fundamental right enforcement properly so-called. Else, either of the Federal High Court or the State High could have had jurisdiction, because in all cases of fundamental rights enforcement outside those arising from or bothering on employer-employee, labour and trade unions relations, both the Federal High Court and the State High Court have concurrent jurisdiction if the suit is filed under the FREP RULES, 2009. See *GRACE JACK v UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE MAKURDI* (SC.262/2000) [2004] NGSC 10 (30 January 2004); *FUTMINA V OLUTAYO*(2017) LPELR-43827(SC), (2017); & *EFCC V WOLFANG REINL (2020) LPELR-49387(SC)* (2020). Merely bringing an application under FREP (Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules, 2009) does not automatically, place it under the FREP Rules. A consideration of the subject matter of the dispute and the cause of action, is necessary in determining whether or not it is a FREP application properly so-called. See: *TUKUR V. GOVT OF GONGOLA STATE* (1989) 4 NWLR (pt 117) 517; *EGBUONU V. BRTC* (1997) 12 NWLR (pt 531) 29. In *MADUKOLU VS NKEMDILIM* (1962) 1 All NLR 589, the Supreme Court held that for a Court to have or assume jurisdiction in any particular case, the Court must ensure that the subject matter of the case is within the Court’s jurisdiction and there must not be any feature in the case which prevents the court from exercising jurisdiction. Further, it must be noted that by virtue of *PARAGRAPH 3(A)&(B) OF THE PREAMBLE TO THE FREP RULES, 2009,* only the following rights are capable of enforcement under the FREP Rules, 2009: *(A).* Rights guaranteed under chapter 4 of 1999 constitution; *(B).* Rights guaranteed under the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (ratification & Enforcement) Act, LFN, 2004; and *(C).* Rights guaranteed under any United Nations Charter on Human rights. Accordingly, where the right the APPLICANT seeks to enforce falls outside rights contained in Chapter 4 of 1999 Constitution, or in the African Charter on Human & Peoples Rights (ratification & Enforcement) Act, LFN, 2004, or in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or in any other United Nations Charter on Human rights, the law is that Court doesn’t have and would not exercise jurisdiction; the matter must be struck out for being incompetent. See *ORDER IX, RULE 1(II) OF THE FREP RULES, 2009.* See also *SECTION 46(1), CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, 1999*. See *THE DIRECTOR GENERAL, STATE SECURITY SERVICE V. DIM CHUKWUEMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU & 2 ORS* (2006) JELR 54114 (CA). However, under such circumstances, if the Federal High Court ultimately determines/finds that it does not have jurisdiction but that it is the High Court, in this case, the High Court of Kano State (or another court) that has jurisdiction, the Federal High Court has power, instead of striking out the matter, to transfer the same to the relevant/appropriate Court that has jurisdiction. See *SECTION 22(2) OF THE FEDERAL HIGH COURT ACT (NIGERIA),* which provides that “No cause or matter shall be struck out by the Court merely on the ground that such cause or matter was taken in the Court instead of the High Court of a State or of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in which it ought to have been brought, and the Judge of the Court before whom such cause or matter is brought may cause such cause or matter to be transferred to the appropriate High Court of a State or of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja in accordance with Rules of Court to be made under section 44 of this Act.”

(5). ISSUE FIVE: Meanwhile, assuming (but not conceding) that the present matter could by any stretch of the imagination be brought under the FREP Rules, then I still submit that the Federal High Court does/would not have jurisdiction at all. This is because the deposed Emir of Kano was appointed by the Kano State Governor therefore could be said to be an employee of the Governor of Kano State. The law is that where allegations of breach of fundamental rights arise or are raised from or in relation to *employment* or labour/industrial, master-servant relations, or trade unionism, the National Industrial Court has EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION. See *SECTION 254C (1)(D), OF THE CONSTITUION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA,1999.*

(6). ISSUE SIX: On whether an injunction can stop/restrain a completed act, considering that as of the time the Federal High Court made the said interim restraining order, Governor Yusuf had already reportedly signed the Bill into law as a well as reinstated Emir Sanusi Lamido. My opinion is this, that if the reinstatement of Emir Lamido Sanusi had already been carried out before the interim order by Hon Justice Liman of the Federal High Court was (later) made, one wonders which action the said order was/is now targeting to stop/restrain. In an unreported Appeal No: FCA/M6/82 (DAVID *DADA & ANOR FOR THEMSELVES AND OTHER MEMBERS OF MALAOYE (ADEITAN) AND OLUGBOGBO RULING HOUSES OF ADA V. CHAIRMAN OF IFEKODUN LOCAL GOVERNMENT CHIEFTAINCY COMMITTEE & ORS),* the Court of Appeal had held that “When a Court is asked to restrain a party from doing an act pending the decision in a matter before it, but the act has been done, no order to restrain will be made. The reason is simple as it is clear. What is sought to be prevented has in fact happened”. Also, in the case of *JOHN HOLT NIGERIA AND CAMEROONS v. HOLT AFRICAN WORKERS UNION OF NIGERIA AND CAMEROONS* (1963) 1 ALL NLR 385 @390, the Supreme Court held that an interlocutory injunction is not a remedy for an act which has already been carried out. See also *AJEWOLE V ADETIMO* (1989) 3PLR/1966/19(SC) (APPEAL NO: SC/3289). Accordingly, it appears to be well settled that an interim or interlocutory injunction cannot be granted where there is nothing to restrain. Thus, it’s submitted that generally, no pre-trial injunction, be it ex-parte, interim or interlocutory, can be issued to restrain any completed act. I respectfully disagree with the reasons given by my Lord, Hon Justice Liman for breaking/flouting this principle of law by granting an injunction to restrain a reinstatement that had already happened or that had already been fully carried out by the Governor of Kano State. Since the act of the reinstatement had been carried out, from that point onwards, talks about restraining injunctions were foreclosed. What any aggrieved person or persons should be talking about was/is to file an action seeking to set aside or to nullify the act (of reinstatement) already done — well, that is, if such aggrieved person or persons have good legal grounds to believe the act (of reinstatement) being complained against, was not validly or was not properly carried out. With due respect, the Judge in this case (Hon Justice Liman) should not have granted any restraining orders. The proper thing the respected judge should have done was to order the Court processes to be served on the respondents (the respondents to be put on notice) while directing the plaintiff (as was done in the Aisha Binani scenario) to address the Court on the jurisdictional issues already raised.
(To be continued)

* Udemezue (udems)  is the Proctor at Reality Ministry of Justice (RMJ) and can be reached at therealistministry@gmail.com.

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CAC: LEGAL FIREWORKS, AS NIGERIAN LAW SOCIETY CONTESTS NBA’S APPEAL BID

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN came face-to-face Wednesday in legal arguments with Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN at the Court of Appeal over an attempt by NBA to stall registration of the Nigerian Law Society (NLS) by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Federal High Court presided over by Justice Gladys Olotu had given the green light to the CAC to register the nascent Nigerian Law Society.

The NBA has however filed an application at the Court of Appeal seeking to upturn the judgment and stop CAC from going ahead to register the new association.

When the matter was called, Gadzama announced appearance “under protest” for the 1st Respondent and one of the NLS promoters, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN, while Maikyau led the NBA team for the applicant, Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association. The Appeal Court panel was led by Justice Hamma Akawu Barka with Justice Abba Bello Mohammed and Justice Peter Chudi Obiorah as members.

Maikyau contended that the applicant had served all the Respondents through the counsel who represented the promoters at the trial court. He argued that it behoves the counsel to draw the attention of either the court or the parties to the fact that he had no authority to receive service.  Counsel to the CAC aligned with Maikyau’s position.

Gadzama however countered the argument, saying that an application to appeal is an appeal in itself as well as an originating process which ought to be served personally on all the respondents and not through proxies.

CITY LAWYER gathered that both parties cited copious authorities to buttress their arguments.

Following the legal fireworks, the Appeal Court has reserved ruling on the application till a date to be communicated to the parties.

There are strong indications that the battle ground may shift to the other respondents who were not represented in court during the hearing. They include Chief Mela Audu Nunghe, SAN; Amb. Garba Gajam; Chief Emeka Ichoku; Mrs. Chioma Ferguson, and Tejumola Adigun who are listed as 2nd to 6th Respondents.

Aside from contending that the NBA was not a party before the trial court, the NLS has also argued that its application for registration by the CAC is rooted in Section 40 of the 1999 Constitution which permits freedom of association. This right, it argues, is also secured by the African Declaration on Human and Peoples Rights and the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR). The arguments have been countered by the NBA.

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‘APPEALS C’TE DECISION MERE REHASH OF ECNBA’S,’ SAYS JOYCE ODUAH

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) General Secretary Joyce Oduah has lambasted the NBA National Officers Elections Appeal Committee (NOEAC) for upholding her disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) “without due consideration of my detailed legal arguments, which were meticulously presented to ensure a fair hearing.”

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Oduah stated that she was denied fair hearing as the Appeals Committee did not review in depth the arguments marshalled by her in her appeal.

According to Oduah, “Appellate decisions are expected to be rigorously factual, demonstrating sound deductive reasoning, jurisprudential thinking, and superior argumentation. Unfortunately, these essential elements, which guarantee a fair trial and hearing, were disregarded by the NBA-NOEAC.”

Continuing, she said that “The committee’s decision lacked a careful evaluation, rebuttal, or countering of the factual submissions I made in my appeal. The Committee’s best effort was to merely regurgitate the grounds of disqualification set by the ECNBA and nothing more. A decision reached without due consideration of all the issues raised can only amount to an unfair trial.”

She stated that she “highlighted the ECNBA’s reliance on a provision that was non-existent during my tenure as Treasurer from 2012 to 2014,” adding that the retrospective application of the provision “undermined legal certainty and fairness,” allegedly violating established legal principles that “A Constitution, like other statutes, operates prospectively and not retrospectively unless it is expressly provided to be otherwise…”

Oduah argued that her seconder’s receipts “could have been easily rectified, reflecting an unnecessary and unjust ground for disqualification,” adding that the decision goes against the Second Schedule Part VIII(f) of the NBA Constitution 2015, which states that “The powers of the ECNBA to disqualify a person who wishes to contest for an office shall only be for the grounds specifically contained in this Constitution.” 

Though a top aide of the former NBA General Secretary had told CITY LAWYER that she would head to court to challenge the decision of the Appeals Committee, Oduah seems to have made a u-turn.

She wrote: “Despite the unjust decision, my commitment to the NBA and its principles remains unshaken. I have dedicated my career to serving the Nigerian Bar Association in various capacities, and I am more determined than ever to continue this journey. This setback only fuels my passion to advance our profession and foster inclusivity within our esteemed organisation. I am here for the long haul, and I am here for the NBA, God being my helper.

“After careful consideration and in the spirit of fostering unity and peace within our beloved NBA, I have decided not to appeal further. This decision, while not the end of my journey, is a testament to my commitment to the NBA and its principles. I am here to serve, and I will continue to do so with the same passion and dedication, working towards the betterment of our association and the legal profession at large.”

She thanked her “countless supporters and admirers who stood firmly with me despite all odds. They are too numerous to list here,” adding that “I owe you all a tremendous debt of gratitude. Your support reinforces my belief in our collective strength and the future of the NBA. Together, we will continue to work towards a more inclusive and progressive association.”

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DISQUALIFICATION: ‘ECNBA, APPEALS C’TE VIOLATED NBA CONSTITUTION BUT ….,’ – MOHAMMED TSAV

Dear NBA Community,

I would like to address the recent disqualification in the NBA 2024 Elections, despite the perceived overreach of the electoral committee’s powers. While I firmly believe that the committee acted beyond their authorized scope, and in fact did act ultra vires its powers contrary to the provisions of the NBA Constitution 2024 [As amended 2021], I acknowledge their decision and respect the process.

Maintaining the integrity of the electoral process within the NBA is of utmost importance. It ensures fairness, equity, transparency, and equal opportunities for all candidates participating in the elections. By upholding the integrity of the electoral process, the NBA demonstrates its commitment to democratic principles and reinforces the trust and confidence of its members and stakeholders.

Although I strongly believe in the importance of free, fair and transparent elections, it is crucial to maintain the integrity of the electoral process within the NBA. Whilst I maintain my disagreement with the committee’s actions, I understand that it is essential to uphold the rules and regulations that govern the process and especially the Constitution of the NBA.

However, we must scrutinize the actions and decisions of the ECNBA 2024, and indeed the NOEAC 2024. The actions and decisions of both Committees have been at variance with and contrary to the NBA Constitution.

Section 10, of Part VIII, 2nd, Schedule of the Constitution of the NBA, specifically provides the only five grounds for the disqualification of Candidates, which states that:-

“Subject to the provisions of this constitution, a member shall not be eligible for election as a National Officer or Representative to the General Council of the Bar if he/she:-
(a) is not a Nigerian Citizen;
(b) is a member of a political party in Nigeria;
(c) has been adjudged bankrupt or has made a compromise or arrangement with his creditors;
(d) is adjudged mentally unfit to take up the position by a competent medical authority ;
(e) has been convicted of a crime by a c Court of competent jurisdiction or has been found guilty of misconduct or professional impropriety by the legal practitioners Disciplinary Committee;”

The same Section 10, of Part VIII, 2nd, Schedule, sub-clause [f], goes further to unequivocally state that:
(f) The power of the ECNBA to disqualify a person who wishes to contest for an office shall only be for the grounds specifically contained in this constitution.

The ECNBA as I gathered had no problem with me and my 1st Nominator. The issue was with my Seconder attaching a 2024 Stamp and Seal receipt and omitting to attach the 2024 BPF receipt, as such I am not qualified to contest the 2024 NBA Elections and disqualified.

Does an omission to attach a document to a Seconder’s Form deserve a disqualification of the Aspirant as contemplated by Clause f, of Part VIII of the 2nd Schedule of the NBA Constitution 2015 [as amended in 2021]?

However, it is pertinent to note that the NBA will not issue a member a stamp and seal receipt if you have not paid your Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues. You must upload these two documents before you can access the NBA portal to pay for your stamp and seal then print your receipt.

My Seconder is a fit and proper person who was issued with a letter of good standing from the branch, and no doubt very qualified to contest for the office of General Secretary.

Section 6, of Part 1, 2nd Schedule of the NBA Constitution 2015 [as amended in 2021] provides the ECNBA with a discretionary power as follows:-

“The ECNBA may reject nomination papers which do not comply with any of the requirements for nomination and election offices within the Association or which are otherwise not duly completed.”

However, the ECNBA 2024, for reasons best known to it, conveniently ignored and disregarded this provision of Section 6, Part 1, of the 2nd Schedule of the NBA Constitution, but opted to disqualify on a ground that is not provided for in our Constitution.

The NOEAC 2024, also in its wisdom of judgment decided to uphold the decision of the ECNBA,
Can a decision made by the ECNBA ultra vires it powers, be lawfully upheld on appeal?

There are Candidates openly campaigning at the moment, when we all know that the ECNBA has not lifted the ban on campaigns, yet the ECNBA appears to be docile and turning a blind eye. It would seem that some candidates are above being regulated by the ECNBA. Is it that some Candidates are more equal than others?

Be that as it may, I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the Cradle Bar for their absolute loyalty, and all those who supported my candidacy and believed in my vision for the future of the NBA. Your unwavering support has been humbling, and I am truly grateful for the trust, support and understanding you have placed in me during this challenging time..

I have worked for the NBA at both Branch and National levels. In moving forward, I will continue to be an active participant in the activities of the NBA community, supporting the Association’s growth and advocating for positive change. I believe in the power of unity and collaboration, and I am confident that together we can achieve great things.

Let us remain focused on our common goal of making the NBA an even better and more inclusive foremost Association.

My late Father always said to me; “every disappointment is a Blessing in disguise. The Almighty GOD knows best, and is always in control”. Ameen.

Mohammed I. TSAV Esq.,
Chairman-Emeritus,
NBA Bwari Branch.

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EXCLUSIVE: USORO WRITES AWOMOLO, QUITS AS ‘CHIEF HOST’ OF ABUJA BOSAN COLLOQUIUM

These are not the best of times for foremost Bar Leader and Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN as former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has asked him to count him out of tomorrow’s scheduled colloquium by “Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Abuja.”

In a searing letter obtained by CITY LAWYER and dated 16th May, 2024, Usoro who is the Chairman of the BOSAN Leadership Committee which is saddled with organising its event, stated that he was not privy to the planning of the event, adding that it would lead to a factionalized BOSAN.

Former NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN had also challenged Awomolo’s recent committee appointments as Body of Benchers Chairman, listing several alleged infractions of the Body of Benchers Regulations 2024.

Awomolo had telephoned CITY LAWYER to express displeasure over the report on Alegeh’s letter, warning that it breached the Cybercrime Act and that the email was “private” communication to benchers.

Awomolo had telephoned CITY LAWYER to express displeasure over the report on Alegeh’s letter, warning that it breached the Cybercrime Act and that the email was “private” communication to benchers.

In an extensive letter dated 6th May, 2024, BOSAN Leader, Chief Alfred Kasunmu SAN had asked all invitees to the colloquium, including the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, to shun the event, describing it as “illegal, in breach of the constitution of BOSAN and antithetical to the philosophical ideals underpinning the establishment of the Body.”

Heaping more pressure on the foremost Life Bencher, Usoro stated that it would be setting a “terrible precedent” for him, as the Chairman of the Leadership Committee, to now “rubber-stamp” the “divisive Colloquium of a factionalized BOSAN” as Chief Host, “and worse still, a Colloquium that I was not even given the courtesy of knowing anything whatsoever about its planning.”

He stated that “I truly wished I was consulted before the printing of this Invitation Card, with my name as the Chief Host, because I would, most respectfully, have dissuaded the organisers from this patently divisive course – and I say this with very profound respect, Sir.”

He said that he viewed the planned event “with regret and quite some tinge of disappointment,” adding that the colloquium was in breach of the procedures of the BOSAN Leadership Committee as all ideas about conferences and seminars ought to be “channeled to the (Leadership) Committee for implementation under the auspices of the unified and united Body.”

According to the former NBA President, “Even as I write, I, as the Chairman of the Leadership Committee, do not know who has been invited for the event, who the speakers are, what topics or issues they will address – indeed, I know next to nothing about the event. With the greatest respect, Sir, that is not how the Leadership Committee of the Body works.”

Usoro stated that “the organisers of this event have not been fair to me at all or to BOSAN as a Body,” even as he called on Awomolo “as our elder and Father (to) please call them to order and dissuade them from this factionalizing course. We inherited a united BOSAN and a united and non-factionalized BOSAN we must maintain, nurture and build for our successors.”

It is unclear at press time whether Awomolo, who was instrumental to the rebirth of NBA after a 6-year hiatus, will forge ahead with the colloquium.

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CONCERNS, AS ECNBA SCRIBE HUWAILA CLEARED FOR NBA KANO CHAIR RACE

There are growing concerns within legal circles on the clearance of incumbent Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) Secretary Huwaila Ibrahim Muhammad for the forthcoming chairmanship election of NBA Kano Branch.

A copy of the final list of cleared candidates obtained by CITY LAWYER and dated 21st May, 2024 shows that Huwaila is set to slug it out with Usman Umar Fari for the position of Branch Chairman while Ahmad Sani Bawa was disqualified.

Absulhameed Abdurrazaq Ahmed, Salihu Umar Kududdufawa, Isiakpobegie Edafe Jefferson, Ibrahim Baba Saliu, and Abdulmalik Mohammed were cleared as candidates for the offices of Vice Chairman, Treasurer, Publicity Secretary, Welfare Secretary and Provost respectively.

Huwaila’s clearance while holding the office of ECNBA scribe has got tongues wagging, with some stakeholders arguing that it presents “significant conflict of interest” and an “untidy” scenario.

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Bar Leader also recently held the position of Chairman of NBA Kano Branch Law Week Planning Committee. It is speculated that the roles are to give her more visibility against opponents in the run-up to the chairmanship election. 

Some have argued that it would have been “neater” for Huwaila to have passed over the role of ECNBA Secretary if she was interested in contesting as NBA Kano Branch Chairman, wondering how this scenario may impact the integrity of the forthcoming NBA Elections scheduled for July 20, 2024.

There is a growing pressure on NBA President, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau SAN to step in to resolve the debacle in order to save the integrity of the general election.

Stakeholders believe that Huwaila should be impressed on to choose either of the roles or be relieved especially of her position as ECNBA Secretary.

Huwaila is not new to controversies in NBA election matters. CITY LAWYER recalls that “Team J-K Gadzama SAN” had during the 2022 NBA Elections alleged that Huwaila, then a member of the NBA Election Appeals Committee (NEAC), “actively and openly posted contents on her Facebook platform projecting Y. C. Maikyau, SAN.”

The team stated that her “non-neutrality” alongside that of another NEAC member “poses elements of bias by virtue of their active participation in the campaign activities of Y. C. Maikyau, SAN in the recently concluded National Elections which held on Saturday, 16th July, 2022.

“We sincerely believe that the aforementioned persons will not be able to discharge the duties of the Committee devoid of sentiments and biases and hence, present no guarantee of credibility and fairness in administering unbiased decisions and findings. We have attached some screen pictures of displays by these persons in support of Y. C. Maikyau, SAN during the period of campaign activities. Please see Annexure NBA1 and Annexure NBA2.”

The protest led to the mass resignation of the Funmi Roberts-led NBA Election Appeals Committee. It remains to be seen how the latest debacle will be resolved.

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LAWYER LEADS REGFYL TO GLOBAL FINTECH AWARD WIN IN WASHINGTON

Regfyl, a startup specialising in Anti-Money Laundering (AML), fraud prevention, and regulatory compliance, has emerged as the winner at the Africa Fintech Summit Pitch held recently in Washington D.C.

Powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), Regfyl is an all-in-one platform for businesses in Africa to combat fraud and simplify regulatory compliance.

The competition is a flagship event of the bi-annual summit that brings together leading Fintech innovators, investors and policymakers from across the globe.

Regfyl won with its cutting-edge technology that utilizes AI to provide unparalleled anti-money laundering (AML) and fraud prevention solutions, tailored specifically for the diverse and evolving needs of financial institutions in Africa.

Lawyer and CEO of Regfyl, Dr. Tunde Ibidapo-Obe, while receiving the award, said: “Winning this competition highlights the transformative potential of our solution in tackling compliance challenges such as fraud and AML. We provide global-standard compliance solutions at affordable local prices, mitigating forex fluctuation risks.”

CTO of Regfyl, Dr. Tomiwa Erinosho, said: “Regfyl’s AI-powered toolkit excels in accuracy, particularly its self-populating politically exposed person (PEP) identification module.

“The company has also invested heavily in research to support rapidly scaling institutions, enhancing efficiency for fraud and compliance teams across Nigeria and beyond.”

The new win follows Regfyl’s greatly lauded performance as a runner-up at the prestigious Oxford Cambridge University’s – Oxbridge AI Challenge in London, UK, in December 2023.

Regfyl is timely and poised for rapid growth especially with the recent drive by the Central Bank of Nigeria to combat financial crimes and improve regulatory compliance in Nigeria.

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‘FRIENDS OF SABASTINE ANYIA’ HAIL NBA BWARI ON LAW WEEK

NEWS RELEASE

Friends of Sabastine Anyia, Esq. heartily rejoice with the indefatigable Chairman of NBA, BWARI BRANCH, our own Paul Daudu Esq. and the entire members of NBA, BWARI BRANCH on the occasion of their 2024 Law week with the theme: Strengthening the Foundation of Justice in Nigeria. We are grateful to be participating in this very rich law week.

It’s gratifying to know that as the son of our former NBA, President, Joseph B. Daudu, you are living up to our expectations. No wonder they say, “The Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”. Keep soaring, your Daddy is watching you with keen attention and a sense of satisfaction.

We have never been in doubt of your ability to effectively and efficiently champion the affairs of NBA, BWARI BRANCH. Your achievements within this short period of time and your well packaged law week bear eloquent testimony to your leadership qualities and humane deposition which your branch and many of us who have come close to you have enjoyed.

We also salute efforts of your executive and members of your branch who had contributed to the success of your tenure and this law week in particular. This law week shall be a veritable platform for ushering in a new beginning to all of us. It’s also our prayers that we benefit from the eminent scholars who had spoken to us and who will be speaking to us hereinafter. We are proud to identify and celebrate with you and your branch members on this epoch making event.

We wish each and every one of us attending this law week a rewarding outing.

Friends of Sabastine Anyia

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AGC REGISTRATION KICKS OFF TOMORROW, NBA SHUNS PLEAS TO CUT HIGH FEES

Registration for the forthcoming Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association will commence tomorrow amid widespread clamour for reduction of registration fees for the annual event.

A notice by NBA Publicity Secretary Habeeb Lawal stated that “Registration for the 2024 Annual General Conference shall open at 11:55pm on Wednesday 22 May 2024.

“The schedule of fees is attached. Virtual participation for young lawyers is free, but interested members must still register for the conference.”

The commencement of registration for the NBA flagship event seals any hope that there may be a downward review of the fees which are considered as prohibitive especially for young lawyers.

This led to a flurry of protests and appeals to the AGC Planning Committee (AGCPC) led by Oyinkan Badejo-Okusanya and NBA President Yakubu Maikyau SAN to ensure a downward review of the fees.

CITY LAWYER recalls that young lawyers under the aegis of “Decent Fees” had launched an online protest against the advertised fees, saying that if not reviewed, many young lawyers would be unable to attend the conference.

According to the young lawyers: “The decision to impose such a hefty fee for attending the NBA conference disproportionately affects young lawyers, many of whom are still establishing themselves in the legal profession and may not have the financial means to afford such an expense. We believe that access to professional development opportunities, such as conferences, should not be restricted by financial barriers.”

Titled “Reduce NBA Conference Fees for Young Lawyers,” the petitioners noted that “As young professionals who are just starting our legal careers, many of us are already grappling with financial challenges, including student loan debt and limited earning potential.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Early Bird rate for young lawyers during the 2023 AGC was as low as N7,500 for lawyers who met the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements. However, the Early Bird rate for this year’s conference has galloped to N50,000, showing almost 700 %. Badejo-Okusanya had argued that the increase was due to the current 30 % national inflation rate.

While the Regular Rate for 2023 was N20,000 the Regular Rate for this year’s AGC stands at N75,00. Late Registration which cost young lawyers N40,000 last year has shot up to N200,000 for the 2024 conference.

Several Bar Leaders had also weighed in on the debacle, urging a rethink of the fees, even as many NBA branches also made entreaties for a downward review of the fees. NBA Ikeja Branch threatened to boycott the annual conference unless the fees were slashed. It was unclear at press time whether the branch will make good its threat in light of the latest development.

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AWA: ‘MURDER OF MY FRIEND IS HEARTBREAKING,’ – SABASTINE ANYIA

I received with great shock and deep sense of grief, the murder of my friend and junior colleague, Awa Peter Awa. It was heartbreaking and devastating. You are too young to be targeted by any person or group of persons. I don’t want to believe that this is the Will of God. No doubt, death is a necessary end for every living being, but to be gruesomely murdered by faceless people at this tender age is unacceptable.

You are known to be a quiet, gentle and friendly person who cannot hurt a fly. Always dedicated to your duties. Peter, your death has reminded us that we are in a perilous time, where our brothers who should care for our well being and affection turn to be our murderers. I therefore ask as in the Holy Bible, “who then is our neighbor”?

Just last week a colleague was kidnapped in NBA Idemili Branch, Anambra State. Today, a colleague is gruesomely murdered in Ihiala. Something is definitely wrong somewhere.

Have we become endangered species? What is the motive behind all these killings and kidnappings involving our colleagues? I call on all the security agencies and our hard working governor, Prof. Charles Soludo to arrest these security challenges within the state and ensure that our lives and properties are protected.

My deepest condolences go to his family and to all lawyers especially in NBA Ihiala Branch. I pray that no lawyer in Anambra State in particular and Nigeria in general shall be murdered or kidnapped again in Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!

May the soul of Awa Peter Awa, a quiet and jolly good fellow whose life was cut short at his prime and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Sabastine Anyia Esq
Former chairman NBA, Aguata Branch
Former Chairman of Chairmen, 8 branches of NBA Anambra State

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SABASTINE ANYIA MOURNS PRINCIPAL, VALEDICTORY SESSION HOLDS FRIDAY

NEWS RELEASE

Distinguished colleagues, you are cordially invited to the valedictory court session in honour of my principal, Sir H. A. Ejim, on 24/5/2024 at the High Court Complex, Awka.

I equally pray you passionately to accompany me to his home town (Ezira) on 31/5/2024 as I pay my condolence to the family.

I shall be exceedingly delighted to have you around me.

May the soul of my dear principal, Sir H. A. Ejim and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.

Sabastine Anyia Esq.

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AWA: ‘NIGERIA’S ESCALATING INSECURITY DEEPLY CONCERNING,’ SAYS IKWUAZOM, NBA-SARC CHAIR

NEWS RELEASE

The Nigerian Bar Association Security Agencies Relations Committee (NBA-SARC) unequivocally condemns the murder of Awa Peter Awa, Esq., Vice Chairman of the NBA Ihiala Branch and a Prosecutor in the Anambra State Ministry of Justice. This egregious act is not only an assault on the legal profession but also a grave affront to justice and the principles of the rule of law.

The escalating insecurity within the nation, particularly in Anambra State, is deeply concerning. The continued targeting and violence towards members of the legal community are unacceptable and demand immediate attention. The tragic loss of Mr. Awa serves as a stark reminder of the pervasive insecurity that jeopardizes not only legal professionals but all citizens of Nigeria.

The NBA-SARC urges the Anambra State Commissioner of Police, the Anambra State Police Command, and all relevant authorities and security agencies to promptly and thoroughly investigate this crime, apprehend the perpetrators, and take necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of all citizens. It is imperative that the legal community remains undeterred by such barbarism, upholding our dedication to justice and the rule of law.

Additionally, a call to action is directed towards the governors of the eastern states of Nigeria to proactively address the ongoing security challenges within the region. Implementing comprehensive strategies to safeguard the lives and properties of citizens and to restore peace and stability in our communities is of utmost importance.

The NBA-SARC extends its deepest sympathies to the family of Awa Peter Awa, Esq., and to all those impacted by this heinous act of violence. The Association stands in solidarity with them during this challenging time.

Chukwuka Ikwuazom, SAN
Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association Security Agencies Relations Committee
Partner, Aluko and Oyebode
Former Chairman, NBA Lagos Branch

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POLICE LAUNCH MANHUNT FOR KILLERS OF ANAMBRA LAWYER

NEWS RELEASE

ANAMBRA POLICE BEGINS INVESTIGATION ON MURDER OF BAR PETER AWAH IN OKIJA

The Command Operatives have begun an investigation into the murder of Bar. Peter Awah, Secretary of Okija Development Union yesterday 19/5/2024 by 11:00 pm at Eke Umudioka, Okija.

Preliminary Information reveals that the assailants operating in motorbikes, shot the deceased as he was about to alight his vehicle for safety when he was approached by the Murderers. Meanwhile, some eyewitnesses have provided details that are already aiding the investigation.

The Commissioner of Police, CP Nnaghe Obono Itam, while commiserating with the Family and friends of the deceased, the Nigeria Bar Association, the people of Okija as well as the State, directs the immediate transfer of the case to the Homicide section of the Criminal Investigation Department, Awka for a Comprehensive probe into the incident.

SP Tochukwu Ikenga
Police Public Relations Officer,
Anambra State Command.
Awka.

20th May, 2024.

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ECNBA ASKS CANDIDATES TO SUBMIT MANIFESTOS LATEST FRIDAY

  • ‘WE HAVE NOT LIFTED BAN ON CAMPAIGNS’

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has directed each candidate in the forthcoming NBA Elections to “submit an electronic compilation of your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and campaign manifesto for publication in the ECNBA online magazine, pursuant to Part IV(11) and V(7), Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015 (as amended in 2021).”

The electoral body however warned that “This is not an invitation for commencement of campaigns. We therefore again warn that there shall be no campaigning under any guise until the ban on campaign is lifted by the ECNBA. We seize this opportunity to again warn all candidates to CEASE any semblance of campaigns.”

In a letter obtained by CITY LAWYER and dated 19th May, 2024, the electoral committee warned that it has not lifted ban on campaigning, adding that “We trust all stakeholders shall comply to avoid summary disqualification, should there be an infraction of any of these directives.”

The electoral committee also renewed its threat to disqualify any candidate who violates its electoral guidelines.

The letter was signed by Mr. Oluseun Abimbola SAN and Huwaila Muhammad, Chairman and Secretary respectively of the electoral committee.

The ECNBA noted that each candidate “fully come under the purview of the ECNBA in your participation in the 2024 NBA Elections,” adding that “While we congratulate you for qualifying as a candidate, we urge you to ensure you abide by the rules governing the elections, and every directive of the ECNBA.”

Below is the full text of the letter to the candidates.

SUBMISSION OF CANDIDATES’ CAMPAIGN MATERIALS

As a qualified candidate for the upcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) elections, you now fully come under the purview of the ECNBA in your participation in the 2024 NBA Elections. While we congratulate you for qualifying as a candidate, we urge you to ensure you abide by the rules governing the elections, and every directive of the ECNBA.

1. We are by this letter inviting you to submit an electronic compilation of your Curriculum Vitae (CV) and campaign manifesto for publication in the ECNBA online magazine, pursuant to Part IV(11) and V(7), Second Schedule of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association 2015 (as amended in 2021),

2. Our online magazine aims to provide NBA members with a comprehensive insight into the vision, qualifications, and aspirations of the candidates vying for various positions within the Association. Candidates are required to submit the compiled file of campaign materials including curriculum vitae of not more than four pages of A4-size paper, and comprehensive manifesto for publication, by email to info@ecnba.org not later than 12noon on Friday, 24th May 2024.

3. NOTE: This is not an invitation for commencement of campaigns. We therefore again warn that there shall be no campaigning under any guise until the ban on campaign is lifted by the ECNBA. We seize this opportunity to again warn all candidates to CEASE any semblance of campaigns.

4. In the coming days, the ECNBA will issue campaign guidelines to be strictly adhered to by all candidates and their supporters. We trust all stakeholders shall comply to avoid summary disqualification, should there be an infraction of any of these directives.

Dated this 19th day of May 2024

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NBA GWAGWALADA TO HONOUR CJ, AWOMOLO, OLUJINMI, OTHERS

NEWS RELEASE

AFTER SEVEN-YEAR HIATUS, NBA GWAGWALADA BRANCH REINTRODUCES AND HOSTS ITS FLAGSHIP PROGRAMME – ‘THE CHIEF JUDGE ANNUAL LECTURE AND MERIT AWARDS’ – IN HONOUR OF HON. JUSTICE HUSSEINI BABA-YUSUF (CJ-FCT), CHIEF A. S. AWOMOLO SAN, CHIEF AKINLOLU OLUJINMI SAN, AHMED RAJI SAN, MAHMUD MAGAJI SAN, MATTHEW BURKAA SAN, CHIEF EMEKA OBEGOLU SAN, AND OTHERS.

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Gwagwalada Branch (Eagle Bar), is a high flying Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association that is renowned for steadfast dedication to advancing legal practice and effective justice administration through provisions of intellectually stimulating platform for dialogue, knowledge sharing, and worthwhile celebration. In alignment with this unwavering commitment, the NBA Gwagwalada Branch is delighted to announce and invite the entire legal community and the general public to its prestigious ANNUAL LECTURE, PRESENTATION OF PUBLICATIONS, AND MERIT AWARDS, scheduled to take place on FFRIDAY 24th MAY 2024, at 9:00 AM at the AUDITORIUM , FFACULTY OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF ABUJA.

Under the Distinguished Chairmanship of Asiwaju A. S. Awomolo SAN (Chairman, Body of Benchers), this prestigious event is a hallmark of the branch’s commitment to the elevation of legal discourse and recognition of excellence. Like those of the 10th Anniversary Celebration in 2022 and the Law Week in December 2023, this year’s Theme is a testament to the branch’s pacesetting dedication to fostering a well-oiled legal and justice system that is equitable, effective, and just. The theme, “Toward a Better Nigeria: Benchmarking Performance, Resetting Standard, and Rethinking Justice,” is a clarion call for a comprehensive evaluation of our system.

  • “According to the meta-digital Chairman of the vibrant Branch, Emmanuel Tayo Ogunjide (E.T.O), this year’s edition, reintroduced with purpose and progressiveness after a seven-year hiatus, convenes national leaders, eminent jurists, distinguished lawyers, erudite scholars, and relevant stakeholders to engage in excellent discussions and celebrate extraordinaire contributions.”

According to the meta-digital Chairman of the vibrant Branch, Emmanuel Tayo Ogunjide (E.T.O), this year’s edition, reintroduced with purpose and progressiveness after a seven-year hiatus, convenes national leaders, eminent jurists, distinguished lawyers, erudite scholars, and relevant stakeholders to engage in excellent discussions and celebrate extraordinaire contributions. In his words, ‘It is our character, and our Branch once again is poised to set at the front burner, and at this point in time in our nation, the urgent need to re-examine the benchmarks of our performance, reset standards for practice, and rethink our approach to justice delivery in alignment with global best practices and addressing the unique challenges faced by Nigeria.”

The event promises to be a truly enriching experience, featuring a keynote address by the distinguished Ahmed Raji SAN, a legal luminary renowned for his rich expertise and excellent contributions. His address will be followed by panel discussions with eminent jurists, legal practitioners, and academics, who will share their insights and expertise on contemporary legal issues. The event will also feature the Public Presentation of the 2023 and 2024 Eagle Bar Journals in honour of the legendary Chief Akinlolu Olujinmi, SAN, CON (former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice) and the phenomenal Mr. Mathew Burkaa SAN, showcasing the branch’s commitment to promoting legal research and scholarship.

In addition to the intellectual discourse, the event will also recognize outstanding legal professionals with merit awards. These awards will honor individuals and institutions that have demonstrated exemplary performance and contributed significantly to the advancement of justice in Nigeria. The programme will be graced with the esteemed presence of other distinguished guests and eminent personalities, including in no particular order, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Justice of Nigeria and other Heads of Courts, the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Hon. Minister of the FCT, Hon. Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Prof. Yusuf Ali SAN, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN, Prof. Mike Ozekhome SAN, Yeye Victoria Awolowo SAN, Prof. M. T. Ladan, DG NIALS, Mr. Mahmud Magaji SAN, Chief Emeka Obegolu SAN, Sen. Bamidele Opeyemi, Chief Emeka Ozoani SAN, Mrs. Paulyn Abhulime SAN, among others. These distinguished legal practitioners and scholars will bring their wealth of experience and expertise to the programme, ensuring a rich and engaging exchange of ideas.

The legal profession in Nigeria needs continuous reflection, innovation, collaboration, and recognition of excellence. This unique event, therefore, serves as a platform to engage in intellectual discourse, share insights, and celebrate outstanding contributions to the field of law, justice, and national development. The Branch respectfully invites you to join in shaping a better future for Nigeria. look forward to welcoming your gracious presence and vital contributions at this great event.

For more information, please contact Emmanuel Tayo Ogunjide, Chairman, NBA Gwagwalada Branch – 08036134187; Abdulwahab A. Mohammed. Chairman, Planning Committee.

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‘GRUESOME MURDER OF NBA IHIALA VICE CHAIR IS ONE TOO MANY’ – AFAM OSIGWE

NEWS RELEASE

THE GRUESOME MURDER OF MR. AWA PETER IS A GRAVE ASSAULT ON THE LEGAL PROFESSION

By AFAM OSIGWE, SAN

I am dismayed by the tragic information of the brutal murder of Awa Peter Awa, Esq., the Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ihiala Branch, Anambra State. This cowardly act, carried out by unknown gunmen, is a grave assault on the legal profession and the society at large.

Awa Peter Awa was a dedicated legal practitioner who tirelessly served his community with integrity and commitment. His senseless killing is not just a personal loss to his family and colleagues, but also a significant blow to the entire legal profession and the society that he devoted his life to serving.

We vehemently condemn this heinous act of violence and call on the relevant authorities to leave no stone unturned in their quest to bring the perpetrators to justice. This is a critical moment for law enforcement agencies to demonstrate their commitment to the safety and security of all citizens, particularly those in the legal profession who often face significant risks due to the nature of their work.

We demand a swift and thorough investigation into this despicable act. We urge the Anambra State Police Command and other relevant security agencies to expedite their efforts in apprehending the culprits and ensuring they face the full weight of the law. Justice must be served, not only to honor the memory of Awa Peter Awa but also to send a strong message that such acts of violence will not be tolerated.

We also call on the government to enhance security measures to protect legal practitioners who, by their profession, are increasingly becoming targets of violent attacks. Ensuring the safety of those who uphold justice is paramount to maintaining the rule of law and public confidence in our judicial system.

In this time of grief, our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Awa Peter Awa, his friends, and his colleagues in the NBA Ihiala Branch. We stand in solidarity with them and offer our deepest condolences. The legacy of Awa Peter Awa’s dedication to justice will forever remain in our hearts and inspire us to continue the fight for a just and equitable society.

Rest in Peace, Awa Peter Awa, Esq.

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CHIOMA FERGUSON LAUDS GADZAMA ON TINUBU’S APPOINTMENT

Fiery Bar Leader Chioma Ferguson has commended Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN on his appointment by President Bola Tinubu as the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of Federal University of Uyo.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the senior lawyer and rights advocate noted that the appointment is “well-deserved.” 

Her words: “Big Congrats to our Elder Statesman, Chief J. K. Gadzama SAN, on his worthy appointment as Pro-Chancellor/Chairman Federal University of Uyo. More wins.”

In his response to the deluge on congratulatory messages, Gadzama, who is also the Chairman of the Body of Benchers Mentoring Committee, thanked his well-wishers, even as he dedicated the appointment to God.

He wrote: “My brothers and sisters, I thank you all profusely for your felicitations on my appointment as Pro Chancellor. On my part, the said appointment is going to be dedicated to God, Humanity, FGN, Akwa Ibom State and I mean it, because I do not utter any word that is not from my heart. This statement is from my heart of heart and time will tell. God bless us all, Amen.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the foremost Bar Leader is among about 555 persons appointed to serve as chairmen and members of governing councils of tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

The list comprises five names each for 50 universities, 37 polytechnics and 24 colleges of education. The selected individuals are to serve as Pro-chancellors/Chairmen and members of Governing Boards of the 111 federal universities, polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

This was contained in an advertorial by the Federal Ministry of Education in one of the national dailies signed by the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Didi Esther Walson-Jack.

According to the advertorial, “The inauguration and retreat for the Governing Councils will take place on Thursday, May 30 and Friday, May 31, 2024, at the National Universities Commission, 26 Aguiyi Ironsi Street, Maitama, Abuja. Both events will commence at 9am daily.”

The appointments comes a few days after the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) had threatened to embark on another strike, citing failure of the Federal Government to appoint Governing Councils for federal universities after one year of dissolving the ones on ground.

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SOLAR4ALL: O. A. AJAYI ESQ. (OFFICE OF THE PUBLIC DEFENDER, DELTA STATE MINISTRY OF JUSTICE, EFFURUN ZONAL OFFICE) IS OUR “STAR CLIENT OF THE WEEK”

FEATURED

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Mrs. Ajayi represents indigent persons in both civil and criminal cases in Effurun and its environs.

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‘ONITSHA COURTS: SOLUDO MUST HEAR THIS!’ – LAWYER

EYE WITNESS

I attended a Court session in Onitsha by 8:30 am and the court was already sitting to hear ex parte applications. I was impressed with the zeal of both the lawyers and Judges. I now know why lawyers in the jurisdiction make the list of senior advocates each year.

I also observed that the lawyers in court were 89 percent above 50 years. I investigated further and I discovered that the Young lawyers produced in UNIZIK and UNN Faculty of Law end up in Lagos and Abuja. The impact of this is an inter-generational gap in legal practice.

A state of emergency needs to be declared in legal practice in Onitsha. The senior lawyers in the practice area should carry younger ones along by making them salary lawyers or partners rather than appearance fees counsel AFC.

Community meetings should have as an agenda the need to ensure lawyers in Onitsha do the cases in the state as they are competent and only need encouragement. If the firms are not briefed the younger lawyers will go to where the briefs are

The Court rooms leave much to be desired. The state governor must prioritize suitable Court rooms and accommodation for Judges. Rule of law is not necessarily judgement of court but facilities that aid the outcome.

The job of successful law practice is a collective one; we must all wrap our hands round it with the emergency it deserves.

President Aigbokhan 
Benin City, Nigeria
president@foicounsel.com

  • Aigbokhan is a Benin-based lawyer

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‘REMUNERATION ORDER BOOSTS LAWYER-CLIENT RELATIONS’ – AFAM OSIGWE

NEWS RELEASE

“Enhancing Legal Practice: Afam Osigwe, SAN Advocates for the Benefits of the Remuneration Order 2023 at NBA Otukpo Branch Opening”

At the opening ceremony of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Otukpo branch, Afam Osigwe, SAN delivered a speech on the topic: “The Benefits of Enforcement of the Remuneration Order 2023.” His address underscored the critical importance of the Remuneration Order and its implications for the legal profession in Nigeria.

He began by highlighting the historical context and necessity of the Remuneration Order. He emphasized that the legal profession has long grappled with issues related to fair compensation for legal practitioners. The 2023 Remuneration Order, he noted, is a significant legislative effort aimed at addressing these longstanding concerns and ensuring that lawyers receive adequate and equitable remuneration for their services.

One of the primary benefits of enforcing the Remuneration Order, according to the Learned silk, is the promotion of professional integrity and quality of service within the legal profession. Adequate remuneration ensures that lawyers are sufficiently motivated to deliver high-quality legal services, which, in turn, enhances the overall standard of legal practice in the country. By guaranteeing fair compensation, the Remuneration Order helps to reduce instances of unethical practices that might arise from financial desperation.

He also pointed out that the Remuneration Order provides a structured framework for legal fees, which brings about greater transparency and predictability. This framework is beneficial not only to lawyers but also to their clients, who can now have a clearer understanding of the fee structure and what to expect in terms of legal costs. This transparency fosters trust between clients and their legal representatives, thereby improving the client-lawyer relationship.

In his speech, Afam also touched upon the economic implications of the Remuneration Order. By standardizing legal fees, the Order helps to create a more balanced and competitive legal market. This standardization ensures that smaller law firms and independent practitioners are not undercut by larger firms offering lower fees, thus promoting a more level playing field. This economic balance is essential for the sustainability of legal practice, especially for young lawyers and those operating in less affluent regions.

Another critical aspect discussed by Osigwe was the impact of the Remuneration Order on access to justice. He argued that fair remuneration for lawyers indirectly contributes to broader access to justice. When lawyers are adequately compensated, they are more likely to take on pro bono cases and provide services to indigent clients, knowing that their financial stability is secured through their remunerated work. This situation creates a more inclusive legal system where even the less privileged have access to legal representation.

He concluded his speech by urging all stakeholders within the legal profession particularly in Otukpo Branch to support the enforcement of the Remuneration Order 2023. He called on legal practitioners to adhere strictly to the provisions of the Order and encouraged the NBA to play an active role in monitoring compliance and addressing any challenges that may arise. By doing so, he asserted, the legal profession in Nigeria would not only improve its standards but also enhance its reputation and reliability in the eyes of the public.

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‘FALANA NEVER THREATENED TO KILL ME,’ SAYS MOHBAD’S FATHER

Joseph Aloba, the father of the late singer, Ilerioluwa Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad, has denied that he accused a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana of threatening to kill him.

Some reports making the rounds on the internet had suggested Mr. Aloba accused Falana and the late Mohbad’s wife, Wunmi of threatening to kill him.

However, in a statement signed by Mr Joseph Aloba on Friday, he described such publications as false Mr Aloba said when such reports were brought to his notice, he spoke to Mr. Falana on the phone and clarified that he never made the allegations.

He said, “Following misrepresentations in the public space alleging that I made certain allegation against eminent silk, Femi Falana SAN, I wish to make the following clarifications.

“My attention has been drawn to misleading publications in the social media titled severally as follows: “I fear that Femi Falana and Wunmi want to kill me – Mohbad’s father cries out”: Femi Falana, Wunmi Threatening to kill me – Mohbad’s father opens up”: “My daughter-in-law, Falana threatening to kill me” – Mohbad’s father”.

“The above publications are entirely falsehood from the pit of hell.

“I never alleged at any time that Mr Femi Falana SAN threatened to kill me and I do not believe the eminent lawyer will ever be involved in such threats against me.

“When this allegation was brought to my notice by the lawyer to our family, Wahab Shittu SAN, I spoke to Mr. Femi Falana SAN on phone and clarified that I never made such allegation against him and that this is the work of mischief makers.

“My commitment to unraveling the death of my dear son, late Ilerioluwa Promise Oladimeji Aloba (Mohbad) is total and unequivocal and I will not rest until I secure justice for my late son.

“This public clarification is necessary because I will not want mischief makers to derail this struggle for justice for Mohbad by bringing me and our family into needless collision with Mr. Femi Falana SAN or any other person.”

“I have great respects for the perssona of Mr. Femi Falana SAN,” Mr Aloba added.

On January 11, 2024, SaharaReporters reported that Mr Falana through his law firm, Falana & Falana’s Chambers, had reacted to Mr Aloba regarding the allegation of threat to his life by the lawyer.

Falana’s law firm in a rejoinder issued by Taiwo E. Olawanle, Esq., recounted their journey on Mohbad’s case since his death in September 2023, stressing that Mr. Aloba was only after his late son’s estate and having refused to follow due process, he wa merely engaging in puerile blackmail to accomplish his mission.

The statement reads: “Our attention has been drawn to the reckless statements credited to Mr Joseph Aloba on several online platforms, television and radio stations regarding Mr Femi Falana (SAN).

“This rejoinder is necessary to set the records straight on the roles played so far by our law firm in unravelling the circumstances surrounding the death of Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, popularly known as Mohbad.

“It is no longer news that Mohbad died in September 2023 under questionable circumstances. Upon the death of this young man, many well-meaning Nigerians and human rights groups contacted our office to assist in unraveling the circumstances surrounding his death and get justice for the family.

“The widow of the late singer, Mrs Wunmi Cynthia Aloba also contacted our office to help in a similar vein.

“At that juncture, Mr. Falana called Mohbad’s father and commiserated with him and assured him of his readiness to ensure that the law takes its cause. Our office immediately petitioned the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State Command requesting a thorough investigation into the case.

“In addition to the above, our office also wrote to the Chief Coroner of Lagos State requesting a Coroner’s Inquest into the remote and immediate cause of the death of Mohbad.

“Our office sent a delegation of lawyers to Mohbad’s residence at Orchid in Lagos to take the statements of those close to the late singer including his wife, parents and staff.”

The statement further noted: “As events unfolded, we realised that the late Mohbad’s father, Mr Joseph Aloba is not interested in unraveling what led to the death of his son but after his estate.

“Hence, he rushed the burial of Mohbad in an unmarked grave without any autopsy to know the cause of death of the deceased. However, at our request, the body of Mohbad was later exhumed for investigation by the Police.

“Since our aim and goal in the matter is to unravel the circumstances surrounding the death of Mohbad through the instrumentality of the law, we had no choice but to distance ourselves from Mr Joseph Aloba’s opportunism and puerile blackmail.”

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FIDA UYO CELEBRATES BOY CHILD ON INTERNATIONAL DAY

NEWS RELEASE

– CHAIRPERSON URGES MORAL EXCELLENCE AMONG STUDENTS

The year 2024 International Day of the Boy Child was marked at Queen of Apostles Seminary and Holy Family College, all in Abak Local Government Area, with a call on the boy child to shun violence and live peaceably with their peers, classmates, siblings, teachers, neighbours as well as other members of the society irrespective of age, gender and social status.

The above call was made last Thursday, May 16, 2024 by the Chairperson of International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Uyo Branch, Iquo Abia, Esq. while addressing the students of Queen of Apostles Seminary and Holy Family College to mark this year’s anniversary of International Day of the Boy Child.

The FIDA chairperson sensitized students on the negative effects of violence which she noted, have often resulted in injury, maiming, depression and death.

She exposed the students to extant laws in the State prohibiting violence against persons, with appropriate penalties in event of violation and conviction.

Harping on youth capacity development and empowerment, the Chairperson assured the students of FIDA’s stance on the critical issue of the boy child empowerment, noting that its position runs in tandem with the Akwa Ibom State Government’s youth empowerment policy as entrenched in the ARISE Agenda. She appealed to the students to maximize the sensitization and advocacy initiative availed them by FIDA, for their brighter future.

The celebration of the International Day of the Boy Child also comprised in its repertoire, sessions of pep talks, advocacy, and sensitization on wide-ranging subjects bordering on the development of the boy child; anchored by high- profile resource persons drawn from government circle, male advocates and FIDA.

Mr. Aniekeme Finbar, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State on Social Re-orientation, sensitized the students on Career Choice; Barr. Anietie Bassey, an advocate of social engineering, advised the students to shun cultism and imbibe good Relational Skills.

Barr. Arit Udokang spoke extensively on Drug Abuse, its effects on the mental health of the boy child, as well as remediation. The critical topic was later extended to embrace other nuances by Barr. Love Bassey.

In her goodwill message, the Hon. Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Welfare, Dr. Ini Adiakpan, who was represented by Mrs. Unyime Umoh, commended FIDA for empowering the students with the values and potentials inherent in the boy child, and expressed confidence that the awareness to which the students were exposed, would enhance their future. She also gave a talk on personal hygiene.

In his reaction, the Rector of Queen of Apostles Seminary, Afaha Obong, Rev. Father John Ekanem, thanked the women lawyers for granting his students such opportunity of gaining from their wealth of knowledge. Rev. Father Ekanem expressed fulfilment at the morals imparted to the students, noting with excitement that those teachings were in sync with the daily lessons to which the students have already been exposed.

Expression of gratitude was not different at Holy Family College, Oku Abak, where the school principal, Rev. Fr. Columbus Archibong who was represented by the vice principal, Mr. Charles Umoh, accorded FIDA delegation a rousing welcome.

In his expression of gratitude, the senior prefect of the college, Udoidem Richard Raphael, extolled the lofty initiative of FIDA for organizing such inspiring intellectual advocacy for them, and pledged the students’ commitment to maximizing the enormous benefits of the programme for a better future.

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AFAM OSIGWE BERATES DSS FOR COURT INVASION

NEWS RELEASE

THE SANCTITY OF THE COURTROOM MUST BE PRESERVED AT ALL COST

By Afam Osigwe, SAN

I condemn the recent invasion of the Ogun State High Court in Ilaro by operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), where they arrested two defendants during an ongoing trial. The defendants, Fatai Isiaka and Samuel Oyero were standing trial for alleged arson related to the Obaship crisis in Agosasa town, Ipokia local government area.

This incident is not only a violation of the rights of the defendants but also a severe breach of the sanctity and independence of our judiciary. Our courts are sacred institutions where justice is administered fairly and without intimidation or interference. The actions of the DSS operatives undermine the rule of law and erode public trust in our legal system.

The sanctity of the courtroom must be preserved at all costs. All law enforcement agencies must respect the judiciary’s independence and adhere to due process. The brazen nature of this invasion sets a dangerous precedent and threatens the very foundation of our democratic society.

I call upon the leadership of the DSS to take immediate and decisive action to address this grave misconduct. The operatives involved in this incident must be identified, held accountable, and subjected to appropriate disciplinary measures. Such measures are essential to restoring public confidence in our judicial and security institutions.

All relevant authorities need to implement stringent measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents. Training and sensitization programs should be conducted to ensure that all security personnel understand and respect the boundaries of judicial proceedings.

We must work collectively to uphold the rule of law, protect the integrity of our judiciary, and ensure that justice is administered without fear or favor. Let this incident serve as a reminder of the importance of maintaining the separation of powers and the respect that each branch of government must accord to the others. Only then can we build a just and equitable society for all.

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NBA APPEAL C’TE CLEARS SABASTINE ANYIA FOR NBA FIRST VP RACE

My dear distinguished learned SANs, senior colleagues and colleagues,

I must in a special way thank you all for the support rendered to me during my trying moments these past two weeks.

I must confess that your prayers saw me through this particular hurdle. What could I have done if you did not give me your unalloyed support?

I appreciate each and every one of you and further request that you continue to remember me in your prayers to enable me in particular and us in general surmount the future challenge.

A win for one is a win for all!

Thanks and God bless and keep you all. Together we shall emerge victorious in the final analysis.

Sabastine Anyia Esq.

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KIDNAPPING: ANAMBRA LAWYERS TO BOYCOTT COURTS TODAY

Lawyers under the aegis of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) branches in Anambra State will today embark on a one-day boycott of courts to press home their demand for release of their colleague who was kidnapped by gunmen at the weekend.

It is recalled that Mr. Chukwubuikem Azoro, the Secretary of NBA Idemili Branch was whisked away by gunmen at Abagana around 8:30 pm last Saturday.

In a notice obtained by CITY LAWYER, the lawyers stated that the boycott “is to enable lawyers press for the immediate release of our colleague and secretary of Idemili branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chukwubuikem J. S. Azoro who was kidnapped at Abagana on Saturday 11th May, 2024.”

The Statement was signed by Mr. I. C. Nsofor, the Chairman of Committee of Chairmen and Secretaries, NBA Branches in Anambra State.

The move follows a similar one by NBA Idemili Branch where Azoro held sway as Secretary until his kidnap on Saturday.

A statement by Chukwubuikem Obianyo, the branch Publicity Secretary revealed that his captors have demanded a ransom for his release, adding that “In response to this distressing situation, the members of the Idemili Branch have unanimously resolved to take a stand against such criminal acts. Therefore, Starting from tomorrow the 16th day of May 2024 through the 17th day of May, 2024, all members of the NBA Idemili Branch shall be boycotting appearances in all courts within and outside our jurisdiction. Additionally, members of Idemili Branch pledge to abstain from representing individuals charged with kidnapping or armed robbery until further notice.

“This decision is not taken lightly, but it reflects our unwavering commitment to justice and the safety of our members and the community at large. We call upon the relevant authorities to expedite efforts to secure the safe release of Mr. Azoro and to take decisive action against the perpetrators of this heinous crime.

“We urge the public to join us in condemning such acts of violence and to stand in solidarity with the victim and his family during this difficult time.”

Meanwhile, a candidate in the forthcoming NBA Elections and member of the branch, Mr. Ernest Uwanaka has called for “for fast and unconditional release” of Azoro.

Uwanaka, who has been cleared by the Electoral Commitee of the NBA (ECNBA) to run for the position of NBA Welfare Secretary, condemned Azoro’s kidnap, while calling on Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Soludo as well as the State Police Commissioner to ensure the lawyer’s safe return.

According to the senior lawyer, who is also the Secretary of NBA Idemili Branch Human Rights Committee, “While praying to God for fast and unconditional release of the Branch Secretary, Uwanaka urges the Anambra State Governor, Prof. Charles Chukwuma Soludo and the new Commissioner of Police in the State, CP Nnaghe Obono Itam to assist the NBA, Idemili Branch to secure the release of its member, and beef up security in the State to protect the general public especially legal practitioners and judicial officers whose lives have become endangered due to the nature of their jobs.”

IMPORTANT NOTICE!

ATTN: ALL LAWYERS IN ANAMBRA STATE

THRO:

BRANCH CHAIRMEN

RE: BOYCOTT OF COURTS BY LAWYERS ON THURSDAY 16TH MAY, 2024.

This is to inform all colleagues in the State that there shall be a boycott of courts in Anambra State on Thursday 16th May, 2024.

This is to enable lawyers press for the immediate release of our colleague and secretary of Idemili branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chukwubuikem J. S. Azoro who was kidnapped at Abagana on Saturday 11th May, 2024.

Also take notice that there shall be a press conference at Idemili Bar Centre, Ogidi on Thursday 16th May, 2024 by 9.00am. Lawyers are mandated to attend the press conference.

Dress code shall be FORMAL

Kindly ensure strict compliance of this directive.

Signed:
FOR NBA BRANCHES, ANAMBRA STATE

I. C. NSOFOR ESQ
Chairman, Committee of Chairmen and Secretaries, NBA Branches, Anambra State.

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BREAKING: ODUAH, BISHOP, 6 OTHERS LOSE APPEALS, MBAMALA, ANYIA WIN

  • ‘WE ARE HEADING TO COURT,’ SAYS ODUAH’S TOP AIDE

The Usman Ogwu Sule SAN-led National Officers’ Election Appeal Committee (NOEAC) has resolved all appeals sent in by aspirants disqualified by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Confirming the conclusion of the appeals, the Chairman of the Appeal Committee, Mr. Usman Ogwu Sule SAN told CITY LAWYER that “The Committee received 10 Appeals and considered same. The Appeal committee resolutions are sent to all Candidates emails. Candidates are to check their emails.”

CITY LAWYER can also confirm that aside from about two appeals, all the others were dismissed by the Appeal Committee which sat in marathon meetings.

Among the appeals dismissed are those of former NBA General Secretary Joyce Oduah, embattled NBA Treasurer Caroline Anze-Bishop, fiery blogger Felix Ashimole, and returnee aspirant Ede Asenoguan.

Others are Dhikrullah Balogun, Jovita Ibekwe and Adejorin Abiona who are gunning for positions as NBA Representatives at the General Council of the Bar (GCB).

Among the lucky duo are Sabastine Anyia who is gunning for the post of NBA First Vice President and Chukwuemeka Mbamala who is vying for the post of Treasurer.

Dismissing Bishop’s appeal, the committee held that “The Appeal Committee finds that the Candidate being a Civil Servant is not into full time private legal practice not minding the letter from NSCDC attached as Annexure 4. The annexure does not cure the defect that she is still a Civil Servant in the employment of NSCDC.

“The Appeal Committee therefore affirms the decision of the ECNBA and this appeal is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit. On the whole, the appeal lacks merit and is accordingly dismissed.”

Though Oduah did not respond to enquiries on the outcome of her appeal, a top aide of the former National Officer told CITY LAWYER that “We are heading to court,” indicating that she would appeal the rule to the court.

CITY LAWYER investigation showed that the appellants were meant to scale different hurdles.

Oduah, an NBA presidential aspirant, was to answer to having held elective offices for two terms while her seconder omitted to include evidence of payment of 2024 BPF. Anze-Bishop (General Secretary) was confronted with the charge that she is not in private practice.

Ashimole was said to have paid his 2024 BPF on 24th December, 2023 while his second nominator submitted a teller dated 29/01/24 in lieu of 2024 BPF.

On his part, Sabastine Anyia, who is gunning for the position of NBA First Vice President, was to answer to the charge that the proof of BPF payment for one of the nominators did not carry the name of the nominator.

Asenoguan, who ran for the position of General Secretary in the 2022 Elections, asked the Appeal Committee to reverse the decision that he failed to add to his nomination, evidence of payment of 2024 BPF.

Mbamala, a returnee aspirant for the position of Treasurer, has cried foul over the decision that his nominator and seconder’s receipts of payment for BPF had no names on the receipts. Balogun is said not to have attached 2022 branch dues receipt while the nominator did not also attach 2022 branch dues.

For Ibekwe, the ECNBA had resolved that her nominator paid his 2023 branch dues in April and did not submit his evidence of payment of 2024 BPF while the seconder’s receipt of payment of BPF has no name or email address.

Abiona, also an aspirant for the position of GCB Representative, battled to surmount the charge that his Seconder’s state of origin does not align with his own for the GCB slot.

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‘NIGERIA’S JUDICIARY IS IN DECLINE’ – PETER OBI

Former presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, has bemoaned the state of Nigeria’s judiciary, saying it is witnessing an undeniable decline.

Obi noted that although there still exists few good judges and justices in the country, the situation is worrisome generally speaking and is a threat to the future of the nation.

Delivering a keynote speech on Tuesday titled “The Role of the Judiciary in Shaping Nigeria’s Future” at the fifth memorial of Justice Anthony Nnaemeka Aniagolu, at the Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu, Obi said there is a lot to learn from the integrity of the late Justice of the Supreme Court and his class of justices.

“It was truly an honor to pay tribute to one of Nigeria’s most esteemed jurists, the late Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Nnaemeka Aniagolu. His illustrious career, particularly as a Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria from 1978 to 1987, brought immense honor to our judiciary through his unwavering integrity and steadfast commitment to upholding the rule of law and ensuring justice in our nation,” said Obi.

“As we commemorate the legacy of Justice Aniagolu and other revered Nigerian judges, we must draw inspiration from their exemplary service. We must strive to emulate their dedication to integrity, fairness, respect for the rule of law, transparency, humility, and the dispensation of justice.

“While the judiciary today still boasts of a few outstanding judges, there is an undeniable decline in our judicial system. This decline poses a significant threat to the future of Nigeria. Justice is increasingly commodified, and delivered in favor of the highest bidder.

“When the rule of law is compromised, the most vulnerable members of society are disproportionately affected, and the fabric of our society begins to fray. The integrity of our institutions, the protection of human rights, and the stability of our nation are all jeopardized.

“The rule of law is the highest intangible and most valuable asset of any society, and we must work tirelessly to protect and preserve it. We must prioritize the pursuit of justice above all else.

“Only then can we ensure that the rule of law remains a beacon of hope and a safeguard against tyranny, oppression, and injustice. The future of our nation depends on it

“In my address to the audience, I emphasized the urgent need to revitalize our judicial system by safeguarding its independence and promoting the values of character, competence, capability, compassion, and integrity among our jurists, as well as within our political leadership. By doing so, we can ensure that justice and fairness prevail as we endeavor to build a better Nigeria for all.”

THE NICHE reports that Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu is a private institution owned and managed by the Catholic Church.

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HIGH AGC FEES: ‘MY ADVICE TO YOUNG LAWYERS,’ – EX NBA BRANCH CHAIR

BY BAYO AKINLADE

AGC Conference fees have never been affordable, especially by young Lawyers. As Branch Chairman, I struggled to see why the Branch as a whole would contribute to the conference fee cost of members who had paid their registration fees. What are those extra costs, you might ask? Well you have travel cost and daily transportation to the venue(s), daily upkeep and off course the party that each Branch must host for its members.

Even though I objected to these events, I was compelled to attend a few AGCs at my Branch’s expense which I wasn’t happy about.

The fact is that the AGC fees cannot be made to be too affordable because NBA is so big; there is no way to cater or accommodate its more than 500 thousand members. There will be chaos if the NBA AGC fees were minimal, not even considering the other costs involved.

I recall that during my time as chairman of NBA Ikorodu Branch, I was given a bill of nearly 1 million naira that the Branch spent to go to Abuja with less than 25 of its members for the NBA AGC that year. I nearly had a psychotic breakdown because I knew that the money could have been used to better the lot of more than 200 of my members instead of being used for just about 25 members.

Nevertheless, we must understand that the combined funds spent by NBA national, NBA Branches and individual members of the Bar to host and attend NBA AGCs is money down the drain.

Some may say that the AGC presents to them a social environment to travel and have a holiday and to meet old colleagues. But these are all selfish reasons that add very little value to the real purpose of having an AGC in the first place.

An AGC’s value is in its intellectual and legal reform outcomes. There is no need for justice reform summits or the likes if the AGCs were properly utilized. Besides, every Branch has its own Law Week. So let me propose the following – and these are not new ideas:

1. Focus on State Law Weeks as opposed to Branch Law Weeks

2. AGCs can be held once every 2 or 4 years while AGMs can be help yearly and virtually

3. We can try out Sub-regional Conferences once every other year that the AGC is not holding

4. Breakdown the Registration fees and Charge it per day or per session attended instead of one bulk registration fee

There are many ideas out there but we need to apply ourselves to forward thinking. Not everyone needs to attend these conferences, it is at most, a jamboree anyway because we spend too much time on protocols, receiving special political guests and mentioning the names of all the prominent people in the room while cutting down the time for speakers to deliver their well-researched papers; no time for real debates and exchange of ideas but lots of time for parties and campaigns for NBA positions.

If you are struggling to be part of the 2024 NBA AGC holding in Lagos State, don’t waste your time and your money! You don’t need to be there if you can’t afford to be there!

  • Bayo Akinlade is a former Chairman of NBA Ikorodu Branch (2018-2020)

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‘AVOID ECNBA’S TECHNICAL JUSTICE OR RISK EXODUS’ – NBA VP WARNS APPEALS C’TE

The Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Chukwuemeka Ugo has warned that about 35 percent of members may exit the association unless the National Officers’ Election Appeal Committee (NOEAC) does substantial justice in hearing the appeals of disqualified aspirants.

In a post on his verified Facebook page, Ugo urged the Appeal Committee to depart from technical justice as allegedly adopted by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), saying that to do otherwise will cause disunity among NBA members.

His words: “The Appeal Committee has unfettered powers to look through our constitution as regards the combined effect of section 4(1) a-c and section 9(3) of 2015 NBA Constitution as amended in 2021 as well as the overriding powers of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria on all laws in Nigeria on the issue of discrimination and access to court.

“This is sequel to the disqualification by ECNBA of the current Treasurer of the NBA CAROLINE LADIDI ANZE-BISHOP for the office of the NBA General Secretary. We are better off together, despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of association; we cannot afford losing about 35% of our members to any crises that can be corrected by the appeal body through the instrumentality of substantial justice.”

Noting that he has confidence in the Appeal Committee members, the Bar Leader said: “The Appeal Committee, with semblance of superior or appellate court, must rise to the occasion by utilizing the above democratic advice from the jurists of our time towards looking at delivering justice to the aspirants’ appeals and not the strict applicability of the guidelines as handed down to the ECNBA and or the Appeal committee.”

The fiery senior lawyer stated that “From the report of many disqualified aspirants at the forthcoming NBA Election and General Council of the Bar, you will agree with me that majority of our members that volunteered to assist the Bar were disqualified in an excruciating manner by the ECNBA. The Appeal committee is by this solemn request and plea asked to examine the appeals of those disqualified by mere irregularity of non-attachment of one receipt or the other and wrong placement of branch dues receipt in place of Bar Practice Fees (BPF) receipts.”

Below is the full text of the post.

A DEMOCRATIC ADVICE TO LEADERSHIP OF NBA NATIONAL OFFICERS ELECTION APPEALS COMMITTEE LED BY USMAN OGWU SULE, SAN, A VERY GOOD AND HONEST MAN:

1. DEMOCRATIC PREFACE:
On the 14th day of April, 2024 we read a circular signed by the President of Nigerian Bar Association Mr. YAKUBU CHONOKO MAIKYAU, OON SAN wherein he nominated, without the usual tradition of discussing same with his other Executive Committee members, citing Section 14(3)(i) of the NBA constitution, 2015 as amended in 2021, the National Officers’ Election Appeal Committee made up of USMAN OGWU SULE, SAN AS CHAIRMAN, MRS FOALSHADE ALLI, SAN (ALTERNATE CHAIR), DR. AGADA JOHN ELACHI, SAN, ADIZUA OKOROAFOR, ESQ, MATTHEW OSUME, ESQ, AMINA SENCHI (MRS), and STELLA OMOIKHEFE OWU (SECRETARY) which was ratified by the NEC in Yola, Adamawa State on the 20th day of April, 2024 with sole aim of receiving and resolving electoral complaints and disputes arising from the election of National Officers and elections of representatives of NBA Representatives in General Council of the Bar.

Having notified the chairman of the committee via a private chat on Wednesday, the 17th day of April, 2024 not to accept the said nomination, it goes to show that my input towards same was not persuasive enough to compel the committee members to heed to my supplication for the overall interest of the Bar – at least towards promoting the spirit of ‘’carrying along” mantra which could have been a good example for future leadership of the Bar. However the Committee’s subsequent acceptance, through the Chairman of the appeal committee which was later ratified by the National Executive Counsel (NEC) at Yola, nailed my agitation for inclusivity in NBA affairs as regards appointment of committee members, and which was the exclusive reserve of Mr. President and his aides.

2. DEMOCRATIC ADVICE #1
Nigerian Bar Association is predicated upon Promoting the Rule of Law as well as promoting the welfare of her members and by extension being the image-maker and spokesperson of the oppressed citizens of Nigerians. These and many more have eluded us during this our administration which from public opinion is regarded as not satisfactory in the history of the Bar.

The foundation of getting NBA right begins in the election process; the election process is predicated upon those saddled with the responsibility to conduct same. These sets of people are known as the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) and National Officers Elections Appeal Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (NOEAC-NBA).

Recently, we have witnessed how NBA “Politicians” have been drafted to man these critical sectors and live-wire of the bar. A cursory look at the two mentioned committees and you will agree with me that about 90% of the membership of both committees have held one position in the past either at the national or at branch level or some are billed to contest in future elections of the NBA be it at the branch level or the national level. This scenario that we found ourselves leaves much more to be worried about the likely output that may come out of the elections conducted by these sets of NBA “POLITICIANS.” There may be clear clash of interests in making some decisions, though it does not mean same persons cannot stand tall to do justice despite the pressure on them or their perceived affiliation with any aspirant in NBA elections.

As a democrat, I have consistently advocated that the Bar can solve the problem of Nigeria if we agree; it is based on this analogy that something substantially good can still come out from the Appeal Committee, having absolute trust in and respect for the members. I have taken out time to examine the Appeal Committee composition, despite most of them having held NBA political positions before now. I have decided to draw solace in their personal characters which are above board and their recent statement to grant fair hearing to all that will come before them; that was a cheering news to behold. It gladdens my heart also that majority of the committee members – if not all – have in their practice been confronted with issue of technicalities that can never be found in our jurisprudence anymore, but which was utilized with impunity by the ECNBA to disqualify lawyers that have indicated interest to serve the bar without any pecuniary interest, just a selfless service and nothing more.

The Appeal Committee should take hint from the words of Justice Niki Tobi to do substantial justice. This was aptly captured in YUSUF V ADEGOKE & ANOR (2007) LPELR – 3534 (SC).; “A technicality in a matter could arise if a party is relying on abstract or inordinate legalism to becloud or drown the merits of a case. A technicality arises if a party quickly takes an immediately available opportunity, however infinitesimal it may be, to work against the merits of the opponent’s case. In other words, he holds and relies tenaciously on the rules of court with little or no regard for the justice of the matter. As far as he is concerned, the rules must be followed to the last sentences, the last words, and the last letters without much ado, and with little or no regard for the injustice that will be caused to the opponent.’’

In UTC (NIG.) LTD. V PAMOTEI, (1989) 2 NWLR (Pt. 103) 244 at page 296 F. Belgore, JSC, (as he then was) stated that “Rules of procedure are made for the convenience and orderly hearing of cases in Court. They are made to help the cause of justice and not to defeat justice. The rules are therefore aids to the Court and not masters of the Court. For Courts to read rules in the absolute without recourse to the justice of the cause, to my mind, will be making the courts slavish to the Rules.”

He stated again in FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA V ZEBRA ENERGY LTD (2002) 18 NWLR (Pt. 798) 162 pages 204 – 205 that “…Procedure is a guide to smoothen the passage of suit; to direct the parties what to do and to guide the Court to arrive at the justice of a case… The Court shall never be shackled by procedure; the case is not made for a procedure, it is the other way round. Once the procedure employed has brought into focus the issues the parties contest and there is no miscarriage of justice it will not matter that the procedure is not the correct one. Getting to the destination is what is important; it does not matter the means used. This Court will certainly not disturb a clear case of justice between the parties by suo motu raising for the parties procedural abnormalities…, what is relevant in a case of this nature is the question of the justice of the case”.

The Appeal Committee, with semblance of superior or appellate court, must rise to the occasion by utilizing the above democratic advice from the jurists of our time towards looking at delivering justice to the aspirants’ appeals and not the strict applicability of the guidelines as handed down to the ECNBA and or the Appeal committee.

3. DEMOCRATIC ADVICE #2
Taking a cue from the body responsible to the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) in giving every applicant an opportunity to correct mere irregularities in their applications, by appearing in person to give reason or reasons for their various queries as may be practicable before the second filtration, the Appeal Committee should not only read through their submissions as envisaged rather should be allow them to throw more light on their appeals to give that sense of transparency and justice.

From the report of many disqualified aspirants at the forthcoming NBA Election and General Council of the Bar, you will agree with me that majority of our members that volunteered to assist the Bar were disqualified in an excruciating manner by the ECNBA. The Appeal committee is by this solemn request and plea asked to examine the appeals of those disqualified by mere irregularity of non-attachment of one receipt or the other and wrong placement of branch dues receipt in place of Bar Practice Fees (BPF) receipts.

The Appeal Committee should examine whether evidence of payment of BPF suffices as substantial compliance in place of the proper BPF receipt? And whether failure to accept same does not qualify as technicality, hence, does not do justice. We should allow as many as possible members that substantially complied with the guideline and the NBA Constitution to be allowed to be voted for.
“Justice is not a one-way traffic. It is not for the aspirant alone. Justice is not even a two-way traffic. It is really three-way traffic”. The Appeal Committee should see that aspirants to the NBA Elections, and the members of NBA at large, should be made to perceive that justice has been done and still maintain their faith in the outcome of the Appeal Committee as the last hope of the common man in NBA.

To this end, it is the view most respectfully shared by Democrats LIKE ME and studies at large that the Appeal Committee of the NBA must be seen to be interested in doing justice to the aspirants or the issues before it rather than being an advocate of injustice. I am convinced that justice will be served based on the quality of the composition of Appeal Committee members. In light of the foregoing positions of the cited authorities, there will not be any moral nexus for the highly respected NBA Appeal Committee members – who I really respect so much – to apply the principle in APC v Machina, as many Nigerians feels. That will be going the way of ECNBA.

The Appeal Committee have unfettered powers to look through our constitution as regards the combined effect of section 4(1) a-c and section 9(3) of 2015 NBA Constitution as amended in 2021 as well as the overriding powers of the 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria on all laws in Nigeria on the issue of discrimination and access to court. This is sequel to the disqualification by ECNBA of the current Treasurer of the NBA CAROLINE LADIDI ANZE-BISHOP for the office of the NBA General Secretary. We are better off together, despite the constitutional guarantee of freedom of association; we cannot afford losing about 35% of our members to any crises that can be corrected by the appeal body through the instrumentality of substantial Justice.

4. DEMOCRATIC SUGGESTION
May I suggest that, going forward, the umpire for our elections should not be chosen from among members that have held elective NBA positions or intending aspirants, either at branch or national levels. This is to demonstrate the true intent and meaning of independence and transparency.

5. DEMOCRATIC CONCLUSION
I implore the Appeal Committee to save NBA from further disunity by rising up to the occasion in making NBA one formidable family that each member can aspire to any position of his or her choice as well as cementing our togetherness. The Nigerian Bar Association is better together than polarized. This is a herculean task and or clarion call on the USMAN OGWU SULE, SAN-led Appeal Committee to avoid any interference from any quarter, stand firm and tilt more on the side of decisions that will make NBA more united than the one that will divide NBA the more.

Democrat is solidly with the Appeal Committee, as I pray for them to deliver justice to all. I am aware that their decisions shall further strengthen our common resolve of united Bar. Democrat writes for the love of the Bar and nothing more.

#DEMOCRAT2030
(DEMOCRATIC ADVICE TO NBA NATIONAL ELECTION APPEAL COMMITTEE)

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UK LAWYERS: LEDAP SUES AGF, TRADE MINISTER, COURT SETS JUNE 3 HEARING

NEWS RELEASE

LEDAP SUES ATTORNEY GENERAL AND TRADE MINISTER OVER UK-NIGERIA LAWYERS EXCHANGE AGREEMENT

The Legal Defence & Assistance Project (LEDAP) has filed a suit at the Federal High Court Abuja against the Hon Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Trade seeking detailed information on the recent bilateral agreement between Nigeria and the United Kingdom that would allow UK lawyers to practice law in Nigeria.

The suit came up for its first hearing today, May 13th, 2024, before Hon. Justice J. K Omotosho. LEDAP was represented by Adama Adamu Wakili. The defendants, the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Trade, were absent along with their counsel.

LEDAP’s counsel informed the court that the defendants had been served with the necessary documents and that LEDAP is prepared to proceed. The court adjourned the case to June 3rd, 2024 for hearing of the suit.

In an originating motion filed at the Court with suit no: FHC/ABJ/CS/430/2024, LEDAP seeks orders to compel the Attorney General of the Federation and the Minister of Trade to comply with its request for information on the legal practice agreement, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2011.

The reliefs sought in the suit are:
1. A DECLARATION that the Respondents’ denial of information requested by the applicants in its letters of 14th February 2024 to the Respondents, requesting for copies of the Enhanced Trade Investment Partnership (ETIP) Agreement on legal services between the Government of Nigeria and The United Kingdom and the details of consultations undertaken with relevant stakeholders in respect to the negotiation for the ETIP Agreement including with the Nigerian Bar Association, General Council of the Bar or any other body relevant to the protection of the legal trade in Nigeria is an infraction of Section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011 and of Applicants’ right to such information under the said section.

2. AN ORDER of court compelling the Respondent to disclose to the Applicant within 14 days of the order the detailed information as requested by the Applicant in its letters of 14th February 2024, namely; Copies of the Enhanced Trade Investment Partnership (ETIP) Agreement on legal services between the Government of Nigeria and The United Kingdom and details of consultations undertaken with relevant stakeholders in respect of the negotiation for the ETIP Agreement including with the Nigerian Bar Association, General Council of the Bar or any other body relevant to the protection of the legal trade in Nigeria.

The grounds for the application are as follows:
1. The Applicant has the right to the information it requested from the Respondents in its letter to the Respondents dated 14″ February 2024, (attached to the affidavit in support of the motion as Exhibits B and C), by virtue of section 1(1) of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

2. That the Respondents failed to furnish the Applicant with the information requested without stating any valid grounds for withholding the said information.

3. The National Assembly, in 2011, enacted the Freedom of Information Act which makes general provisions on requests for information by “anyone” in need of such information.

4. The information sought by the Applicant from the Respondents does not fall within any of the exemptions provided under Sections 11,12,14,15 16 and 17 of the Act, or under any other part of the Act.

5. This Honourable Court has the jurisdiction to order the Respondents to disclose the requested information under section 25 of the Freedom of Information Act, 2011.

Nora Asobara
Program Director, LEDAP

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NBA ELECTIONS: ODUAH, BISHOP, 7 OTHERS FILE APPEALS AGAINST DISQUALIFICATION

  • COMMITTEE BEGINS HEARING ON APPEALS

No less than nine aspirants have filed appeals challenging their disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), CITY LAWYER can report.

Among those who beat the seven-day deadline set by the NBA Constitution are former NBA General Secretary Joyce Oduah, embattled NBA Treasurer Caroline Anze-Bishop, fiery blogger Felix Ashimole, and returnee aspirants Ede Asenoguan, Sabastine Anyia and Chukwuemeka Mbamala.

Others are Dhikrullah Balogun, Jovita Ibekwe and Adejorin Abiona who are gunning for positions as NBA Representatives at the General Council of the Bar (GCB).

Meanwhile, the Appeals Coommittee has started sitting over appeals sent in by disqualified aspirants. The Chairman of the the National Officers’ Election Appeal Committee (NOEAC), Mr. Usman Ogwu Sule SAN has also said that the committee will not invite the ECNBA to defend its disqualification of some aspirants.

In an interview with CITY LAWYER, Sule stated that such procedure in unknown to NBA’s electoral jurisprudence, saying: “No. Our Committee job starts when the ECNBA job ends. That is not a requirement, nor procedure expected of the National Officers’ Appeal Committee.

“The Committee will operate within the NBA Constitution. We will grant all disqualified candidates fair hearing.”

Controversy has trailed some of the ECNBA decisions, especially relating to the submission of Bar Practising Fee receipts, with some lawyers arguing that the issue should turn on whether the aspirant or his nominator paid BPF and not the quality of receipt attached to his nomination form.

CITY LAWYER has now obtained details of the hurdles to be surmounted by each aspirant at the appeals hearing.

Oduah, who is aspiring to be the next NBA President, will answer to having held elective offices for two terms while her seconder omitted to include evidence of payment of 2024 BPF. Anze-Bishop (General Secretary) will confront the charge that she is not in private practice.

Ashimole is accused of having paid his 2024 BPF on 24th December, 2023 while his second nominator submitted a teller dated 29/01/24 in lieu of 2024 BPF.

On his part, Sabastine Anyia, who is gunning for the position of NBA First Vice President, will answer to the charge that the proof of BPF payment for one of the nominators did not carry the name of the nominator.

Asenoguan, who ran for the position of General Secretary in the 2022 Elections, is asking the Appeals Committee to reverse the decision that he failed to add to his nomination, evidence of payment of BPF for year 2024.

Mbamala, a returnee aspirant for the position of Treasurer, has cried foul over the decision that his nominator and seconder’s receipts of payment for BPF had no names on the receipts. Balogun is said not to have attached 2022 branch dues receipt while the nominator did not also attach 2022 branch dues.

For Ibekwe, the ECNBA had resolved that her nominator paid his 2023 branch dues in April and did not submit his evidence of payment of 2024 BPF while the seconder’s receipt of payment of BPF has no name or email address.

Abiona, also an aspirant for the position of GCB Representative, is battling to surmount the charge that his Seconder’s state of origin does not align with his own for the GCB slot

As the committee begins sitting, all the aspirants and their opponents are now all ears for the decision on the appeals.

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RIVERS CRISIS: COURT ORDER NOT REQUIRED FOR DEFECTING LAWMAKER TO LOSE SEAT

RIVERS STATE: COURT PRONOUNCEMENT NOT NECESSARY IN VACATION OF SEAT OF A DEFECTING LAWMAKER IN NIGERIA

BY SYLVESTER UDEMEZUE (UDEMS)

1️⃣ SECTION 109(1)(G), CFRN, 1999 provides: “A member of a House of Assembly shall vacate his seat in the House if –
being a person whose election to the House of Assembly was sponsored by a political party, he becomes a member of any other political party before the expiration of the period for which that House was elected: Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored;”

2️⃣ SECTION 109(2), CFRN, 1999: “The Speaker of the House of Assembly shall give effect to subsection (1) of this section, so however that the Speaker or a member shall first present evidence satisfactory to the House that any of the provisions of that subsection has become applicable in respect of the member”

3️⃣. On 12 December 2023, “COURT CONFIRMS EDISON EHIE AS AUTHENTIC RIVERS ASSEMBLY SPEAKER” (published in
guardian.ng)

4️⃣. On 14 December 2023, “FUBARA-BACKED RIVERS SPEAKER DECLARES SEATS OF 27 DEFECTED LAWMAKERS VACANT”* (published in premiumtimesng)

5️⃣(a). I can’t see anywhere in the Constitution where Court has any role to play before the seats of defecting lawmakers could or would become vacant;

(b). Meanwhile, the following appear to be not in doubt:

(i). 27 lawmakers had defected to another party. On 11 December 2023, *”27 RIVERS PDP LAWMAKERS DEFECT TO APC”* (See: punchng.com)

(ii). There was no division reported at the national level of their own political party (PDP) as of the time and date they defected to the APC;

(iii). By virtue of an order of a competent court of law, Edison Ehie was the Speaker as of 13 December 2023 when the seats were declared vacant bt the Speaker, Hon Edison Ehie.

(iv). As the speaker, Hon Edison Ehie then declared vacant, the seats of the 27 members who had defected to the APC.

(v). HON EDISON EHIE as the speaker reportedly later wrote the INEC to conduct elections to fill the vacant seats. *”RIVERS SPEAKER WRITES INEC, SEEKS CONDUCT OF FRESH ELECTIONS IN 25 CONSTITUENCIES”*
(See: leadership.ng)

(vi). Whether INEC listened to conduct bye-elections or not, and pending when INEN would conduct the bye-elections, the declaration by the speaker, based on the defection, appears to have rendered the seats vacant. Further, the Speaker had done what he should do by notifying INEC and inviting INEC to conduct fresh elections to fill the existing vacancies. The ball is now in INEC’s court. Meanwhile, the businesses of the House of Assembly has to proceed with the remaining members of the House, pending when INEC conducts the bye-elections. See Section 102 of the Constitution.

(vii). Until today that declaration by speaker Ehie has not been reversed by the speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly; can it even be reversed by the House? No provisions in the Constitution for reversal of the declaration.

6️⃣. I saw yesterday (09/05/2024) where one of our great seniors was arguing strongly that mere defection doesn’t render the lawmakers’ seats vacant. And I asked myself, even if section 109(1)(g) was not self-executory as the learned senior argued, had the Speaker not given effect to the provisions of Section 109(1)(g) as required by the Constitution, thereby executing it whereupon the seats of the 27 members had then become vacant in the eyes of the law? How else does our oga want the provisions of *Section 109(1) (g)* to be given effect? And, does INEC’s delay in conducting Bye-elections to fill the vacancies created by the defection, affect the fact that in law, their seats are already vacant?

7️⃣. I saw also another opinion, that a court must declare the seats vacant before the seats can become vacant. With due respect, I don’t think that’s what the law says. The Constitution does not say anywhere, that a court of law must make a declaration before the seats of defecting members of a legislative house would become vacant upon such a defection. The Constitution has given power to the Speaker of the House of Assembly to declare the affected seats vacant. And irrespective of how Hon Edison Ehie was elected the speaker, the court had upheld the said election (albeit temporarily) and given the said speaker and the remaining Assembly members the go-ahead to conduct the businesses of the House. It was after the green light from the court that the Edison Ehie-led House went ahead to declare VACANT the seats the defecting members. A court order remains binding and effective unless and until set aside. See *THE MILITARY GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE & ORS. V. CHIEF EMEKA ODUMEGWU OJUKWU & ANOR (1986) JELR 47904 (SC);* (SC. 241/850) [1986] NGSC 13 (14 February 1986).

See also Ogundare, JSC, in *Rossek v. A.C.B. Ltd.* (1993) 8 NWLR (Pt. 312) 382 at pages 434-435 E-C; and Eso, JSC in *Oba Aladegbami v. Oba Fasanmade* (1988) 3NWLR (pt.81) 131; (1988-LCER-4450-SC)

See also *Adebayo v. Johnson* (1969) 1 All NLR 176; *Aladegbemi v. Fasanmade* (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt.81) 129; *Komolafe v. Omole* (1993) 1 NWLR (Pt.268) 213; *Rossek v. African Continental Bank Ltd.* (supra).” See also the dictum of MUHAMMAD, J.S.C ( Pp. 23-27, paras. E-C ) in *OSHIOMHOLE & ANOR V. FGN & ANOR* (2004) LPELR-5188(CA).

If there was a court order validating the actions of the Edison Ehie-led House at the time the House declared vacant the seats, can one validly argue that the seats have not been declared vacant?

8️⃣. By the way, let one advert one’s mind to the rules of corporate governance, especially relating to Majority Rule and Minority Protection?What happens when those acting illegally or committing a breach of the law are in the majority, and can’t reasonably be expected to take action against themselves for purposes of giving effect to the legal consequences of their illegal actions, which situation has foisted upon the corporation a state of hopelessness or helplessness? Isn’t the minority entitled to act to save the situation? By the way when 27 members out of a 32-member house defect leaving only five, aren’t the five entitled to act to uphold and protect the law, since it’s reasonably unthinkable that the defecting 27 members would ever give effect to the provisions of Section 109(1)(g), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999?

9️⃣. There is no doubt that the 27 lawmakers are the ones who had voluntarily given their opponents the weapon with which to fight the 27 lawmakers. Thus, I agree with respected Femi Falana, SAN, that the defection of the 27 lawmakers was ill-advised, self-defeating and counterproductive. *”27 RIVERS LAWMAKERS WHO DEFECTED FROM PDP TO APC DIDN’T RECEIVE SOUND LEGAL ADVICE AND HAVE LOST THEIR SEATS – FEMI FALANA”*
(See: lindaikejisblog.com).

9️⃣. RESOLUTION OF THE MATTER. I humbly think that if the affected 27 or 25 lawmakers believe their seats have not become vacant, they should explore the legal opportunity provided by *Section 272(3), Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999,* which provides as follows: _”Subject to the provisions of section 251 and other provisions of this Constitution, the Federal High Court shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine the question as to whether the term of office of a member of the House of Assembly of a State, a Governor or Deputy Governor has ceased or *become vacant”. The court would then examine all issues and award relevant redress or orders as it may deem necessary, fit and just in the circumstances. It is respectfully submitted that the State High Court also has jurisdiction in the matter.

🔟. Finally, I admit the legal discussions are intricate, complex as many issues need to be examined on both sides. Meanwhile, I urge all lawyers as custodians of the rule of law, to approach the matter with an open and objective mind, while facing reality as it’s. On my part, as much as I need a further education on the legal issues, I think I should write further to give a detailed legal opinion on the matter, citing as much more legal authorities as I am able to have access to, in the best interest of the public and our constitutional democracy.

  • Udemezue (Udems) is the Proctor at Reality Ministry of Justice (RMJ), a Public Interest Legal Advocacy Group), and can be reached at therealistministry@gmail.com.

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NBA PORT HARCOURT CHAIR: CORDELIA EKE, OTHERS CLEARED TO RUN

A leading aspirant for the coveted position of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Port Harcourt Chairman, Mrs. Cordelia Uwuma Eke has had her chances brightened following her clearance today by the John K. Synger-led Electoral Committee.

In a notice obtained by CITY LAWYER, the electoral umpire stated that it has scrutinized Eke’s nomination papers and found them faultless.

Eke topped the list of candidates cleared by the Electoral Committee for the position of Chairman, even as the committee also gave the green light to Mr. Geoffrey Joseph and Felicia Nwoke.

Others who also made the list include Chijioke Amadi and Emmanuel John for the position Vice Chairman, Obum Nwoye, Secretary; Modupe Babalola, Financial Secretary and Esu Cleopas for Assistant Secretary.

A pioneer female Secretary of the branch, Eke is on course to also emerge as the pioneer female Chairman of the mega branch. 

Eke is a respected Bar Leader and former former Secretary of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA). Currently a Director in the Rivers State Ministry of Justice where she holds sway as a no-nonsense criminal trial prosecutor, Eke has been actively engaged in mediation, civil and criminal litigation at the high court, Appeal court, and the Supreme court for over 20 years.

She is also the President of the influential 1995 Law School Class. A Rivers State Representative in the Eastern Zone Management Committee of the NBA Section on Business Law (NBA-SBL), Eke holds a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) Degree from the Rivers State University of Science and Technology (now Rivers State University), Port Harcourt, and a Master of Laws (LLM) in Public International Law, from the University of Kent, Canterbury in the United Kingdom. 

More recently, she was named among Africa’s Top 100 Female Lawyers during the unveiling of this year’s “Courtroom Mail 100 Women 2024.”

A citation by the organisers noted that Eke is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators ICMC Nigeria, a Fellow of the Institute of Management Consultants, and an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Nigeria. She specializes in Criminal Law and Alternative Dispute Resolution.

Eke has held several leadership positions in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), African Bar Association (AFBA), African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA) Nigeria, International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria and the Law Officers Association of Nigeria (LOAN) at state and national levels, including being Council Member of the NBA Human Rights Institute and the National Executive Committee. She is presently a member of the NBA National Remuneration Committee.

The popular Bar Leader is acclaimed as an ace prosecutor and has also held down several roles at the Ministry of justice, including, being the Team Lead, Committee on Drafting of Prosecution Manual and Code of Conduct for Prosecutors and Team Lead, Attorney-General’s Special Committee which treated abandoned case files of over 350 awaiting trial inmates in the Federal prisons in Rivers State.

Her expertise in criminal law practice made her a much-sought-after Speaker, Trainer, and Resource person on legal and other subjects. She has presented papers to members of the Bench and the Bar among others at various seminars, workshops and conferences including the NBA Annual General Conferences and NBA Continuing Legal Education (NBA-CLE) programmes among others.

Reputed as a cerebral lawyer, Eke is the author of the fast-selling book, CRIMINAL JUSTICE IN NIGERIA: A PRACTICAL GUIDE. She has also published articles and edited legal works and newsletters.

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LAWYERS IN BUSINESS INSTITUTE UNVEILS 2024 SCHEMES, OLAGUNJU SAN AMONG TOP SUBSCRIBERS

GOOD NEWS: LAWYER IN BUSINESS INSTITUTE [RC:135532] announces ongoing programmes for the Benefit/Training of Lawyers/members, with Aare Isiaka Olagunju SAN among top subscribers

The programmes include:

1] LIBI Land-Banking Scheme: [100 of us contribute 100k each to buy F.C.D.A Land with Approved Building Plan in a Built-up Estate; Build to DPC Level, sell later and share profit]. Click here to join https://chat.whatsapp.com/JSAM91XdOcsBVTDKQ5HfLX

2] NHIS Free Comprehensive Health Insurance for two lucky Lawyers/members this June 2024. Click here to join https://chat.whatsapp.com/IW0tWKBl4iI7gjRgcd8jJ6

3] Monthly Asusu [rotational contribution] through the LIBI Cooperative to help Lawyers/members raise interest-free Loan for Investments. Some guides on areas and how to invest also available. Click here to join: https://chat.whatsapp.com/Dq2fqrx6jxmKMe5FXligRU

4] Shalom Villa Estate Ltd Partnership: to help Lawyers/members become Landlords in Abuja and pay Small small for up to one year/Six months. Land is F.C.D.A Allocation with FCDA Approved Building Plan. Subscribe, build and move in.

5] TekPath Ltd: To train Lawyers/Members on the Tech Skills needed to render there Legal and other services from home/office and earn in Dollars. [On platformremote. co, nodesk. co, upwork .com, flexjobs. com. pangian. com, remotely. jobs, remotive. com etc]
Click here to join https://chat.whatsapp.com/Lht5HN5TfXR2CDoXmUnxtW

6] Digital Technology Business School London, United Kingdom: To train and Certify Lawyers/members on IT, Project Management, Business Analysis, Cyber Security and Data Science.

7] Queens Breed Services: To train Lawyers/members on the opportunities available on the Nigerian Customs Auction Portal and how to navigate same. Members will be able to buy cars at amazingly cheap rates during Customs Auction and resell at greater value.

8] NACO Logistics Ltd: To train Lawyers/Members on the Logistics/Hospitality Industry and opportunities therein.

9] Remita Invest Crypto Inc: To train Lawyers/Members on the opportunities in the Crypto Market and equip them with the necessary tools to needed.

10] Marx Capital Cooperative Ltd: to train Lawyers on the opportunities in Loaning and Micro Credit bussiness.

11] Euro Titans Ltd: To train Lawyers/Members on the opportunities available in the Procurement and Government Contract industry and arm them with the requisite skills to take advantage.

Good day Learned Colleagues, especially those who just joined our platform. May all our great dreams come true.

It is with the greatest pleasure that we welcome you to the Lawyers In Business Institute.

I am Emeka Silas Agbara Esq, a Past Provost of NBA Abuja, a Director in SOLAR FOR ALL LTD, the Current Treasurer of Otu Oka-iwu [Igbo Lawyers] Abuja and a Senior Associate in the Law Firm of M. I. Dikko SAN & Associates.

I am, by God’s grace, the Convener of Lawyers in Business Institute.

BACKGROUND
We started the Lawyers in Business Int’l (Founders of the LIBI) in 2018 as a platform to teach Lawyers and learn from their experiences in the area of Business and Business ownership.

We had our first Workshop, with Professor Earnest Ojukwu SAN as the Keynote Speaker.

We set out to clear the wrong notion that Lawyers are not allowed to do business, and explained step-by-step approaches a Lawyer can take to set up and run a business successfully, without any offence to the RPC. We will share records of that Workshop here.

Before COVID, we had our second Workshop in which we invited individuals and companies that are doing well in business to guide Lawyers on how to start.

These are businesses a Lawyer can learn a few skills on, register a Limited Liability Company as the SPV to drive it, streamline operations in a few months, and be able to earn money with the phone/laptop and from the comfort of the Home, Office and/or Court.

When we practice without a hungry stomach, we practice with dignity and honor. We won’t charge N20k to draft Deed of Assignment and Power of Attorney for a Property of Six Million (a colleague did and put his Seal boldly).

We won’t charge 50k to register a Limited Liability Company, just so we are able to feed (e no easy). These and more, are the reasons we are here. We welcome ideas, contributions and insights from everyone on how best to drive this important agenda.

You are most welcome.

The Lawyers in Business Int’l (Founders of the LIBI) started in 2018 as a platform to teach Lawyers/Members and learn from their experiences in the area of business and business ownership. With your support and cooperation, we will see how far we can go before the year ends.

Kindly click the links above to join us.

Send a message to the Admin for details of any of the above opportunities, as we restrict messages to avoid spam and scam messages.

LIBI … Multiple income for greater Dignity.

Silas Agbara Esq
Senior Associate, M. I. Dikko SAN & Co/ Director, Solar For All Ltd/Treasurer, Otu Oka-iwu Abuja
Convener, LIBI

Call/Chat:08060266163. Visit suit A8, Kenuj O2 Mall, Behind Games Village Abuja

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NBA ELECTIONS: ‘WE NEED NOT EXHAUST OUR N123M BUDGET,’ SAYS ECNBA CHAIR

The Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA), Mr. Oluseun Abimbola SAN has said that the committee may not exhaust its N123 million budget as approved by the NBA National Executive Council.

Responding to concerns by stakeholders that the budget may be bloated, Abimbola told CITY LAWYER to “recognize that this is just a budget, an estimation of costs, so we do not have to necessarily exhaust it,” adding that “We are accountable people.”

Documents made available to CITY LAWYER show that the forthcoming elections may gulp about N123 million, being the amount approved by NBA-NEC at its recent emergency meeting in Yola. The amount is over N88 million higher than the N34.878 approved for the elections two years ago.

Aside from N102,704,040 which is the Naira component of the budget, another $15,000 slated for the “ICT Service Provider” completes the approved budget. With a conservative Naira exchange rate of N1,380 to the dollar, this component stands at N20.7 million, bringing the total expenditure to N123,404,040.

CITY LAWYER analysis shows that while “ECNBA Office/Admin” jumped from N8.044 million in 2022 to over N15.8 million this year, ECNBA Voters’ Education/Sensitization Outreach for the three zones will gulp about N6.3 million, up from N2.76 million two years ago.

It was observed that the three zones had a flat rate of N2.1 million this year unlike in 2022 when the Northern and Eastern zones cost N960,000 while the Western Zone cost about one-third of that figure, standing at N340,000.

Return tickets for ECNBA members, airport taxi, accommodation, lunch and contingency will gulp N36.8 million while “Technical/ICT” jumped from N17,978,000 to N30,550,000 including N25,000,000 for the Technical Support Consultant (TSC). The TSC fee was N15 million in 2022.

An additional component of this budget head is the “ICT Service Provider, E-voting Platform with Multiaccess Functionality (Email, SMS, etc)” for which $15,000,000 (sic) has been provided. The service cost the association $15,000 in 2022.

The sum of N9.2 million has been set aside for “Aspirants’ Debate” while N500,000 is billed to be spent on “Social Media (dissemination of ECNBA Notices).”

Analysts have queried some aspects of the budget, especially the “ECNBA Office/Admin” component which shot up by about 100 per cent from N8.044 million in 2022 to over N15.8 million this year, notwithstanding that the electoral committee may have inherited a functional office from its predecessor. 

While the fee for the Technical Support Consultant (TSC) was N135 million in 2022, the amount jumped by N10 million to N25 million.

It was also observed that the three (NBA) zones had a flat rate of N2.1 million this year unlike in 2022 when the Northern and Eastern zones cost N960,000 while the Western Zone cost about one-third of that figure, standing at N340,000.

Responding to these concerns, Abimbola told CITY LAWYER that the budgetary figure is a mere estimate, saying: “What we have is merely a budget, not an invoice of cost as you seem to infer.”

On whether no facilities were handed over by the 2022 electoral committee, the ECNBA helmsman said: “Contrary to your indication, we did not inherit any functional office as the last ECNBA operated from Abuja ICC borrowed facilities.”

Speaking to the issue of the N10 million jump in the TSC fee, the senior lawyer said: “Note also the astronomical inflation that has occurred since 2022 and prices of all components that have more than tripled since then, and put your thoughts and comments in perspective.”

The NBA Election is scheduled to hold on July 20, 2024.

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EXCLUSIVE: ALEGEH FLAYS AWOMOLO’S BENCHERS’ APPOINTMENTS AS ILLEGAL, VOID

  • LISTS FOUR BREACHES OF BENCHERS’ REGULATIONS

  • QUERIES HIS REMOVAL AS APPOINTMENT C’TE CHAIR

  • VOWS TO SERVE OUT HIS TENURE

  • ‘WE WILL ADDRESS ALL ISSUES’ – BODY OF BENCHERS

Life Bencher and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh SAN has disagreed sharply with the recent reconstitution of the Body of Benchers committees by its Chairman, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN.

CITY LAWYER recalls that Awomolo had recently reconstituted the membership of the body’s standing committees while creating two ad hoc committees.

But in a sharp rebuke by Alegeh, who is also a member of the NBA Board of Trustees, the Bar Leader stated that the elite body must not engage in dumping decisions taken on the floor of the house merely due to a change in leadership, warning that it would “portend grave danger if each year the decisions made in the last year are overturned when a new Chairman assumes the mantle of leadership.”

When CITY LAWYER contacted the Body of Benchers, it however assured that all issues raised by the Bar Leader would be addressed by its Chairman.

Continuing, Alegeh wrote: “I believe that the Regulations passed and all decisions made under the leadership of Honourable Justice Mary Ukaego Peter-Odili, JSC [Rtd] must be respected as they are decisions of the Body of Benchers.”

He also questioned his removal as Chairman of the Benchers Appointment Committee, noting that he is yet to serve out his three-year tenure as the duly appointed chairman of the committee.

CITY LAWYER recalls that leading senior lawyer, Prof. Yusuf Ali SAN was announced as the new chairman of the committee, with Justice Fati L. Abubakar as Vice Chairman.

In a letter dated 28th March, 2024 and titled “APPOINTMENT TO SERVE AS CHAIRMAN OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS APPOINTMENT COMMITTEE,” Alegeh was named as the arrowhead of the all-important committee. Signed by Mr. Daniel Tela, the Secretary of the Body of Benchers, the letter stated that the appointment “shall be for a period of three (3) years.” The former NBA helmsman accepted the appointment the same day and vowed to “discharge the functions of the office with great responsibility and commitment to the ideals of the Body of Bencher.”

However, less than six weeks in the saddle, the Life Bencher was reportedly yanked off the seat through the reconstitution exercise by Awomolo. The exercise was communicated to benchers through an email by Tela.

But in a fiery protest letter dated 2nd May, 2024 Alegeh warned on the dangers of side-stepping the Rule of Law, saying: “All Legal Practitioners are indeed, expected to be avid proponents and defenders of the Rule of Law.” He added that “I have always seen the Body of Benchers as the apex body in the promotion and defence of the Rule of Law.”

The senior lawyer noted that “the Body of Benchers passed unanimously the new Regulations, made pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Act, 2014 [as Amended],” adding that “The Regulations are sacrosanct and binding on all members of this distinguished body.”

Alegeh stated that the Regulations “show clearly that the power to create Committees rests with the entire Body,” emphasizing that “I am not aware of any committee of this distinguished Body that has been created in a different manner.”

On the renaming of the committees, he stated that this also violated the Regulations, saying: “The Regulations clearly set out and define the Standing Committees of the Body of Benchers and the names so ascribed to the Committees cannot be changed as if the Regulations have no effect whatsoever. The renaming of the Standing Committees clearly violates the Regulations.”

According to the Bar Leader, tampering with the tenure of office of committee members was also a violation of the Regulations. His words: “In your email, under reference, you stated that the membership of the Committees was now to be for a period of two [2] years only, whereas Regulation 11[6] states clearly that membership of Committees is for a period of three [3] years. I wonder how the tenure of members can be shortened to two [2] years, contrary to the clear stipulations of the Regulations.”

Turning to the reconstitution of the Benchers Appointment Committee, Alegeh expressed concern that he was removed from the saddle before the expiration of his tenure. Making reference to his acceptance of the appointment from the Benchers” leadership, he wrote: ” I am surprised to see that whereas my tenure has not expired, my respected big brother and Life Bencher, Mallam Yusuf Ali, SAN, whom I hold in very high esteem, and who has a rich history of respect for the Rule of Law, was published in your email as the “Chairman” of the same Committee.”

He warned “that I accepted to serve the full term of three [3] years and I have not resigned my appointment as the Chairman of the Body of Benchers Appointment Committee. I believe there must be an error which I respectfully request should be corrected immediately.”

He observed that the error “is made more apparent” by the statement that “members already serving in Committees and are being retained, shall serve the remaining term of office as indicated in their letter of appointment earlier issued”

The former NBA President stated that he was named a mere member of the Benchers Appointment Committee in the reconstitution exercise whereas his letter of appointment “states clearly that I was appointed as the Chairman of the Committee for a term of three [3] years.”

In the clearest indication that he was ready to do battle over the matter, he vowed that “I therefore would continue to act as Chairman of the Committee in the terms stated in my Letter of Appointment.”

Alegeh stated that the “clear provisions” of the Benchers’ Regulations “may not have been brought to the attention of the Chairman before you sent the email under reference,” and urged Tela “as a matter of urgency, to raw the attention of the Chairman to the provisions of the extant Body of Benchers Regulations, 2024 and ensure compliance and respect for the said Regulations.”

Tela however told CITY LAWYER that the Body of Benchers is aware of the  letter and would tackle all the issues raised. His words: “We are in receipt of the letter and the attention of the Chairman has been drawn to it. The issues raised will be addressed by the Chairman.”

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NBA IKEJA VOWS TO BOYCOTT AGC IF HIGH FEES ARE NOT SLASHED

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch has vowed to boycott the forthcoming Annual General Conference (AGC) of the association unless the fees recently announced for the conference are slashed.

The branch is the latest to add its voice to the growing clamour for the fees to be cut, as many stakeholders view the fees as harsh especially on young lawyers.

CITY LAWYER recalls that young lawyers under the aegis of “Decent Fees” had launched an online petition against the fees approved by the NBA National Executive Council (NBA-NEC) for the forthcoming NBA AGC holding in Lagos between August 23 and 30, 2024. 

The Chairperson of the recently enlarged NBA Annual General Conference Planning Committee (AGCPC) Oyinkan Badejo-Okusanya had presented the proposed AGC rates to NBA-NEC for approval at its meeting in Yola.

But the young lawyers kicked against the rates, saying: “The decision to impose such a hefty fee for attending the NBA conference disproportionately affects young lawyers, many of whom are still establishing themselves in the legal profession and may not have the financial means to afford such an expense. We believe that access to professional development opportunities, such as conferences, should not be restricted by financial barriers.”

Titled “Reduce NBA Conference Fees for Young Lawyers,” the petitioners noted that “As young professionals who are just starting our legal careers, many of us are already grappling with financial challenges, including student loan debt and limited earning potential.”

While the young lawyers argue that AGCPC heaped more burden on them than senior lawyers by the over 600% increase in their fee, others say the parlous economy does not justify the sharp increments.

Many lawyers also took to social media channels to protest the over 600 per cent hike in this year’s AGC fees.

In a resolution at its May Monthly Meeting, NBA Ikeja Branch, popularly called the “Tiger Branch” due to its activist posture, warned that unless the fees are shaved, it would boycott the annual lawyers’ fiesta.

In a statement obtained by CITY LAWYER, its Publicity Secretary Patrick Agboola wrote: “Also, at the May 2024 Branch’s monthly meeting, the Members of NBA Ikeja branch seriously condemned and are totally against the unfair skyrocketed increase of NBA-AGC registration fees of both the early bird and regular categories, and the Branch has resolved that it is necessary that the AGC committee reverse the increase on the NBA-AGC registration fees to the old registration fees for 2023 NBA-AGC 2023 and upon failure to reverse same, the Ikeja Branch of NBA will boycott the NBA-AGC 2024 participation.”

The statement was titled “NBA IKEJA BRANCH’S RESOLUTIONS ON THE ASTRONOMICAL INCREASE ON ELECTRICITY TARIFF AND UNFAIR INCREASE OF NBA-AGC 2024 REGISTRATION FEES.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Early Bird rate for young lawyers during the 2023 AGC was as low as N7,500 for lawyers who met the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements. However, the Early Bird rate for this year’s conference has jumped to N50,000, showing almost 700 per cent hike. Badejo-Okusanya had argued that the increase was due to the current 30 % national inflation rate.

Lawyers of 10-19 years post-call will pay N75,000 as Early Bird rate as against N36,000 last year, indicating about 100% increase, while lawyers of 20 years and above post-call experience enjoy perhaps the most marginal increment of a mere N5,000, paying N100,000 as Early Bird rate as against N95,000 paid last year.

Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Attorneys-General and Benchers will pay N250,000 as Early Bird rate as against N190,000 paid during the 2023 AGC. Magistrates also witnessed a marginal increment of about 25% in their rates from N50,000 to N75,000 while Judges/Khadis will pay N100,000 as against N75,000 paid last year. Virtual attendance was free for young lawyers in 2023 but will cost N5,000 this year.

Below are reasons given by signatories for signing the online petition by young lawyers.

It remains to be seen whether the NBA will effect a downward review of the rates in view of the groundswell of protests against the rates.

Asogwa Ferdinand
The amount attached for this years confrence (sic) for young lawyers is highly insensitive

Wonder Ajibobola
Most young lawyers in Nigeria earn below 50 thousand naira month, which is actually way too small considering the economic situation of the country. The least the association can do is to give young lawyers a soft landing.

Frank Eze
The Conference fees is elitist

Ekundayo Oluwafemi
The amount required to pay is too high and I don’t have the capacity

Emmanuel Nwafor
I want the NBA to look in to the conference fee and also consider the economy of Young Lawyer, so that they will have the sense of belong and share joy with our seniors, as we learn along…

Fasasi Sodiq
I’m signing this because of the outrageous amount of NBA conference fee for lawyers which I find ridiculous. In a sane clime the conference supposed to be free. Some of this lawyers are still suffering to find their footings. Now a platform designed for network turned to an extorting spree…

Leonard Abah
The fee is unreasonably Outrageous and the reasons attributed for it are not good enough

Ledua Zor-Akekue
I am a young lawyer and want attend the conference, but with this current fee I will not be able to attend. This fee is obviously high for a young lawyer.

Mmaduabuchi Okeh
The fee is harsh and beyond the reach of many young lawyers

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MUSAWA VERDICT: EX NBA VP HEADS TO APPEAL COURT

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) First Vice President, Mr. John Aikpokpo-Martins and Bar Leader Funmi Adeogun have headed to the Court of Appeal to challenge the verdict of the Federal High Court which dismissed their lawsuit against the Minister of Art, Culture and Creative Economy Hannatu Musawa and media personality Kenny Ogungbe.

CITY LAWYER recalls that the duo had dragged Musawa to court for allegedly violating the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Act. The lawsuit led to a discord between the duo and NBA leadership. Analysts believe that it is not unconnected with the dissolution of the Executive Committee of NBA Section on public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) led by Aikpokpo-Martins.

They also asked the court to compel the NYSC to nullify the certificates given to Musawa and Ogungbe, alleging that the issuance of the certificate was contrary to the provisions of NYSC Act Cap N84.

In the Notice of Appeal made available to CITY LAWYER, the duo asked the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment of Justice J. K. Omotosho on the ground that the NBA was not a party to the case and that “NBA did not apply to join in the case as a party or interested party.”

The appellants also argued that the judge misdirected himself in law when he held that “the plaintiffs in this suit have commenced this action not in their personal capacity as natural persons but in their official capacities as chairman and secretary of NBA Section on public interest and development law”.

They contended that “There is nowhere in the entire affidavit in support of the originating summons that the appellants deposed that they bring the action as the chairman and secretary of NBA-SPIDEL.”

The appellants also stated that the trial judge misdirected himself in law and in fact when he held that “the said NBA-SPIDEL being an incorporated body and without the authority of the National Executive Council of the Nigerian Bar Association before this suit was instituted” when the same section 17(4) of the NBA constitution relied upon by the Honourable Court did not give only the National Executive Council of the NBA the exclusive power to grant authority sections to institute actions in court in the name of the Association and when also there was no evidence that the National Executive Council did not authorize the institution of this case.

The appellants had sought a declaration at the lower court that Musawa and Ogungbe are not entitled to be engaged as employees by any employer of labour or services (including the Federal Government of Nigeria) without first possessing and presenting their certificates of national youth service.

They also sought a declaration that the Musawa is not entitled to continue to hold the exalted office of Honourable Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any public office in Nigeria after allegedly violating the provisions of Sections 2(1), 12(1), and 13(1) of the National Youth Service Corps Act, Cap. N84, LFN 2004.

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