The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch has vowed to boycott a meeting of all Lagos branches with Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu scheduled for “Lagos House,” Marina tomorrow.

In a telephone interview with CITY LAWYER, NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman, Mr. Batholomew Aguegbodo said: “I can tell you for free that I will not be there. We complied with the NBA President’s directive by embarking on our protest march today in line with our tradition as Tiger Branch. I tried to move the other branches to join us today but they gave sundry reasons on why it is impossible for them to do so. I respect their position. We shall return to the streets on Monday if by then the State Governors had not complied with JUSUN’s demand.”

However, the four other branches comprising Lagos, Badagry, Epe and Ikorodu will meet with the Governor tomorrow by 10:30 am. CITY LAWYER gathered that the branch chairmen may have agreed to converge on “Lagos House” by 10 am prior to the meeting with the Sanwo-Olu. The meeting is being facilitated by former Bar Leader and Lagos State Attorney-General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN.

While it was gathered that only three members from each branch would be permitted to go into the meeting with the Governor, it was unclear at press time whether branch members would be allowed to mass around the premises. This comes against the backdrop of conflicting signals from the branches regarding the level of participation of their members.

While Lagos Branch may have restricted participation to the official three-man delegation and very senior lawyers who may insist on attending, Epe and Ikorodu branch chairmen told CITY LAWYER that all their members who wish to attend have been fully mobilized to storm “Lagos House” in their numbers.

According to Mr. Ademola Koko, NBA Epe Branch Chairman, “Everybody is coming. We have mobilized all our members. We are coming in three buses which we have hired.”

This was echoed by NBA Ikorodu Branch Chairman, Mr. Abimbola Ojedokun who told CITY LAWYER that “We are going with our members. All those who are available will accompany us on the visit.”

The branches may have however conceded to shun display of placards so as not to “embarrass” the Governor. A source told CITY LAWYER that while Epe Branch has agreed to display its banners at the Epe High Court, Badagry Branch may have directed its members to display their banners at the Lagos High Court, Igbosere.

In a press statement personally signed by the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the association had at the weekend 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.”

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Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has warned that lawyers may soon embark on a boycott of the courts if judges of the Court of Appeal and Nasarawa Area Court are not freed by their kidnappers.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of this year’s Annual Conference of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) also tagged “revival” conference, Usoro said lawyers would soon have no option than to shun the courts to press their demand for release of the judicial officers.

His words: “We are the ones to speak for the judiciary; they do not have a voice. It behoves us (NBA) to speak on their behalf. A couple of them very very sadly have been kidnapped in recent days. You wouldn’t see any press release from the judiciary because they do not have a voice.

“It is we – the Nigerian Bar Association – that will fight for them, which will tell the authority that they have to take certain steps. If it gets to the extreme and – as we did not too long ago – we decide that we are going to boycott the courts to make a point, that is what we lawyers are for. If we are not united it becomes difficult for us to achieve. That is something I would like all of us to bear in mind.”

He noted that globally, lawyers are “recognized as the voice of the voiceless,” adding that “If you do not defend them, nobody will.”

It is recalled that Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme of the Benin Division of Court of Appeal and Honorable Likita Ewa, a judge of an Area Court in Nasarawa State were kidnapped recently and are still in the kidnappers’ den.

Usoro urged members of the Aba Branch of the NBA to close ranks and resolve the crises rocking the branch, noting that “This is very important as without being united, it is very easy for people to further divide us. Our strength lies in our unity.”

Commending the SPIDEL leadership and the Abia State Government for its “magnanimity,” the NBA President also thanked the judiciary for attending the event in large numbers “particularly in these dangerous times when simply being seen with lawyers could be misconstrued.” He prayed God to give them the “wisdom to dispense justice without fear or favour.”

In his keynote address, Attorney General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN commended the NBA for using the law “as an instrument of social change.”

Saying that SPIDEL is facilitating its core objective of promoting public interest by organizing the conference, Malami who was represented by Mr. Aikomo Abiodun, his Special Assistant on Anti-corruption & Contracts Implementation, also commended SPIDEL Chairman, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN and his team for hosting the highly successful conference.

On his part, Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu noted that “Our being human would be incomplete without enjoying these rights,” pointing at banditry, communal clashes, insurgency, kidnapping, farmers/herders crises, weak electoral system, unemployment, decayed infrastructure, poverty, and violation of rights by state actors as some of the factors that threaten enjoyment of human rights.

Represented by Mr. Olaniyi Omodara, the NHRC chieftain described the theme of the conference as “well thought out,” adding that the NBA and especially SPIDEL “is an important partner” in the commission’s quest to reform the regime of rights available to Nigerians.

The opening ceremony was followed by two technical sessions. The session on “Public interest lawyering: Global best practices and development” was chaired by Abia State Chief Judge, Justice Onuoha Ogwe. Leading human rights strategist, Dr. Sam Amadi was the lead speaker.

The session on “Executive orders as tools of governance – Prospects and challenges” drew the curtains on the day’s events. While the sessionwas chaired by Mr. Israel Usman, the lead speaker was Dr. Chukwudi Odoeme, Head of Legal Unit, Nigerian Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC). The panelists included former NBA General Secretary, Mr. Emeka Obegolu; former NBA Treasurer Joyce Oduah; former member of NBA Criminal Justice Reform Committee, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke and senior lawyer Udochi Iheanacho.


Director General, Legal Aid Council of Nigeria

We have tried as much as possible to collaborate and cooperate with NBA especially SPIDEL to promote human rights. There is nothing more important than assisting indigent Nigerian to gain access to justice.

The kind of pleasure I derive from obtaining ordinary bail for somebody who has stayed five years in prison awaiting trial is indescribable. I commend SPIDEL for the work it is doing. I am always participating in SPIDEL activities, and will continue to collaborate with SPIDEL.

Former NBA General Secretary

This is one of the best and most packed conferences I have ever attended. There are benefits that come by virtue of pro bono work. If one is to wait for that juicy brief, one may wait for a long time. However, by going to court and representing indigent clients, a lawyer may gain more experience and confidence. Everyday we go to court, we get better.

There is nothing that gives more satisfaction than helping another person. It is recalled that the Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi SAN and Mr. Femi Falana SAN became very popular through their public interest litigation work. You invariably end up being celebrated. I want to encourage us to take up the challenge of lawyering in the public interest.

SPIDEL Chairman

Nigeria is at a transformational stage; only public interest and pro people policies as well as development law initiatives is needed to provide credible and enabling environment for sustainable results. This need and service to the people are what SPIDEL stands for; NBA’s link and commitment to the rule of law and justice.

Through interactions on these issues at this conference, SPIDEL will be strengthened and positioned to lead NBA’s mandate as the watcher of government’s policies, governance framework, citizenship issues and so on. SPIDEL is ready to give urgency to activities that will reverse governance, administrative and legal failure to alleviate the suffering of the maases.

Chairman, Conference Planning Committee

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Section on Public Interest and Development Law is arguably the most important section of the NBA, the other sections being Section on Legal Practice and Section on Business Law. SPIDEL proposes a regime of public interest and development awareness. Public interest and development advocacy and litigation is why Nigeria escaped the long night of military dictatorship. This conference of SPIDEL is coming at a time when democratic fascism is on the rise and corruption has rendered development all but comatose.

The gains of this conference must be that every lawyer realizes that our priesthood in the temple of justice of necessity clothes us with the toga of development warriors. We must use the courts and responsible social media usage to advance the interest of the public and development in Nigeria. We can do no less.

The conference continues today with several technical sessions including the eagerly anticipated session on public protest law which has firebrand social crusader, Mr. Femi Falana SAN as the lead speaker.

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.