EXCLUSIVE: NBA TO SUE MALAMI OVER RPC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RPC (Amended) 2020

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USORO, EX NBA PRESIDENT, LOSES MOTHER-IN-LAW

Former Nigerian Bar Association President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has lost his mother-in-law, Mrs. Grace Ekong. The deceased was aged 91 years. 

Mrs. Ekong reportedly died on Thursday, February 18, 2021 at Ibom Specialist Hospital, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

She is survived by the former pioneer Director General/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Usoro’s wife, Mrs. Mfon Ekong Usoro among others.

Mrs. Usoro, a prominent Bar Leader, is the Managing Partner of Paul Usoro & Co. She has served on a number of presidential and ministerial committees and was chairperson of the ministerial sub-committee of the Maritime Organisation of West and Central Africa (MOWCA) regional Maritime development bank in 2009.

She is the recipient of several national and international honours and was conferred with the Officier de L’Ord de Mono, a national honour of the Republic of Togo in 2002.

She holds a BSc in Sociology from the University of Calabar, an LLB from the University of Buckingham, B.L from the Nigerian Law School and an LL.M from University College London.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Below is the full text of the statement.

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

Dear Colleagues,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IV. The NBA partners with NFIU at large.

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

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

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

Dr. Rapulu Nduka
Publicity Secretary,
Nigerian Bar Association.

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CROSS-RIVER CHIEF JUDGE: OF IMPUNITY, HEROES AND LESSONS

Fiery human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN x-rays the year-long debacle surrounding the appointment of a substantive Chief Judge for Cross River State. While lampooning the ‘executive lawlessness’ that birthed the crisis, he argues that the quagmire threw up a few heroes and lessons

On February 8, 2021, the Honourable Justice Akon Bassey Ikpeme, was sworn in as the substantive Chief Judge of Cross-River State, in a colourful ceremony that was attended and watched live by many. It has been a tortuous journey, for My Lord in particular. How did it happen? On March 3, 2020, Governor Ben Ayade shocked the nation and the judiciary in Nigeria when he proceeded to swear in Honourable Justice Maurice Eneji, as the Acting Chief Judge of Cross-River State, to take over from Honourable Justice Ikpeme, whose tenure expired in acting capacity on March 2, 2020. It was an executive act that blew dust on the face of the judiciary directly, ranking as it were, as the greatest act of impunity, so far displayed against the most sacred institution of governance, by the executive arm. At all relevant times, the Honourable Justice Ikpeme was the most senior judge in the Cross-River State judiciary, but then she is a lady and she is from Akwa Ibom State by birth, although married to a citizen of Cross-River State. Honourable Justice Eneji was at the time next to her in the rank of seniority and above all, a man.

Governor Ayade had forwarded the names of Honourable Justices Ikpeme and Eneji to the National Judicial Council, for recommendation for appointment as the substantive Chief Judge of the State, with Ikpeme as the preferred candidate and Eneji as the reserved candidate, ostensibly based on seniority. The NJC in December, 2019, interviewed both candidates, whereupon it found worthy and recommended Ikpeme as the substantive Chief Judge, being the most senior judicial officer and she had no negative report whatsoever. Then commenced the various schemes and spins, targeted mainly at denying Ikpeme J., the substantive position, purely on the grounds of gender and her state of origin. It was then suddenly realized that she is from Akwa Ibom State, thereby putting her loyalty to Cross-River State in doubt. But all that has ended now, partly due to the role played by the Nigerian Bar Association, led by its dynamic President, Mr. Olumide Akpata.

My Lord Honourable Justice Akon Ikpeme started her career in Calabar and later got married to a Cross-Riverian. At the creation of Akwa-Ibom State, members of staff of the judicial arm were given the option to move to the new (Akwa-Ibom) State or remain in the old (Cross-River) State. Ikpeme continued to discharge her duties as a judge in Cross-River State, handled several cases and delivered judgments thereon, without any dent on her judicial career, till she rose to become the most senior judge in the State. The former Chief Judge therefore had no difficulty in recommending her for appointment as the Chief Judge. Then the executive arm of government under Governor Ayade began to put obstacles in her way, first with the composition of the State Judicial Service Commission and thereafter the manipulation of the State House of Assembly. On March 2, 2020, the Cross-River State House of Assembly had a stormy and rowdy session, in debating the issue of approval of the substantive chief judge. Through voice vote, they claimed to have rejected Ikpeme’s candidature due mainly to ethnicity. It was the first time in the history of Cross-River State that the most senior judge would be denied appointment as the substantive Chief Judge.

Now, section 271 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) provides that ‘the appointment of a person to the office of the Chief Judge of a State shall be made by the Governor of the State on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council subject to confirmation of the appointment by the House of Assembly of the State’. The simple interpretation of this section involves some processes, but surely the most fundamental of them all is that the appointment of the chief judge is the responsibility of the governor. That process is commenced by the State Judicial Service Commission, which will interview and recommend candidates to the governor for appointment and the governor will in turn send the name of his nominee to the National Judicial Council. If he sends two names to the NJC and both are recommended as suitable, as was done in this case, he has to take a decision first, before activating the process of confirmation by the State House of Assembly.

The case of Ikpeme J, has brought to light the inadequacies of the 1999 Constitution, which many are taking advantage of to perpetuate lawlessness and impunity. The legislative houses of the States are all under the control and manipulation of the governors, such that no meaningful debates or legislative activities go on in those hallowed chambers, except in a few States. By law, it was not yet time for Ikpeme J, to retire from the judicial service of Akwa Ibom State and by swearing in Eneji J, her junior, as the Acting Chief Judge at that it, it meant that Ikpeme J, would take directives from and be under the authority of Eneji J. Seniority is one of the most cherished traditions of the legal profession, both at the Bar and on the Bench. And this is why section 271 (4) of the Constitution was enacted to uphold this age-long tradition, by stating that ‘if the office of the Chief Judge of a State is vacant or if the person holding the office is for any reason unable to perform the functions of the office , then until a person has been appointed to and has assumed the functions of that office or until the person holding the office has resumed those functions, the Governor of the State shall appoint THE MOST SENIOR JUDGE of the High Court to perform those functions’ (emphasis supplied).

From the clear provisions of section 271(4), it cannot be in doubt that the intent of the drafters of the Constitution was to allow THE MOST SENIOR judge of the State to be the occupant of the office of the Chief Judge, once a vacancy occurs. Even in other establishments outside the judiciary, such as the military, whenever it is the desire to appoint a junior officer to the highest position, all his seniors and contemporaries have to be retired compulsorily, as it will be absurd to retain them in service and expect maximum loyalty. It was therefore a game of chess in Cross-River State, since neither Governor Ayade nor his cronies in the Cross-River State House of Assembly commenced any proceedings in compliance with section 292 (1) of the Constitution, to remove Ikpeme J, in any manner known to law, the consequence of which was that she would have to continue to function in office as the most senior judicial officer in Cross-River State until she retires, notwithstanding the painful experience of her unwarranted persecution.

When all entreaties on Governor Ayade to do the needful fell on deaf ears, some human rights activists, led by the ever-militant Welfare Secretary of the NBA, Comrade Kunle Edun, filed a suit before the Cross-River State High Court, for judicial interpretation and application of section 292 of the Constitution. The trial Court upheld the objection of the State challenging the locus standi of the plaintiffs in the suit and the appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed, whereupon a further appeal is now pending at the Supreme Court. Now, part of the lessons in this whole saga is for all citizens to be conscious to demand for their rights, anytime there is a breach or likelihood thereof. Even though the court case was dismissed, it is on record that Governor Ayade cannot claim that the issue was a walk over for him. Activists in Cross-River State, Comrade Agba Jalingo, human rights lawyers, Femi Falana, SAN, Monday Ubani, Inibehe Effiong and many others too numerous to mention, rallied support from across the nation, to resist the impunity of the executive governor, to trample upon the judiciary, with such flagrancy. But today, we are talking about heroes.

While his men were out there slugging it out with Governor Ayade, Mr. Olumide Akpata adopted the carrot and stick approach, by constructively engaging Governor Ayade, the NJC and all other stakeholders, for a common solution, which culminated into the swearing in ceremony of February 8 instant. The fundamental implication of this selfless effort is simply that a people united can never be defeated. Even if another judge had been sworn in as the Chief Judge of Cross-River State other than Ikpeme, J, it would still have been a struggle won, for the people of Cross-River State in particular and the Bar and Bench, in general. The other hero of this struggle is the rule of law, eloquently championed by the NJC, the human rights activists and the NBA. Given the physical location of the champions of this noble cause, traversing Warri, Lagos, Abuja and Calabar was certainly not a tea party, given the security situation in Nigeria, alone. Not to talk of the financial implications, in convening and attending several meetings, filing and prosecution of the court cases and the concomitant effect of all these on their private practice. This is why they deserve the applause of all men and women of good conscience, as the laudable example that they have set will remain an indelible reference point to guide us in similar cases in future, which honestly, no one prays for.

In it all, commendation also goes to Governor Ayade, for allowing wise counsel to prevail and for upholding the oath of office he took, to respect, observe, defend and enforce the Constitution, without ill will, fear or affection. That is the way it should be, as there is nothing personal in the appointment of the Chief Judge of a State, being a tenured office that is purely statutory in nature. Should His Excellency have persisted, in defiance of the Constitution, to retain his preferred candidate in office as Chief Judge, it would have been a dangerous precedent, which even the court, as the major casualty, was not readily available to upturn. It is an irony of sorts, that the institution being defended failed, at the appropriate time when given the opportunity, to rescue itself, clinging as it were, to the discarded theory of locus standi, which even courts in foreign jurisdictions, have jettisoned in favour of local fishermen against multinational oil companies. It is rather unfortunate.

The Cross-River State House of Assembly also acted in a matured fashion, in reversing itself concerning the swearing in of Ikpeme, J., ultimately. Members of the CRSHA have only all opted to defend the Constitution, to preserve our noble institutions and to allow the rule of law to prevail, over the rule of man. But all of these efforts would have gone unnoticed but for the media, which kept the matter in the public domain throughout. It is gratifying that the NBA President has also opened up discussions with Governor Ayade on the fate of Magistrates in Cross-River State, who have worked for about two years without payment of their salaries and allowances. That will be the icing on this beautiful struggle, when Governor Ayade would demonstrate uncommon statesmanship, by granting unconditional approval for the payment of all outstanding entitlements of all judicial officers, who have labored and toiled to sustain his administration.

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. The views expressed in this article are entirely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect

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NBA-SPIDEL ANNUAL CONFAB HOLDS FEB. 17

The popular Annual Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association Section on Public Interest and Development Law (NBA-SPIDEL) will hold between February 17 and 20, 2021 in the ancient city of Ibadan, Oyo State. The theme of the conference is “The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria.”

According to a statement made available to CITY LAWYER by the Planning Committee headed by fiery human rights activist and former NBA Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani, the conference will hold at the prestigious Jogor Centre, Off Liberty Road, Ibadan.

Below is the full text of the statement:

THE ANNUAL CONFERENCE OF SECTION OF PUBLIC INTEREST AND DEVELOPMENT LAW (SPIDEL) OF NBA 2021

The National Conference of Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL) is billed to hold between the 17th and 20th of February, 2021 at Ibadan in Oyo State.

Recall that the last Conference of the Section took place in Aba, Abia State and was a tremendous success as everyone that participated attested to the richness of the Conference that was clinically executed by the Chairman of the Section, Mr Paul Ananaba SAN and the Conference Planning Committee headed by Mr Chibuike Nwokeukwu SAN. Next year’s conference with the central theme of “The Role of Public Interest in Governance in Nigeria” promises to be an earthquaking event that will attract the creme de la creme of the noble profession and the political class in Nigeria.

The three day event will be enriching with various sub topics like “Public interest and the respect of the rights of citizens to protest against certain policies of government, The legality of Commission of Inquiry of the State Government over Police Brutality, Enforcement of Judgement that has become burdensome in our jurisprudence and the matter of Locus Standi in the light of the recent Supreme Court case of Centre for Oil Pollution Watch Vs NNPC amongst other topics.

The event taking place in the ancient city of Ibadan in the South West promises to be an experience every lawyer whose interest is geared towards serving the cause of the masses will treasure for a long time. The various speakers that will be Resource Persons for the Conference will include the best array of experts on Public interest litigation, top political decision makers and the shakers and movers of the Nigerian Economy.

The Conference shall be declared open by the hardworking Governor of Oyo State, His Excellency Mr. Seyi Makinde who has in his cabinet two active members of the Bar that were recently elevated to the rank of Silk. We are talking about the Chairman of the Local Conference Planning Committee, Mr Abiola Olagunju who is heading the State Independent Electoral Commission and Professor Oyelowo Oyewo (SAN designate), the current Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of the State. These two men will be pivotal for the successful hosting of the Conference next year in Oyo State.

The indomitable President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr Olumide Akpata, the Head of the Secretariat Mrs Joyce Oduah, and the entire National Officers, including the National Executive Committee of the Bar have expressed their support to the forthcoming conference that promises not to be forgotten in a hurry for a long to come in the annals of NBA. The following are the Chairman, Secretary and Members of the Conference Planning Committee that was approved by the National Executive Committee in a meeting held sometime in 2020. They are:

1. Mr. M. O. Ubani – Chairman (08033019746)
2. Mr. Israel Usman – Alternate Chairman,
3. Mr. Wole Jimi-Bada – Secretary
4. Mr. Abdul Fagge – Member
5. Mr Abiola Olagunju (SAN Designate) Chairman LOC
6. Ms Ada Nwafor – Member
7. Mr Adamu Barde – Member
8. Mr Kunle Adegoke (SAN Designate) – Member
9. Ms Agi Anne – Member
10.Ms Aisha Mohammed
11.Mr Ayo Ademuliyi Member
12.Mr Edmund Biriomoni – Member
13.Mr. Emeka Nwadioke – Member
14.Mr Frank Agbaedo – Member
15.Mr. G. R. Ayuba – Member
16. Mr Ibrahim – Member
17.Mr Kola Omotinugbon – Member
18.Ms. Nkem Agboti – Member
19.Dr. Paul Ebiala – Member
20.Mr President Aigbokhan – Member
21.Ms Princess Chukwuani – Member
22. Ms Queendaline Ubani – Member
23.Mr Stainislaus Mbaezue – Member
24.Mr Sylvester Udemezue – Member
25. Mr Chukwuka Ikwuazom (SAN Designate) – Member
26. Mr. Kunle Edun – Member
27. Ms Otti Edah – Member
28.Mr Osita Okoro – Member
29. Mr. Paul Ananaba SAN, Chairman of SPIDEL – Member.
30.Mr Aliyu Binali – Member
31.Mr Abdullahi Karaye – Member
32.Mr Umar Isa Sulaiman – Member
33.Chimezie Iroka – Member
34. Sunday Abednego – Member
35.Jesse Nwaenyo.
36. Okechukwu Barrah
37. Daniel Asomeji

Of interest is the venue of the Conference which is at palatial Jogor Centre, Off Liberty Road, Ibadan with a capacity for 3000 (Three thousand) persons. It is a well air-conditioned environment with a vast parking space for guests. Every lawyer with flair for public interest litigation should endeavour to be at Ibadan next year. Ibadan is one of the ancient cities in Nigeria with so many monumental sites, scenes and tasty meals for those who love their stomach. Mark your diary now, 17th to 20th of February, 2021. Details of Registration shall soon be published from the National Secretariat in Abuja. Let us make this conference one to treasure for a long time to come.

M. O. Ubani,
Chairman, Conference Planning Committee.

Wole Jimi-Bada
Secretary, Conference Planning Committee.

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$1.9 BN NIGER RAIL PROJECT: EX NBA CHIEF TAKES AMAECHI TO TASK

The controversy trailing the $1.9 Billion Nigeria-Niger rail project may not go away soon as former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani and Lagos lawyer, Mr. John Nwokwu have asked Transportation Minister, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi to provide them with details of the proposed project.

The request dated September 29, 2020 and addressed to Amaechi is coming under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI). The two lawyers stated that their demand for details of the rail project was premised on the need for transparency and accountability.

Some of the information sought by the duo include actual cost of the project, contract papers and the firm handling it, economic benefit of the project and where it is provided for in the 2020 Appropriation Act, including the source of  funding for the project.

They also requested to know the details of the deliberation and approval of such fund by the National Assembly.

The FOI letter signed by Joseph Igwe Esq. reads:

“Kindly provide the information to the best of your knowledge in the interest of transparency and openness which you have been at the vanguard.

“In a public statement credited to you, you did disclose to the media the award of contract for the development of the proposed Kano to Maradi rail line in Niger Republic.

“Sir, you are hereby specifically requested to make available to our clients or grant them access to: The actual contract cost of the rail line cutting across Kano state in Nigeria through Maradi in Niger Republic and the termination of the track length.

“The awarded contract document(s), name of the firm and procedure of
the award of the contract to the preferred firm.

“The detailed information on where it is provided for in the 2020
Appropriation Act and the source of the generation of the fund for the
contract.

“The details of the deliberation and approval of such fund and rail project
by the National Assembly.

“The detailed economic benefit of the rail line project from Nigeria
through Niger Republic to the generality of the Nigerian populace.

“However, if you think that another agency of the Government has
greater interest in the information requested for, you are obliged under
Section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act 2011 to transfer this request
to the other agency within 3 days, howbeit not later than 7 days of
receiving this request.

“Our clients shall pay the necessary fees for the information. Be notified
that if you fail to provide the above information within the period
stipulated by law we shall proceed against you in accordance with the
provisions of the law.

“We have no doubt that you will accede to this request in the interest of the Nation you are serving meritoriously,” the letter concluded.

Ubani told a newspaper (not CITY LAWYER) that he would “feel personally sad if Amaechi fails, refuses or neglects to respond to the request.” He stated that he may head to court to compel Amaechi to provide the information if he fails to do so voluntarily.

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.

CONTROVERSY, AS JUDICIAL BODY SHUNS NBA, APPOINTS SCRIBE

Barring any last-minute hitches, the Secretary of Nigeria’s Body of Benchers, Hajia Sadiya Turaki will tomorrow assume duties as the new scribe of the influential Federal Judicial Service Commission (FJSC).

Multiple and unimpeachable sources told CITY LAWYER that Turaki has been appointed by the commission chaired by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad as the new Secretary to replace Mr. Bassey E. Bassey who retired on September 23, 2020.

Turaki’s appointment is coming on the heels of allegations that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) may have been shut out of the appointment process, contrary to the provisions of Section 153(2) and 154(1) of the 1999 Constitution as well as Paragraph 12 Part 1 of the Third Schedule to 1999 Constitution. 

While Paragraph 12 (6) Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution stipulates that the membership composition of the FJSC shall include “Two persons, each of whom has been qualified to practice as a Legal Practitioner in Nigeria for a period of not less than fifteen years, from a list of not less than four persons so qualified and recommended by the Nigerian Bar Association,” CITY LAWYER gathered from impeccable sources that NBA has not participated in the decision-making process of the commission for over two years since the tenure of its former representatives ended.

Paragraph 13(c), Part 1 of the Third Schedule to the 1999 Constitution empowers the commission to “Appoint, dismiss and exercise disciplinary control over the Chief Registrars and Deputy Chief Registrars of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal, the Federal High Court, the National Industrial Court and all other members of the staff of the Judicial Service of the Federation not otherwise specified in this Constitution and of the Federal Judicial Service Commission.”

CITY LAWYER investigation shows that the last set of NBA representatives at the commission were Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro SAN and Hajia Fatima Kwaku (MFR) whose names were forwarded by then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar to former President Goodluck Jonathan for transmission to the Senate for confirmation. Their five-year tenure ended on 3rd July, 2018.

A source who is familiar with the matter told CITY LAWYER that though the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN made spirited efforts to ensure NBA’s representation at the commission, such efforts did not yield fruits. The source stated that though Usoro had on at least three occasions submitted the list of NBA nominees to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, there are strong indications that the list was not transmitted to the Senate through the President for approval. CITY LAWYER also gathered from unimpeachable sources that the names of two NBA nominees are still currently pending at the all-important commission.

Though CITY LAWYER sought the views of NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata on the development through a short messaging service and WhatsApp message to his verified telephone number, he promised that “I will call you back shortly” but was yet to do so at press time. 

Aside from NBA representatives, the commission’s membership comprises of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, who shall be the Chairman; President of the Court of Appeal; Attorney-General of the Federation; Chief Judge of the Federal High Court; President of the National Industrial Court, and “Two other persons, not being Legal Practitioners, who in the opinion of the President are of unquestionable integrity.” The non-lawyers are Senator Abba Ali and Malam Mohammed Sagir. However, only NBA is currently unrepresented in the 9-member commission.

The commission’s Secretary doubles as its Chief Executive and Accounting Officer.

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.

‘WE MUST PROTECT, PROJECT RULE OF LAW,’ – ALEX MUOKA

The Rule of Law is sacrosanct in any democratic Society. Consequently, it must be protected and projected at all times. The entrenchment of the Rule of Law in Nigeria is in our interest because the Law and legal practitioners can only thrive where the Rule of Law thrives.

It is instructive that the motto of the Nigerian Bar Association is “Promoting the Rule of Law”. In line with this, the very first aim and objective of our great Association is the “Maintenance and defence of the integrity and independence of the Bar and the Judiciary in Nigeria”, and many of the other objects speak to the role of the Association in promoting the efficient administration of justice, law reform, legal aid and access to courts, and respect for fundamental rights.

The NBA is widely regarded as the premier non-state actor in the constant battle for the promotion of the rule of law, and it is important in 2020 to put forward a bar leadership that will help to restore our pride of place as ‘the bastion of hope for the common man’. I propose to ensure this by working with the NBA President, national officers and other stakeholders to:

a) Ensure that the Rule of Law is upheld by State actors;

b) Champion public interest litigation to protect the rights of citizens and members from abuse;

c) Support the advocacy for implementation of fiscal independence for the Nigeria judiciary;

d) Liaise with the judiciary and offer support to facilitate the efficient administration of justice in Nigeria;

e) Sensitize lawyers and the general public by organizing workshops, conferences and summits on human rights and the rule of law;

f) Offer leadership and a focal rallying point to all Nigerians and relevant institutions in defending and expanding the frontiers of the Rule of Law;

g) Strengthen the Pro Bono and legal aid programmes of the NBA to make their impact felt (especially) by indigent members of the society; and

h) Propose a “legislative desk” for the NBA at the National Assembly which shall be saddled with the task of legislative advocacy, monitoring and liaising with the law makers in the task of enacting laws.

The NBA must live up to its name and reputation, and I will like to play my part. If you elect me as General Secretary of the NBA, I Pledge to serve with the passion, integrity and efficiency for which I am well known, and to pursue this and five (5) other Core Pursuits which I have elaborated on in MY MANIFESTO to deliver a ‘Fit For Purpose’ Bar Secretariat. My Profile and Manifesto have been uploaded by the ECNBA and can be viewed at (or downloaded from) https://nigerianbar.org.ng/node/257.

I will place my time, energy, talents, experience and resources at the disposal of the Bar for the next two years, and offer the kind of premium stewardship which the Bar definitely needs at this time. The Bar needs a great scribe. I have been tried, tested and adjudged to be one.

I seek your mandate. Let’s do this together.

Alexander Nduka MUOKA
Candidate for General Secretary of the NBA

ELECTORAL C’TE SETTLES FOR NBA WEBSITE AS VOTING PORTAL

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

The Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) may have resolved to deploy the NBA website as the voting portal for the forthcoming National Officers Elections.

An indication to this effect was given today by the NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary, Mr. Akorede Habeeb Lawal while responding to concerns raised by lawyers on a CITY LAWYER whatsapp platform.

This may have laid to rest speculations on whether the newly built NBA Election Portal will be deployed by the Electoral Committee for the elections.

While one Osa Akpata had expressed worry over the challenges being encountered by lawyers in the verification exercise, Lawal said that the verification process was not commenced with the elections in mind. His words: “Although the ECNBA has chosen to conduct the election on the NBA membership portal, the verification exercise was not commenced primarily because of election. And we will not compromise its essence on the altar of politics. Verification takes some time and that time is used to ensure from the backend that the applicant for verification is indeed the owner of the bar certificate he/she uploads. It is far beyond the election – greater than politics.”

Debunking the charge that the verification process is “flawed,” the NBA publicist said: “No one who had been verified would state that the process was flawed. A lot of members got verified and paid their BPF during the lockdown in March. And there was no complaint about the process.

“We also have to acknowledge that not all of us are versatile with the use of technology and as such, while others have a seamless verification exercise, some have troubles with it. It is for this reason that we’ve set up a help desk in this respect. Members with issues may and indeed have been reaching out to me and other national officers. I can be reached through this WhatsApp line.

“While not holding the brief of the ECNBA, the Chairman of the Committee has stated number without times that no eligible voter will be disenfranchised. If you cannot trust them, then, at least you give them the benefit of doubt.”
On the controversy surrounding some strange names found on the final voters register, Lawal said: “We have no non-living things/duplicated names on the verified list. With respect, you are confusing the voters list with a verified list. In fact, there is no such thing as a verified list.”

Akpata had raised concerns on duplicated names on the voters’ register, adding that this may adversely impact the outcome of the election. She said: “The process is fraught with flaws; we have non-living objects on the verified list, we have names duplicated, we are days to the election and we have tons of lawyers who have not been verified due to the onerous and flawed online process.

“I’ve been trying to assist a colleague to verify for over a week with no success, how you can disenfranchise Lawyers who have paid their Practising fees and Branch Dues as required by the NBA out of no failure on their part simply because of the very flawed process. If we do not trust the process, how do we trust the outcome?”

Another lawyer, Favour Hart however agreed with Lawal, saying: “May I humbly align myself with your position. The process for verification on the NBA Portal might take a while but it doesn’t mean you’d not get any response from them. All those I’ve helped with verification have been successful! Agreed, the back and forth might be frustrating but that doesn’t meant (sic) it’s fraught with flaws. We need to leave politics aside when making some comments.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that ECNBA Chairman, Mr. Tawo Tawo SAN had in a statement noted that the NBA had developed an Election Portal, adding however that its deployment would depend on the advice of an information technology expert. His words: “There is no gainsaying that the success of the elections would depend to a large extent on the electronic or IT platform that would be deployed for the election. The need to procure such a platform has been a priority. The Committee was briefed that the NBA has its own e-voting platform/portal for elections developed by TAVIA, an IT firm. TAVIA was invited to brief the Committee in conjunction with the NBA IT Officer Umar Gezawa, on the said NBA election platform/portal.

“Further to the said briefing, the ECNBA decided that in spite of the advantages of such a portal, exploring the use of other viable e-voting platforms if necessary is not foreclosed. As such there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant that would examine the NBA portal and critique same, its integrity, functionality and suitability or otherwise for the purpose of the elections as well as advise on other options. The Consultant would also be required to identify avenues for possible threats, and advise on how to contain same. Other issues to be addressed include the training of staff and all those associated with handling any part of the e-voting process by the consultant. They would be expected to verify electronically, the votes cast at the end of the exercise. Notwithstanding the above, the platform or portal to deploy for the election by the ECNBA would largely be dependent on the advice and report of the IT Consultant.”

Clarifying some controversy surrounding the NBA Election Portal, Tawo told a national newspaper that the portal was not designed to rig the forthcoming election. His said: “I did not say the e-voting platform/portal was developed specifically for the 2020 elections, and neither did I say anything that should warrant an inference that the NBA developed platform was created for the purpose of rigging the elections, far from it. It may be of interest to point out that, the IT firm, TAVIA, that developed the NBA election portal/platform, is not conducting the e-voting election for the NBA; rather another IT consultant will do that. I went further in that statement to state that, in spite of the obvious advantages of the NBA portal, namely reduction in cost and security of members data vis- a-vis deployment of another election platform or portal, there was the need to engage an independent IT Consultant to analyse, assess and critique the portal as to its integrity, functionality and suitability for the elections, or otherwise advice on other options.”

Arguing that there is wisdom in having a permanent NBA Election Portal, the Electoral Committee chairman said: “Having said that, what is wrong for an organisation that conducts a crucial election biannually to develop an election portal for use for its elections, rather than every two years an IT firm is commissioned or contracted to develop an election portal for the election, and discard same afterwards?”

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.

FIDA LAGOS LAUNCHES PDSS PROJECT

The International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) Nigeria, Lagos State Branch has launched its Police Duty Solicitors Scheme (PDSS). The event took place during the weekend at the FIDA Lagos headquarters at Makoko, Lagos.

Speaking on the rationale for the scheme, the Chairperson of FIDA Lagos Branch, Mrs. Philomena Nneji said it was aimed to assist indigent persons who come in contact with the law, adding that special focus will be placed on protection of women and girls against rape and sexual assault.

Tracing the history of PDSS in Nigeria, the Lagos State Coordinator of Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACoN), Mrs. Iyabo Akingbade stated that approximately 70 per cent of total prisoners are awaiting trial detainees. She identified multiple adjournments as a major handicap in pre-trial detention, adding that State prosecutors charged with ensuring due process in criminal arraignments lack mechanisms to monitor or control the police.

“There are instances where detainees are held longer in pre-trial detention than would have been the case if they had been convicted for the offence charged,” Akingbade said, adding that duty solicitors are meant to “stand in the gap” and resolve many of the cases to reduce judges’ dockets.

On his part, Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch PDSS programme, Mr. Emeka Nwadioke commended FIDA Lagos for the initiative, noting that there is a need to boost the provision of legal assistance to indigent persons. He however canvassed the need for an “urgent review of the PDSS framework in view of the fact persisting overhang in pre-trial detention.”

Former Chairman of NBA Ikorodu Branch, Mr. Adebayo Akinlade traced the implementation of the PDSS programme in the Ikorodu area, adding that the scheme posted several successes under his leadership. He urged the chapter to ensure that the scheme is sustained in order to foster access to justice for more citizens.

A senior officer with the Legal Department of the Nigerian Police Force, State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Lagos, Ibijoke Akinpelu spoke on the modalities put in place by the force to tackle rape and sexual offences among other crimes. She pledged the cooperation of the force with FIDA Lagos in carrying out its PDSS project. She also took questions from Makoko residents and duty solicitors during the interactive session.

Following the formal unveiling of the scheme, the chapter bestowed an award on Akinlade for his contributions to the growth of the duty solicitors’ scheme.

Other stakeholders who attended the launch are Mrs. Felicitas Aigbogun-Brai, Executive Director of REPLACE as well as a representative of the Chairman of Yaba Local Council Development Authority (LCDA), Kayode Omiyale. Members of the chapter held a legal clinic on the sidelines of the launch to offer legal counseling to some Makoko residents who attended the launch under the programme.

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.