JUSUN STRIKE: NBA-YLF NNEWI GIFTS PALLIATIVES TO MEMBERS

PRESS RELEASE

Sequel to the protracted strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), the C. E. Okonkwo led executive of the Young Lawyers’ Forum, Nnewi Bar (NBA-YLF NNEWI) today, Friday, 11th June, 2021, distributed Palliative to members of the YLF Nnewi to cushion the effect of the protracted strike action.

The palliative items distributed include cash amount of four thousand five hundred naira (#4500) each to about forty (40) members, NBA Nnewi Sports kit and bags of rice. These items were donated by some members and friends of the Branch.

The Donors include:
1. Ike Obeta, Esq. – #20,000
2. A. O. Uzodike, Esq. – #20,000
3. Ifeanyi David, Esq. – #50,000
4. Anonymous – #50,000
5. Anonymous – #20,000
6. Stanley A. Ojiaku, Esq.- #10,000
7. C. E. Okonkwo, Esq. – #10,000
8. O. J. C. Chikaelo, Esq. – #11,000
9. Chimezie Ezechukwu, Esq. – #10,000
10. Obinna F. Okeke, Esq. – #10,000.
11. Ifeanyi David, Esq. – 4 sets of NBA Nnewi sports kit
12. Chimezie Ezechukwu – 5 Bags of Rice

In appreciation, the beneficiaries were very excited about the development and expressed their gratitude to the Young Lawyers’ Forum Chairman, C. E. Okonkwo, Esq. and his entire executive members for their sagacity. The YLF in a special way also appreciates the donors for their show of generosity.

Obinna Okeke, Esq., MICMC
Publicity Secretary, NBA-YLF, Nnewi

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REVALIDATION: CAC SET TO BAR LAWYERS’ PORTAL ACCESS TODAY

Barring an extension of the deadline, many lawyers will from tomorrow be unable to access the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) company registration portal (CRP), as the deadline for revalidation of their accreditations lapses today.

Meanwhile, there are strong indications that the challenges that have led to an online petition to remove the CAC Registrar General, Mr. Garba Abubakar have persisted. This is not unconnected with the difficulty in accessing the portal for the revalidation exercise.

A senior lawyer who sought help to overcome such challenges said: “I have been trying to re-accredit in accordance with this post. I have not been successful. Have you done it? Please, if you have, kindly tell me how to proceed. It is just two days away from the 10th.”

Still unsuccessful, the senior lawyer said: “Kindly take me through how you did. I tried as early as between 1 & 2 am today without success.”

Upon a successful revalidation, the prompt on the user’s home page disappears, while a REMITA generated receipt is sent to the user’s email address. 

It is recalled that CAC had issued a notice reminding accredited agents to revalidate their accreditations, and warning that “Accreditations that are not revalidated by Customers at the end of the prescribed date shall be suspended by the Commission.”

Below is the full text of the statement:

PUBLIC NOTICE ON THE REMINDER OF SUSPENSION OF ACCREDITATION ACCOUNTS NOT REVALIDATED BY 10TH JUNE 2021

The Commission wishes to remind its Accredited Customers that as earlier notified, they are required to revalidate their accreditations on or before Thursday, 10th June 2021. Accreditations that are not revalidated by Customers at the end of the prescribed date shall be suspended by the Commission.

Please note that any Customer that becomes newly accredited between January 2020 to date does not have to revalidate.

To revalidate accreditation, Customers should visit https://pre.cac.gov.ng

Customers should note that this notice supersedes the earlier notice of 1st January 2021.

Signed:
Management
2nd June 2021

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CAC ACCREDITATION: NBA MAKES U-TURN, ASKS LAWYERS TO COMPLY

  • SETS UP JOINT HELP DESK FOR CAC COMPLAINTS

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has reversed its hard stance on the ongoing re-accreditation exercise by the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), asking lawyers to comply with the directive. It has also set up a joint help desk with the CAC to address lawyers’ complaints.

In a press statement signed by NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata, the association stated that “The CAC and the NBA have agreed that rather than require lawyers and accredited agents to pay the accreditation fee on an annual basis, the payment will be a one-off fee.”

The statement added that “The CAC and the NBA have also agreed that the payment and reaccreditation will not apply to lawyers who paid or were accredited by the CAC between 1st January 2020 and the date of the initial reaccreditation notice from the CAC in March 2021. The portion of the reminder notice from the CAC dated 1st June 2021 which exempted only those who procured their accreditation after 31st December 2020 was an error which will be withdrawn or clarified by the CAC.”

This is a sharp departure from the position of the lawyers’ body which had in a press statement on March 12, 2021 chided the corporate registry agency for the revalidation exercise, saying that “it is both insensitive and smacks of utter bad faith on the part of the CAC to proceed with this policy without due consultation with the NBA whose members make up over 80% of the customer base of the CAC.”

The NBA had also reasoned that “it is possible to achieve a clean database of accredited agents by requiring those who had been previously accredited by the CAC to simply update and revalidate their records on the CAC portal (at no cost) or lose their accreditation by the new deadline,” adding that “The obligatory charge imposed by the CAC should not apply to existing users but only to those customers who have never been accredited by the CAC and who now seek to be part of the system.”

The lawyers’ body had also based its opposition to the payment of the N10,000 revalidation fee on the harsh economic climate, saying: “The NBA strongly urges the CAC to reconsider its position with respect to the payment of the revalidation fee by existing users, and more importantly to continue to work assiduously towards improving customer experience by resolving the several complaints by users of the system and enhancing efficiency.” 

It was unclear at press time whether the NBA has secured any major shift from the CAC prior to altering its position on the issue, moreso as the CAC had since March 12, 2021 clarified in a tweet that the payment is a one-off. It had stated thus: “Dear esteemed Customers, please be informed that payment for re-validation of accreditation is one-off. And accreditation is not renewable annually. Furthermore, the timeline for re-validation of accreditation has been extended to June, 10 2021.”

Aside from merely stating that “The CAC maintains that the revalidation exercise is important to it for a proper administration of the CAC database especially as the CAC migrates to a process where most or all activities at, or dealings with, the CAC will be concluded on its online portal,” the NBA leadership has not provided any justification for its new stance on the revalidation fee.  

Below is the full text of the NBA statement.

3rd June 2021

To all Lawyers in Nigeria

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

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) would have seen a notice dated 1st June 2021 from the Corporate Affairs Commission (“CAC”) reminding accredited agents of the CAC to revalidate their status as agents with the CAC. Accredited agents are required to pay for such revalidation on or before 10th June 2021 or risk a suspension of their accounts.

Kindly recall that when the news of this revalidation first broke out in March 2021, the NBA had issued a statement dated 12th March 2021 informing Nigerian lawyers that the NBA was engaging with the CAC on this process. Following the engagements, we wish to provide the update below:

1. The CAC maintains that the revalidation exercise is important to it for a proper administration of the CAC database especially as the CAC migrates to a process where most or all activities at, or dealings with, the CAC will be concluded on its online portal.

2. The CAC and the NBA have agreed that rather than require lawyers and accredited agents to pay the accreditation fee on an annual basis, the payment will be a one-off fee.

3. The CAC and the NBA have also agreed that the payment and reaccreditation will not apply to lawyers who paid or were accredited by the CAC between 1st January 2020 and the date of the initial reaccreditation notice from the CAC in March 2021. The portion of the reminder notice from the CAC dated 1st June 2021 which exempted only those who procured their accreditation after 31st December 2020 was an error which will be withdrawn or clarified by the CAC.

4. The CAC and the NBA have agreed that in order to enhance efficiency at the CAC and deal with service level complaints from lawyers who use the services of the CAC, an NBA help/support desk (manned by the NBA-CAC Task Force) will be set up at the CAC. Lawyers who have applications at the CAC that are not attended to within the designated timelines may escalate their complaints to the NBA support team which will liaise with the CAC with a view to resolving the issues. Such complaints should be sent to nbacac@nigerianbar.org.ng. Kindly note that only correspondence relating to delays and service inefficiency at the CAC will be entertained by this help/support desk.

5. The NBA is not oblivious of the challenges that lawyers have had to face with their clients on account of delayed processing of applications, and other service-related issues at the CAC. Accordingly, the NBA will continue to work with the CAC towards enhancing efficiency at the CAC and generally improving on the experience of our members when dealing with the CAC.

Yours sincerely,

OLUMIDE AKPATA
NBA President

NBA_CAC

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NBA BWARI KICKS OFF LAW WEEK

The Annual Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Bwari Branch (“Capital Bar”) kicked off today with much fanfare. 

Confirming this to CITY LAWYER, the Branch Chairman, Mr. Clement Chukwuemeka Ugo said Day-One of the Law Week went as planned.

Below is the full schedule for the Law Week.

PROGRAMME OF EVENTS FOR NBA BWARI LAW WEEK 2021

Register: https://lawweek.capitalbarlawyers.com.ng

Venue: GADIS Event Centre, Opposite, Girls’ Secondary School, Dutse.

DAY 1: TUESDAY 1ST JUNE 2021
SESSION 1: The Opening Ceremony of NBA BWARI BRANCH LAW WEEK – 2021: TIME: 10.AM -11.55.AM

THEME: Post Covid Realities for the Nigerian Lawyer; Curbing Insecurity Challenges and Fostering National Development.

TEA BREAK: 11.40.AM -11.55.AM

Session 2

EVENT: DISCOURSE 1: (a) Providing Legal Aid to the Victims of Sexual Gender Based Violence (b)Sentencing Guidelines and Plea Bargaining- 12.PM – 1.55.PM

EVENT: DISCOURSE II – Examining the Operation of the Doctrine of Separation of Power in Modern Day Nigeria.
TIME: 2.PM -4.PM

DAY 2: WEDNESDAY 2ND JUNE 2021

SESSION 1:
EVENT: DISCOURSE 1: Creating a Niche in the Legal Profession, Future of Nigerian Legal Profession and Specialization in the Legal Practice: Where lies the Perfect Blend?

TIME: 10.AM – 12.PM

SESSION 2:

EVENT: DISCOURSE 2: CAMA 2020: The Pains and Gains.
TIME: 2.PM – 3.PM

SESSION 3:
EVENT: DISCOURSE 3: Ethical Compliance in Post Covid 19: Where are the Nigerian Lawyers?
TIME: 4.PM-6.PM

DINNER: 4P.M – 6.PM

COMPLETE EVENT PROGRAMME: https://cutt.ly/OnsAMd2

ZOOM MEETING: https://cutt.ly/zkUftuk
MEETING ID: 860 7640 1685
PASSCODE: NBA2021LW

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JUSUN STRIKE: LAWYERS SET TO STORM GOVS’ OFFICES TOMORROW

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

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

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

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

Below is the full text of the statement.

JUSUN Strike – NBA Directive to Branches

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below is the full text of the statement.

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

Dear Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV. The NBA partners with NFIU at large.

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

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

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

Dr. Rapulu Nduka
Publicity Secretary,
Nigerian Bar Association.

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.

OKONJO-IWEALA, LAWYERS AND LESSONS IN CAREER DEV’T

FEATURED

NTA EKPIKEN has a wealth of experience in the legal framework for the protection of intellectual property rights, brand protection, anti-counterfeiting, copyrights, image rights, licensing & franchising, technology transfer and product registration.

She is involved with many campaigns and advocacy initiatives including a committee working on the review of the IP laws in Nigeria and the United States Consulate “Anti-Counterfeiting Collaboration” (ACC) campaign against fake malaria drugs.

With a Master of Laws (LLM) degree from Swansea University (UK) and a Copyright X Certificate from Harvard Law School, USA, she is also a member of the International Trademark Association (INTA), Intellectual Property Law Association of Nigeria (IPLAN) and Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) International, an Associate Fellow of the Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI), and the Course Coordinator for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch Continuing Professional Development Committee (CPDC).

In this piece, she dissects the nexus between career advancement and the emergence of Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the coveted Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

The extraordinary feat of the emergence of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been celebrated across Nigeria as one that represents a true instance of the breaking of glass ceilings on many fronts. It is indeed worthy of celebration that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first African to be elected as Director General of the WTO in a very keenly contested election. This achievement by this exceptional lady is made more remarkable by the fact that at this time in its history, Nigeria is struggling with its identity as a nation, generally seen by the international community as a corrupt country with corrupt people, a country with one of the highest levels of insecurity, generally lawless and with all other negative perceptions that space would not allow one to mention.

Many have commented on Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala being African and black. Of course, that is worth commenting on because of the racial and other prejudices that often reflect in world affairs and in international diplomacy. Most discerning black Africans who have lived or live in the Western world would understand what it means for a black person to reach certain heights in global politics, international affairs and business.

The other aspect of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s ascendency that people have commented on is that she is female, a mother and a wife. It is not difficult to see why the fact that Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, a female, reached this remarkable height is a topic for discussion when considered from the perspective of the many prejudices that still exist in the work place where gender inequality is for many reasons still prevalent. Add this factor to the demands of keeping a home and being a mother and it becomes much clearer. Today, this great lady stands tall as a role model not only for black people across the globe but for all women and all those who aspire to do well irrespective of race, gender, disability or any other seemingly inhibiting factor.

The above said, however, I think that there is an important lesson for every professional and lawyer and, closer to home, for members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch. The Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala story is one that epitomizes the values of consistent and rigorous professional development. Dr. Okonjo-Iweala became the Director General of the WTO against all odds because of the fact that she is a thoroughbred professional. She got there purely on merit.

Her story inspires me and should inspire all of us to achieve more and to continue to develop as we progress in life, knowing that professional growth and development is an inevitable factor to our prosperity and career fulfillment. In our profession today, there are many who do not see much hope in the profession, and many young lawyers are looking for a sense of purpose and seeking direction. I recommend the story of Dr. Okonjo-Iweala – who grew up in the University Campus at Ibadan and Nsukka, had her secondary education at Ibadan and Enugu – to all of us and to say that the possibilities are limitless in this era of globalization, trade (free and otherwise) and continuing advancement in transferability of knowledge.

We are fortunate to have an NBA that is now focused on career development and rolling out a lot of programmes for the advancement of members of the profession. I am particularly proud of the work that has been done by the Continuing Professional Development Committee of our branch (of which I am proud to be the Course Coordinator). Due to advancement in technology we have been able to attract some of the most distinguished professionals in the world, including graduates of the Yale University, Columbia, Harvard and Oxford amongst others, to speak on topical legal issues and areas at our meetings and other CPD events and trainings. I encourage members of the branch to use Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a point of contact for inspiration to continue to develop in their careers and to participate in the various ground-breaking initiatives of the Continuing Professional Development Committee of the Branch.

I join many today in congratulating Dr. Okonjo-Iweala on her appointment as the Director General of the WTO.

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.

 

BREAKING: BODY OF BENCHERS OKAYS NOUN GRADUATES FOR LAW SCHOOL

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Nigeria’s Body of Benchers has approved admission of National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) graduates into the Nigerian Law School, CITY LAWYER can authoritatively report.

The decision by the apex regulator of the legal profession in Nigeria was taken at its meeting held today.

There has been a cat-and-mouse tussle between the Benchers and the NOUN graduates, as the body had insisted that NOUN graduates did not meet the requirements for admission to the Law School.

Before now, all pleas to the Body of Benchers to resolve the impasse met a brickwall until today’s breakthrough.

More details shortly.

RPC: 6,000 LAWYERS SIGN PETITION TO STRIP MALAMI OF SAN RANK

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

No less than 6,072 persons have so far signed a petition seeking to strip the nation’s chief law officer, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN of the coveted rank of “Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”

Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, made the headlines recently following media reports stating that he had issued “Statutory Instrument No. 15 of 2020” amending the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (RPC). The instrument provides that “the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.”

Started barely eight days ago by one Izu Aniagu, the petition which is still trending on www.change.org, the petition is titled “Sign to strip Nigeria’s AGF, Abubakar Malami the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.” The tagline states that “Izu Aniagu started this petition to Lawyers in Nigeria and 5 others.” The “Decision makers” listed on the petition are “Lawyers in Nigeria, Nigeria Bar Association, LEGAL PRACTITIONERS DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE, THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGE COMMITTEE, THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL and The Bar Council.”

The petition states that “Since assumption of office, the Attorney General of the Federation has continued to go rogue, from his disobedience to court order, to his lackluster prosecution, to his outright failure to prosecute, to allegations of corruption and bias against his person, to usurpation of office, to shielding of suspects, to his general dereliction of duty.

“This time, the AGF has decided to take his imprudence (sic) to top notch by unilaterally deleting the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct which provide for stamp and seal as well as bar practicing fee for government lawyers. The AGF does not have such power. Section 12 (4) of the LPA gives the General Council of the Bar power to make any such amendment and make other decisions concerning the NBA.

“There is no record of any meeting convened by the The (sic) Attorney General of the Federation who is the president of The Bar Council. The AGF took the decision alone and his actions constitute a threat to the rule of law. His action is totally shameful and is underserving (sic) of a lawyer in the rank of a Senio (sic) Advocate, let alone a Chief Law Officer of the federation.”

One of the signatories, Ogholaja Onesiosan gave the reason for signing the petition as follows: “The AGF has abused the rule of law and has not conducted himself in a manner that is expected of him.” CITY LAWYER could not confirm at press time that all the signatories are lawyers.

The amendment of the RPC has annulled the power of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to issue stamps to eligible legal practitioners, a practice that has been validated by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. This comes against the backdrop of a clamour for dismemberment of the NBA, leading to the formation of the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) by some lawyers.

Following a meeting with Malami in his office, NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had in a letter to the chief law officer dated September 15, 2020 demanded rescission of the amendment “immediately.”

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

Former NBA Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani had also dragged Malami to the Federal High Court seeking among others a determination whether the AGF has the power to “unilaterally, alter, amend and or make any rules of professional conduct, without a proper meeting of the general council of the bar, duly convened, and notices thereof, issued to other members of the general council of the bar.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee had stripped some senior advocates of the rank following their conviction for criminal breaches or successful petitions against them.

However, one Fred Ogundu-Osondu argues that the online petition against Malami is dead on arrival, saying: “If his actions can be interpreted as an abuse of the powers vested in him as Attorney-General of the Federation, then an actual petition can be lodged against him before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee. If the LPDC finds him guilty of professional misconduct, then the LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE may withdraw the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria from him. This was clearly stated in No. 5 of the GUIDELINES FOR THE CONFERMENT OF THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA, 2007. However, let us keep it in mind that the HAGF is the Chairman of the LPDC. The only other ground is if he is convicted for any offence that in the opinion of the LPPC is incompatible with the honour and dignity of the holder of the rank of SAN as an offence relating to breach of trust, theft or other offence involving fraud or dishonesty. Again, the HAGF is the Chief Law Officer of the federation, and may not allow such prosecution to see the light of day, as he is clothed with the constitutional powers of nolle prosequi.”

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AWOMOLO LETTER: WHAT SANs, BAR LEADERS, OTHERS ARE SAYING

Many Bar Leaders and lawyers have been weighing in on the recommendation by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN that the next president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) should be sourced from the rank of senior advocates.

Aside from the presidential aspirants, many lawyers have also joined the fray in reacting to the controversial letter.

Awomolo had in a letter to former NBA President, Chief Onomigbo Okpoko SAN stated that “It will be a great failure of leadership for the senior advocates to surrender leadership to the outer bar when there are willing and able senior advocates,” urging him to convene a meeting of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to deliberate on the matter. Okpoko is yet to respond to the leaked letter.

Below are some of the views of Bar leaders, senior advocates and other lawyers on the letter.

KEMI PINHEIRO, SAN
Awomolo SAN expressed his personal opinion and conviction. That is a right guaranteed to everyone one. The NBA has had non SAN presidents before. So it is not going to be news if we have another pls. HEAVEN WILL NOT FALL. However those calling for a revolution should be reminded about what became of the movement to abolish the rank of SAN or the Revolution Now movement in the larger political space!!! A child who wants to become the head of the house while his father is still alive must first find out and understand how the house was built!!! More particularly those who say their candidate is opposed to parochialism must remember that the entire NBA constitution is anchored on parochialism by the zoning of offices to sections of the country and that by paying your branch dues you have subscribed to that constitution albeit parochialism!!

JIBRIN OKUTEPA, SAN
I do not think that anyone should be castigated for his or her views on an issue that the person feels too strong about. Prior to the views expressed in the letter of Chief A S Awomolo SAN on whether the position of the President of the Bar be reserved for SAN, many had expressed the views that the position should not be for only SAN. I think one of the hallmarks of democracy is the freedom of expression. There is no need for anybody to castigate Chief Awomolo SAN or those who hold contrary views. Chief Awomolo SAN has been playing leading role in bringing the members of the Bar together. As lawyers we are not bound to see things the same.

PROF. CHIDI ODINKALU
I have known and respected Asiwaju Gboyega Awomolo, SAN for long. This letter by him concerning #NBADecides2020 is at best ill-advised. The mind-set here inhabits a world of unearned privilege & entitlement with no sense of responsibility. I hope it no one takes it seriously. Any system in which a minority claim entitlement to rule over the majority has only 1 name: Apartheid.

OSAS ERHABOR
That statement by the learned Chief Awomolo is uncalled for both in terms of poor timing and context. It is very divisive and certainly not needed in the heat of campaign for the Presidency of the Bar. This also is my personal opinion.

TUNDE FAGBOHUNLU, SAN
A candidate’s qualification to lead the Bar should be a function of his/her competence and integrity. It is entirely immaterial whether he/she is or IS NOT a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

DAME CAROL AJIE
The position of Chief Awomolo SAN that the office of the President of NBA should be the exclusive reserve of SAN is impolite and disrespects the majority. As INEC counsel defending some democratic institutions Asiwaju ought to know that majority be respected. The duties and privileges of a SAN are clearly spelt out and restricted to the courts. Period! You have a distinct group known as Body of SANs? Only SANs should lead there not in NBA. I had thought you would deal with NBA constitutional issues of rotation within the sub-region. Why do you have such disdain for the NBA Constitution? It does not restrict the office of the President to SAN?

AHMED T. UWAIS
For me this is a game changer, some years ago my dear friend Afam was disqualified simply because he was not an SAN. Its not a provision in the NBA Constitution that in order to contest and be elected the NBA President you have to be an SAN. Though it has been long since any non SAN was elected the president of NBA, in my humble view this election is not about electing an SAN or not as the right person to lead our dear profession which has been declining in terms of integrity, respect and influence in our society.

CHUKWUKA IKWUAZOM
The decision to vote a candidate as President of the Bar should not be based on the titles that the candidates bear. It should be based on an objective assessment of the character, ability, track record and programmes of each candidate. In the same manner, I disapprove of any campaign to vote for a candidate because he/she is not a senior advocate, I disapprove of the statement allegedly issued by the very respected Silk, Chief Awomolo.

OLUKAYODE ENITAN, SAN
The forthcoming NBA elections should be made a revolution that we all should ensure succeeds in bringing forth the best of us in content of character, abundance of capacity and excellent antecedents devoid of parochial and pecuniary sentiments!

ANTHONY MALIK, SAN
Mr. Gboyega Awomolo, SAN is, by any parameter, a doyen of the Bar. I respect him and appreciate his overall contributions to the Bar and the enrichment of our body of laws. Regrettably, I am unable to navigate my way through the contents of his letter. In clear terms, his letter does not enjoy my endorsement in the least. We have a Constitution which has just been amended and it serves no good importing into it what is not contained therein. If it was the desire of the Association to make the Presidency of NBA the exclusive preserve of SANs, a provision along this line would have been inserted in the Constitution.

ADEMOLA ADEWALE
This statement credited to Highly respected member of BOSAN Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, is not only unfortunate but capable of boomeranging and destroying the chances of the very able and competent SANs who are in the race to become the next President of the NBA!!!!! To start with it comes across as arrogant and condescending!!!! Particularly when it is considered that most of the voting electorate is overwhelmingly non SAN!!!! So as we all await the NBA election that will lead to the emergence of the next President of the NBA, let our focus be on competence and vision of service to our great Association!!!! Not rank or status!!!!!

AFAM OSIGWE
I subscribe to the view that to attain leadership at the Bar, you do not have to be a Senior Advocate. If you are a Senior Advocate, that’s fine, if you are not, that’s also fine. If the NBA thought it was important for you to take the top job, you must be a senior Advocate, It would have put it in the NBA constitution. Since there’s no stipulation that one must be a Senior Advocate, then it’s a non-issue. To the question, “Is it imperative that one be a senior advocate to aspire to be president”, one must note that Dr Mudiaga Odjeh, Alao Aka Bashorun, Prince Bola Ajibola, Charles Idehen to name a few were NBA Presidents without taking Silk at the time of their election. And that tradition has continued to be maintained in our constitution.

GODWIN OMOAKA, SAN
I read with utter shock the letter by eminent Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo in which he argued that the office of the President of the Nigerian Bar Association should be reserved only for Senior Advocates of Nigeria. As a member of the inner bar, I strongly disagree with the views expressed by my respected leader and learned brother silk who appears to have lost touch with the current trend in the profession. The letter is, at the very least, discriminatory (it offends section 8 of the NBA Constitution), ill-thought out and clearly divisive. I see it as an attempt to pitch SANs against the majority of our colleagues in the outer bar.

AYULI JEMIDE
“It is a great failure of leadership for the Senior Advocates to surrender leadership to outer bar when there are willing and able senior advocates,” says Adegobyega Awomolo SAN. I consider this ‘inner vs outer’ notion as discriminatory.

SANNI ABBAS
The learned senior advocate has not written a letter as to the issue of welfare of lawyers, he has also not proffered an opinion on the minimum wage to be paid by senior advocates even when it is in public domain how much many senior lawyers pay lawyers (peanuts). It’s an open secret that some Silk do not even pay close to what non senior advocates are paying i.e he pays take home that is not even enough to take you home.

SILAS ONU
I was not surprised by the content, especially coming from Awomolo SAN. I must state for the sake of clarity, that I know as a fact, that so many Senior Advocates, properly so called, are not in support of the letter from Awomolo SAN and will never share his view on the NBA leadership. In the nearest future, the activism record of individual, public interest litigations and penchant for defending the right of person should be the core criteria for Bar leadership. Legal practice is different from leading the Bar. The Bar leadership requires a person who can jump in the mud with the masses to protest against abuse of human rights and unconstitutional actions of government.