As the Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch Elections approach the finish line this Friday, some candidates for the election have been speaking on the performance of the Electoral Committee led by Mr. Richard Akintunde SAN. Akintunde has been a longstanding Chairman of the committee for several consecutive years. The committee is also made up of Chief E. A. Otokhina, Mr. Geff Eze, Mrs. Obosa Akpata and Mrs. Olusola Adegbonmire.

CITY LAWYER had sought the views of the candidates for the posts of Chairman, Vice Chairman and Secretary. While one chairmanship candidate responded, others had not responded at press time. All the candidates for the posts of Vice Chairman and Secretary however responded to CITY LAWYER enquiries at press time.

The candidates also stated why they consider themselves as the most qualified for the posts they are seeking. Below are their views:

The Executive, through the NBA Secretariat, did its own part by submitting the real attendance registers signed by members at meetings to the Electoral Committee. In addition to this, is a compilation of list of members that made the 5 meetings attendance, a requirement of the 2015 Uniform Bye Law for NBA.

The Executive, through the NBA Secretariat, did its own part by submitting the real attendance registers signed by members at meetings to the Electoral Committee. In addition to this, is a compilation of list of members that made the 5 meetings attendance, a requirement of the 2015 Uniform Bye Law for NBA.

The Electoral Committee has a time table on the election which they are adhering to. The Electoral Committee has been effective in terms of disseminating information to candidates and members. I therefore think we are good to go.

The outgoing executive under the leadership of Chukwuka Ikwuazom has been regarded as the best thing that happened to NBA Lagos. I am the Vice Chairman and an active member of the Executive, I am the best for a seamless transition and continuity.

The Human Rights Committee under my Chairmanship witnessed an unprecedented achievement in the decongestion of Prison. Members of the Human Rights Committee put in their best within their limited personal resources and their efforts resulted in the release of over one hundred inmates and, about 4 were sentenced; matters are still going on in the various courts. Members of the Human Rights Committee are just wonderful and I believe there are still more like them in the Branch.

With my humility, friendly disposition, encouragement and hardwork, I usually get a lot of people who are willing and ready to walk and work with me to achieve my vision. I believe in setting goal with time frame. It is the best way to get things done as planned. Every member must have a sense of belonging.

There will be a definite and good working relationship between the Branch and the police. This is a promise. Henceforth, any police officer that acted unbecoming shall not go scotfree. However, there is need to tutor our members to always act like gentlemen that we are supposed to be. Once there is mutual respect, a cordial relationship will be established.

The same thing goes for the Bar and Bench relationship. Efforts will be made to improve on this. The relationship between the young lawyers and their employers shall also be addressed. Heads of Chambers will be encouraged to take more interest and be active in the Branch activities.

I have also initiated a 5 year plan to pay the Practising fee and Bar dues of 20 young lawyer between 1-5 years post call and 18 benefitted this current year. I did similar things during annual dinner. More senior lawyers will be encouraged to help in lifting up the younger ones.

There is need to establish an ‘in-house code of conducts’ by members for members that will distinguish us from other branches. This is not going to be totally different from our professional conduct but breaking the rules down to basic. If this is agreed to, members will put this together and decide on means of enforcement.

No more procrastination on the building of our Bar Centre. I am a stake holder by my one million naira contribution in 2016. Apart from building on Chukwuka Ikwuazom’s legacy, I will do more than I promised to do in my manifesto. I will stabilize the Branch with my experiences and maturity.

The preparations have been good. We await the outcome of the online voting system which I believe will also be good. The character of the members of the electoral committee members gives credence to the voting system. I do not have any problems with the preparations and enjoin our members to give the committee an opportunity to show that it can be done.

On why I am best suited to be the Vice Chairman, I will simply refer you to my profile and my manifesto which I will send you shortly. They speak volume about the kind of person I am, what I have done in the past for NBA and what I will do in future as Vice Chairman. The Vice Chairman of NBA Lagos by our Bye-Laws heads the Human Rights Committee. The Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), a leading non-governmental organization, has agreed to work with me to train our law enforcement agencies on the tenets of human rights with particular emphasis on the implication of the far-reaching innovations introduced by Administration of Criminal Justice Law.

I will also create a special forum for all heads of legal departments of law enforcement agencies in Lagos. This will enable us to have a regular interface with these key stakeholders in discharging their mandate. It will also help to bridge the gap between lawyers and law enforcement agents in justice delivery to our clients.

Under my watch in Human Rights Committee, I will also reorganize the Committee to be more responsive to the needs of our members and the society. I will create a Corporate Social Responsibility framework to encourage law firms to sponsor the work of the Human Rights Committee. This will ensure that hardworking committee members are paid stipends for the work to encourage them to do more.

Welfare of our members: I will create a platform where businesses around Lagos can give discounts to our members who patronize their outlets. The names of such businesses will be listed on a portal where members can easily access them. Under this platform, I have also started discussing with electronics merchants to provide one-year interest-free hire purchase services to our members to buy electronics and household items.

My impressions regarding the preparations for the election so far have been good.

I must also add that more enlightenment is needed now that we are embarking on a novel voting procedure “the electronic vote” for the first time in the history of the Branch elections. If we get it right, then the National body would come for tutorials.

I am the best candidate for the job because I have the necessary experience as I have been in Human Right Committee for 3 administrations consistently.

The Provisions of section 7 of our Uniform Bye Law stated that the Vice Chairman of the Branch should be the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee. During my University years I was a member of Amnesty International and before I graduated, I became the Director of Group 8 Unilag Chapter.

Moreover, I am not taking the post to start the work afresh but just to consolidate and advance the work we have been doing in the committee.

The innovations I would introduce if elected are as follows:

  1. Open and maintain a diary “The Human Rights Diary” and will also post Human Rights cases cause list in all NBA Lagos for a every weekend.
  2. Encouraging the participation of the seniors of the Branch in the Human rights activities.
  3. Encouraging Seniors to sponsor a pro bono case for a willing junior member of the branch and make sure there is a one-to-one interaction with the junior and the such seniors for direction.
  4. Using social networking medium to create and sustain a synergy between the various committees of the Branch and Human Right Committee.
  5. Encouraging more participation of the members in the activities of the Branch through the direct involvement of Human Rights Committee.
  6. Involve the members more with permission of the Chairman in some academic enhancing resources and welfare policies of the Branch.
  7. Creating more avenues to gather and utilize innovative opinions from the members.
  8. To carry out all delegated duties by the Chairman and the General House to the best of my ability at all times, as well as standing in to deliver quality services to the branch in the absence of the Chairman.

Finally, having seen what I am bringing on board you would agree with me that I am the best man for the post of Vice Chairman of our Premier Branch.

The role of Vice Chairman is not a child’ play. It requires an experienced fellow who has been up and doing in the affairs of NBA not just at the branch levels but National.

As former member of Human Right committee at both the branch and national. I want to believe that I have garnered enough strength and experience to make me the best candidate for the job. And if elected, I want to introduce more innovations that will make our branch occupancy its pride of place in the committee of all branches.

I am satisfied with preparations for the elections so far. The members of the Electoral Committee are seasoned legal Practitioners of high integrity and experience. The present Executive Committee of the Branch retained the members of the last Electoral Committee because of their excellent performance over the years. They are on top of the situation and I believe they have the capability to deliver a free and fair election as they have always done.

Our elections at NBA Lagos Branch has always been peaceful and devoid of rancor and desperation. You know we are the Premier Bar and we lead by example, we are a body of distinguished and classy lawyers. Interestingly the election this year is by electronic voting and I am excited by this. Electronic voting will ensure that our members who are out of Lagos or out of the country on the day of election can vote. This further confirms our enviable status as the Premier Bar. This is the first time an NBA branch election will be conducted online and we look forward to it with excitement.

The Premier Bar has had a chequered history. It has produced the finest lawyers in the country and very high standards have been set. This has been so because the best have always been chosen to pilot its affairs. Mediocrity has never been accepted at the Premier bar. Each executive committee has been an improvement on the previous one.

The present Executive Committee that has been led brilliantly by the effervescent and irrepressible Mr. Chukwuka Ikwuazom has raised the bar higher as a lot of our members will testify to and I am very proud to be a part of the team. The apathy hitherto shown by our members to branch activities has disappeared and members now feel a connect with the branch.

As Publicity Secretary, I have made my contribution to the many successes recorded by this administration. Beyond that I have worked with the Secretary as part of the website subcommittee that oversaw the rebuilding of the branch website and I was also part of the final recruitment process for the newly appointed Administrator for the secretariat.

In assessing the best candidate for the office of the Secretary, it is absolutely crucial to take a critical look at their capabilities, experience and track record. And in doing this, it is important to look at recent experience and track record and not experience from ten years ago because we are in the era of constantly evolving technological advancements. The way the secretariat of the branch was run ten years ago can no longer be applicable now.

Continuity in administration is key because the two-year tenure of the executive committee is usually not enough to achieve all the set goals. It is imperative that experienced persons are part of any incoming executive so that they can hit the ground running especially if they are part of the outgoing executive committee.

I am confident in my abilities to maintain the high standards set by this administration, and with my skills and experience, including those gained as Publicity Secretary, I believe I am the best candidate for the office of Secretary.

I am TOCHUKWU CHUKWUMERIJE, Esq and the founder of Bulwark Attorneys, a corporate/commercial law firm. Am the best candidate for secretary because I had the privilege of serving, the branch as 1st Assistant Secretary (2013-2015) wherein I also discharged the duties of Secretary for five months (march 2014- July 2014) after we lost our secretary through an accident. From 2015 to present date being serving as Secretary Nigerian Bar Association Disciplinary Committee Panel “B” For Lagos.

I was appointed Secretary of the Panel by Former President of Nigerian Bar Association Austin Alegeh (SAN) led administration, approved by National Executive Committee (NEC) and for an outstanding service was reappointed by A.B Mahmoud (SAN) led administration. Through experience I know the importance of an efficient and vibrant Secretariat. I will drive initiatives and formulate policies targeted at professionalizing the secretariat ie up-to-date digital legal directory, upgrade the website, photocopiers, free internet etc. I will engage in initiatives that promotes Law Firm development, partnership encouragement schemes, sponsoring and mentorship with a view of promoting independent firms among the young lawyers.

It is therefore with great sense of purpose and sincere steadfastness that I put myself forward in my continuing quest to serve, as the best man for the secretary job. Being the most experienced of all the contestants with proven performance I would draw from the significant secretarial skills I have learned and gained over the years The qualities of leadership, charisma, erudition, integrity, dignity, excellence and competence.

The preparations for the forthcoming Nigeria Bar Association Lagos Branch Elections has been top notch and concerted until the publication of Final List of Voters for the election. The omission of names of many eligible members of the branch with good standing from the list has cast doubts on resolve and preparedness of the Election committee to conduct free, fair & credible election. Worst still, omission of names of candidates vying for the election from the Final list who were recently cleared by the Election committee to contest in the election having been found to be eligible and of good standing pursuant to the NBA Bye Law even leaves much to be desired. As it is, my impression about preparedness of Election committee for the forthcoming election is one of doubt in view of the possibility of many eligible voters being disenfranchised and illegible (sic) members of the Branch voting in the election.

I am Obinna Nnaemeka Okereke, LL.M (Notary Public) the Principal Partner of High Refuge Attorneys a corporate and commercial law firm with office address at No.32 Association Avenue, Ilupeju Lagos State.

I attended University of Nigeria Enugu Campus (UNEC) where I obtained LL.B (Honors). After my call to Bar in May, 2002, I proceeded to University of Ibadan where I obtained LL.M (Master of laws) as one of the best students.

I have been an active member of Nigeria Bar Association Lagos Branch since 2002 and worked closely with some committees. Over, the years I had attended virtually all Nigeria Bar Association General Conference and Commonwealth Lawyers Conference as a member.

I was President of Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON) at Nigeria Law School Lagos Campus as well as National Officer of the body for several years. Iam passionate to transform administration of secretariat of the Premier Bar to international standards and ensure seamless update of membership database in such a way that names of registered members of the Branch is regularly uploaded to the website.

Another reason why Iam best candidate for job of secretary is that I would work in synergy with Executive committee of the Branch to among other issues address challenges faced by Lawyers in Courts within Lagos Judicial Division by engaging Chief Judge of Federal High Court on ease of filing process at Federal High Court Ikoyi, Lagos.

I have all it takes to make our continuing Legal Education (CLE) expert and skill-training focused during our monthly meetings in those key areas of novel Law Practice such as Fintech law, E-Discovery practice, Internet crime Law Practice, Maritime Law, Aviation Law, private Infrastructure finance among other emerging new areas of Law Practice. I would do better than other candidates in using proper technology software to ensure seamless and accurate record of attendance at monthly meetings of the Branch and update record of members with good standing on the website periodically.

Iam in a better position to specialize and make continuing legal education for Young Lawyers more impactful because as Adjunct Lecturer of Nigeria Law School Lagos Campus I interviewed them during portfolio assessment and know what is needed to uplift their law practice mentorship.

I am best candidate for office of Secretary because Iam committed to deliver on these goals, my manifesto and other novel initiatives that would take our Premier Bar to greater heights.

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