HARASSMENT: AKPATA WRITES EFCC CHAIR, ISSUES ‘CEASE AND DESIST’ DEMAND

Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata has again risen in defence of Nigerian lawyers through a ‘cease and desist’ letter to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In the searing letter obtained by CITY LAWYER and titled “ASSAULT OF OFFICIAL(S) OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION BY OPERATIVES OF THE EFCC AND RELATED INCIDENTS OF UNPROFESSIONALISM AGAINST LAWYERS: A DEMAND FOR INVESTIGATION, IMMEDIATE ACTION AND CESSATION,” Akpata stated that he was “constrained” to write the anti-graft Chairman over the alleged assault on NBA Makurdi Branch Chairman, Mr. Justin Gbagir and “the recurring unwholesome and unprofessional conducts by officers and operatives of the EFCC against members of the legal profession in Nigeria who are lawfully discharging their professional responsibilities.” The letter was copied to Attorney General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN.

In the 15-paragraph long letter dated June 10, 2021 but received by the EFCC on 15th June, 2021, the NBA President noted that he was “credibly informed that Mr. Gbagir visited the Makurdi office of the EFCC on 8th June 2021 to facilitate the release of one Ms. Aver Shima (“Ms. Shima”), who is a law officer in the employ of the Benue State Ministry of Justice. Ms. Shima had apparently been detained by the EFCC on an allegation that she gave legal advice to the Chairman of the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board that allegedly culminated in the latter signing a document which is reportedly the subject of investigation by the EFCC. Since the merits of the detention of Ms. Shima for providing legal advice is now, as I understand it, already the subject of independent investigation, I shall refrain from commenting on Ms. Shima’s treatment.”

Turning to the alleged manhandling of Gbagir by EFCC operatives, Akpata said: “Infuriated by this turn of events, the Honorable Attorney-General, the Solicitor General and the Special Adviser to the Governor who had all come to intervene in the detention of Ms. Shima left the premises. Suffice to state that Mr. Gbagir who suffered severe hurt and sustained various degrees of injury had to be hospitalized at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi.”

In a damning indictment of the EFCC operatives, the NBA President described their conduct as “uncultured,” saying: “I assume that you will agree, Mr. Chairman, that if this level of uncultured behaviour could be exhibited by EFCC operatives in the presence of the strong delegation accompanying Mr. Gbagir, who in his own right is a Bar Leader, then the potential fate of other lawyers and citizens who interface with the EFCC in that zone is better imagined than experienced.”

Also in a veiled displeasure over the conduct of the EFCC leadership and its controversial press statement over the assault, Akpata said: “When we both spoke about this incident on 9th June 2021, you understandably expressed shock at this development and promised to investigate same. I have no cause yet to believe that you would personally renege on that promise. However, I have seen certain reports in the media credited to the EFCC Media and Publicity team which denied and largely distorted the facts. In fidelity to honesty and good order, I trust that you and I can agree that the statement credited to the EFCC media head, to the extent that it represents the official position of the EFCC, is premature and antithetic to your pledge to investigate the issue.

“It is pertinent to add that both before and after reading the EFCC statement, I spoke to the Attorney-General of Benue State and other well-meaning senior lawyers who witnessed the incident, and their narrative is entirely consistent with the position of Mr. Gbagir. I have no reason to doubt or disbelieve their narrative and it now behooves on the EFCC to show that it can rise above board and properly investigate the excesses of its own staff.

Turning to the issue of harassment of lawyers by EFCC operatives, Akpata lampooned the operatives for “the high level of unprofessionalism, crass abuse of power and inhumane treatment” which they “have exhibited, and continue to exhibit, at different times when dealing with lawyers at various offices of the EFCC across the country.” According to him, “Verifiable instances abound of lawyers who have been, or are being, harassed, arrested, and detained for either providing legal advice to, or preparing transaction documents for, their clients. There are also other instances, where lawyers are simply denied access to their clients in custody or continuously maltreated, frustrated, intimidated and demeaned by EFCC operatives. The NBA is more than willing to make further representations to you and provide proof of such unsavory developments including recent instances where we have had to intervene on behalf of our members who were unjustly harassed or detained by the EFCC.”

Noting however that this state of affairs precedes the current EFCC leadership, Akpata warned that the situation “is totally unacceptable and, if not checked, will increasingly paint the Commission in a negative light, raise serious concerns about the modus operandi of the Commission and undermine her relationship with critical stakeholders.”

He noted that “the current state of the relationship between lawyers and the Commission, which ordinarily ought to be harmonious, collaborative and symbiotic, is unhealthy and continues to deteriorate. For inexplicable reasons, the relationship is characterised by the wanton harassment and assault of members of the legal profession who, by their calling, are mandated to provide legal advisory and support services to suspects in the custody of the Commission or those who are otherwise under investigation.” Akpata then warned that “This debasing treatment must cease forthwith.”

In a three-point demand, the NBA President wrote: “It is in view of the foregoing that I therefore formally request you to use your good offices to investigate this complaint expeditiously and thoroughly in the interest of justice and ensure that all operatives complicit in the very unfortunate incident are disciplined in line with extant service rules and applicable laws. The NBA will be constantly following up with you in this respect, as we will no longer endure or tolerate the incessant harassment of our members by EFCC operatives while such lawyers are lawfully discharging their duties.

“You may recall that one of the cardinal pillars of your mandate upon your assumption of office was to reposition the Commission and make it a reputable anti-corruption agency that boasts of the finest of personnel. I dare say that achieving this laudable objective would necessarily include weaning the Commission of officers and personnel whose conduct, taken individually or in the aggregate, are bound to undermine the image of the Commission.

“As you continue to settle into office, I urge you to look into these issues carefully with a view to resolving them holistically and avoiding a recurrence. We are indeed expectant that there will be no repeat of incidences such as those complained about in this letter. Lawyers dealing with the Commission must and should be accorded the respect and dignity that they deserve when acting on behalf of their clients. Under your leadership, you must intervene and take steps to ensure that this is the case at all offices of the Commission across the country.”

Below is the full text of the letter:

10th June 2021

The Executive Chairman
Economic and Financial Crimes Commission
EFCC Headquarters
Plot 301/302, Institution and Research Cadastral District
Jabi, Abuja

Attention: Mr. Abdulrasheed Bawa

Dear Sir,

ASSAULT OF OFFICIAL(S) OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION BY OPERATIVES OF THE EFCC AND RELATED INCIDENTS OF UNPROFESSIONALISM AGAINST LAWYERS: A DEMAND FOR INVESTIGATION, IMMEDIATE ACTION AND CESSATION

  1. I am constrained to write to you over (a) an unfortunate incident which occurred on 8th June 2021 involving some operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (the “EFCC” or the “Commission”) at its Makurdi Zonal office, and Mr. Justin Gbagir (“Mr. Gbagir”), a senior member of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) who is also the Chairman of the Makurdi Branch of NBA; and (b) the recuring unwholesome and unprofessional conducts by officers and operatives of the EFCC against members of the legal profession in Nigeria who are lawfully discharging their professional responsibilities.

The Unfortunate Makurdi Incident

  1. I have been credibly informed that Mr. Gbagir visited the Makurdi office of the EFCC on 8th June 2021 to facilitate the release of one Ms. Aver Shima (“ Shima”), who is a law officer in the employ of the Benue State Ministry of Justice. Ms. Shima had apparently been detained by the EFCC on an allegation that she gave legal advice to the Chairman of the Benue State Universal Basic Education Board that allegedly culminated in the latter signing a document which is reportedly the subject of investigation by the EFCC.   Since the merits of the detention of Ms. Shima for providing legal advice is now, as I understand it, already the subject of independent investigation, I shall refrain from commenting on Ms. Shima’s treatment.
  1. As we understand from the sequence of events, when Mr. Gbagir arrived at the EFCC zonal office in the company of other senior members of the Benue State Ministry of Justice, including the State Director of Public Prosecution, the delegation was refused entry into the offices of the EFCC and was subjected to humiliating and degrading treatment by the security operatives manning the gate of the EFCC on the rather specious ground that they were “agitators” who had come to protest. It took the intervention of the Senior Special Assistant to the State Governor and the arrival of the Attorney-General and the Solicitor-General of the State before the delegation was allowed access into the facility.
  1. It is our further understanding that when Mr. Gbagir was introduced to the EFCC zonal head (Mr. Kazeem Oseni) by the Solicitor-General of the State as the Chairman of the Makurdi Branch of the NBA, Mr. Gbagir was denied all courtesies on the ground that he was an “agitator”. Perplexed and embarrassed, Mr. Gbagir sought to excuse himself from the office of the zonal head only to be swarmed by an army of operatives of the EFCC, who brutally manhandled Mr. Gbagir and pushed him out of the premises. Of particular note and concern is the fact that eyewitness accounts confirm that the actions of the EFCC operatives were carried out with the tacit consent of the zonal head, at best, or based on his express instructions, at worst.
  1. Infuriated by this turn of events, the Honorable Attorney-General, the Solicitor General and the Special Adviser to the Governor who had all come to intervene in the detention of Ms. Shima left the premises. Suffice to state that Mr. Gbagir who suffered severe hurt and sustained various degrees of injury had to be hospitalized at the Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi.
  1. I assume that you will agree, Mr. Chairman, that if this level of uncultured behaviour could be exhibited by EFCC operatives in the presence of the strong delegation accompanying Mr. Gbagir, who in his own right is a Bar Leader, then the potential fate of other lawyers and citizens who interface with the EFCC in that zone is better imagined than experienced. 
  1. When we both spoke about this incident on 9th June 2021, you understandably expressed shock at this development and promised to investigate same. I have no cause yet to believe that you would personally renege on that promise. However, I have seen certain reports in the media credited to the EFCC Media and Publicity team which denied and largely distorted the facts.  In fidelity to honesty and good order, I trust that you and I can agree that the statement credited to the EFCC media head, to the extent that it represents the official position of the EFCC, is premature and antithetic to your pledge to investigate the issue.
  1. It is pertinent to add that both before and after reading the EFCC statement, I spoke to the Attorney-General of Benue State and other well-meaning senior lawyers who witnessed the incident, and their narrative is entirely consistent with the position of Mr. Gbagir. I have no reason to doubt or disbelieve their narrative and it now behooves on the EFCC to show that it can rise above board and properly investigate the excesses of its own staff.

Other egregious conducts of EFCC operatives against legal practitioners  

  1. Chairman, whilst the above represents the isolated experience of Mr. Gbagir, it is an opportune time to bring to your attention the high level of unprofessionalism, crass abuse of power and inhumane treatment that operatives of the EFCC have exhibited, and continue to exhibit, at different times when dealing with lawyers at various offices of the EFCC across the country. Verifiable instances abound of lawyers who have been, or are being, harassed, arrested, and detained for either providing legal advice to, or preparing transaction documents for, their clients. There are also other instances, where lawyers are simply denied access to their clients in custody or continuously maltreated, frustrated, intimidated and demeaned by EFCC operatives. The NBA is more than willing to make further representations to you and provide proof of such unsavory developments including recent instances where we have had to intervene on behalf of our members who were unjustly harassed or detained by the EFCC.
  1. This state of affairs, which admittedly precedes your appointment to superintend the EFCC, is totally unacceptable and, if not checked, will increasingly paint the Commission in a negative light, raise serious concerns about the modus operandi of the Commission and undermine her relationship with critical stakeholders. As you know, the role of lawyers is critical to the actualisation of the Commission’s foundational objectives. As a law enforcement agency that is established to be responsible and accountable to the citizenry, one would expect that lawyers will continue to be your partners in progress who should feel welcome and accommodated by the Commission and its operatives.
  1. Regrettably, the current state of the relationship between lawyers and the Commission, which ordinarily ought to be harmonious, collaborative and symbiotic, is unhealthy and continues to deteriorate. For inexplicable reasons, the relationship is characterised by the wanton harassment and assault of members of the legal profession who, by their calling, are mandated to provide legal advisory and support services to suspects in the custody of the Commission or those who are otherwise under investigation. This debasing treatment must cease forthwith.

Conclusion

  1. It is in view of the foregoing that I therefore formally request you to use your good offices to investigate this complaint expeditiously and thoroughly in the interest of justice and ensure that all operatives complicit in the very unfortunate incident are disciplined in line with extant service rules and applicable laws. The NBA will be constantly following up with you in this respect, as we will no longer endure or tolerate the incessant harassment of our members by EFCC operatives while such lawyers are lawfully discharging their duties. 
  1. You may recall that one of the cardinal pillars of your mandate upon your assumption of office was to reposition the Commission and make it a reputable anti-corruption agency that boasts of the finest of personnel. I dare say that achieving this laudable objective would necessarily include weaning the Commission of officers and personnel whose conduct, taken individually or in the aggregate, are bound to undermine the image of the Commission.
  2. As you continue to settle into office, I urge you to look into these issues carefully with a view to resolving them holistically and avoiding a recurrence. We are indeed expectant that there will be no repeat of incidences such as those complained about in this letter.  Lawyers dealing with the Commission must and should be accorded the respect and dignity that they deserve when acting on behalf of their clients.  Under your leadership, you must intervene and take steps to ensure that this is the case at all offices of the Commission across the country.
  1. While I look forward to an expeditious investigation of the unjust treatment of Mr. Gbagir and a general refocusing of the approach of the EFCC in its dealings with lawyers, please accept, Mr. Chairman, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Yours faithfully,

OLUMIDE AKPATA

President

Nigerian Bar Association

Cc:       The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation

Federal Ministry of Justice

Abuja

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JUSUN STRIKE: NBA-YLF NNEWI GIFTS PALLIATIVES TO MEMBERS

PRESS RELEASE

Sequel to the protracted strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the C. E. Okonkwo led executive of the Young Lawyers’ Forum, Nnewi Bar (NBA-YLF NNEWI) today, Friday, 11th June, 2021, distributed Palliative to members of the YLF Nnewi to cushion the effect of the protracted strike action.

The palliative items distributed include cash amount of four thousand five hundred naira (#4500) each to about forty (40) members, NBA Nnewi Sports kit and bags of rice. These items were donated by some members and friends of the Branch.

The Donors include:
1. Ike Obeta, Esq. – #20,000
2. A. O. Uzodike, Esq. – #20,000
3. Ifeanyi David, Esq. – #50,000
4. Anonymous – #50,000
5. Anonymous – #20,000
6. Stanley A. Ojiaku, Esq.- #10,000
7. C. E. Okonkwo, Esq. – #10,000
8. O. J. C. Chikaelo, Esq. – #11,000
9. Chimezie Ezechukwu, Esq. – #10,000
10. Obinna F. Okeke, Esq. – #10,000.
11. Ifeanyi David, Esq. – 4 sets of NBA Nnewi sports kit
12. Chimezie Ezechukwu – 5 Bags of Rice

In appreciation, the beneficiaries were very excited about the development and expressed their gratitude to the Young Lawyers’ Forum Chairman, C. E. Okonkwo, Esq. and his entire executive members for their sagacity. The YLF in a special way also appreciates the donors for their show of generosity.

Obinna Okeke, Esq., MICMC
Publicity Secretary, NBA-YLF, Nnewi

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KUNLE ADEGOKE OKAYS SOKOYA AS NBA PUBLICIST

Popular lawyer and telecoms litigation expert, Mr. Kunle Adegoke has endorsed Mr. Olayinka Sokoya to win the race for Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) come July 30, 2020.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Adegoke who is also active in the election petitions circuit noted that having x-rayed the professional and personal lifestyle of the candidate, “I can confidently say that his sense of honesty, integrity and professionalism is excellent.”

His words: “I have the opportunity of relating with and carefully studying the professional and personal lifestyle of Olayinka Sokoya and as a senior who is in a position to rate him, I can confidently say that his sense of honesty, integrity and professionalism is excellent. He is an advocate that enjoys the practice of law and is committed to the development of the legal profession. His sense of duty, discipline and knowledge of law make him a lawyer with a difference. It is, therefore, with ease that I endorse him as the best material for the office Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar. K Rad.”

Meanwhile, Sokoya’s campaign received a major boost at the weekend with his clearance by the Electoral Committee of NBA (ECNBA) to contest for the position of NBA Publicity Secretary. Announcing the successful appeal of his disqualification, Sokoya however noted that “This is not the time to rest on our oars but to intensify efforts until our victory is announced.” The former NBA Ilesa Branch Secretary and Publicity Secretary urged his supporters to “change the narrative and make the voice of the bar to be heard.”

His words: “Precisely on the 12th day of June, 2020 at exactly 8:42 Pm after celebrating the Democracy Day and having been interviewed by the media on Democracy Day, I received a mail from ECNBA informing me of its decision disqualifying me as a candidate in the forthcoming NBA election.

“Upon a careful and holistic perusal of the sole ground for the disqualification, I swiftly lodged an Appeal to ECNBA and to the glory of God, I received another mail from ECNBA on the 3rd day of July, 2020 at exactly 11:57 pm that I have been cleared as a candidate to the office of the Publicity Secretary of our noble Association.

“I give Glory to God Almighty for this first stage of Victory, I equally thank my revered and highly respected leaders and friends who have been calling me on daily basis to ascertain the decision of the ECNBA on my meritorious Appeal.”

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag 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.

 

GENERAL SECRETARY: ODUAH GETS ECNBA’S NOD TO RUN

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Treasurer, Joyce Oduah has his chances of clinching the post of General Secretary boosted at the weekend with the green light given to her by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA). The electoral committee listed the erstwhile NBA Lagos Branch Publicity Secretary as one of the candidates to compete for the influential General Secretary position.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Oduah expressed delight at her clearance by the electoral committee, adding that “this is another milestone in our mission to transform the NBA National Secretariat and make it more responsive, robust and forward-looking.”

The full text of the statement reads:

My distinguished colleagues and teeming supporters, it is with great delight that I announce to you that the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) has granted me final clearance to contest for the Office of the General Secretary of the NBA in the 2020 NBA National Elections, scheduled to hold from the 29th – 30th of July, 2020. This is contained in the ECNBA Statement 013, which was released and published on the NBA website in the early hours of today, Saturday, 4th July 2020. I thank God Almighty for making this possible and I thank you too, my teeming supporters, for your unwavering support and sacrifices. Indeed, this is another milestone in our mission to transform the NBA National Secretariat and make it more responsive, robust and forward-looking.

While I appreciate your continued support, I also enjoin you to verify and update your details on the NBA website on or before 15th July 2020, to enable you access the voting portal during the elections. The NBA website has a membership portal for all lawyers who are enrolled at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, similar to the portal on the International Bar Association (IBA) website. Verification is completely free and seamless.

To get verified, please visit the NBA Membership Portal on the NBA website or click this link https://nigerianbar.org.ng/membership-portal

Thank you and do have a great weekend.

Joyce Oduah, FICMC
National Treasurer, NBA, 2012-2014.
#BeyondRecordingMinutes

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag 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.

DAUDU BACKS OKEY OHAGBA TO WIN NBA GEN SEC RACE

The political fortunes of Port Harcourt-based Bar-man and candidate for the post of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) General Secretary, Mr. Okey Ohagba brightened at the weekend following his endorsement by Mr. Paul Babatunde Daudu, scion of former NBA President, Mr. Joseph Daudu SAN. The erstwhile NBA helmsman is recognised as a major power broker in NBA politics. Continue Reading

NBA DUTSE MEMBERS DEFY USORO, INAUGURATE NEW EXCO

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dutse Branch has inaugurated a new Executive Committee to pilot its affairs, notwithstanding the appointment of a Caretaker Committee for the branch by NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN. With Mr. Garba Abubakar as the newly elected Chairman, the new Executive Committee was sworn-in by Mr. Sule Umar, a Notary Public.

Speaking after assuming office as the incumbent branch chairman, Abubakar alleged that acolytes of an influential Bar Leader and former Jigawa State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice have been destabilizing the branch, adding that the branch would no longer tolerate such meddlesomeness. Abubakar warned the Bar Leader to stay away from the branch or risk having legal action taken against him.

Noting that the peaceful disposition of the outgone Executive Committee – of which he was the Secretary – must not be taken for cowardice, Abubakar alleged that the Bar Leader is not a member of the branch by virtue of Article 13 (4) of the NBA Unified Bye Law for branches, adding that he has “no visible place of practice and residence in the whole Jigawa State.”

The Dutse Branch helmsman warned that the branch would henceforth take steps to stem the alleged meddlesomeness of the Bar chieftain, adding that “In the very unlikely event that he refuses or rather neglects to stop tempering with the peaceful nature and wellbeing of the branch, I would have no further option than to activate the provisions of the relevant laws with a view to restoring the peaceful nature of the branch, and when that is done, the whole world will know where the truth lies as the truth is always on the side of the oppressed.”

He however extended an olive branch to all branch members to join his administration in moving the branch forward, saying: “I am using this medium to extend the hand of friendship and cooperation to those who have any issue or feel offended by any activities of the Branch Executive. It is indeed time to forget our past and go ahead for the progress of our Branch.”

Reeling out his roadmap for the next two years, Abubakar said he would “continue from where my predecessor stopped in the area of fostering unity among members, mentorship for young lawyers as well as capacity building. I will further continue from where the former Executive stopped in the area of partnership with various government agencies and other development partners for the benefit of our branch.

“We will in particular pay much attention to the following areas:

  • Human Capital Development and Welfare Programs.
  • Promoting of All-inclusive Bar.
  • Promoting mandatory continuing legal education.
  • Mentorship scheme and capacity building for young lawyers.
  • Promoting rule of law and good governance.
  • Provision for pro bono legal service for indigent, aged and victims of rape.
  • Creating synergy and collaboration between the branch and any development partners for the development of the branch.”

Speaking earlier, the former branch chairman, Mr. Bashir Usaini outlined the achievements of his administration, noting that while he met only N300,00 in the branch coffers, “I am leaving NBA GTB Account with the sum Two Million Five Hundred and Twenty Five Thousand Naira (N2, 502,500) only.” He urged the members “to support the incoming executive for collective success and peaceful relationship.”

Usoro had in a statement by NBA General Secretary, Mr. Jonathan Gunu Taidi, dissolved the Election Committee set up by the NBA Dutse Branch and constituted a three-member Caretaker Committee to handle the affairs of the branch upon the expiration of the tenure of the branch Executive Committee on 29th June, 2020.

But the branch members argue that the letter appointing the Caretaker Committee was belated and of no consequence, having been delivered after conclusion of the branch elections, with certificates of return issued to the winners.

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

 

 

DEMOCRACY DAY: ‘ELECTORAL BANDITRY FUELS INSECURITY, POVERTY’ – OJUKWU

Leading lawyer and former Deputy Director of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN has take a hard look at Nigeria’s democractic journey, warning that “We can only celebrate the 2020 democracy day as democracy aspirations, dreams and hopes for Nigeria.”

In a press statement made available to CITY LAWYER to mark this year’s Democracy Day, the former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate observed that “electoral banditry has provided the impetus for seriously failed governance on human rights, damaged judiciary, poverty and insecurity,” adding that “What plays out especially at our State and local government levels are massive corruption and executive lawlessness.”

The full text of the statement is below:

We have not done well as a nation with regards to elections and rule of law. Our leaders and politicians have paid lip service to the tenets of democratic principles. There has not been any general elections that has not been hijacked by individuals and groups backed by governments through massive rigging, thuggery and brigandage. The same scenario plays out at party primaries. That culture of stealing and rigging elections has also permeated our other segments of society such as the Nigerian Bar Association at both the National and branch elections.

Many organisations and professional groups have also been enmeshed in rigging election as a way of life in Nigeria including elections of students unions. The Nation has not bled so much as it has in terms of failed democracy as we have witnessed especially since 2004 when we made the first effort to conduct a civilian to civilian transition elections. Our electoral umpire has largely colluded with our bandit political leaders and party men to foist on Nigeria a culture of dishonesty and fraud in the electoral process. We can hardly say that the leaders that emerge through these fraudulent elections were chosen by the people. And that is why they have hardly represented our interests. And because the electoral system and processes were stolen as a matter of course, it has been impossible to use democratic platforms provided in the constitution to check the excesses of mis-governance including recall of elected representatives at all levels.

This singular act of electoral banditry has provided the impetus for seriously failed governance on human rights, damaged judiciary, poverty and insecurity. What plays out especially at our State and local government levels are massive corruption and executive lawlessness. It is a shame that governance has not worked well in Nigeria since the return to civilian rule in 1999. We can only celebrate the 2020 democracy day as democracy aspirations, dreams and hopes for Nigeria.

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

‘REUBEN JAMES WAS A DOGGED FIGHTER,’ SAYS OBI OKAFOR

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN has described erstwhile NBA Third Vice President, Late Reuben James as “a dogged fighter for the downtrodden.” Continue Reading

FOI: ‘EITHER NBA GIVES ME INFORMATION OR…’ – OJUKWU

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN has faulted the bar leadership for its reaction to his suit aimed to compel the NBA to accede to his Freedom of Information (FOI) Act request. Continue Reading

KILLINGS: NBA BLASTS FG, SECURITY AGENCIES

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has criticized the Federal Government and security agencies for the killings that have bedeviled the legal profession and the judiciary. The NBA was responding to recent killing of a magistrate and two lawyers. Continue Reading