OLEJEME SAGA: MAGU’S EFCC WAS LAWLESS, CLUELESS – UBANI

Former Nigerian Bar Association Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has taken a swipe at disgraced former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, describing his tenure at the anti-graft agency as “lawless, clueless and brash!”

The Bar Leader in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER also revealed that he prayed “dangerous” prayers for Magu to be humiliated out of office for detaining him for 23 days due to failure of his then client and former Chairman of the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr. (Mrs.) Ngozi Olejeme to honour subsequent invitations by the commission.

His words: “The truth of the matter is that I did not breach any rule of professional conduct of NBA in the first instance, as the said Rule is only applicable to a lawyer who is defending an accused in court and stands surety for the same client in the court. The matter at hand then was not yet before any court; it was an administrative bail by the Agency pending formal charge before any court. That was how EFCC under Magu operated; lawless, clueless and brash!”

Ubani stated that Magu criminalized a civil matter when his client jumped bail, warning succeeding chairmen of the commission not to play God but to operate in line with the law and international best practice. He said: “Let everyone accused of crime in Nigeria be given fair trial and let those who are guilty be jailed, while those who are innocent be discharged and acquitted. That is how it is done in every civilized clime.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

GOD JUSTIFIES THE RIGHTEOUS ALWAYS.

About four years ago or thereabout a woman by name Dr Mrs Ngozi Olejeme sought my legal representation over an allegation that she converted about N69 billion of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to herself while she held sway as the chairman during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan. She was declared wanted by EFCC after she refused to honour their invitation because she was abroad and according to her, was undergoing critical medical treatment over her ill health.

I inquired from her if she committed the crime as alleged and she denied the veracity. Secondly, she opined that her medical condition made it impossible for her to honour their previous invitations, however she was prepared to honour them if she can be guaranteed fair trial without illegal detention.

I demanded her medical reports which she graciously provided, and straightaway I sent a letter to the then EFCC acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu attaching the medical papers and informing him that I have advised my client to come down to respond to the allegations against her. My client naturally was afraid having been abreast of the antecedent of EFCC under Magu but I assured her that she will get a fair trial as we were not under a Banana Republic.

On the date we agreed, she returned from abroad and on the following Monday morning I took her to the office of EFCC in Abuja. They were shocked to see her because several persons like former Attorney General, Mohammed Adoke SAN and former Petroleum Minister, Mrs. Deziani Allison Madueke whom EFCC had declared wanted did not respond to them let alone coming down to face their trial.

Her interrogation on the first day lasted about eight hours after which they told me politely that they will not allow her to go home that day, but because of my personality and previous explanation about her health condition, she will be taken to a hospital of her choice and be under their watch so that her subsequent interviews will proceed without unnecessary interjections. My team of lawyers and I raised objection because the bail conditions they gave her were complied with but the Head of the Investigating Unit, overruled and insisted on his position. We obliged, and got a good hospital in Abuja for her under the watch of about two security personnel of the Agency.

Her detention that we all thought will be short later entered the ninth day. I convinced my client that we should sue for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights as her long detention was contrary to the provisions of the constitution as regards investigation and detention. She agreed and we filed the court process and served EFCC. In response, they attached a court order granting EFCC power to detain her for 14 days. It was shocking for me as we were not aware of this secret court order that was never served.

On the date slated for the hearing of the application, the court did not sit but the EFCC prosecuting counsel wrote and convinced the then Acting Chairman to release the woman on administrative bail.

We provided two senior civil servants of grade level 14 and 15 as sureties as required by their condition of bail and presented to them. When the application was presented before Magu, he blatantly refused to approve, insisting that the sureties must be ‘Elder Statesmen’, contrary to the bail condition. We were wondering who these elder statesmen should be. The Unit head then quipped that the chairman will not mind if I will stand surety for her since I was the one that convinced her to come down for her case. My client heard him clearly that my suretyship will grant her freedom to go home. At that point I had a moral burden to get her out of detention having been denied that opportunity after returning from abroad for 14 days.

Secondly, her health was deteriorating due to staying in one place for that long, and thirdly she was complaining of not taking proper bath for those days due to the condition of her health. Finally, she was under severe psychological stress by virtue of her ugly situation. Despite my assurances that she will get fair treatment and trial, she felt that her coming back to Nigeria to respond to the allegations has not been reciprocated by the EFCC by virtue of her long detention. She was very distraught!

When that window of opportunity was given that my suretyship will let her go home and get her prepared for trial, I felt mutually obliged to be of assistance to a woman who honoured my word when I promised the Agency that she will come down for her trial. She did come down as agreed. If I had refused to stand for her at that point, she has every right to conclude that I was in league with EFCC to bring her down to humiliate and embarrass her person. That would not have been the truth and I needed to prove that point to her. For me, I desired her to come down in order to respond to the myriads of allegation that was not good for her reputation.

On the path of EFCC, I also desired them to prove and convict the woman if she was liable or discharge and acquit her if she was innocent. On the basis of the two desires, I provided the link for both parties to satisfy their need.

To cut a long story short, Mrs Olejeme was granted administrative bail that night (at about 9pm) by virtue of my singular signature despite that the condition of bail was that they needed two sureties. The second surety, Hon Christopher Enai, came to sign his own papers two days later after her release to fulfill all righteousness.

After her release, Mrs. Olejeme was honouring their invitations except one or two occasions when she was ill and which she explained in writing through her solicitors. I ensured that whenever she had interview sessions with them that I will be there physically in accordance with the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, and I was doing this regularly coming from Lagos to Abuja.

In course of the investigation, two things happened that startled me. One was that EFCC’s investigation was anchored only on one witness whose evidence was mere hearsay and uncorroborated. It was the witness’s words against the accused and secondly, EFCC was more interested in the properties of the woman more than the facts of the case that will secure her conviction. I was wondering how EFCC will forfeit the property of an accused person facing trial without first securing her conviction except that can happen in a country run by the likes of Ibrahim Magu.

From December to April the following year, the EFCC that published to the whole world how Olejeme stole N69 billion remained static and was not able and keen to prefer any charge against her. However, something strange happened one morning in April 2018. EFCC operatives numbering over 18 from Enugu invaded the home of Mrs Olejeme over a matter that was purely civil and stayed in the woman’s house searching her for over 10 hours. They blocked every entrance and exit on the street. Having failed to convince her to follow them to Enugu, they left her for another assignment according to them. My client fearing for her life escaped from her home and was not heard or seen until this Thursday April 15, 2021 when I heard that SHE IS BACK TO NIGERIA AND HAS REPORTED TO EFCC, possibly to face her trial.

When she escaped and went abroad due to the treatment she got from EFCC, I was called upon by the same EFCC to produce her. I felt that it was very wicked of the Agency to drive the woman back abroad and still have the audacity to request that I produce her. I felt outraged but as patriot I went after the woman through INTERPOL and finally got her placed on RED ALERT by Interpol headquarters in France. That piece of good news got Magu infuriated as he needed unwarranted evidence to embarrass himself and not me. In his clueless fury, he ordered my arrest and detention.

If an accused person jumps bail, the surety certainly has not committed any offence under our law. It is a civil matter which is to the effect that the surety forfeits the bail bond. It is only when the surety is unable to pay the stated sum in the bail bond that he or she will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Ibrahim Magu’s EFCC read their own law upside down and criminalised a purely civil matter. I even over heard that they said I breached the Rules of Professional Conduct of NBA. When did EFCC start to enforce Rules of Professional Conduct for NBA?

The truth of the matter is that I did not breach any rule of professional conduct of NBA in the first instance, as the said Rule is only applicable to a lawyer who is defending an accused in court and stands surety for the same client in the court. The matter at hand then was not yet before any court; it was an administrative bail by the Agency pending formal charge before any court. That was how EFCC under Magu operated; lawless, clueless and brash!

I immediately instructed my lawyers to enforce my fundamental human rights before the court, and quickly process was filed and served. The court ordered my release or a formal charge if I have committed any offence. Ibrahim Magu disobeyed the court order and kept me in detention for 23 days contrary to the order of the court. My lawyers commenced contempt proceedings and with avalanche of criticisms from all quarters including the harshest from NBA, CLASFON, OTU OKA IWU (Lawyers), Femi Falana SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN and several NGOs and well-meaning Nigerians, Ibrahim Magu was dazed as he ordered my release by 11:00PM. I refused his release by that ungodly hour and remained in detention till the following morning to be sure of my safety.

I prayed two “dangerous” prayers while in and out of detention. Yes you heard me right. One, is that as long as Ibrahim Magu has refused to see the wrong he has committed against me and several others and has not apologised including making peace, that God should disgrace him out of office. Those who are close to me and those inmates with me at the EFCC facility in Abuja remembered this prayer point when it was answered. I am not rejoicing at Magu’s fall but how I wish that men in power both in Nigeria and elsewhere will know and understand that POWER IS TRANSIENT AND EPHEMERAL.
In his glory, Ibrahim Magu felt he has become “God”. God will never share his glory with anyone. His rise and fall is a story for another day.

The second prayer I prayed was that Mrs Olejeme will never have peace of mind wherever she is on planet earth until she comes back to answer to her charges and prove to the world that I neither wronged her nor Nigeria.

Just this Thursday, the 15th of April, two years after I was wrongly detained by Magu’s EFCC, I got a call from Hon Enai, my Co-surety that Mrs Olejeme is back to the country and has dutifully reported herself to EFCC.

To say the least, I was elated and grateful to God for answered prayers. Since she escaped, she has intentionally refused to call or speak with me. She has her reasons, it may be out of fear or for some other reasons best known to her. For now it is no longer my headache. I have my plans. She is back to face her case and the ONUS IS ON EFCC TO PROVE THE THEFT OF N69 Billion against her. Newspaper and public trial characterisation of Magu era is gone, perhaps for good.

Let everyone accused of crime in Nigeria be given fair trial and let those who are guilty be jailed, while those who are innocent be discharged and acquitted. That is how it is done in every civilized clime. I further plead that let everyone note “that anyone ACCUSED OF CRIME, NO MATTER HOW GRIEVOUS, that person is ENTITLED TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION”. It becomes even compulsory under the law if the crime is grievous and carries death penalty. On no account should public opinion be used to scare any diligent lawyer from defending any accused person especially if the accused story is contrary to the “spurious” allegations by the Prosecutor. In saying this, I am not pronouncing Mrs Olejeme innocent but from what I saw during her interview sessions, the spurious figure of N69 billion is not only ridiculous, it is downright stupid to market that kind of figure to the public when the evidence on ground is nothing near that!

While we await the trial proceedings or whatever EFCC wants to do with her, my ultimate joy is that I have been vindicated as I have no hand in her escape. I never knew her while she was the chairman of NSITF. I only played the role of a patriot in bringing her back and I am here giving glory to God for vindicating me that I did not commit any crime in doing that or while doing that.

I have applied and withdrawn my suretyship of the woman from EFCC. The letter to that effect was written and acknowledged on the 16th of April, 2021.

All in all, “the just shall live by faith”, the word of God says so. It further says “Say to the righteous and it shall be well with him”. “No weapon fashioned against any Child of God shall prosper”. My trust is on God, and He alone will continue to direct my path.

My profound gratitude goes to my comrades, friends, senior friends and colleagues, family members and workers including silent and distant admirers who stood with me at those trying period. They shall make heaven, Amen.

God shall also bless my haters and unknown enemies. They may have their reasons since I am not perfect and never claim to be. We all need God’s forgiveness and Grace on this planet earth.

To God be all the glory, honour and praise for honouring His name. I am wantonly grateful to this awesome God!

M. O. Ubani Esq. (MOU).
Barrister & Solicitor

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OPEBI LAND GRAB: ‘COURT WILL FIX LAGOS STATE’S EXECUTIVE LAWLESSNESS,’ SAYS UBANI

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has vowed to contest the decision of Lagos State Government to back alleged land grabbers over the controversial parcel of land at Opebi, Lagos.

In a rejoinder to his indictment by the State Government over the land tussle, the leading human rights activist insisted that the alleged land grabbers were using the machinery of the government to perfect the land grab, adding that he is confident that the courts will redress any injustice done to his client.

Below is the full text of the statement made available to CITY LAWYER.

RE : OPEBI LAND TUSSLE, LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT JUSTIFIES ACTION FOR THE UNLAWFUL EXECUTION OF COURT JUDGMENT ON DISPUTED LAND. – UBANI’S RESPONSE 

I have just seen the Press Release of the Honourable Commissioner of Information and Strategy of Lagos State, Mr Gbenga Omotosho concerning the land grabbing episode at 1, Folorunsho Kuku Street, Opebi in which Lagos State erroneously got itself entangled and illegally helped notorious land grabbers to chase away the rightful owner of a land and put the land grabbers into physical possession.

Despite my alarm that this action is patently illegal and wrong, the State Government through its Officials have been trying hard to justify this illegality having succeeded in using the state apparatus to commit the heinous illegality of “enforcing judgement” over a land that was never part of the alleged judgement of the Supreme Court.

I was away on Christmas holiday when the Lagos State Government led by one Engr Omotosho used bulldozer, trucks, towing vans and great number of policemen and thugs to chase away the legitimate tenants of the landowner and towed away all the vehicles at the site where they have been working for many years. When we were informed of this development, I raised alarm where I was holidaying and it was widely publicised both in mainstream and social media. Several government officials including the present Commissioner for Information and Strategy reached out to me over the issue and I promised to be back to Lagos to address the issue if they were ready to redress their error.

I returned to Lagos on the 10th of January, 2021 and on the 11th of January, 2021, I attended a meeting presided over by The Solicitor General/Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Mrs Titilayo Shitta-Bey. It is important to point out that, that is the only meeting I attended over this issue, therefore the statement that a Committee set up by Lagos State Government sat from 4th of January to 1st of February 2021 is clearly news to me. I was never invited to any other meeting other than the one of 11th of January, 2021 which had some officials of several ministries and the Surveyor-General of Lagos State in attendance.

At the said meeting I raised the issue that:

1. Lagos State Government cannot “enforce” court judgement as that is the work of the Sheriffs of the court. I am proved right because after the invasion in collusion with Lagos State Government officials, the Meadows’ Family, the supposed judgment creditor, has gone back to court to ask the court re-issue the “warrant of possession” for them to carry out execution on Folorunsho Kuku Street that was never and had never been part of the subject of judgement of both at the trial and at appellate Courts. The matter came up two weeks ago, that is last January, 2021 which is several weeks after the illegal invasion by the land grabbers in collusion with Lagos State Government officials.

2. The Surveyor-General’s report that my client’s land fell into the subject of the judgement at the trial court was seriously objected to by my humble self because the surveyor-general based his report upon a FORGED SURVEY (it was never part of the proceeding at the trial court in Suit No ID/513/80). This purported survey plan upon which the surveyor-general based his report was never used, tendered and admitted in evidence in that case. I have a complete copy of the entire court proceedings that took place on that case and a complete set of all the surveys that were also tendered and admitted in court. I also have the court judgements which never made mention of a purported survey plan drawn by one Suveyor Ogunbiyi in 1981 which is the wrong survey that the Surveyor General of Lagos State has used in his report which the Special Task Force on Lands Grabbers acted upon. I made this particular point clear to the Committee, but my findings were that the Committee members from Lagos State Government came to the meeting with a mindset to clear their names and present a report to the governor that will clear their mess by insisting that they acted upon the purported survey that never existed during the trial of the case.

At that point I felt that the Committee cannot resolve the issue as it was set up purposely to clear their “mess” and not to mete out justice as this press release from the Commissioner of Information and Strategy justifies my position. The Land grabbers have taken over the land and have set out to sell the land (if they have not sold everything) to persons that are very close to this State government as my investigation reveals.

Let me address seriatim the other issues raised by the said Commissioner in his press release.

a. “That the Committee invited all the parties between 4th of January to 1st of February, 2021”. MY RESPONSE. As stated earlier, I was invited only on the 11th of January, 2021 and I attended only on that date and not aware there was any other meeting involving parties to this issue. The truth of the matter is that Lagos State Government cannot ordinarily be a judge in its own case. We accused Lagos State Government of aiding land grabbers to take over my client’s land illegally and it is preposterous that the said Lagos State Government through the Ministry of Justice was investigating the matter that we alleged is committed by The Special Task Force on Land Grabbing that is a Unit under them! What an irony?

b. “That the Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers acted upon a petition on behalf of the Meadows to eject occupants of the land which harbors shanties, mechanics and miscreants”. MY RESPONSE. This is clearly laughable. The mechanics that were there were rent paying tenants to the owner of the land, and the property in question was fenced round with a big gate. The mechanics are known within the Estate and are lawful tenants who pay their appropriate dues and levies to the Landlord/ Resident Association. The chairman of the Estate Mr Steve Omamole has testified to that effect.

Upon what basis in law will a State Government act upon a petition of a private citizen to eject fellow citizens without complying with due process and law? Since when did Lagos State Government constitute itself into a law court to engage in recovery of premises on behalf of other citizens? The more the Lagos State Government tries to justify this brazen illegality, the more they get themselves completely soiled in this embarrassing impunity!

c. “That the Petitioners tendered copies of judgements obtained from various courts, High Court, Suit No LD/513/80, Court of Appeal – Appeal No. CA/1/92 and the Supreme Court – SC /146/1995) and other documents showing their title to the land to substantiate their position”. MY RESPONSE. This was the most embarrassing of all the statements in this press release. I ask again, when has Lagos State Ministries or Agencies become the law court that enforce judgement of the court? If it is true as alleged that the Petitioners have these judgements, why can’t they go to court to enforce their judgements? When did they obtain these judgments? Have they enforced them before? Why did they not complete the execution? Why are they now waking up from sleep to enforce 41 year’s judgements in 2020 on a different address with a different survey? Is the Commissioner of Information aware that this same Petitioner was in court two weeks ago(this January, 2021) to ask the court to re-issue warrant of possession over the same property that Lagos State Government have purportedly helped them to enforce judgement in December 2020? Is Lagos State Government aware that the Survey Plan with which they deceived the Surveyor General to act upon in order to write that our client’s land forms part of the subject of judgement was never part of the proceeding in Suit No ID/513/80? Please note that the Hon Commissioner erroneously described the suit number as LD/513/80.

Further question will be what other documents did the petitioner show to the Lagos State Government as alleged by the Hon Commissioner that got the Special Taskforce On Land Grabbing convinced that my client’s land formed part of the subject of the judgement of the Courts in favor of the judgment creditor? Could it be the survey OGEK 1911/81 drawn by one Surveyor Ogunbiyi which the Chairman of the Taskforce Mr Arole said he got from the Court but which was never part of the proceedings in Suit No ID/513/80? How can a whole government agency believe in a document that was never part of the proceedings during trial and chose to act on it? What irks me in this whole mess is the brazen inability of the Lagos Government Officials to appreciate the gravity of this blunder. Their bold-faced attempt to justify this illegality is clearly amazing, shocking and alarming!

d. “That the Coordinator of the Lagos Task Force confirmed the authenticity of all documents presented by the Petitioner and obtained approval to embark on the enforcement in conjunction with other government agencies whose representatives were part of the Committee set up to establish facts of the matter – Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, Ministry of Transportation and Office of the Surveyor- General, Lagos State”.MY RESPONSE. It is important we note that from this statement, Lagos State Government has admitted that they were the ones that helped a land grabber to chase away the legitimate owner of his land using state apparatus. Secondly, I ask which of the documents did the said Coordinator of the Lagos Taskforce confirm as authentic? Is it the judgement, the survey or the court proceedings? How does a judgement obtained on over 12 acres of land at Abule Onigbagbo cover a land in Opebi? Assuming but not conceding that Abule Onigbagbo has suddenly become Opebi, what survey plan was used to determine that the judgement of the trial court covered the land situate and lying at No 1 Folorunsho Kuku Street, Opebi which is a subject of a certificate of Occupancy obtained from the same Lagos State Government since 1989?

Why is the said judgement creditor the owner of only the 6 plots of my client’s land at No 1 Folorunsho Kuku Street, Opebi and not the owner of all the adjoining lands on left, right and its surroundings, more so when the judgment of the trial court was for over 12 acres of land? Most importantly is how did the Coordinator of the Special Task Force conclude his investigation and establish that the Petitioner has authentic documents when he knew that there were persons present in the property whose interest on the property he could have requested for in order to give every party to the matter a fair hearing? Was Lagos State fair in using all those above mentioned agencies to grab a citizen’s land without given the citizen the opportunity to explain the reason for his presence on the property? The tenants on the property have been there for over 20 years overlooking the property for our client. They have evidence of paying land charges up to date, in fact in 2019 they received a letter of commendation from Lagos State Government for prompt and regular payments of their charges.

In all these, to us, is the shocking revelations coming from the contradictory press releases coming from the various ministries of Lagos State over this impunity perpetuated by Lagos State Government over the land in Folorunsho Kuku Street, Opebi. Fact checks on the reasons advanced by the Ministry of Physical Planning is different from the one given by the Ministry of Transport and the one given by the Ministry of Environment differed from the one given by the Special Taskforce on Land Grabbing. Finally this last one released from the Ministry of Information and Strategy contradicts the earlier one issued by the Ministry of Physical Planning which alleged violation of physical planning laws. Whosever and whatsoever made Lagos State Government, the Centre of Excellence to engage in this brazen impunity and their recalcitrance justifying this illegality shall be revealed sooner or later.

e. “That the Meadows family (the Petitioner) was also invited to the Committee and it was established that after the execution of the judgement of the High Court of Lagos State, some mechanics and miscreants dislodged them from the land, and all efforts to remove the trespassers had proved abortive until the petition to the Lagos State Special Task Force”. MY RESPONSE. It is unfortunate that this press statement has clearly indicted the Lagos State Government as aiding and abetting land grabbing in Lagos State. How can someone who has a certificate of occupancy of 1989 with lawful tenants who pay their dues, one as Mechanics to the Local Government Area with receipts, two, with evidence of receipts of payment of land use charges to the State Government and three, with evidence of receipts of payment to the Landlord/Association of the Estate be described as miscreants worthy of being dislodged by the State Government? How can anyone justify this type of illegal act by the Lagos State Government? Under the military, an attempt like this by the Lagos State Government to treat a citizen like a miscreant was frowned at by the Supreme Court in the famous case of Ojukwu V Lagos State Government, and we are now under democracy where the constitution and the rule of law should prevail!

What is very interesting about the narrative above about the said Meadows Family is the several lies that this said family have told the court on why they want the court to re-issue warrant of possession to go back to execute the 41 years judgement. In one instance, they told the court that they did not have money to complete the earlier execution, hence they are now ready financially to complete it. In another application before the court, they told the court that they have completed execution but that the people on site agreed with them to vacate, however they have refused to vacate after the agreed time. In the third application before the court they told the story as re-told by the Lagos State government on their behalf that the alleged miscreants dislodged them after a successful execution. Which of these stories are true? We found out through our investigations that the family through their various counsel did abandon all these fraudulent applications anytime the court raised issue about the genuineness of their strange requests. Even if they are true, which I am not conceding, which area do they want to carry out the execution? Is it on the area for which judgement is entered or upon another area which was never part of the judgement of the court? Interestingly the Courts on which these strange applications were made usually suo motu raised these issues and the next thing is that their lawyers will abandon the application abruptly and run away. We have evidence of these. This was their method of trying to levy execution on a place they never procured judgement on until they found Lagos State Government as a good ally. The question will be why would Lagos State Government lend itself willingly for this type of infamy?

f. “That Ubani did not also provide any document to justify that the land belongs to Circle Nigeria Limited. The Committee also ascertained that the ex parte order submitted by Mr Ubani was in the name of Circle Nigeria Limited but the C of O attached thereto was in the name of Kayode Owoseye Akingbade – two different entities”. MY RESPONSE. This part was the most ridiculous. I ask again, has Lagos State Government Officials taken over the responsibility of the court of the land? Is it not funny that in one breadth the Hon Commissioner admitted that a court of competent jurisdiction granted our client an interim order and in another breadth he is querying our documentary evidence to obtain the order? Is the Hon Commissioner of the view that i got the order without documentary evidence to show ownership of the property by Circle Nigeria Limited? Is the Hon Commissioner by his assertion here querying the competence of the learned Judge who granted the order of injunction? Is the Hon Commissioner trying to rewrite the ruling of the court, which is actually what they did by invading our client’s land in collusion with the land grabbers. If I may ask, is the Hon Commissioner saying that if a legitimate land owner with a certificate of occupancy sells his land to a subsequent purchaser who has a deed of assignment coupled with being in possession for a period spanning over 20 years, that that person is in the eyes of the law a trespasser and a miscreant? Honestly I do not seem to get the argument of the Honorable commissioner on the issue of a certificate of occupancy bearing a name different from the subsequent purchaser. It again speaks volume on the desperation to justify this brazen illegality.

g. “That all the Survey Plans from both the Meadows family and that of Mr Ubani’s client revealed that the subject land falls within the Meadows’ family land; and that the land on which enforcement was carried by LSSTF falls within the parcel of land for which Meadows family obtained judgment in their favor in Suit No LG/513/80” (I am sure he meant ID/513/80). MY RESPONSE. When I appeared at the Committee on the 11th January, 2021 I saw the desperation of everyone from the State Ministries to justify the illegality hence their recourse to a survey plan that was never part of the proceedings, I counseled myself to follow process and procedure and allow the State Government to continue in their quest to justify themselves. The truth of the matter is that the survey plan made available to the Surveyor General to chart the alleged composite plan which gave him a wrong result and report was a fake survey plan as it was never part of the court proceedings in Suit No ID/513/80. All my atfempt to point out this fact to the Committee was rejected because the Committee had already made up its plans to JUSTIFY THE ILLEGALITY THAT TOOK PLACE ON THE 31ST OF DECEMBER 2020.

Sincerely speaking when I noticed the desperation of the Lagos State Officials over this land issue, we had counseled ourselves to pursue this matter legally in the court of law, but the current press release from the Hon Commissioner has made this rebuttal very imperative to avoid a situation where lies unrefuted will be taken as truth.

I am amused by the accusation that I used social media for sympathy and blackmail. I am not seeking for anyone’s sympathy but for truth to be unveiled. Secondly I am a lawyer of reputable standing and not known for blackmailing. It will be wise for the Lagos State Government to admit this grave error and correct the injustice rather than engage in smearing a name of a lawyer that is out to pursue undiluted justice for his client. Social media is open to everyone and the Lagos State Government have just used it to convey their opinion, even though, wrongly on this issue.

I am a firm believer in Lagos State as a Centre of Excellence and I think I have contributed my own little quota to the development of the State especially pertaining to the election of this present government both at the centre and at the State level. However, I will not be intimidated in pursuing the rights of any of my clients by any government official whose office is only temporal as the State will outlive any individual.

The Lagos State Government through their officials acted wrongly in the manner they dispossessed a citizen of his land. They need to check their process and procedure in investigating cases of land grabbing to avoid aiding and abetting land grabbers in perpetuating their nefarious acts. The State Officials erred gravely over our client’s land episode and it is alarming that instead of redressing the manifest injustice, the Centre of Excellence is digging deep in infamy and encouraging anarchy. The people who grabbed our client’s land have sold out all the land to desperate buyers with the aid and assistance of the State Government. This is clearly evil, unlawful and a dent on the good name of Lagos State. That they are trying to justify this is terribly alarming!

However due to my profound respect and love to the current governor, His Excellency Mr Jide Sanwo-Olu, a complete gentleman i would have said more on this issue, but I am restrained to hold my gun powder dry. I am too sure that he is yet to know the whole truth about this sad episode.

Conscience is an open wound, only truth heals it.

A word is enough for the wise!

Monday O. Ubani Esq,

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NBA ELECTION: OGUNLANA VOWS TO FORGE AHEAD WITH MAIN SUIT

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Former Chairman of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana has vowed to go ahead with a lawsuit to determine his eligibility for the forthcoming NBA National Election, saying today’s ruling by a Lagos High Court sitting at Ikeja did not tamper with his right to institute the substantive action.

Though Ogunlana’s telephone numbers were switched off when CITY LAWYER attempted to contact him, his close aide and RAMINBA Secretary, Mr. Ayo Ademiluyi, said there is “serious misconception” regarding the court ruling, adding that “our main claim is very much alive.”

He said that the movement will proceed to conclude the Pre Action protocols within the next seven days before filing the substantive suit “to determine whether Mr. Ogunlana was validly excluded from the race and whether any NBA Chairman can on his own issue a Letter of Good Standing or refuse same as he wills.”

It is recalled that the court had dismissed Ogunlana’s application asking it to set aside his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) or restrain the defendants from conducting the NBA Elections without his inclusion in the race. The electoral body had disqualified the former branch chieftain on the ground that his nomination forms did not include a “Letter of Good Standing” from his branch chairman.

But the Nigerian Bar Association asked the court to dismiss the suit. Represented by high-profile lawyer, Dr. Paul Ananaba SAN, the NBA brought a Notice of Preliminary Objection pursuant to Order 43 (Rule 1) of the Civil Procedure Rules 2019 of the High Court of Lagos State and under the inherent jurisdiction of the court. The motion was served on the Lead Counsel for Ogunlana, Mr. Dare Akande at exactly 6:12 pm yesterday. The matter is slated for hearing today before Justice Adedayo Oyebanji.

The Respondents are Incorporated Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association; Mr. Paul Usoro SAN (President of the Nigerian Bar Association); Mr. Jonathan Taidi (General Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association); and Professor (sic) Tawo Tawo SAN, Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. Others are ECNBA Secretary, Cordelia Eke, Esq. and Dele Oloke, Esq (immediate past chairman of Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Bar Association).

Marked as Suit No. ID/4015GCM/2020, Ogunlana is praying for “An interlocutory order of this honourable court directing and compelling the Defendants, to include the name of the Claimant/Applicant in the list of candidates to contest for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections and allowing same to contest pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in this matter.”

In the alternative, the disqualified NBA presidential aspirant is seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants from conducting elections into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, without including the name of the Claimant as a candidate on the 29th and 30th July, 2020 or on any other date pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in the matter.”

Filed on July 9, 2020 Ogunlana revealed in a broadcast on his verified Facebook handle that the matter has been assigned to Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of Ikeja High Court, adding that the court has penciled down the case for hearing “due to its urgent nature.” He reassured his supporters to “keep hope alive,” adding that though the election has been scheduled for 29th and 30th July, 2020, “nothing is sacrosanct.”

Ogunlana listed four grounds to justify his lawsuit, stating that
(i) The 4th and 5th Defendants/respondents’ electoral body, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) claimed to have disqualified the claimant contesting the election because his Nomination Forms did not include a letter of Good Standing from the 6th defendant, the then Chairman of his branch, the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association as required by the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.

(ii) The claimant brought an Appeal based on the objection raised by the 4th and 5th Defendants as stated earlier above in paragraph 1 but his appeal was dismissed based on a completely different issue, and which is applicable to the appeal or case of the claimant.

(iii) The ground of dismissing the Appeal founded in section 8(3)(c) of the NBA Constitution 2015(as amended) vis-a-vis the issue raised and the absence of any evidence to show that the report of the insurance committee if Ikeja Branch of NBA has been set aside “is disjointed from the ground of Appeal itself, which is based on the Appeal against disqualification for absence of letter of Good Standing in the Nomination packet of the Claimant/Applicant.

(iv) The Claimant /Applicant will suffer irreparable loss if this honourable court declines the order sought.”

It is recalled that Ogunlana has had a cat-and-mouse relationship with the electoral body following his initial disqualification from the presidential race. Though he appealed the disqualification, claiming that Oloke lacked the power to withhold his “Letter of Good Standing,” the ECNBA dismissed his appeal as lacking in merit.

OGUNLANA SUES, ASKS COURT TO STOP NBA ELECTION IF…

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• FATE OF ELECTION HANGS IN BALANCE

• COURT SET TO HEAR SUIT FRIDAY

The fate of the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association National Officers Elections is now hanging in the balance as a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja will on Friday hear a lawsuit brought by controversial former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja Branch, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana against his disqualification from the presidential race.

In court documents seen by CITY LAWYER, Ogunlana is asking the court to set aside his disqualification by the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) or restrain the defendants from conducting the NBA Elections without his inclusion in the race. The electoral body had disqualified the former branch chieftain on the ground that his nomination forms did not include a “Letter of Good Standing” from his branch chairman.

The Respondents are Incorporated Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association; Mr. Paul Usoro SAN (President of the Nigerian Bar Association); Mr. Jonathan Taidi (General Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association); and Professor (sic) Tawo Tawo SAN, Chairman, Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association. Others are ECNBA Secretary, Cordelia Eke, Esq. and Dele Oloke, Esq (immediate past chairman of Ikeja Branch of Nigerian Bar Association).

Marked as Suit No. ID/4015GCM/2020, Ogunlana is praying for “An interlocutory order of this honourable court directing and compelling the Defendants, to include the name of the Claimant/Applicant in the list of candidates to contest for the Office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association in the 2020 National Officers’ Elections and allowing same to contest pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in this matter.”

In the alternative, the disqualified NBA presidential aspirant is seeking “AN ORDER of injunction restraining the Defendants from conducting elections into the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, without including the name of the Claimant as a candidate on the 29th and 30th July, 2020 or on any other date pending the determination of the Motion on Notice in the matter.”

Filed on July 9, 2020 Ogunlana revealed in a broadcast on his verified Facebook handle that the matter has been assigned to Justice Adedayo Oyebanji of Ikeja High Court, adding that the court has penciled down the case for hearing “due to its urgent nature.” He reassured his supporters to “keep hope alive,” adding that though the election has been scheduled for 29th and 30th July, 2020, “nothing is sacrosanct.”

Ogunlana listed four grounds to justify his lawsuit, stating that
(i) The 4th and 5th Defendants/respondents’ electoral body, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) claimed to have disqualified the claimant contesting the election because his Nomination Forms did not include a letter of Good Standing from the 6th defendant, the then Chairman of his branch, the Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association as required by the constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association.

(ii) The claimant brought an Appeal based on the objection raised by the 4th and 5th Defendants as stated earlier above in paragraph 1 but his appeal was dismissed based on a completely different issue, and which is applicable to the appeal or case of the claimant.

(iii) The ground of dismissing the Appeal founded in section 8(3)(c) of the NBA Constitution 2015(as amended) vis-a-vis the issue raised and the absence of any evidence to show that the report of the insurance committee if Ikeja Branch of NBA has been set aside “is disjointed from the ground of Appeal itself, which is based on the Appeal against disqualification for absence of letter of Good Standing in the Nomination packet of the Claimant/Applicant.

(iv) The Claimant /Applicant will suffer irreparable loss if this honourable court declines the order sought.”

It is recalled that Ogunlana has had a cat-and-mouse relationship with the electoral body following his initial disqualification from the presidential race. Though he appealed the disqualification, claiming that Oloke lacked the power to withhold his “Letter of Good Standing,” the ECNBA dismissed his appeal as lacking in merit.

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.

NBA ELECTORAL COMMITTEE FINALLY DISQUALIFIES OGUNLANA

I WILL HEAD TO COURT, SAYS FORMER IKEJA BRANCH CHAIR

Controversial NBA presidential aspirant, Mr. Adesina Ogunlana finally been  disqualified from contesting the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Elections, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

Confirming the incident to CITY LAWYER, a close aide of Ogunlana, Mr. Ayo Ademiluyi however said the former NBA Ikeja Branch Chairman will “definitely” head to court to challenge his disqualification. He said Ogunlana will soon issue a statement on his disqualification.

He said that the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) hinged its decision on lack of a Letter of Good Standing from the branch chairman as well as the report of the committee allegedly indicting Ogunlana on the branch insurance funds. Ogunlana has argued that the committee report was not an indictment but merely asked him to account for about N12 million of the branch insurance fund.

Other aspirants whose appeals were also unsuccessful include incumbent NBA Second Assistant Secretary Chinyere Obasi, Messrs S. O. K. Shillings and Promise Wobo Iwezor.

Confirming her disqualification in an online post to her supporters, Obasi said: “Good morning my people. I regret to inform you all that the appeal was refused. ECNBA still stood on sec 8(3) of the NBA constitution 2015 i.e. not being a NEC member for two years before the close of nomination. I thank you all for your support and prayers thus far.”

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.