OPUTA MENTORING: CJ, GADZAMA, AGABI, NGIGE, OTHERS LIFT YOUNG LAWYERS

J-K Gadzama LLP has held its 6th edition of the “Honourable Justice Chukwudifu Oputa JSC Professional Training and Mentoring Programme for Young Lawyers.”

The event which held between April 23 and 25 was chaired by the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Hon. Justice Salisu Garba while Chief Kanu Godwin Agabi (SAN, CON), former Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federation, delivered the Keynote Address.

The discussants included Mr. Muyiwa Oyetola Atoyebi (SAN), the youngest recipient of the rank of senior advocate and Managing Partner at Omaplex Law firm; Mrs. Dianne Okoko (FCIArb), Partner at Marcus Okoko & Co.; Mrs. Toyin Bashir, Partner at Banwo and Ighodalo, and Mr. Darlington Onyekwere, Partner at J-K Gadzama LLP. The hybrid event was well attended by lawyers who fell within the range of zero to 10 years at the Bar.

Participants were treated to a networking cocktail on Day One of the mentorship programme while Day Two witnessed the main event which was the mentoring and training programme. Curtains were drawn on the well-attended programme on Day Three with a breakfast session. The event was held under strict COVID-19 protocols.

In his opening remarks, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), the host and initiator of the mentorship programme, noted that young lawyers need to be treated better, and advised them to work hard, persevere and utilize their networks to build a successful legal practice.

In his address, Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN) urged the lawyers to persist within the profession despite the gloomy appearance. He urged the participants to strive to add value before aspiring for financial largesse.

On his part, a representative of Justice Hassan Baba urged the lawyers to work diligently and await the rewards, which would surely come.

A cross section of participants at the mentoring programme
A cross section of participants at the mentoring programme
L - R: Mr Daniel Manasseh Tela, Secretary, Body of Benchers, Prof. Tahir Mamman SAN, Senior Partner at J-K Gadzama LLP, Mr Darlington Onyekwere, Partner at J-K Gadzama LLP, Mrs Toyin Bashir, Partner at Banwo and Ighodalo, Chief Kanu Agabi SAN, CON, the Keynote Speaker, Hon. Justice H. Baba, Mrs Dianne Okoko FCIArb., Partner at Marcus Okoko & co., Mr Oyetola Muyiwa Atoyebi, Managing Partner at Omaplex law firm and Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN
L – R: Mr. Daniel Manasseh Tela, Secretary, Body of Benchers; Prof. Tahir Mamman SAN, Senior Partner at J-K Gadzama LLP; Mr. Darlington Onyekwere, Partner at J-K Gadzama LLP; Mrs. Toyin Bashir, Partner at Banwo and Ighodalo; Chief Kanu Agabi (SAN, CON), Keynote Speaker; Hon. Justice H. Baba; Mrs. Dianne Okoko (FCIArb), Partner at Marcus Okoko & Co.; Mr. Oyetola Muyiwa Atoyebi (SAN), Managing Partner, Omaplex law firm and Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN)
Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN, the Principal Partner of J-K Gadzama LLP and Chief Emeka Ngige SAN, the Chairman of the Council of Legal Education during the networking cocktail.
Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), Principal Partner, J-K Gadzama LLP and Chief Emeka Ngige (SAN), Chairman, Council of Legal Education during the networking cocktail.

A young lawyer asking a question during the session.

A young lawyer asking a question during the session. 

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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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GADZAMA LLP TO HOST OPUTA MENTORING PROGRAM APRIL 24

  • CHIEF KANU AGABI SAN IS KEYNOTE SPEAKER

Leading law firm, J-K Gadzama LLP will on Saturday, April 24, 2021 hold the 6th Edition of its Hon. Justice Chukwudifu Oputa JSC (Rtd) Professional Training and Mentoring Programme for Young Lawyers. Time is 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.

The theme of this year’s mentoring programme is “Navigating the rough path in the legal profession – The mix of the old and new generation.” The Keynote Speaker is former Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Chief Kanu Agabi SAN while the Acting Chief Judge of the High Court of FCT , Justice Salisu Garba is the Chairman of the occasion.

Discussants include Mr. Oyetola Atoyebi SAN, Managing Partner, OMAPLEX Law Firm; Mrs. Diane Okoko FCIArb, Partner, Marcus Okoko & Co.; Ms. Toyin Bashir, Partner, Banwo & Ighodalo, and Mr. Darlington Onyekwere ACIArb, Partner, J-K Gadzama LLP.

The event will be moderated by Sarah Jeta Atumga and Lamar Joe-Kyari Gadzama, both Associates at J-K Gadzama LLP.

According to the statement made available to CITY LAWYER, “Young lawyers below 10 years at the bar should kindly click on the link below to register https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUrc-mhqTspHdy79VrT2rMaIjMMsIEFINdM

“From the pool of registrations, a selected number will be invited to attend physically – keeping in line with the COVID-19 guidelines – while other participants will join virtually.”

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. To ADVERTISE in CITY LAWYER, please email citylawyermag@gmail.com or call 08138380083. 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.

WORKERS’ UNION: APPEAL COURT REVERSES APPOINTMENT OF EX NBA CHIEFTAIN AS PUBLIC TRUSTEE

FEATURED

  • AGREES WITH DR. LESLIE OLUTAYO NYLANDER, SAN

The Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja has reversed the appointment of fiery activist and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani as the Public Trustee of the Nigeria Civil Service Union.

Ruling on a motion brought by Ubani’s counsel and former NBA presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN (with him, Darlington Onyekwere, Esq and Mark Chidi Agbo, Esq) for change of counsel in Appeal No. CA/A/1089/2019, The Nigeria Civil Service Union (Appellant) And Comrade Benson Ekasa & 3 Ors (Respondents), the Presiding Judge, Justice A. A. Adumien held that the President of the National Industrial Court (NICN) acted ultra vires his powers when he appointed a public trustee for the union on 29th December, 2020 after the Appellant (then represented by its Executives) had compiled, transmitted and exchanged briefs.

The court further held that the appeal had long been properly entered and the court below lacked jurisdiction to make any further pronouncement on the matter. The Court of Appeal also held that the public trustee should stop parading or acting as the public trustee of the Appellant, adding that any process filed in the court by the public trustee or through his lawyer would be discountenanced.

Chief Gadzama had filed a motion on behalf of the public trustee to withdraw the appeal settled by Mr. Leslie Nylander SAN (with him, Chika Eze Esq for Chief Lawrence Uchechukwu Amaechi, President, Nigeria Civil Service Union) on behalf of the executives of the Appellant union, arguing that with the appointment of the public trustee, Ubani became the alter ego of the troubled union and the mantle fell on him to take over all the affairs of the union, including the appeal.

In his counter argument, Nylander contended that the application was premature, as the current executives were challenging the order of the lower court to appoint a public trustee. He argued that legal representation had to be sorted out first.

He further submitted that allowing the public trustee to take over the appeal that was instituted by the Executives of the Appellant was tantamount to robbing them of their constitutional right of appeal, especially as the appeal was rightly and timeously entered and briefs exchanged by the parties as far back as November 2019 and February 2020 respectively, prior to the appointment of the public trustee on December 29, 2020.

Nylander submitted that part of the applications pending before the court is a motion to stop the appointed trustee from acting in that office, adding that any further act by the public trustee would render the whole appeal nugatory and foist a fait accompli on the court. He further argued that the President of the National Industrial Court failed to follow the laid down procedure as enshrined in Order 59 of National Industrial Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2017 in appointing the public trustee.

The 1st Respondent was represented by Chinyere Moneme, Esq while the 2nd Respondent was represented by Mohammed Ndarani Mohammed SAN (with him, Stephen Apeh, Esq).

When contacted on the ruling, Ubani told CITY LAWYER tersely: “We are studying the decision. I may appeal it.”

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CJN TO CHAIR 12TH GADZAMA ANNUAL LECTURE TODAY

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad will today chair the 12th edition of the popular “J-K Gadzama LLP Annual Public Lecture” which holds from 3 pm to 6 pm.

The theme of the lecture is “Rebuilding the nation post COVID-19 outbreak: the judicial, economic and political perspectives.” The lecture which is being held virtually for the first time has renowned jurist, Dr. Mahdi Shehu, Chairman of Dialogue Groups as the Keynote Speaker.

The discussants include Nella Andem-Rabana SAN, Principal Partner, Lexglobal Partners; Prof. Joash Amupitan SAN, Professor of Law, University of Jos; Dr. Sam Amadi, former Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), and Mr. Akinlabi Akingbade, Partner/Head of Chambers, J-K Gadzama LLP.

Mr. Madu Joe-Kyari Gadzama, Junior Partner, J-K Gadzama LLP will compere the lecture.

To register, click on https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0qde6qrz8iGtW_Oz4A8BoXUEdIj20VwWp3

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JICAM RULES: ‘P & ID CONTRACT WAS FRAUDULENT, POORLY DRAFTED,’ SAYS SAN

A senior advocate of Nigeria and chartered arbitrator, Prof. Paul Idornigie SAN at the weekend took a hard look at the controversial P & ID Case and concluded that the contract was fraudulent and poorly drafted.

Idornigie was speaking at the weekend in Abuja during the launch of the Janada International Centre for Arbitration & Mediation (JICAM) Rules 2020.

The foremost arbitrator whose paper was titled “Institutional Arbitration in Africa Post-COVID-19” stated that “the (P & ID) contract was fraudulent ab initio,” adding that “the contract was not properly drafted.”

According to Idornigie, the courts are not equipped to cure defective contracts, even as he urged arbitrators to “Africanize” arbitration by choosing Africa as the seat of arbitration in line with the “Africa Promise.”

On why Nigeria is not a leading arbitral centre and seat of arbitration, Idornigie who is also a member of the JICAM Governing Council said: “From my personal knowledge, most hearings in Nigeria are either held in hotels or law offices of the Legal Practitioners.  Such hearings whether domestic or international are not documented.  This probably accounts for the poor performance of Nigeria in this survey report.  This is without prejudice to the fact that issues of security, facilities, infrastructure and integrity of the Nigerian courts may also be factors responsible for the poor ranking of Nigeria in the continent.”

“The above lends credence to the establishment of JICAM.  JICAM is not only an arbitral centre but will perform arbitral services as it has its own Rules of Arbitration and Mediation.  These Rules are modern and comparable to other Rules like that of ICC and LCIA.  Indeed they are a blend of both.”

He stated that Nigeria’s legal framework would not adversely impact arbitral proceedings due to the advent of virtual hearings, saying: “Arbitration in Nigeria does not suffer the effect of the Evidence Act (s256(1)(a), the Constitution (s36(3) & (4) and the judicial pronouncements on hearing in public.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have used Skype, audio and video-conferencing at JICAM and ICAMA, Abuja and LCA, Lagos.”

Continuing, he said: “However, quite unlike physical hearing, we must prepare adequately for virtual hearing.  This is the challenge post-COVID.  For African arbitration institutions to survive, they must have facilities for virtual hearing side by side  the existing facilities for physical hearing.  There are enough Protocols, Guidelines, Guidance Notes, etc on this as highlighted above.  Thus several issues will arise before, during and after the arbitral proceedings that must be carefully addressed.”

He warned that “The arbitral institutions that will survive are those with modern rules and facilities for both physical and virtual hearings.  The arbitrators that will be in business are those who are innovative, creative and digitally knowledgeable.”

In his remarks, former Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Hon. Justice Ibrahim Auta said that he was “proud at the strides JICAM has recorded since its formal establishment in 2015. In keeping with its aim to promote a forum for the resolution of disputes, we have supported disputing parties in active reconciliation and resolution of their disputes.”

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Justice Auta, who is also the Chairman of the JICAM Governing Council, stated that online dispute resolution (ODR) has witnessed a resurgence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saying: “We have witnessed online giants utilize this mechanism in the resolution of buyer to customer disputes but we have failed to expand its use to the resolution of the common disputes. Perhaps this is an appropriate time to discuss the Rules we aim to launch, today.”

Noting that “parties with bad cases could easily frustrate such an attempt by withholding the consent to conduct such proceedings virtually,” Justice Auta, who was represented by Mrs. Diane Okoko, added that “we have equipped our center with state of the art facilities including high speed internet for this very purpose. In similar fashion, the Rules take care of numerous other issues which have been unclear in the arbitration space which I do not intend on boring you with today.”

On his part, the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Benedict Kanyip who was the Special Guest of Honour stated that the Arbitration and Conciliation Act “does not apply in trade disputes,” adding that such disagreements are sui generis.

In his welcome address, former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN said: “Indeed, while I consider it a huge privilege to have some of the best minds in the Alternative Dispute Resolution sector present at this event, I strongly believe that the launch of the JICAM Arbitration & Mediation Rules 2020 will usher in a new era in the realms of our Alternative Dispute Resolution engagements, which in the long run, will contribute significantly to the development of ADR both locally and internationally.”

According to Gadzama who is also a chartered arbitrator and fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), JICAM “was established in 2015 and commissioned by the then President of the Court of Appeal, Hon Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa, OFR, CON, as a dispute resolution center designed to promote a suitable forum for the resolution of domestic and international disputes,” adding that “JICAM is fully equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, with its rules and guidelines accommodating both ad hoc and institutional arbitration.”

Concluding, the leading litigator said: “I strongly believe that this comprehensive document will facilitate speedier, more effective and efficient arbitration cum mediation proceedings, which in the long run will promote the advancement and viability of Alternative Dispute Resolution in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.”

In his goodwill message, the President of Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC), Chief Emeka Obegolu, commended JICAM for unveiling the new Rules.

Noting that there are over 10 prominent Arbitration and Mediation institutions in Nigeria, the former NBA General Secretary said: “I believe the general hope is for these institutions to leave their mark in the dispute resolution landscape, and contribute to the effective resolution of disputes. However, to achieve this, there must be synergy of some sort between these institutions. We must see ourselves not as competitors, but as partners in this dynamic field of ADR.”

In a similar goodwill message, the Chairman of the Abuja Chapter of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Mr. Chinwendu Madumere noted that the institute maintains a robust relationship with JICAM, adding that the emergence of the centre would “bridge the gap of having a world class arbitration centre with appropriate facilities and Rules.”

The event was moderated by the JICAM Acting General Manager, Chimdindu Onyedim-Etuwewe while Bar. Lama Joe-Kyari Gadzama gave the vote of thanks.

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.

ARBITRATION CZARS TO UNVEIL JICAM RULES TOMORROW

Leading arbitrators will tomorrow gather to unveil the “JICAM Arbitration & Mediation Rules, 2020.” The virtual event will also witness a lecture on “Institutional Arbitration in Africa Post COVID-19” by renowned chartered arbitrator and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Prof. Paul Idornigie, SAN. Time is 11 a. m.

The event is facilitated by the Janada International Center for Arbitration and Mediation (JICAM), Abuja.

With the President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Benedict Kanyip as Special Guest of Honour, the event will be chaired by the retired Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Hon. Justice Ibrahim Auta. Justice Auta is also the Chairman of JICAM Governing Council.

Also expected at the virtual conference is former NBA presidential candidate and leading chartered arbitrator, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN. Gadzama also doubles as the Chairman of the JICAM Board of Trustees.

Among the panelists are Prof. Ike Ehiribe, Mrs. Diane Okoko and Dr. Fidele Masengo, all fellows of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK) and members of the JICAM Governing Council. Chimdindu Onyedim-Etuwewe, JICAM Acting General Manager is billed to anchor the event.

To register, click on the following link: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEud-usrjwpE9SIcT5YoBxdjbGbNx4mWIfe

AKINJIDE WAS AN OUTSTANDING LAWYER, SAYS GADZAMA

Bar Leader and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN) has described late former Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide (SAN) as an “outstanding multi-jurisdictional lawyer” who “contributed monumentally” to the growth and development of the legal profession in Nigeria.

In a statement sent to CITY LAWYER, the pioneer Chairman of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) said he was “saddened” by the demise of the former Chairman of Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), adding that Nigeria has lost “one of its finest” legal minds.

The statement reads:

“I was saddened to hear of the death of former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minster of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide, SAN who passed away at the ripe age of 88 in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Until his death, he was the Chairman of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN).

“He was an outstanding multi-jurisdictional lawyer called to both the Nigerian and English Bar. As Minister of Education in the first republic and later as Minister of Justice in the second republic, he distinguished himself. No doubt, he was a decent politician who played politics without bitterness.

“Chief Akinjide, SAN contributed monumentally to the growth and development of the legal profession in Nigeria. He was indeed a great achiever who lived a life worthy of emulation. Nigeria has lost one of its finest who will always be fondly remembered for the great legacy he left behind. May his soul rest in peace.”

Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN
Pioneer Chairman, NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law, (SPIDEL)

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.

 

 

 

NBA MUST ALLOW REAL-TIME MONITORING OF VOTING – GADZAMA

  • SAYS ‘TAWO TAWO IS A MAN OF INTEGRITY’

Foremost litigator and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) presidential candidate, Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama (OFR, MFR, SAN) has stated that a key requirement for a rancour-free 2020 NBA Elections is “real time monitoring of votes.”

In an exclusive interview with CITY LAWYER, Gadzama, the first presidential candidate to drag NBA to court to challenge the outcome of its national election conducted by electronic voting, also warned that all “principal actors” in the electioneering process must eschew throwing up a preferred information technology specialist to midwife the election.

Giving in insight into the character of the newly appointed Chairman of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), Mr. Tawo Eja Tawo (SAN), Gadzama stated that lawyers in the Abuja axis especially view him “as a man of integrity,” adding however that he “hopes” Tawo would sustain the rating.

His words: “There should be a mechanism to allow real-time monitoring of votes during the voting exercise.”

On the selection of an information technology specialist to partner with the ECNBA to deliver the elections, the leading arbitrator said: “This is a crucial time in the legal profession as we prepare to elect National Officers who will pilot the affairs of the association for the next two years. Any IT company to be engaged must be competent and reputable. Requisite due diligence must be conducted on any prospective IT company before engagement. It must 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.

“In engagement of an IT company, mechanisms should be put in place to ensure, as much as practicable, that the Principal Actors here do not have any affiliation, interest in or influence over the IT company. I am aware that the ECNBA has issued a request for proposal for IT consultancy. Bearing in mind the above considerations and the pre-qualification requirements in the issued RfP, if strictly adhered to, it should result to the engagement of a competent IT company.”

Speaking on growing concerns that a preferred bidder may be chosen as an IT Specialist for the elections, Gadzama said all efforts should be made to dispel such claim. His words: “You will recall that the outcome of the 2016 and 2018 NBA elections were challenged in Court and as an association, we must do everything reasonably and humanly possible to ensure that the 2020 election is conducted in a transparent manner acceptable to the majority, if not all. This process of course includes the selection of an IT company for the election. Any legitimate concern by stakeholders about the process must be taken seriously and adequately addressed. Remember that confidence and trust are key here.

“As pointed out earlier, there should be clear yardsticks and objective basis for selection of an IT company for this process and all Candidates (particularly presidential candidates) should be carried along. With the considerations already highlighted, I believe that the concerns of stakeholders can be adequately addressed. No system is perfect but once appropriate checks and balances are put in place, these concerns will be sufficiently, if not completely, addressed.”

Gadzama also weighed in on the controversy surrounding participation of NBA staff in the elections. Asked the extent to which the staff should be involved in the elections, Gadzama said: “No doubt, the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2019) vests the responsibility of conducting National Officers Elections on the ECNBA. Particularly, Paragraph 2.3 (c) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution makes it the duty and responsibility of the Electoral Officers to control, conduct and manage the elections. Also see paragraph 2.1 (a) of the Second Schedule.

“However, there is still some level of involvement of the National Secretariat which, of course, is manned by NBA Staff. For example, paragraph 2.1 (c) of the Second Schedule to the Constitution provides that completed forms received in respect of elections into national offices shall be forwarded to the National Secretariat and thereafter referred to the Electoral Committee. In further demonstration of possible roles of the National Secretariat in the process, I also refer to Paragraph 2.3 (d) of the Second Schedule which gives the National Secretariat the responsibility, in conjunction with the ECNBA, to publish the full list of all legal practitioners qualified to vote.

He adds: “The NBA Secretariat is manned by NBA Staff and, as highlighted above, there are certain roles and activities to be performed by the Secretariat in the process. Because NBA Staff are also human and may have personal interest in the outcome of the election, it is advisable that their participation in the process should be limited and/or restricted to assuage the genuine fears of those who may have cause to worry that they may be used to manipulate and/or confer undue advantage on any candidate.”

Given that he took the unprecedented step of challenging the 2016 presidential election in court, CITY LAWYER asked the popular Bar Leader to plot a roadmap to a rancour-free 2020 National Officers Elections. Gadzama advised that aside from availing all candidates a level-playing field, the ECNBA must eschew arbitrary disqualification of aspirants. Also, voter registration and verification must be transparent while the candidates must be given access to interrogate the electoral process.

His words: “The need for an acceptable NBA election cannot be over-emphasized. The outcome must reflect the choice of the majority of members. The ECNBA must ensure a level-playing field for all candidates.

“In the past, there have been genuine complaints against unjustifiable disqualification of aspirants for elections. A National Publicity Secretary in the previous administration had to challenge his disqualification in Court which gave judgment in his favour. These sorts of things should be avoided. The process of screening of aspirants should be transparent in line with the provisions of the Constitution and no aspirant should be victimised and/or unjustly disqualified.

“All candidates must also be treated equally by the ECNBA. It should be a fair contest. No candidate should be given undue advantage whether knowingly and unknowingly. The candidates must be allowed to investigate and interrogate every step of the election process without interfering with the work of the Committee.

“It is important that the guidelines to be issued by the ECNBA as required by paragraph 2.4(c) of the Second Schedule should be in line with the provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015 (as amended in 2019). The need for the principle of universal suffrage as enshrined in the Constitution to be upheld and given effect cannot be over-emphasized. Universal Suffrage to my mind in this context is the right of all eligible members of NBA to freely vote for candidates of their choice without let or hindrance. Paragraph 2.2(f) of the Second Schedule to the Constitution is also instructive here. Thus, all foreseeable obstacles and/or impediments capable of disenfranchising any member should be contemplated, addressed and eliminated in advance in order to ensure a smooth and acceptable process. There should be a mechanism to allow real-time monitoring of votes during the voting exercise.”

He adds: “Another important area which will be covered in the guidelines is the voter registration process. Voter registration is a pre-condition for voting in the election as stipulated in paragraph 2.2(f) of the Second Schedule to the NBA Constitution. Thus, the registration process should be seamless and transparent. We should be able to have an accurate and verifiable number of registered voters at different levels at the end of the process. Also germane here is that the verification of votes intended in paragraph 2.8 of the Second Schedule should indeed reflect a verifiable process capable of ascertaining the authenticity of any collated votes.”

Though there have been concerns on whether the ECNBA will maintain sufficient independence from the NBA leadership, Gadzama however said its chairman is well regarded by the legal community in Abuja where he practices.

His words: “I want to commend the ECNBA for the good work the Committee is already doing. I have seen the preliminary notice of election dated 15/04/20 already issued by the ECNBA. I am confident that the Committee under the able leadership of Tawo Tawo, SAN will do a good job that we will all be proud of as an association. Tawo is already known to many of us here in Abuja as a man of integrity but this is an opportunity for those who do not know him to review our assessment of him as well as judge his personality. I hope, pray and wish that he sustains the accolade we have given him.”

Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN was declared winner of the presidential election in the NBA National Officers Elections conducted via electronic voting. He polled 3,055 votes while Gadzama garnered 2,384 votes. But Gadzama rejected the results, stating that the election was fraught with irregularities.

A statement by Mr. Garba Gajam and Mr. Steve Abar, Director General and Secretary respectively of the Gadzama Campaign Organisation, said: “Having reviewed the situation and circumstances before and during the elections, to wit: the non-credibility of the elections; the lack of transparency; the non-automatic collation of the results on the display screen; the open partisanship of Mr. Austin Alegeh, SAN (who worked with the ECNBA) for the declared winner; and the delay for over one hour and 20 minutes before releasing the results after the close of polls at 12 midnight on Sunday, July 31, 2016, all these in total disregard for the concerns we had hitherto raised in our previous correspondence with the ECNBA, we hereby, reject the results of the elections and call for the immediate cancellation of same for failing to be credible, transparent, free and fair, and for failing to comply with the provisions of the NBA constitution and the Electoral Guidelines. We also call for the conduct of fresh electronic, not Internet, elections that will be credible, free and fair and in compliance with the provisions of the NBA constitution and the Electoral Guidelines.”

Gadzama was admitted to the Nigerian Bar in 1986 and the Bar of England and Wales (Lincoln’s Inn) in 2008. He took Silk in 1998 – being the first among his 1986 set – and was the Chairman of the National Working Group on Domestication of the Rome Statute in Nigeria. A leading arbitrator and member of several domestic, regional and international arbitral centres, Gadzama has participated as presiding arbitrator, party nominated arbitrator, sole arbitrator and lead counsel in several landmark commercial arbitration matters.

He was Chairman of NBA Abuja Branch and pioneer Chairman of the NBA Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL). A chartered arbitrator, Gadzama is a fellow of several institutes, including the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (UK), Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC).

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GADZAMA’S SUIT: WILL COURT SACK USORO TODAY?

Chief Joe-Kyari Gadzama SAN will today know the outcome of his lawsuit challenging the election of former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President, Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN.

Justice Olukayode Adeniyi of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) had at the last adjourned date set down today to deliver judgement in the long-drawn matter following the adoption of final written addresses by the parties.

Today’s judgement is being watched keenly by many in the legal circles, as it may affect the tenure of current NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN should the court rule in Gadzama’s favour. It is recalled that Mahmoud has concluded his tenure, thus the argument by the defendants that the suit has become academic. But the plaintiff argues otherwise.

Also, depending on the judgement, there may be implications for the controversial NBA Constitution going forward.

The case had suffered a setback when Gadzama appealed a ruling by then trial judge, Justice Y. Halilu. The Notice of Appeal stated that the appellant was seeking “an order setting aside the decision of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory contained in the ruling delivered by Hon. Justice Y. Halilu dated 8th November, 2016.”

Gadzama also sought “An order directing the consolidation of all pending preliminary objections/applications filed by the Defendants/Respondents with the substantive suit in this matter” as well as “An order directing accelerated hearing of the matter at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory.”

“Having regard to the insinuation made by the trial judge that the Appellant’s case was unworthy or fruitless deserving of being nipped in the bud,” the appellant also seeks “an order of this Honourable Court directing the Chief Judge of the High Court of Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to transfer the suit to another judge of FCT High Court for the hearing of all pending preliminary objections along with the substantive suit.”

The appeal was however withdrawn while the matter was also remitted back to Justice Adeniyi who handled it originally before proceeding on vacation.

Though the NBA leadership had at the pre-National Executive Committee Meeting in Port Harcourt set up a 5-member committee to reach out to Gadzama towards amicable resolution of the electoral debacle, the move proved abortive. Members of the committee were Chief Onomigbo Okpoko, SAN (Chairman); former NBA presidents Chief O. C. J. Okocha, SAN and Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; former NBA General Secretary, Mr. Yinka Fayokun and Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Mbanugo Udenze who doubled as Secretary of the committee.

It is recalled that Mr. Darlington Onyekwere had at the last adjourned date adopted the Claimant’s final written address and urged the Court to grant the reliefs sought. He appeared with a team of lawyers for the claimant.

While Miss Christabel Ndeokwelu appeared for the 1st Defendant, the 2nd to 6th Defendants were represented by Mr. Abdulrasheed Usman. Mr. Ede Uko represented the 7th Defendant (Grace Infotech Limited) while Mr. A. A. Malik appeared for the 8th Defendant. Mrs. R. U. Edibo appeared for the 9th defendant.

The defendants however argued that the case had become academic, while the claimant’s counsel posited that a matter does not become academic merely because the act or conduct which gave rise to the action had been concluded. He cited the case of Plateau State v. AG Federation (2006) 3 NWLR (Pt 967) and Peter Obi v INEC (2007) 11 NWLR Part 1046 and urged the court to discount the defendants’ argument that the matter had become academic.

Malik, counsel for the 8th defendant, aligned himself with the submission of the other counsel for the defendants that the case had become academic, moreso as Mahmoud had completed his tenure. He said there was no live issue for the court to determine and that the claimant had failed to prove his case. He however urged the court to nonetheless proceed to judgement.

Gadzama had sued NBA trustees including Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim (SAN) CON, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) OFR, Chief Thompson Joseph Onomigbo Okpoko (SAN) OON, Chief (Mrs.) Priscilla Kuye, Alhaji Murtala Aminu OFR and Chief Anthony O. Mogboh (SAN). They are listed as 1st to 6th Defendants while The Incorporated Trustees of Nigerian Bar Association is the 7th Defendant. Mr. Kenneth Mozia (SAN), Chairman of the ECNBA is the 8th Defendant while Mr. Oluwaseun Ajoba who doubles as the Secretary of the committee is the 9th Defendant.

Others are Hajia Safiya Balarabe, Mrs. Amaka Ezeno, and Mrs. Eucharia Pepple – all members of the Electoral Committee – as 10th, 11th and 12th Defendants while NBA’s ICT Partner, Grace Infotech Limited is the 13th Defendant. Mr. Augustine O. Alegeh (SAN), the NBA President , is sued as the 14th defendant while Gadzama’s opponent who was declared winner of the election, Mr. Abubakar B. Mahmoud (SAN) is listed as the 15th Defendant.

It is recalled that Mahmoud was declared winner of the election with total 3055 votes while Gadzama allegedly polled 2384 votes. But Gadzama had rejected the result, saying in his statement of claim that “contrary to the result declared by the 8th Defendant, at the close of voting, at 12:00 midnight on Sunday, 31st July, 2016, the result of the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President, as collated from and contained on the official voting domain/platform was as follows: Joe-Kyari Gadzama – 2,963; Abubakar B. Mahmoud -2,465.” This was as deduced by his ICT experts who conducted forensic audit of the poll.
Gadzama also wants the court to declare “that the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on 30th and 31st July 2016 under the supervision of the 8th to 14th Defendants, which purportedly produced the 15th Defendant as President, was in total violation and disregard of the mandatory provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015, Election Guidelines set down for the said Election fell short of established standards and international best practices, thereby making the said Election null, void and of no effect whatsoever.”

Aside from stating that the Internet voting mechanism, method and system adopted for the conduct of the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election “was not in conformity with the mandatory provisions of the NBA Constitution 2015,” the Life Bencher also impugns the Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) as illegal and unconstitutional.

He is also seeking a “declaration that the integrity of the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President organised by the 8th to 14th, Defendants on 30th and 31st July 2016 which purportedly returned the 15th Defendant as President was fundamentally and incurably compromised by undue influence, overbearing, biased conduct and utterances of the 14th Defendant (Mr Augustine Alegeh SAN, President, Nigerian Bar Association) through the media and at Bar meetings before and during the Election and thereby robbed the conduct of the election of every element of impartiality, independence and transparency as required by established standards and international best practices.”

Flowing from this, the NBA presidential candidate seeks an order of court “nullifying and setting aside the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on the 30th and 31st July, 2016 which purportedly returned the 15th Defendant as the President.”

He also seeks the following orders:
“An order directing the 1st to 7th Defendants to set up a newly constituted Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) which will issue Guidelines and conduct a fresh 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President.

“An order of this Honourable Court that the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association Election as it relates to the office/position of the President should be held through Electronic voting in all branches of the NBA or at least at the three (3) zonal levels established by the NBA Constitution, 2015 and that results should be collated at branch or zonal levels and transmitted to the ECNBA Secretariat for final announcement.

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 8th to 12th and 14th Defendants from swearing in and/or recognising the 15th Defendant or in any way whatsoever taking steps or giving effect to the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on the 30th and 31st July, 2016, whether by themselves, agents, employees, privies or anybody acting for or on their behalf based on the said Election,” and

“An order of perpetual injunction restraining the 15th Defendant, whether by himself, agents, employees, privies or anybody acting for or on his behalf, from parading himself, claiming and/or holding himself out as the President-Elect/President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) based on the 2016 Nigerian Bar Association election as it relates to the office/position of the President held on 30th and 31st July, 2016.”
According to Gadzama, the elections “held in total violation and disregard of the mandatory provisions of the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association, 2015,” adding that while the accreditation process was repeatedly extended, “the list containing the names of the said accredited voters was never released on the election platform (website), neither was it displayed on the screen used to monitor the Election.”

He alleged that “Around 12:01 a.m. of Monday, 1st August 2016, the 8th Defendant announced the end of the election exercise. The 8th Defendant further, for the first time, introduced some persons who were said to be staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and he further announced that the so called INEC staff were there to audit the election result, which was ready. The 8th Defendant also announced that it will take 1 (one) hour to audit the said results.

“Contrary to the expectations of the Plaintiff’s agents, established standards and international best practices, the said agents did not see the dashboard/monitor displaying the result of the Election, even upon voting being declared closed by the 8th Defendant.

“The Plaintiff avers that the 8th Defendant, the Managing Director of the 13th Defendant and the 14th Defendant and the so called INEC staff left the Plaintiff’s poll agents and others in the Situation Room at the NBA Secretariat in Abuja, went to a separate room to ‘audit’ the results.
“The 8th Defendant subsequently came into the monitoring room while the so called auditing was still going on to announce that the auditing was almost done and that the results were to be announced in due course. He remained in the situation room until after 1a.m. when the events in the next-following paragraphs took place.

“Around after 1a.m. on 1/8/2016, Mr. Olugasa, the Managing Director of the 13th Defendant, the 14th Defendant and the so called staff of INEC came back into the monitoring room and got seated.

“After re-introduction of the so called INEC staff; and the 8th Defendant and 14th Defendant had made some speeches, Mr. Ope Olugasa (Managing Director of the 13th Defendant) was asked to display the results on the dashboard.

“But instead of using the laptop that had long been connected online to the big LG Television/Monitor in the situation room, both of which had from the beginning been used to display the limited information about the election exercise described earlier on in this statement of claim, Mr. Ope Olugasa swapped the said laptop with another laptop which contained the so called election result. The 8th Defendant then pronounced the declared results as they were displayed on the big LG Television Monitor.

“The Plaintiff’s agent recorded the scene where the Managing Director of the 13th Defendant swapped the computer that was used throughout to display the votes that were being cast on the display screen/monitor, using Samsung Smartphone GT-I9500, Galaxy S4, with serial number R21D50BP33D.”

He stated that “On Friday, 29th of July, 2016 a day to the election, the names of eligible/verified voters continued to be padded and were never published 28 days ahead of the election, contrary to the provisions of the Nigerian Bar Association constitution and electoral guidelines,” adding that instead of utilising the advertised official portal/domain, the 8th to 14th Defendants “utilised another portal/domain (http://www.nigerianbar.org.ng) for the same Election process, just to enable them manipulate the said Election.

“As a result of this deliberate manipulative step taken by the 8th to 14th Defendants, two sets of results bearing different features but having the same figures were produced from the respective portals/domains. Accordingly, printout of the so called result of the Election from http://www.nigerianbar.org.ng is also hereby pleaded; and the Plaintiff shall, at the trial, show out the said different features, beginning with the different sources (domains) of both results, as can clearly be seen on them.”
Gadzama’s legal team was led by Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN alongside Chief Bolaji Ayorinde SAN, Chief Pius Akubo SAN and Chief Sebastine Hon SAN among others.

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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.