INTERNET VOTING VIOLATES NBA CONSTITUTION, SAYS GADZAMA

  • SEEKS INCLUSION OF YOUNG LAWYERS IN STANDING COMMITTEES

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN has warned that a reform of the association’s electoral process has become “urgent,” adding that the NBA Constitution does not envisage internet voting as currently used for past NBA elections.

In a memorandum to the NBA Constitution Review Committee, Gadzama argued that “It is my humble but firm personal view that the electronic voting envisaged in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Constitution is voting without the use of internet. Indeed, the universal suffrage stipulated by NBA Constitution is a welcome development and can be achieved transparently with strict adherence to electronic voting.”

According to the leading litigator and arbitrator, “Electronic voting will entail voting at all the branches of the NBA at their respective election centers and in the presence of the agents of the various candidates, through the use of dedicated computers or electronic voting machines for members to cast their votes. Upon casting of votes, there could be a paper backup to enhance the accountability, transparency and auditability of the election. Significantly, all these are not obtainable with internet voting. This electronic system has been adopted and used in the past by the NBA Abuja branch for its branch elections.”

Gadzama noted that current NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata “expressed initial concerns over the 2020 electoral process shortly before the election,” adding that “Mr. Dele Adesina, SAN who was a Presidential contestant at the said election rejected the outcome of the election which rejection almost tore the Bar apart but for the intervention of eminent members of our noble profession.”

Below is the full text of the memorandum.

MEMORANDUM TO THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA) CONSTITUTION REVIEW COMMITTEE

BY

JOE-KYARI GADZAMA, OFR, MFR, SAN, FNIALS, FICMC, FCIArb, Chartered Arbitrator.
Chairman, Mentorship Committee of the Body of Benchers
Formerly: Pioneer Chairman, NBA – SPIDEL; Vice Chairman, NBA – SLP; Council Member, NBA – SBL & Chairman, NBA Abuja Branch.

1.0 INTRODUCTION:

1.1 This memorandum is in response to the call by the NBA Constitution Review Committee for submission of memoranda on further amendments to the provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended). As a major stakeholder in the process, having contested the 2016 NBA National Officers’ election, this memorandum is my modest contribution to this genuine reform process. In the light of the foregoing; I hereby recommend some Constitutional amendments and other proposed reforms outlined hereunder for consideration by the Committee in line with your terms of reference.

2.0 YOUNG LAWYERS’ REPRESENTATION AT NEC:

2.1 It is my view that young lawyers ought to have constitutional representatives at the NEC meetings in order for them to feel a sense of responsibility and belonging in this noble profession and for them to realize that their interests are being protected. Section 7 (1) only provides for National Officers, All past Presidents and General secretaries, all chairmen and secretaries or registered branches, one other representative of each branch, chairmen and secretaries of sections and other deserving members of the Association which include Senior Advocates of Nigeria, senior members who are over 25 years post-call and special interest groups/active members who are over 10 years post-call.

2.2 It is my humble recommendation that the affairs of young lawyers can be statutorily represented at the NEC meetings by amendment of Section 7 (1) by the introduction of a new Section 7 (1) (f) to specifically list at least the Chairman of Young Lawyers’ Forum as statutory member of NEC. The current 7 (1) (f) can now be the new Section 7 (1) (g).

3.0 YOUNG LAWYERS’ MEMBERSHIPS AT STANDING COMMITTEES

3.1 By the interpretation of Section 12 (3) (b) under the membership of standing committees and Section 10 (10) of the third schedule of the Constitution, it states that the Chairman of each committee shall be a member of not less than 10 years post-call while the Secretary shall be a member of not less than 5 years post-call. There is no explicit involvement of young lawyers in the make-up and representation of the members in the standing committees.

3.2 It is my view that Young Lawyers can be statutorily represented in these committees by drafting them in various committees and thereby making sure that they are actively involved in the affairs of the NBA. Therefore there can be new Sections 12 (3) (c) & Section 10 (10) (c) of the third schedule of the Constitution which explicitly mention the involvement/representation of young lawyers from 0- 7 years post call in various standing committees. The current Sections 12 (3) (d) can now be 12 (3) (e) and Section 10 (10) (f) of the third schedule of the Constitution be changed to Section 10 (10) (g).

4.0 VOTING METHOD UNDER THE NBA CONSTITUTION:

4.1 It is my humble but firm personal view that the electronic voting envisaged in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Constitution is voting without the use of internet. Indeed, the universal suffrage stipulated by NBA Constitution is a welcome development and can be achieved transparently with strict adherence to electronic voting. This view is fortified by the express provision of section 9(4) of the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution which states thus:

“Section 9(4) – Election into National Offices shall be by universal suffrage and electronic voting as set out in Second Schedule.”(Emphasis ours)
Paragraph 2.4(a) of the said Second Schedule of the NBA Constitution provides that;
“Voting at the election shall be by electronic means (E-voting).”(Emphasis mine)

4.2 The true intention of the Constitution, I humbly submit, for conduct of elections electronically without the use of the internet can further be discerned from paragraph 2.4 (c) of the second schedule which provides for verification of voters, place, time and platform to be utilized for electronic voting for each particular election year taking into consideration the state of available technology and information technology infrastructure of the branches in order to afford all registered voters the opportunity to vote.

4.3 Voting over the internet has proven to be non-transparent and problematic which has led to the challenge in Court of the outcome of the 2016 and 2018 NBA elections conducted using internet voting. The system of voting over the internet is highly susceptible to manipulations and experience has also shown that genuine cases of disenfranchisement of eligible voters keep recurring. Recall that the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, expressed initial concerns over the 2020 electoral process shortly before the election while Mr. Dele Adesina, SAN who was a Presidential contestant at the said election rejected the outcome of the election which rejection almost tore the Bar apart but for the intervention of eminent members of our noble profession. This dissatisfaction was a result of some of the inevitable challenges associated with internet voting.

4.4 As stated earlier, the electronic voting envisaged under the NBA Constitution is different from internet voting which was used to conduct the 2016, 2018 and 2020 NBA National Officers’ election as a result of the misinterpretation of the relevant sections. Internet by definition is a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols. Electronic, on the other hand, can be said to be a device having or operating with components such as microchips and transistors that control and direct electric currents.

4.5 It is clear that while internet voting requires the use of electronics, electronic voting does not require the use of internet. I-voting (which has been used over time by NBA at the National level) relies totally on the use of the internet, whereas E-voting, envisaged under the NBA Constitution, does not require the internet. E-voting envisages a situation where all the branches of the NBA at their respective election centers and in the presence of the monitoring agents of the various candidates, will use dedicated computers or electronic voting machines to cast their votes.

4.6 Electronic voting will entail voting at all the branches of the NBA at their respective election centers and in the presence of the agents of the various candidates, through the use of dedicated computers or electronic voting machines for members to cast their votes. Upon casting of votes, there could be a paper backup to enhance the accountability, transparency and auditability of the election. Significantly, all these are not obtainable with internet voting. This electronic system has been adopted and used in the past by the NBA Abuja branch for its branch elections.

5.0 POSSIBLE AMENDMENT OF NBA CONSTITUTION:

5.1 Although it is my interpretation that the NBA Constitution envisages electronic voting (without use of internet), we can still continue with internet voting considering that it is more convenient and in line with the global trend. For these reasons, I will also be inclined towards internet voting provided that the vote of each voter is revealed instantly to show who the voter casts his ballot for. After all, we are all members of the same professional family of lawyers. Indeed, this will make the system more transparent and any result that it produces will be generally acceptable by the majority. In that case, it would be ideal to amend section 9(4) of the NBA Constitution and paragraph 2.4 of the schedule to eliminate any ambiguity and to bring it in line with the adopted electronic voting system.

6.0 OPEN BALLOT SYSTEM:

6.1 As stated earlier, if internet voting is to be adopted for future elections which appears to be the preference due to convenience and the fact that it is in line with the global trend, it will therefore be my strong recommendation that there should be full real-time disclosure of the names of voters and who they cast their votes for. This is akin to the Option A4 voting system in conventional elections. Display of the votes as they are being cast, showing the choice of voters, will indeed enhance accountability and transparency of the process.

6.2 I understand that some persons may prefer that their votes remain anonymous, if this is the position adopted by the NBA, then the choice of the voters may be kept hidden whilst the real-time tally is revealed to everyone. Furthermore, there should be a hidden trail to show who a voter opted for which would only be revealed in the instance of a dispute as to the result or credibility of the election.

7.0 EARLY SET-UP OF ELECTORAL COMMITTEE:

7.1 The responsibility of conducting the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) National Officers’ election rests squarely with the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA). It is my fervent recommendation that this important committee should be set up early enough to begin preparations for the election in every election year in good time. Since the deadline for payment of Bar Practicing Fees is end of March in every given year, we should consider setting up the ECNBA in April so that they can commence work in good time and possibly release guidelines in May of the election year. This will go a long way in ensuring that adequate preparations are made in advance for every NBA elections.

8.0 INVOLVEMENT OF SITTING NBA PRESIDENT IN THE PROCESS:

8.1 Another issue that has to be addressed frontally is the involvement of the sitting NBA President and indeed the sitting NBA EXCO in the election process which sometimes confers an undue advantage on any candidate ‘anointed’ by the incumbent NBA President. In 2016, the then incumbent President was openly partisan and he engaged in open campaigns and endorsements of my opponent at that time and these contributed to the absence of a level playing field for all candidates in that election. Another worrisome trend is the appointment of all ECNBA Chairmen from the zone of the sitting President. In 2016, Mr. Ken Mozia, SAN who is from the same zone with the then sitting President – Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN was the ECNBA Chairman. In 2018, Prof. Auwalu Yadudu was the ECNBA Chairman and was from the same zone as the then NBA President, Mr. A. B. Mahmoud, SAN. In 2020, Mr. Tawo Tawo, SAN from the same zone with the then NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, was appointed as the ECNBA Chairman. No doubt, all three former NBA Presidents did their best to uplift the Bar during their tenure and all the ECNBA Chairmen appointed during their respective regimes are respectable and reputable senior members of the Bar, but that is not the issue. The issue here is the perception of the majority of members of the Bar. Could this be a coincidence or a deliberate ploy, as assumed by many, to ensure that only those supposedly very close to the NBA President are appointed as ECNBA Chairman? I believe that deliberate efforts should be made to discourage a pattern whereby only someone from the same zone with the sitting NBA President is appointed as ECNBA Chairman. No doubt, this will go a long way in building confidence in the process. By all means, the ECNBA should be able to maintain sufficient independence from the NBA leadership, particularly the President.

9.0 REAL TIME MONITORING OF VOTES & AUTOMATIC COLLATION OF RESULTS

9.1 The votes as they are being cast should be displayed real time in a transparent manner accessible to all members of the Association. Collation of votes should also be automatic after the last ballot is cast unlike what we had in 2016 when there was a delay of over one hour and twenty minutes before releasing the results on the display screen after the close of polls at 12 midnight on Sunday, 31st July 2016.

10.0 DUE PROCESS FOR ENGAGEMENT OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICE PROVIDER

10.1 For future elections, there should be clear yardsticks, objective basis and/or set parameters for engagement of any IT service provider that will provide any IT infrastructure and/or support for the NBA elections. Mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that only qualified, experienced and competent IT Companies without interest in the outcome of the election are engaged. Due diligence must be conducted on any prospective IT Company before engagement. As I stated earlier in an interview, it should be a Company that has no real interest in who emerges as winners of the election other than a reflection of the wishes of the majority of members of the Bar. Importantly, the selection and/or appointment of IT Company should not be done or influenced by the NBA President; rather it should be done independently by the ECNBA with the active involvement of the candidates (especially the Presidential candidates). Candidates should also be allowed to audit the infrastructures of the IT Company before it deploys its facilities.

11.0 SEAMLESS VOTER REGISTRATION PROCESS

11.1 Voter registration is an integral aspect of any election. It is a pre-condition for voting in NBA election as stipulated in paragraph 2.2(f) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution. The NBA electoral process should be configured in such a way that all eligible voters, who have paid their Bar Practicing Fees (BPF) by 31st March of every given year, are allowed and given the opportunity to vote seamlessly for candidates of their choice. The list of financially up-to-date members should be automatically collated and made public shortly after the deadline for payment of BPF. In the past, there have been genuine and verified complaints of the inability of some of our eligible members to register for the voting process. To my mind, the registration process should be stress-free and transparent without any impediments.

11.2 Another pre-condition for voting in the NBA election as stipulated in paragraph 2.3 (d) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution is that the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote shall be published at least 28 days before the date of the election. This provision can be reviewed and the time frame changed to at least 60 days to enable those whose names may have been inadvertently left out of the register to have ample time for same to be rectified. This would solve the issue of eligible voters claiming that they have been disenfranchised. It would be ideal to create a longer time between publication of the names and the date of the election given what had transpired in the past elections.

12.0 INVOLVEMENT OF NBA SECRETARIAT IN THE PROCESS

12.1 The NBA Constitution currently vests the responsibility of conducting National Officers’ elections on the ECNBA. However, there is still some level of involvement of the NBA National Secretariat in the process and since the secretariat is also manned by NBA Staff (some of whom are lawyers), the issue of partisanship cannot be overruled. See paragraph 2.3 (d) of the second schedule to the Constitution which gives the National Secretariat the responsibility, in conjunction with the ECNBA, to publish the full list of all eligible legal practitioners. This committee should consider a mechanism or system that will result in reduced involvement of the NBA Secretariat in the system. Currently, paragraph 2.1 (d) of the second schedule to the NBA Constitution provides that completed forms received in respect of the elections shall be forwarded to the NBA Secretariat and thereafter referred to the Electoral Committee. To reduce and/or check any possible interference by the NBA Secretariat, it is desirable to amend the referenced provision to constitutionally allow completed forms to be submitted directly to the ECNBA. Furthermore, the feasibility of the ECNBA liaising directly with the NBA Branches for data should also be looked into. In conclusion, there must be a level playing field in any NBA elections and all candidates must be given access to interrogate every stage of the electoral process. It should be a fair contest.

13.0 CONCLUSION
13.1 The urgent need for the reform of the NBA electoral system cannot be overemphasized. It is indeed a collective responsibility of all of us to meaningfully & timely contribute to this electoral reform process in our little way. It is my fervent hope, genuine desire and humble prayer that these proposals will be duly considered in the overall interest of the entire Bar and towards minimizing the spate of disputes arising from future NBA elections so that together we can earn our deserved respect in the eyes of Nigerian politicians and Nigerians generally.

Thank you.
Dated 19th April, 2021.

MEMO_GADZAMA

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JUSUN STRIKE SPLITS LAGOS NBA BRANCHES, AKPATA WADES IN

• Ikeja Branch insists on protest march today
• Akpata Gives Nod to 4 branches to visit tomorrow
• Schism on interpretation of NBA’s directive

The directive by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata to NBA branches to pay a “visit” to Governors’ offices today and deliver letters to press home the demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary has split the five branches in Lagos State.

While Ikeja Branch insists on holding a “protest march” today in support of the ongoing strike by Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the four other branches yesterday agreed to “visit” the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu tomorrow to deliver their joint letter.

At least two branch chairmen told CITY LAWYER that efforts made to persuade Ikeja Branch, otherwise called the “Tiger Branch,” to join other branches in the visit tomorrow met a brick wall, as the branch insisted that it had resolved at its last monthly meeting to embark on a “protest march,” even before Akpata’s directive.

NBA Ikorodu Branch Chairman, Mr. Abimbola Ojedokun told CITY LAWYER that all the branch chairmen met via whatsapp call yesterday to agree on the modalities for the visit, noting that aside from Ikeja Branch, the other branch chairman resolved to deliver a joint letter to the Governor tomorrow.

“We agreed to gather at Alausa Secretariat between 11 am and 12 noon and proceed to the Governor’s Office to meet with the Governor and deliver a joint letter to him on the issue,” said Ojedokun. “We set the time to enable members from far-flung branches like Epe and Badagry to join the group.”

Ojedokun said that the branches were mandated to mobilize their members for the visit, adding that while NBA Lagos Branch would alert its members of the decision at its monthly meeting holding today, the three other branches have scheduled emergency general meetings today to work out modalities for tomorrow’s visit.

Confirming Ojedokun’s stance, the Chairman of NBA Epe Branch, Mr. Ademola Koko told CITY LAWYER that the during the virtual meeting, Ikeja Branch stated that its plan to proceed on a protest march was 99 percent complete, adding that it could not resile from the resolve of its members.

“After the meeting, we issued a communiqué for each branch to convene an extra-ordinary general meeting to inform its members of the resolution to visit the Governor tomorrow. The meeting considered the fact the Mr. President’s directive was issued on Friday, leaving limited time to plan for the visit.

“Mr. President’s directive was for a joint visit to the Governor to deliver a jointly signed letter by all the branches in each state. That way, the letter will carry more weight. I am glad to tell you that Mr. President gave approval to the four branches to proceed with the visit tomorrow. We have just ended our own EGM. We are already mobilizing our members.”

CITY LAWYER gathered that NBA Lagos Branch Chairman, Mr. Yemi Akangbe was mandated by the other three chairmen to write the letter, to be endorsed by other branch chairmen prior to delivery to the Governor.

When CITY LAWYER telephoned NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Bartholomew Aguegbodo, he did not pick the call. However, a former Secretary of the Branch, Mr. Chinedu Ifezue told CITY LAWYER that the branch was holding an extra-ordinary general meeting where the chairman was presiding.

He said the EGM had again endorsed the earlier resolution to proceed with a protest march today, adding that “it is strictly in compliance with the NBA President’s directive. In fact, not to conduct the visit today is the real breach of the directive.”

In a press statement personally signed by the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the association asked all NBA branches to march to their respective State Governors on Monday “to effectively mobilize their members and pay visits to their respective State Governors at the Government Houses on Monday, 19th April 2021 to press home the demand for implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary. At the visit, NBA Branches in each State are to present a joint written demand to their State Governor requesting full compliance with existing legislative instruments and court judgments on the financial autonomy of the Judiciary.”

Noting that the demand for financial autonomy “is legitimate, constitutional and is in the best interest of the Judiciary as it is one of the key parameters for enthroning independence of the Judiciary and fostering democracy,” the NBA also directed the branch chairmen “to ensure that these visits are embarked upon, every subsequent Monday, until there is full compliance with this demand that is aimed at strengthening our democracy and the dispensation of justice. We trust that our members will give the leadership of their respective branches all the support that they require to achieve this much needed victory for our justice system.”

The move is coming on the heels of stalled efforts to amicably resolve the impasse, a situation bemoaned by the lawyers’ association which stated that “With these developments and the recent actions and utterances of officials of some of the State Governments, it has become apparent that most of the State Governments are not ready or willing to implement the constitutional provisions which grant financial autonomy to the

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JUSUN STRIKE: LAWYERS SET TO STORM GOVS’ OFFICES TOMORROW

Nigerian lawyers are poised to storm Governors’ offices tomorrow in compliance with the directive by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and to press home the demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary. The move is in apparent solidarity with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) which embarked on a nationwide strike to ensure financial autonomy for the judiciary.

In a press statement personally signed by the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the association asked all NBA branches “to effectively mobilize their members and pay visits to their respective State Governors at the Government Houses on Monday, 19th April 2021 to press home the demand for implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary. At the visit, NBA Branches in each State are to present a joint written demand to their State Governor requesting full compliance with existing legislative instruments and court judgments on the financial autonomy of the Judiciary.”

Noting that the demand for financial autonomy “is legitimate, constitutional and is in the best interest of the Judiciary as it is one of the key parameters for enthroning independence of the Judiciary and fostering democracy,” the NBA also directed the branch chairmen “to ensure that these visits are embarked upon, every subsequent Monday, until there is full compliance with this demand that is aimed at strengthening our democracy and the dispensation of justice. We trust that our members will give the leadership of their respective branches all the support that they require to achieve this much needed victory for our justice system.”

The move is coming on the heels of stalled efforts to amicably resolve the impasse, a situation bemoaned by the lawyers’ association which stated that “With these developments and the recent actions and utterances of officials of some of the State Governments, it has become apparent that most of the State Governments are not ready or willing to implement the constitutional provisions which grant financial autonomy to the Judiciary.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

JUSUN Strike – NBA Directive to Branches

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GADZAMA TO CHAIR BENCHERS’ MENTORSHIP C’TE, SEEKS TO PARTNER NBA

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate and Bar Leader, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN has been appointed Chairman of the Mentorship Committee of the Body of Benchers (BOB).

Disclosing this in a letter to the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, Gadzama noted that the appointment was made on March 25, 2021 by the highest policy-making body in the legal profession.

In the letter made available to CITY LAWYER, the Bar Leader noted that “this is an interest that the BOB shares with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which, under your leadership, has demonstrated a clear commitment to raising both ethical and professional standards at the Bar. The NBA has made laudable strides on its own, and I am convinced that even more spectacular achievements will follow if it collaborates with the Committee – and by extension, BOB – in discharging this mandate.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

J-K/ABJ/NBA/APP/04/21

Wednesday, 7th April, 2021.

Mr. Olumide Akpata,
President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA),
National Secretariat, NBA House,
Plot 1101 Mohammadu Buhari Way,
Central Business District,
Abuja.

Dear Sir,

MY APPOINTMENT AS CHAIRMAN, MENTORSHIP COMMITTEE OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS (BOB)

On Thursday, 25th March, 2021, the undersigned had the privilege of being appointed Chairman of the Mentorship Committee of the Body of Benchers (BOB). The Mentorship Committee of the BOB is charged with the responsibility of promoting the values and skills that are crucial to excellence in the legal profession, and is committed to ensuring that these skills are transmitted to the coming generations of lawyers.

I understand that this is an interest that the BOB shares with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which, under your leadership, has demonstrated a clear commitment to raising both ethical and professional standards at the Bar. The NBA has made laudable strides on its own, and I am convinced that even more spectacular achievements will follow if it collaborates with the Committee – and by extension, BOB – in discharging this mandate.

I look forward to working together with the NBA under your leadership, along with the Young Lawyers Forum, in the effort to raise ever higher the professional standards of our noble profession.

Thank you for your kind cooperation, and please accept the assurances of my highest esteem.

Yours faithfully,

__________________________
Joe-Kyari Gadzama, OFR, MFR, SAN.
JOM/SJA

CC:

Mr. Tobi Adebowale,
The Chairman,
Young Lawyers Forum
National Secretariat, NBA House,
Plot 1101 Mohammadu Buhari Way,
Central Business District,
Abuja.

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A/COURT SCREENING: ‘I PLAYED KEY ROLE IN NJC DUMPING NOMINEES,’ SAYS CAROL AJIE

RIGHT OF REPLY

Fiery Bar Activist and former Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, Dame Carol Ajie has said that she contributed to the dropping of two candidates who allegedly performed poorly during the National Judicial Council (NJC) screening of the nominees for elevation to the Court of Appeal.

In a rejoinder to CITY LAWYER‘s report on the matter, Dame Ajie narrated her high-profile interventions on the controversial screening exercise, adding that CITY LAWYER did not credit her efforts as contributing to the reversal of fortunes suffered by the affected jurists.

Below is the full text of the rejoinder which was sent to CITY LAWYER.

NBA vs NJC Appellate Court Nominees: Mr Emeka Nwadioke – Unfair Reporting

As you privately twice acknowledged yesterday Saturday 20th Match I wrote self inspiringly interventionist views on the above subject many including Gambo Saleh NJC Secretary received it I I also sent it to Ms Hadiza Supreme Court Chief Registrar on my contact list via WhatsApp and email to a former CJN Mariam Muktar GCON. I believe a number of people were surprised that I backed Akpata on anything cos they had perceived I won’t and couldn’t back him.

Perhaps I don’t know the part of the real reason for NJC U Turn arose from the shocking endorsement I have Akpata though you are too dishonest to admit it in your poor article which I have trashed.

A former NBA GS who shall not be named wrote me a long whatsapp text yesterday to dump support for Akpata on this I didn’t buckle. I said Akpata is right.

I sought on my own initiative to back him that is why I wrote my interventionist text like that. If I didn’t want to back him I know how to write Read a draft of what would have appeared anti Akpata

An NBA President Akpata who never hid his aversion for the court room suddenly becomes an advocate of who a good appellate court Judge should be. Please Distinguished readers trash it. You know Akpata is conventionally greedy he has zero record on public interest chances are that as NBA President he probably had his preferential candidates who didn’t pass the mark set by CJN/NJC A transactional lawyer indeed should not be telling a CJN who is eligible for the bench when not his turf. Thank U
End

Chidi Odinkalu himself cannot file a motion he knows nothing about litigation he has no practice he was never in practice.

But why put down Akpata or Chidi they are my Brothers I said one from Midwest plus Akpata actually is UNIBEN Alum. As a Catholic Christian I said he has taken a right step let me publicly support him. That z it. As for Chidi he is my Brother I call him Brother CAO hus (sic) initials

If I wrote that anti Akpata and shared it within half an hour it would get to CJN through Ahmed Gambo.Saleh and Madam Chief Registrar SC or other sources. Trust me they will say Iroko Tree Ajie is against Akpata and she is for us CJN CR SC NJC Secretary and the fight goes on . Note there is no NBA nominee into FJSC I didn’t support Usoro and they read me and as you know CJN has not yet resolved it

My friends may not be happy with me that I backed Akpata openly I mean my friend Madam CR SC and then I am now reading a dishonest report in City lawyer magazine that failed to give credence to efforts in a struggle I courageously took part in my name on it

If you don’t know how to address me I am a Georgetown scholar I read for it on my degree certificate are the appellation Professor Scholar Juris I didn’t inherit it and as a renowned Constitutional Law lawyer I changed a few provisions in the Nigerian Constitution through documented struggles google search Carol.Ajie and Constitutional Law I have an Intl human rights certificate from Georgetown which cannot be bought with all the money in the World I worked to get my credentials Dues fully paid.

Best regards
CA

Copy Mr Akpata etc

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SHOCKER: A/COURT NOMINEES CAN’T EXPLAIN ‘LIS PENDENS,’ NJC DUMPS THEM

There are strong indications that under-fire National Judicial Council (NJC) may have dropped two jurists who performed woefully during its screening exercise for appointment as Court of Appeal justices.

This may not be unconnected with their inability to answer basic legal questions as well as the backlash the NJC has been receiving following the unprecedented revelation by Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata that the entire screening exercise was near shambolic.

CITY LAWYER was told by a reliable source that the dropped candidates (names withheld) are from Kebbi and Katsina States.

Respected human rights activist and former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Prof. Chidi Odinkalu hinted on the NJC’s decision when he tweeted thus: “The President of @NigBarAssoc, @OlumideAkpata, deserves considerable credit for his advocacy on standards of judicial appointments. He managed to pare back this recent list of #CourtOfAppeal nominees from 20 to 18. The 2 candidates reportedly didn’t know what #LisPendens means! https://t.co/Y9B9bVwoBF.”

CITY LAWYER had gathered from an impeccable source that at least one of the candidates was unable to explain the term, ‘lis pendens.’ Our source said the aspirant argued that the subject ‘had not come before his court!’ Akpata had alluded to this when he sensationally revealed that “Important legal issues that were occasionally put to the nominees could not be answered,” though he refused to give details. Black’s Law Dictionary defines ‘lis pendens’ as “a Latin phrase for a pending suit or a person who has been suspended.”

Narrating his disappointment with the entire screening exercise, Akpata told members of the NBA National Executive Committee (NBA-NEC) at their quarterly meeting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, that the screening exercise was akin to “an old school boys meeting.”

His words: “What I saw and experienced at the NJC meeting on the appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal left me aghast. At a point, I, as a “Johnny Just Come’ (new attendee), had to ask, ‘Are these people really going to the Court of Appeal?’

“Important legal issues that were occasionally put to the nominees could not be answered. The whole proceedings appeared more of an old school boys meeting. When I wondered at this, I heard things like, ‘They will learn on the job.’ We were to interview 20 nominees at a point but only 2 hours was allocated for this important exercise. That meant six minutes only for each nominee. What is this? Let me assure you that the NBA will never be a rubber stamp participant at such bodies. You can quote me.”

CITY LAWYER had exclusively reported that Akpata had also written a petition to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) and NJC Chairman, Justice Tanko Muhammad on the issue.

The NJC is yet to respond to the indictment by the NBA President at press time.

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APPEAL COURT SCREENING: SCANDAL ROCKS NJC, AS AKPATA WRITES CJN

• PRESSURE MOUNTS ON NBA PRESIDENT TO RECANT

The last may not have been heard on the scandal rocking the screening of candidates for appointment to Nigeria’s Court of Appeal, as it has emerged that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Olumide Akpata wrote to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad on his reservations.

This is coming on the heels of a press statement by the under-fire National Judicial Council (NJC) recommending the appointment of 18 Justices of Court of Appeal and 8 heads of court following its 94th Meeting held on 17 to 18 March, 2021. The Council also constituted a committee to investigate a judge and issued warning letters to some judges.

A source who is familiar with the controversy told CITY LAWYER that Akpata had written to Justice Muhammad, who also doubles as the NJC Chairman, intimating him of his strong reservations on the screening process, adding that the NBA President was scandalized by the shoddy manner the screening was conducted.

In a searing and unprecedented indictment of the apex policy making body in the legal profession, Akpata had lampooned the screening of the jurists, reportedly saying: “What I saw and experienced at the NJC meeting on the appointment of judges to the Court of Appeal left me aghast. At a point, I, as a “Johnny Just Come’ (new attendee), had to ask, ‘Are these people really going to the Court of Appeal?’ Important legal issues that were occasionally put to the nominees could not be answered. The whole proceedings appeared more of an old school boys meeting. When I wondered at this, I heard things like, ‘They will learn on the job.’ We were to interview 20 nominees at a point but only 2 hours was allocated for this important exercise. That meant six minutes only for each nominee. What is this? Let me assure you that the NBA will never be a rubber stamp participant at such bodies. You can quote me.”

There are strong indications that Akpata’s comments may have drawn the ire of many jurists especially the conservative bloc in the legal profession. CITY LAWYER gathered from an impeccable source that pressures are being mounted on the NBA President to recant or engage in some damage control, given the backlash generated by the comments.

The NJC has not responded to the damning indictment at press time.

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REVALIDATION: NBA REJECTS MOVE, BLASTS CAC OVER POOR SERVICES

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has carpeted the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) over moves to charge each lawyer N10,000 to enable them revalidate their status as CAC accredited agents.

In a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, the lawyers’ body described the revalidation exercise as “insensitive,” adding that it “smacks of utter bad faith on the part of the CAC to proceed with this policy without due consultation with the NBA whose members make up over 80% of the customer base of the CAC.” The NBA also lampooned the nation’s corporate registry over persistent poor services.

CITY LAWYER reliably gathered from a source at NBA HOUSE that the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had vigorously engaged the CAC leadership immediately news of the revalidation exercise was made public, leading to “slight relaxation” announced by the national registry.

Below is the full text of the NBA statement.

CAC DIRECTIVE ON RE-VALIDATION OF ACCREDITED AGENTS: THE POSITION OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION

The attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) has been drawn to a directive credited to the
Registrar-General of the Corporate Affairs Commission (“CAC”) to the effect that accredited agents of
the CAC, including lawyers, are to revalidate their status as agents with the CAC and pay the sum of
Ten Thousand Naira (₦10,000), failing which the defaulting agents may be unable to access the CAC’s
Portal.

Since the news broke out, the NBA has been engaging with the CAC on this subject. The ostensible
reason given by the CAC for this directive is to checkmate the spate of proxy interactions with the
Portal and to weed out from the CAC’s Database, accredited agents who are either now deceased or
have emigrated out of the country and/or changed their location.

Whilst this objective may be well intended, the position of the NBA on the issue is as follows:
1. The NBA takes the view that it is both insensitive and smacks of utter bad faith on the part of the
CAC to proceed with this policy without due consultation with the NBA whose members make up
over 80% of the customer base of the CAC. This is in spite of the fact that the NBA-CAC Task Force
has been in constant touch with the CAC regarding improving efficiency and processes at the CAC.

2. While we appreciate that following engagements with the CAC, the Commission has extended the
deadline from 31st March 2021 to 10th June 2021 and has also clarified that the payment will be
one-off fee, the NBA remains of the view that it is possible to achieve a clean database of accredited
agents by requiring those who had been previously accredited by the CAC to simply update and
revalidate their records on the CAC portal (at no cost) or lose their accreditation by the new
deadline. The obligatory charge imposed by the CAC should not apply to existing users but only
to those customers who have never been accredited by the CAC and who now seek to be part of
the system.

3. The NBA is deeply concerned about the timing of this policy, which is coming at a time when many
lawyers have endured epileptic services from the CAC and have either lost the faith of their clients
or have been de-briefed by clients who believe that the lawyers treat their instructions with levity.
This state of affairs is what has led to the establishment of the NBA-CAC Taskforce to facilitate
regular interface with the CAC in resolving issues associated with the its services. Available
reports from the Taskforce indicate that in spite of its engagement with the CAC, the service levels
are still quite abysmal.

4. The NBA strongly urges the CAC to reconsider its position with respect to the payment of the
revalidation fee by existing users, and more importantly to continue to work assiduously towards
improving customer experience by resolving the several complaints by users of the system and
enhancing efficiency. Resolving these issues will not only be beneficial to the CAC and its
customers but will significantly advance the Federal Government’s Policy on Ease of Doing
Business in Nigeria.

Members of the NBA can be assured that we will continue to engage the CAC on these and other related
issues that affect their dealings with the Commission.

OLUMIDE AKPATA
NBA PRESIDENT
12th March, 2021

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EXCLUSIVE: NBA TO SUE MALAMI OVER RPC

Barring any last-minute change of mind, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will in an unprecedented move soon drag the Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN to court over his alleged unilateral and illegal amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (RPC). The Attorney-General is considered the Leader of the Bar.

A source who is familiar with the controversy told CITY LAWYER that the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata has directed the Public Interest Litigation Committee led by Dr. Charles Mekwunye to draft the pleadings on the matter.

CITY LAWYER gathered that the NBA leadership may have been frustrated by the fact that efforts by the Bar association to amicably resolve the debacle have not yielded fruit. It is recalled that Akpata had visited Malami last September immediately rumours filtered into the public domain that “the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.” Rule 10 of the RPC deals with issuance of the NBA Stamp. The “Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2020” expunged the use of NBA stamp by lawyers and provisions requiring lawyers acting for government, ministries or corporations to pay annual bar practising fees.

According to Malami, the amendment was made in exercise of the powers conferred on him as Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice as well as President of General Council of the Bar by section 12 (4) of the Legal Practitioners Act.

Though the visit seemed to have doused the tension between the two camps, the debacle took a new twist when copies of the gazetted RPC hit the cyberspace recently. The gazette is listed as Government Notice No. 140 Vol. 107 of 7th September, 2020.

It is recalled that the NBA had in a statement promptly disowned the new Rules, saying that the Attorney-General lacked the power to unilaterally issue the Rules without calling a meeting of the Bar Council. It urged Malami to “rescind” the Rules, saying: “Pending such proposed holistic reforms to the RPC, I urge you to immediately rescind the Instrument in the interest of the rule of law, the unity of the Bar and the sanctity of the legal profession. The NBA has been subjected to needless controversy and ridicule on account of the Instrument, and this does not augur well for the sanctity of the profession, of which you are a key stakeholder.”

Said Akpata: “I have been duly informed, by NBA Representatives on the Bar Council and other members of the Bar Council who have reached out to me, that to the best of their knowledge, no meeting of the Bar Council was convened to discuss any amendment to the RPC or to approve the Instrument. It therefore appears that the Instrument was enacted without proper authority.”

Former NBA First Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani had last October sued Malami over the controversial amendment. He later withdrew the suit apparently due to pressures from the NBA leadership, saying: “The leadership of the bar at the highest level have reached out to me to have the law suit withdrawn to avoid an ugly situation where the issue of the case in court will be used as an excuse to scuttle the much anticipated resolution of this unnecessary rumble within our revered body.”

RPC (Amended) 2020

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‘LAWYERS WILL GET ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING RULES SOON,’ SAYS AKPATA

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is set to roll out anti-money laundering guidelines for lawyers across the country. This was disclosed by NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata while receiving a delegation from the National Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) led by its Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Modibbo R. Tukkur.

In a statement by NBA Publicity Secretary, Dr. Rapulu Nduka, Akpata said the guidelines had become imperative to ensure that lawyers are not conduits for money laundering activities. According to the statement which was made available to CITY LAWYER, “The NBA President thereafter, pledged to set up an Anti-Money Laundering Committee that will come up with a robust Anti-Money Laundering Rules which will govern legal practitioners in their dealings with clients, both corporate and private.”

It is recalled that NBA has been in a face-off with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over implementation of Section 5 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 which mandated lawyers to report certain financial transactions by their clients to the anti-graft body through the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering (SCUML). SCUML, the forerunner to NFIU, was originally under the supervision of the EFCC.

In an Originating Summons dated March 15, 2013 and taken out on behalf of the Registered Trustees of the NBA by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Mrs. Funke Adekoya (SAN), Messrs Babajide Ogundipe, Emeka Nwadioke and Davison Oturu, the NBA asked the court to declare that the provisions of section 5 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, insofar as they purport to apply to legal practitioners, were invalid, null and void.

Ruling on the matter, Justice Gabriel Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja gave an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Government, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and SCUML from enforcing the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 against legal practitioners. The judgement was CBN-VS-NBA_CA on appeal by a full panel of the Court of Appeal. CITY LAWYER gathered that a final appeal may be pending at the Supreme Court.

Below is the full text of the statement.

ANTI-CORRUPTION WAR: NATIONAL FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE UNIT MEETS WITH NBA LEADERSHIP; SEEKS NBA’S COOPERATION IN COMBATING MONEY LAUNDERING AND OTHER CORRUPT PRACTICES.

Dear Colleagues,

The National Financial Intelligence Unit (“NFIU”) paid a courtesy call on the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) on the 17th day of February 2021.

During the course of the engagement, the NFIU team led by its Chief Executive Officer – Mr. Modibbo R. Tukkur, highlighted the critical role of the NBA and its members in fighting corruption, as the nature of their work places them in a privileged position of requesting disclosure of sources of funds, investigation of funds, checkmating money laundering and other corrupt practices.

The NFIU boss also reiterated that NBA’s role as a Self-Regulatory Organization, imposes a moral responsibility on the NBA and her members to ensure that there are ethical rules that modulate their relationship with clients and members of the society at large.

Against the above background, the NFIU team recommended to the Association as follows, that:

I. The NBA sets up a dedicated Self-Regulatory desk officer at the NBA Secretariat.

II. The NBA sets up an Anti-Money Laundering Committee to collaborate with the NFIU on its anti-corruption mandate.

III. The NBA trains legal practitioners on their roles in fighting money laundering and related corrupt practices.

IV. The NBA partners with NFIU at large.

In response, the NBA President pledged the commitment of the NBA to work with existing government agencies in ensuring that legal profession in Nigeria is practised in line with global best practice so that legal practitioners are not seen to be enablers, or facilitators of corrupt practices.

The NBA President, further assured the NFIU of the Association’s desire to collaborate with the Unit, in building the capacity of legal practitioners by educating them on anti-money laundering, investigation of sources of funds, disclosure of origin of illegal funds, etc, in a manner that does not compromise their professional obligations to their clients.

The NBA President thereafter, pledged to set up an Anti-Money Laundering Committee that will come up with a robust Anti-Money Laundering Rules which will govern legal practitioners in their dealings with clients, both corporate and private.

Dr. Rapulu Nduka
Publicity Secretary,
Nigerian Bar Association.

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