USORO, OBI-OKAFOR MOURN OLOWOKURE

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) and former NBA presidential candidate, Chief Arthur Obi-Okafor are among the Bar leaders who are mourning the sudden demise of veteran Bar activist and former Chairman of NBA Kaduna Branch, Mr. Olumuyiwa Olowokure.

Popularly known in Bar circles as “OO” in line with his initials, Olowokure was considered by many as a consummate Bar-man and a much-sought-after strategist especially in relation to Bar politics.

During the last NBA Elections, he pitched his tent with Obi-Okafor and was one of his ‘Returning Officers’ during the poll. In particular, he was known for his cerebral disposition and integrity, as his support for any particular candidate never wavered.

In a statement signed by NBA Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Edun, Usoro described Olowokure as “an active bar man who featured prominently in the activities of the Nigerian Bar Association as a former Chairman of NBA Kaduna branch and member of the National Executive Committee of the NBA for several years.”

On his part, Obi-Okafor described Olowokure as “an astute Bar man, a personal friend and confidant.” In his tribute titled “O. O. Olowokure’s Demise: A Good Man Bids Goodbye,” Obi-Okafor said that Olowokure “will be remembered as a detribalized and consummate Bar man with the midas touch.”

Below are the statements by the Bar leaders:

NBA MOURNS THE DEMISE OF QUINTESSENTIAL BAR MAN, OLUMUYIWA OLOWOKURE

Moments ago the sad news of the sudden demise of Olumuyiwa Olowokure Esq reached the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Paul Usoro, SAN and the National Officers. It was shocking and saddening.

Mr. Olowokure was an active bar man who featured prominently in the activities of the Nigerian Bar Association as a former Chairman of NBA Kaduna branch and member of the National Executive Committee of the NBA for several years. He was also the Kaduna State Co-Ordinator of Swift Count. Olumuyiwa Olowokure served the bar in many other capacities and made positive contributions to the development of the bar throughout his more than 3 decades of practice. He contested for the office of the General Secretary of the NBA in 2012.

On behalf of the National Officers, the NBA President condoles with members of the Nigerian Bar Association, particularly the leadership and members of NBA Kaduna branch and the family of our dearly loved colleague, over this very sad loss.

The NBA President prays that the almighty God will grant the family the fortitude and grace to bear this loss and grant our dear colleague a peaceful rest in the bossom of the Lord.

Kunle Edun
National Publicity Secretary, NBA

O.O. Olowokure’s Demise: A Good Man Bids Goodbye.

It is with a heavy heart and sense of great loss that I join family, friends and associates in mourning the untimely demise of a one time Chairman of the Kaduna branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumuyiwa O. Olowokure Esq, who passed on to eternal glory yesterday afternoon after a brief illness.

O.O. as he was fondly called was an astute Bar man, a personal friend and confidant. As the head of my Technical Team during the 2018 NBA elections, I found in him a loyal, dedicated, dependable and committed ally who committed his time, energy and resources into my project to lead our noble association.

O.O. will be remembered as a detribalized and consummate Bar man with the midas touch who during his tenure as Chairman of Kaduna branch of the NBA hosted one of the most successful conferences in the history of the association. He believed in excellence and brought same to bear in all he did.

His sudden exit leaves a great vacuum that will be difficult to be filled. O.O. was a good man and my sincere prayers is that the Almighty grant his family, friends colleagues and members of the Kaduna branch of NBA, the grace to pass through this dark hour and may the soul of the deceased find eternal rest in the bosom of the Almighty.
Adieu O.O. Olowokure Esq till we meet to part no more.

Arthur Obi Okafor (SAN).

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ECNBA: CAN AKINTUNDE FIX NBA’S TROUBLED ELECTIONS?

The appointment of chartered arbitrator and President of Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioners Association of Nigeria (BRIPAN), Mr. Richard Ayodele Akintunde (SAN) as the Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has elicited excitement in legal circles as to the prospects of the eagerly awaited 2022 NBA National Officers Election.

This comes against the backdrop of serial controversies that have trailed NBA elections especially since 2012. The controversies have imperiled NBA’s larger-than-life standing in the eyes of Nigerians and compromised its advocacy towards free and fair elections in the polity.

Perhaps the lowest point was the inroad of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) into NBA’s electoral affairs, with its high stakes investigation of the 2018 NBA Election. The Commission determined that there was a prima facie case of misfeasance and filed charges against some defendants.

It is against this backdrop that the appointment of Akintunde as Chairman of the ECNBA is seen as offering a glimmer of hope in fixing the challenges that have ailed NBA elections over the years. This is further boosted by the inclusion of other tested persons in the committee.

Instructively, the senior lawyer was the Chairman of the NBA Electoral Reform and Audit Committee whose core mandate was “To audit the elections of National Officers of the NBA of 2016, 2018 and 2020 and recommend reforms, if any, of the electoral process.” NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had while inaugurating the committee stated that it “is already in the process of recommending reform measures to ensure that complaints about the NBA electoral process are significantly minimised.”

As Akpata inaugurates the committee today, CITY LAWYER profiles Akintunde on whose shoulders the hopes of lawyers for a free, fair, credible and rancour-free 2022 NBA Elections now rests.

PROFILE OF RICHARD AYODELE AKINTUNDE SAN C.ARB., FBR
Richard Ayodele Akintunde, SAN, obtained his LL. B from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1984 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985.

For over 35 years, he has been in active legal practice. During this period, he has amassed a wealth of experience in in Civil Litigation, Commercial Litigation, Criminal Litigation, Insolvency and Arbitration and has represented clients in a wide range of civil and criminal matters at the High Courts, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

Currently, he is a Senior Partner in the law firm of Ayodele Akintunde & Co. a full-service law firm with offices in Lagos and Abuja, Nigeria where he heads the Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit.

In 2016, he was elevated to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. He is also a Chartered Arbitrator, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom, a Fellow of the Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioners Association of Nigeria where he is currently the President, a Fellow of the Institute of Construction Industry Arbitrators and a Council Member of the Nigerian Bar Association – Section on Legal Practice (NBA-SLP) and a member of the Nigeria Bar Association, Lagos Branch.

Mr. Akintunde, SAN has served as the Chairman of the NBA Lagos Branch Election Committee in 2015, 2017 and 2019. In 2019, the Election Committee made history by successfully conducting the first ever NBA Branch elections in Nigeria by electronic voting. The Election was adjudged by all stakeholders to be transparent, free, fair and credible. In 2020, he was also appointed as the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association Electoral Reform and Audit Committee to audit the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections of National Officers of the Nigerian Bar Association and recommend reforms of the electoral process.

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NBA ELECTION: AKPATA TO INAUGURATE COMMITTEE ON MONDAY

Barring any last-minute hitch, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata will on Monday inaugurate the newly appointed Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA).

An impeccable source who is familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that the inauguration which was originally scheduled to hold at NBA House by 12 noon will now hold same day at 3:30 pm.

The inauguration will set the stage for frenzied politicking towards the eagerly awaited 2022 NBA National Elections. The presidential election will see only candidates from the Northern Zone slugging it out for the coveted seat, going by the zoning arrangement built into the NBA Constitution (as amended).

Akpata had at the last NBA National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) quarterly meeting in Abeokuta announced the appointment of members of the Electoral Committee to conduct the 2022 National Officers election.

Many political pundits have hailed Akpata on the appointment of Akintunde to spearhead the election, saying it signposts a commitment towards a free and transparent election. Akintunde was a longstanding Chairman of several NBA Lagos Branch electoral committees which conducted rancour-free elections to the admiration of members. A source told CITY LAWYER that he was in the running to conduct the last controversial NBA National Elections but was side-stepped at the last minute.

Other members of the Committee are Mabel Ekeke, Secretary; firebrand human rights activist, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu; former NBA Treasurer, Aisha Ado-Abdulahi and leading ICT expert, Mr. Basil Udotai.

It is recalled that especially since 2012, NBA National Election have limped from one controversy to another, thereby compromising NBA’s standing towards combating electoral misfeasance in Nigeria.

Akpata had in his inaugural address said: “It is for this reason that I immediately constituted an Electoral Audit and Reforms Committee headed by Ayo Akintunde SAN to audit our 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections and to recommend reforms for our electoral systems and processes.

“For me, two things stand out. The first is the need to audit the election that led to our emergence, but which was also characterised by certain glitches that should not be associated with a foremost professional association like ours.”

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‘WE WANT REPORT ON TORTURE, SARS,’ SAY UN

The United Nations has called on the Federal Government to provide, by 3 December 2022, information on its follow-up to the Committee’s recommendations in its latest report on torture in Nigeria.

According to the global body, the information should dwell on “allegations of torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention and excessive use of force, in particular by SARS.”

In its latest report on Torture in Nigeria, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) also sought information on pretrial detention and overcrowding; the national preventive mechanism; and gender-based violence. “In the same context, the State party is invited to inform the Committee about its plans for implementing within the coming reporting period, some or all of the remaining recommendations in the concluding observations,” said the Torture Committee.”

Turning to “Redress, including compensation and rehabilitation,” the UN Committee against Torture welcomed sections 6 and 9 of Nigeria’s Anti-Torture Act that stipulate access to legal assistance and right to claim compensation for torture and ill-treatment, “and the part 32 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 that provides for costs, compensation, damages and restitution for victims of crime.”

It however “regrets the lack of information on the actual application of those provisions, including the data on victims of torture and ill-treatment who have obtained redress thus far. The Committee also regrets the lack of information whether victims of torture had received medical or psychosocial rehabilitation, in addition to compensation, and whether specific rehabilitation programmes have been established for them (arts. 2 and 14).”

The Committee urged the Federal Government to “Ensure that an explicit provision in the Anti-Torture Act allows victims of torture and ill-treatment to obtain redress, including the means for as full a rehabilitation as possible, as set out in its general comment No. 3 (2012),” and

“Establish rehabilitation programmes for victims of torture and ill-treatment, in cooperation with specialized civil society organizations, for example through mandating judicial panels operating across the country, and allocate resources to implement such programmes.”

Speaking on the follow-up procedure, the Committee “invites the State party to consider making the declarations under articles 21 and 22 of the Convention and to ratify any core United Nations human rights treaties to which it is not yet party.”

It also urged the Federal Government to “disseminate widely the report submitted to the Committee and the present concluding observations, in appropriate languages, through official websites, the media and non-governmental organizations and to inform the Committee about these activities.”

On the continued default by Nigeria on its reporting obligations to the Torture Committee, the CAT urged Nigeria “to comply with its reporting obligations under article 19 of the Convention and to submit its report, which will be considered its second, by 3 December 2025. To that end, the Committee invites the State party to accept, by 3 December 2022, to prepare its report under the simplified reporting procedure, whereby the Committee will transmit to the State party a list of issues prior to reporting. The State party’s response to that list of issues will constitute its second periodic report under article 19 of the Convention.”

The Committee against Torture is a United Nations body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties. The Committee against Torture is composed of 10 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The Committee is currently chaired by Mr. Claude Heller.

CAT_C_NGA

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GADZAMA C’TE URGES LAWYERS TO REPORT HARASSMENT BY SECURITY OPERATIVES

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Securities Agencies Relations Committee (NBA-SARC) has urged lawyers to report cases of harassment and intimidation to the committee for immediate redress.

In a press statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the committee urged lawyers “who have or are been unjustly intimidated, harassed, humiliated or subjected to unwarranted hardship in the course of interaction with any security agency” to report to the committee.

The committee also called on security operatives and the general public “to give the needed moral support and lend their voices and resources where needed, to this noble cause of public interest.”

Speaking on the determination of the committee to stem the malaise of incessant harassment of lawyers by security operatives, the Chairman of the committee, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN said: “We neither have guns, machetes nor sticks, but we have the power of persuasion as this Committee is tasked with building bridges and not walls between legal practitioners and the various security agencies….”

Below is the full text of the statement.

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION – SECURITY AGENCIES RELATIONS COMMITTEE (NBA-SARC) ON ITS MANDATE

The NBA – Securities Agencies Relations Committee (the Committee) constituted by the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata at the National Executive Council meeting of Thursday, December 16, 2021 was inaugurated on Friday, January 7, 2022, with the following underlisted distinguished legal practitioners as executives and members thereof:
1. Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN, MFR, OFR. (Chairman) – 08022231999
2. Alex Muoka (Alternate Chairman) – 08033009242
3. Marian Jones (Secretary) – 08033479752
4. Taiwo Lakanu (DIG Rtd.) (Member) – 08037160989
5. Mohammad I. Tsav (Member) – 07035653513
6. Valentine Odili (Member) – 08035047498
7. Adanna Lynda Uba (Member) – 08032925119
8. Chief M. A. O. Iyamanbhor (Member) – 08037204923
9. Julie Ariahu (Member) – 08023411581
10. Salman Alhaji Salman (Member) – 08037252757
11. Nnaemeka Emmanuel Otagburuagu (Member) – 08039566682
12. Peter Chukwunyelu Ikebuaso (Member) – 08033133739
13. John Aikpokpo-Martins (Member) – 08023063841
14. Rabiah A. Hassan (Committee Liaison Officer) – 08063579840

Following the recent surge in cases of maltreatment of legal practitioners by security operatives whilst discharging official duties and obligations to clients, the Olumide-led administration of the NBA, saw the urgent need for an interface comprised of legal practitioners with a rich background and prime networking within security agencies, to work in close liaison with all security agencies across the country. This urgency and relevance, necessitated the establishment of the Committee.

The security agencies which the Committee shall interface with shall include but not limited to the following: the Nigerian Police Force, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigeria Immigration Service, the Nigeria Customs Service, National Intelligence Agency, State Security Service, Defence Intelligence Agency, etc.

The Committee, which was inaugurated with the following underlisted terms of reference, will regularly meet virtually, and physically as exigencies may demand, to share ideas, brainstorm and implement feasible action-plans towards achieving its mandate:

1. Formulate policies to be implemented by the NBA (whether alone or in collaboration with other stakeholders) that will deal holistically with the risk posed to Nigerian lawyers by security agencies.

2. Collaborate with the relevant security agencies to promote and advance a mutually beneficial relationship between the said agencies and lawyers in Nigerian.

3. Develop and promote proper protocols for engagement with security agencies by lawyers, in the course of carrying out their professional duties.

4. Work with the various branches of the NBA to achieve, at the branch level, objectives that are similar to those set out in these terms of reference.

5. Promptly intervene in cases of harassment, unlawful detention, intimidation, etc. of lawyers (in the course of carrying out their professional duties) by security agencies.

6. Carry out any other function that may be assigned to the Committee by the President or the National Executive Council; and

7. Make recommendations to the NBA President as appropriate and carry out such other functions that are consistent with the foregoing or which are necessary to achieve the mandate of the Committee.

The Chairman, Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN speaking on behalf of the Committee at the inaugural meeting, assured the NBA, that in piloting the affairs of the Committee, he would ensure that the Committee deploys resources in persuading security outfits to work together harmoniously towards achieving a free and fair society. In his exact words: “…We neither have guns, machetes nor sticks, but we have the power of persuasion as this Committee is tasked with building bridges and not walls between legal practitioners and the various security agencies…”.

The Committee has begun setting modalities, and thus, open to receiving recommendations towards ensuring a more harmonious and improved working relationship between members of the Nigerian Bar and the Security Agencies in the country. The Committee wishes to inform all Members of the NBA, security personnel and other stakeholders of proposed courtesy visits to the various aforementioned security agencies to establish strong ties and educate as well as train members of these agencies in dealing with issues which concern or involve members of the legal profession.

The Committee therefore calls on legal practitioners, security operatives and the general public to give the needed moral support and lend their voices and resources where needed, to this noble cause of public interest.
Members of the Nigerian Bar who have or are been unjustly intimidated, harassed, humiliated or subjected to unwarranted hardship in the course of interaction with any security agency, are enjoined to report same to the Committee via the telephone numbers of the Committee members highlighted above.
The official communication channels shall include helplines, Whatsapp numbers, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Telegram and Instagram which will be published in due course.

Dated this Thursday, January 20, 2022.

__________________________ _________________________________________
Marian Jones, Esq.                                                                             Joe-Kyari Gadzama, OFR, MFR, SAN
Secretary                                                                                                 Chairman

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‘WE’RE ALARMED AT GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE BY BOKO HARAM, OTHERS,’ SAYS UN

The United Nations has raised an alarm over widespread sexual and gender-based violence inflicted by Boko Haram.

In its latest report on Torture in Nigeria, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) also expressed concern over allegations of sexual violence against women and girls committed by the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) officers.

According to the report, while the Committee welcomed the adoption of the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act (VAPP), it “regrets that it is not applicable in all states yet. It takes note of other administrative interventions of the State party, including declaration of the state of emergency by the governors on gender-based violence, the establishment of gender-based units by the Ministry of Justice, and creation of sexual and assault referrals centres.”

Turning to sexual violence, the CAT said it “remains alarmed by the ongoing widespread sexual and gender-based violence inflicted by Boko Haram and the lack of protection from the reported kidnappings of girls and boys by armed groups between 2014 and 2021,” adding that “The Committee is seriously concerned at the allegations of sexual violence against women and girls committed by CJTF officers, in particular in Bama Hospital and Secondary School camps, and sexual exploitation and abuse in the state-run camps for internally displaced, informal camps, and local communities in Maiduguri, Borno State, and across the northeast.”

On female genital mutilation, the UN Committee said it is “alarmed” that the practice continues to be practised “without any effective steps taken by the State party to eliminate it. It is also concerned at the high rate of maternal mortality often resulting from rape, impeded access to contraception and the criminalization of abortion, except for the purpose of saving the life of the mother, as it pushes women into illegal and unsafe abortions endangering their health and lives (arts. 2, 12–14 and 16).”

On the way forward, the Committee urged the Federal Government “to continue its ongoing efforts to combat all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, especially those cases involving actions or omissions by State authorities or other entities which engage the international responsibility of the State party under the Convention.”

It however stated that the government should “Strengthen efforts to enact the Violence against Persons (Prohibition) Act in its whole territory;

“Take effective steps to protect internally displaced persons, especially women and girls, to prevent and eradicate female genital mutilation and provide protection measures for girls at risk, and ensure effective investigations into all cases of gender-based violence by State and non-State actors, prosecutions and redress to victims, including adequate compensation and access to medical services and counselling, and provide details on those case,” and
“Ensure access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services and decriminalize the voluntary termination of pregnancy in cases where carrying a pregnancy to term would cause the woman considerable suffering, where the pregnancy is the result of rape, and where the pregnancy is not viable.”

On death penalty, the Committee noted the 2003 recommendation of a national study group on moratorium of death penalty and the “alleged absence” of executions since 2016, but “regrets that death sentences continued to be pronounced in 2019 and 2020.”

It also noted the enactment of the Nigerian Correctional Service Act, in particular section 12(2)(c) that provides for commutation of death to life sentence for prisoners who have spent more than 10 years on death row as well as periodic reviews carried out by the Presidential and State Committees on Prerogative of Mercy.

The Committee however “regrets the lack of official number of persons on death row – some reports estimate 2,700 – as well as details on application of the commutation provision and pardons granted in the whole territory. The Committee is distressed by reports that capital punishment can be imposed in twelve states under sharia jurisdiction for offences, such as adultery, apostasy, witchcraft, or sexual relations between same sex persons, among others, including on juveniles, due to the vague definition of the child by puberty, despite the State party’s statement that death sentence cannot be imposed on person younger than 18 years of age (art. 16).”

To curb the malaise, the Committee urged the Federal Government to “Prohibit immediately the death penalty for all persons under the age of 18 in compliance with federal law, including in the states under sharia jurisdiction.”

It also urged the government to “Commute all death sentences already handed down to prison sentences as provided by the Nigerian Correctional Service Act; consider declaring an official moratorium on the death penalty for all crimes in law in the whole territory; consider ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; and, provide details on commuted sentences and granted pardons.”

The UN Committee said it “is deeply concerned about the prevalent use of corporal punishment of children in private settings, such as home and other alternative care, provided for in law (section 295 of the Criminal Code applicable in the southern states and section 55 of the Penal Code in northern states).”

On the Child Rights Act 2003, the Committee regretted that it “has not been transposed in the legislation of all states. The Committee notes particularly the sections 11 and 221(1)(b) of this Act, the former prohibiting torture and ill-treatment and the latter corporal punishment for criminal offences. It is distressed by reports that the former provision is not interpreted as prohibiting corporal punishment of children in the aforesaid settings and that corporal punishment on persons under the age of 18 as a sentence for crime can be still imposed in states under sharia jurisdiction (arts. 1, 2, 4, 11 and 16).”

It urged the Federal Government to “Take further steps to enact the Child Rights Act 2003 in the whole territory, align the interpretation of its section 11 with the international standards, and explicitly prohibit in law and practice the corporal punishment of children in all settings, through acts or omissions by State agents and others who engage the State’s responsibility under the Convention, as a sentence for a crime or for disciplinary purposes.”

The government should also “Promote positive non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment and conduct public awareness-raising campaigns about the harmful effects of corporal punishment, including of children.”

On impunity, the Committee against Torture noted the “great scale” of allegations and complaints of torture, ill-treatment and gender-based violence by non-State actors and State officials, including police, SARS, military and CJTF, that have been made, “the reports that the police oversight mechanisms, including the Police Service Commission and the National Human Rights Commission, remain ineffective, and the fact that numerous commissions of inquiries and panels at federal, state and military level were established to no avail, the Committee is deeply concerned at the lack of accountability due to a limited number of reported disciplinary measures and criminal prosecutions, which contributes to an environment of impunity (arts. 1, 2, 4, 11-13 and 16).”

It urged the Federal Government to “carry out prompt and effective investigations vis-à-vis the allegations of abuses committed by State and non-State actors.” The government should “Provide comprehensive information on precise disciplinary and criminal punishments handed down against police, SARS, CJTF and military suspected or convicted of engaging in torture, ill-treatment, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, among others, as well as against non-State actors;

“Take immediate measures to ensure the operationalization of effective and independent police oversight mechanism;

“Ensure that the judicial commissions or boards of inquiries are not merely established and used to replace proper criminal justice processes and ensure that there is no institutional or hierarchical relationship between the body’s investigators and the suspected perpetrators of such acts;

“Ensure that, in cases of alleged torture or ill-treatment, suspected officials are suspended from duty immediately for the duration of the investigation, to avoid the risk that they might otherwise be in a position to repeat the alleged act, commit reprisals against the alleged victim or obstruct the investigation,” and

“Ensure that training on the provisions of the Convention and the absolute prohibition of torture is mandatory for law enforcement and security forces personnel, prison staff, medical personnel, judges, prosecutors and lawyers and that the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Istanbul Protocol) is made an essential part of the training.”

The Committee against Torture is a United Nations body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties. The Committee against Torture is composed of 10 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The Committee is currently chaired by Mr. Claude Heller.

LAWYER SENDS SOS TO FEDERAL HIGH COURT

In this article by MR. IBRAHIM LAWAL, Head of Chamber, Olujinmi & Akeredolu of the Law Hub, Ibadan, he chronicles the challenges faced by lawyers due to the transfer of a Federal High Court jurist from Ibadan and urges the court to redress the issue

 

FEDERAL HIGH COURT IBADAN AND THE DIFFICULTY IN GETTING JUSTICE

The Federal High Court which started as a revenue court has assumed an important role in our judicial system by virtue of the exclusive jurisdiction donated to it in our Constitution. Only the Federal High Court can adjudicate on matters enumerated in Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended, and by virtue of which Federal High Courts were created in each state of the Federation for easy access to justice.

However, in creating those Courts, certain states were recognized as hubs of commercial activities, which made the authority to create more than a court room in such States. For instance, Lagos State can boast of more than ten court rooms while Ibadan was allocated two which in itself is grossly inadequate!

The Federal High Court Ibadan over the years have been manned by two Judges until about a year now when Hon. Justice Malik was transferred to Abeokuta division of the court, the court is now being manned by only one Judge. The judge in actual fact is hardworking but the cases in his Lordship dockets are overwhelming.

All the cases assigned to Justice Malik court have suffered permanent adjournment with dire consequences on lawyers and litigants alike. What is more, the cases at the Federal High Court are business oriented cases which should not for any reason be delayed.

A colleague of mine is facing a serious crisis of confidence with his client simply because he could not secure an order because his application was assigned to the court without a judge! The matter has to do with transactional issue and because of that failure, the company’s account has been blocked! This is just one example of so many of our colleagues that have suffered because of the absence of a presiding Judge in the other Court.

Do we mention the criminal cases that have been pending and the Defendants languishing in detention because the court has not been sitting?

This state of affairs at the Federal High Court Ibadan is no longer bearable for us as lawyers and we beseech the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, to as a matter of urgency make available a Judge for this Court.

We trust this appeal will be given the attention it deserves and hope that the new year will be better than the last.

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GUY IKOKWU: 61 YEARS A LAWYER

Prominent senior lawyer and Second Republic politician, Chief Guy Ikechukwu Ikokwu who died last Wednesday was admitted to the Bar 61 years ago. A fiery activist and elder statesman, Chief Ikokwu would be remembered for his fiery interventions on national issues. CITY LAWYER dug into the archives for his profile which is presented below.

Date of Birth: Tuesday (Eke) 28′” September, 1937
State of Origin: Anambra Local Government Area: Idemili South
Village/Town: Oba
Contact Address: ‘Isu Lodge’ Oba Idemili South L.G.A
4, Ezinifitte Close, New Haven Enugu 10 Johnson Street, Surulere, Lagos Contact
Telephone: 234-1-2882099, 234-42-451463

Chief Guy Ikechukwu Ikokwu is top Legal Icon, a grassroot motivator and mobilizer, a decent politician and strong builder of relationships. Guy is known for his organising ability and as a man who is able to hold forces together and cement relationships for greater collective and individual achievement. Guy descended from an ancestry background with gifts to build up community solidarity and progress. His father was a powerful tool of unity and under whose leadership many Igbo people rallied together for unity in Port Harcourt of the Colonial days.

Education
• St Cyprian’s Primary School Port Harcourt 1943 1950
• Baptist High School Port Harcourt 1950 1956
• Norwich Polytechnic London. 1957
• North Western Kentish Town London 1957- 1958
• Holborn College of Law London, 1958 1959
• University College London
• Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London University 1961 1962
• Concurrently at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London Qualifications
• LLB (lions) London
• LLM, London
• BL of the Middle Temple London

Membership of Professional Associations
• Member, Nigeria Society of International Law
• Member Nigeria Bar Association – Financial Secretary of the Association 1975 1977

Political Exploits
• Student Activist and Member of Movement for Colonial Freedom under Late Lord Fenner Brookway 1950 1960
• Member and later President in 1960 of Nigeria Union of Great Britain and Ireland. London Branch Life President West African Student’s Union Britain 1961 1963 Member and Officer of Committee for African Associations – a Pan-African Movement for the Liberation of Unity of African Countries 1960 1963 Director of Overseas Press Service (OPS) 1967 1970 as a way to protect his people and project their view points during the gruesome war against them.
• Founding Member and National Legal Adviser of Nigerian People’s Party- NPP and became its Stale Chairman in the old Anambra State 1980-1983
• Member of Steering Committee of All Politicians’ Summit which culminated in the Summit of 1995. He was also a Member of G. 34 Association for the Restoration of Democracy and against self-succession of Sani Abacha in 1998
• He formed with a group of others the People’s National Forum (PNF) which eventually joined other groups to form the big People Democratic Party-(PDP) and subsequently became its Lagos Co-ordinator. Became a member of the Steering Committee of the PDP Anambra State in 1998 and in 1999. he became once again, the State Chairman of the Party .
• A Peace-loving gentleman who will stop at nothing to achieve that, he was the founding member of the Committee for the Unity and Understanding (CUU). This was to build a bridge across the Niger and Benue Rivers for better (1986-1999)
• Member of OHANA EZE NDI-IGBO – a socio-cultural association of Ndi Igbo for awareness and unity and advancement.
• A founding member of IZUNWANNE FOUNDATIONS – the Cultural Association to foster a better Nigeria Polity 1990 1999.
• At various times, he had been a founding member of Southern Leaders Forum for harmonization of issues of concern in Nigeria Polity and Promotion of Democracy and True Federalism and NADECO 1995.

Business Links
• A member, Board of Directors Aba Textile Mills Plc, 1976 and 2000
• Chairman of Governing Council of Federal College of Education, Obudu, Cross River Stale Nigeria

He is honoured with the title OMENIFE. This great and clean politician is married with four children.

SOURCE: Blerf’s Who is Who in Nigeria https://blerf.org/index.php/biography/ikokwu-guy-ikechukwu/ 

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‘SHONEKAN WAS A MAN OF HONOUR, ZEAL,’ SAYS GADZAMA

The Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Security Agencies Relations Committee has described the late Head of the Interim National Government, Chief Ernest Shonekan (GCFR) as a “formidable elder statesman,” adding that he was a “man of great honour and zeal who during his short lived tenure as the Interim Head of State recorded great strides and made remarkable contributions to the development of the idea of a democratic government in Nigeria.”

In a condolence message made available to CITY LAWYER, the pioneer Chairman of NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) said that “Foremost of all his qualities was his humility and service to the nation. Indeed, his deeds reveal that he was a man with deep love for Nigeria. “

Below is the full text of the statement.

With great sadness, I mourn the death of the formidable elder statesman, Chief Ernest Shonekan, GCFR who served as the Head of the Interim Government of Nigeria in 1993. He was a man of great honour and zeal who during his short lived tenure as the Interim Head of State recorded great strides and made remarkable contributions to the development of the idea of a democratic government in Nigeria. Foremost of all his qualities was his humility and service to the nation. Indeed, his deeds reveal that he was a man with deep love for Nigeria.

I had the pleasure of working with the elder statesman for a period of 4 years at the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) where I chaired the Compliance Committee. During my time with him, I picked up fundamental principles of life which I have applied in my relationships with people on a daily basis. It would interest you to know that his first task for my committee was to draft a Code of Ethics for all board members and management staff of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission to act as a guide for their conducts. This confirmed the elder statesman as someone who appreciated the principle of discipline in life.

Due to his reputation as a respected elder statesman, I invited him to chair my 50th Birthday Celebration on the 28th of November, 2011 at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel and Towers. I was very elated when the elder statesman honored my invitation to chair this occasion and went as far as paying me a personal visit at my residence in Asokoro, Abuja. This memory remains evergreen in my heart. I also recall my doubt when I saw him walking on the streets of London and he beckoned on me to confirm that he was the one. Once again, his humble nature came to play in our encounter in London.

On behalf of myself, my family and the entire staff of J-K Gadzama LLP, I express my deepest condolences to Chief Ernest Shonekan’s widow, Margaret Shonekan, his entire family and the entire nation as we have lost not only a Nigerian but a National Icon who during his lifetime believed in the strength of this country as a nation.

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UN ASKS RIGHTS COMMISSION TO PROBE 27,858 TORTURE CASES

The United Nations Committee against Torture has urged the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to investigate 27,858 complaints of torture in Nigeria.

Noting that the commission “has mandate to visit places of deprivation of liberty, receive complaints, conduct investigations and award compensation and request enforcement of its decisions,” the UN Committee commended the commission for its “active involvement in advisory, training, advocacy activities and participation in several investigative panels.”

The Committee in its latest report on torture in Nigeria however noted “the lack of information provided on the follow up to 27,858 complaints on torture and ill-treatment the Commission received between 2019 and 2020, compensations awarded and enforced, and cases communicated to the attorney general at federal and states level for further prosecution.” It also expressed concern at the inadequacy of resources allocated to the commission.

Pointing the way forward, the Committee urged the Federal Government to “Strengthen its office so that it can effectively carry out its mandate in all parts of the country, and provide it with adequate human, financial and institutional resources, in line with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights (Paris Principles);

“Ensure that it handles complaints of torture and ill-treatment promptly and effectively and reports publicly and regularly on the outcome of the cases and compensations awarded,” and

“Clarify the coordination with the National Committee against Torture concerning the visits of places of detention, avoid overlap, if any, and strengthen the referral mechanism of complaints.”

On the government’s counter-terrorism measures, the Committee “appreciates the State party’s commitment to adopt measures to fight against impunity with an increased focus on Boko Haram’s crimes, made during the universal periodic review in 2018 (see A/HRC/40/7/Add.1).”

It however expressed concern “at the continuous degrading security environment owed to the systematic attacks by non-State armed groups as well as farmer-herder clashes, resulting in around 2.9 million of internally displaced persons in the northeast, and the reported use of children as fighters or wives by Boko Haram. In addition, the Committee is equally concerned at the numerous allegations of extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and sexual violence by military and the CJTF in the course of the security operations, as highlighted by the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions in 2021 (A/HRC/47/33/Add.2, paras. 38-39).”

The UN Committee noted that despite establishment of the Special Board of Inquiry and Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement in 2017, “the Committee regrets the lack of information on conducted investigations and prosecutions, their outcome, and redress of victims.”

The Committee said it is “troubled” by the reports of arbitrary and incommunicado detentions, including women and children removed from or allegedly affiliated with non-State actors, deaths in military-run camps for displaced people across Borno State in 2015 and 2016, the 2017 bombing of the Rann Camp for displaced persons resulting in at least 160 casualties, deaths and poor conditions in military detention facilities, particularly in Giwa Barracks and Kainji military base and the lack of investigations therein.”

While applauding the action plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children signed by CJTF in 2017, the Committee “remains concerned at the reports indicating the use of boys aged between 13 and 17 years by military in support roles in Borno State, in 2019 (arts. 2, 11, 12 and 16).”

The UN Committee urged the Federal Government to “Step up efforts to ensure the safety and security of the population affected by the conflict and to prevent violations of their human rights by any party to the conflict and ensure that military and CJTF respect instruments on human rights and international humanitarian law and cease detaining women and children on arbitrary grounds;

“Take measures to increase transparency of the investigations, including publishing findings of above-mentioned panels, and continue conducting prompt, impartial and effective investigations into allegations of abuses committed in the context of counter-terrorism operations, both by non-State and State actors, particularly military and CJTF, prosecute and punish those responsible, and ensure the victims access to effective remedies and full reparation;

“Ensure that registers of arrests and death in military custody are reviewed by a judicial body, immediately release children held in all military detention facilities and use detention of juvenile offenders only as a last resort and in appropriate facilities,” and

“Continue strengthening efforts to prevent use of child soldiers, ensure that children are not used in support roles by military and investigate such incidents promptly.”

The Committee against Torture is a United Nations body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties. The Committee against Torture is composed of 10 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The Committee is currently chaired by Mr. Claude Heller.

Copyright 2022 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

‘MAKE TORTURE C’TE INDEPENDENT,’ UN URGES FG

The Committee against Torture (CAT), a United Nations entity, has urged the Federal Government to ensure that the National Committee against Torture (NCAT) is given legal teeth and becomes an independent body.

While noting Nigeria’s ratification in 2009 of the Optional Protocol to the Torture Convention and its mandate to NCAT to visit places of detention and investigate any complaints of torture, the Committee “regrets” that Nigeria did not notify the United Nations of the designation of any National Preventive Mechanism.

“The Committee further notes that the National Committee against Torture was established by terms of reference rather than a legislative act regulating its functions, mandate, and resources among others,” said CAT. “The Committee is seriously concerned by its lack of legal, operational and financial independence, as it is situated in the Federal Ministry of Justice, and lack proper funding (arts. 2, 11, 13 and 16).”

The Torture Committee then called on the Federal Government to “Take measures to align the functioning of the National Committee against Torture with the Optional Protocol to the Convention and ensure its independence, sufficient staff and adequate resources and budget necessary for it to fulfil its preventive mandate effectively, in accordance with the guidelines on national preventive mechanism of the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT/OP/12/5);

“Consider seeking technical assistance from the United Nations, including advice from the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture on the establishment of the national preventive mechanism, in conformity with article 11 of the Optional Protocol;

“Ensure that all places of deprivation of liberty are subject to effective and regular monitoring visits by an independent body that involves medical personnel, that visits can be conducted without prior notice, that monitors hold confidential, private meetings with persons deprived of their liberty, without any reprisals and report publicly on their findings;” and
“Authorize non-governmental human rights organizations, as well as civil society actors providing health care and education, to undertake monitoring activities at detention centres.”

Turning to pretrial detention and overcrowding, the Committee commended Nigeria’s efforts to address the overuse of prolonged pretrial detention causing chronic overcrowding in detention facilities “through enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act and its section 34 mandating chief judges or magistrates at state level to conduct monthly inspections of police stations and other places of detention within their jurisdiction, other than prisons, inspect records of arrests, direct the arraignment of suspects and grant bail.”

While noting efforts at prison decongestion leading to release of around 2,000 detainees and 160 juveniles and reports on release of around 7,813 prisoners from the correctional centres to reduce overcrowding and control the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, “The Committee remains concerned however that around 72 per cent of the prison population is still awaiting trial even after the aforesaid measures. The Committee also understands that detainees can contest the legality of their detention before a judge and can submit a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission, but regrets to note the inefficiency of such system due to the significant delays in access to justice, among others (arts. 2, 11–13 and 16).”

To address these concerns, the Committee against Torture urged the Federal Government to “Ensure that Administration of Criminal Justice Act is properly implemented, the pretrial detention is effectively reviewed, that its duration does not exceed the legally established maximum and is as short as possible, and that its use is exceptional, necessary and proportionate;

“Ensure that pretrial detention is closely monitored by courts;

“Take into account the lessons learned from the federal decongestion program and COVID-19 pandemic and intensify its efforts to significantly reduce detention overcrowding, by making greater use of non-custodial measures, such as parole and early release, in accordance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for Non-custodial Measures (the Tokyo Rules) and the United Nations Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (the Bangkok Rules);” and

“Ensure that effective, independent and accessible complaints mechanisms are available to all persons deprived of their liberty and that complaints are promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigated.”

On conditions of detention, the Committee noted Nigeria’s statement on the ongoing reforms of correctional facilities, “but remains concerned at numerous reports of poor material and sanitation conditions of detention that persist in all places of deprivation of liberty, the lack of access to proper medical care, including to persons with transmissible diseases, and inadequate food and water. It is also concerned at the reports of the lack of separation of juvenile inmates from adults, convicted persons from remanded detainees, in addition to detention of pregnant and breastfeeding women and persons with disabilities in general custodial facilities and without access to appropriate health services. The Committee regrets the lack of reliable information on the total number of prison deaths, their cause and follow-up investigations, such as the reported incident in Ikoyi prison in December 2019 (arts. 2, 11 and 16).”

The Committee against Torture urged the Federal Government to improve material conditions in police cells and correctional facilities, “including with regard to the ventilation, access to adequate food and running water and take measures to bring conditions in detention and the operational procedures into compliance with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Nelson Mandela Rules);

“Put in place systems to separate juveniles from adult prisoners and convicted prisoners from remand detainees, ensure that women are detained in gender-sensitive conditions and children are immediately released from custodial facilities, that inmates with disabilities are held in humane conditions and that prisons are adapted to their needs. Ensure that remanded and convicted persons with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities are transferred from custodial facilities to psychiatric hospitals or appropriate therapeutic settings;

“Provide adequate health services to all prisoners, and particularly those with disabilities, and conduct a thorough and independent medical examination of all detainees, both at the outset of detention and on a regular basis throughout the duration of detention;” and
“Ensure that all instances of death in custody are promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated, including by means of independent forensic examination. It should also take measures to ensure the allocation of the necessary human and material resources for the proper health care of prisoners, and review the effectiveness of programmes for the prevention of suicide and self-harm, as well as for the prevention, detection and treatment of chronic degenerative diseases and infectious or contagious diseases in prisons. Lastly, the State party should compile and provide detailed information on the cases of death in custody and their causes.”

The Committee against Torture is a United Nations body of independent experts that monitors implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by its State parties. The Committee against Torture is composed of 10 independent experts who are persons of high moral character and recognized competence in the field of human rights. The Committee is currently chaired by Mr. Claude Heller.

Copyright 2022 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.