AKPATA DISOWNS ATTACKS ON POLITICAL OPPONENTS

Nigerian Bar Association President-elect, Mr. Olumide Akpata has warned his supporters to desist from lampooning opponents while celebrating his victory at the poll.

In a post trending on social media, Akpata chided “my supporters who have unnecessarily targeted and excoriated our colleagues for no just cause,” and warned that such attitude would detract from his quest to forge a united Bar. He noted that “a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.”

It is recalled that some senior lawyers have expressed worry at what they perceive as disrespect from juniors in relation to the recent NBA Elections. Fiery longstanding NBA Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has penned several statements on the subject, even as CITY LAWYER yesterday reported a searing indictment of erstwhile NBA presidential candidate, Mr. Dele Adesina SAN by Akpata’s accredited agent at the elections, Mr. Aderemi Oguntoye.

The full text of Akpata’s statement is below.

Dear Colleagues,

In the last few days, I have observed with concern the rising tide of social media vitriol by a few lawyers believed to be my supporters who have unnecessarily targeted and excoriated our colleagues for no just cause. Whilst I deeply appreciate everyone who contributed to my emergence as President-elect of the NBA, I do not subscribe to showing disrespect to other people because they did not support my candidacy. Ours is a noble profession that prides itself on the high sense of discipline, learning, respect for seniority and character for which its members are reputed.

The mandate that I have from Nigerian lawyers is to work for ALL members of the Bar irrespective of who they voted for in the just concluded elections. In my acceptance speech, I made the obvious point that there is so much work to be done to revitalise our Bar and make it work for everyone without discrimination. This enormous task cannot be achieved if we continue to fan the embers of division at a time when we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice.

I therefore use this medium to appeal to our colleagues (both junior and senior) who supported me to show respect to seniors and peers whilst celebrating last week’s electoral victory. We must be kind, magnanimous, respectful and sensitive by our words and actions. This is because doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable Bar. The electioneering season is far behind us. Now is the time to come together because a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.

I leave you with the words of the legendary Henry Ford who said: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

If we truly want to make progress and ultimately succeed as a Bar, then we have a responsibility to show respect to one another and stay together as one. The time to do this is now.
Olumide Akpata

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‘NBA ELECTION WAS RIGGED,’ SAYS OKUTEPA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

• ‘NBA LEADERSHIP TOOK LAWYERS TO SLAUGHTER SLAB’

Longstanding Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Chief Prosecutor at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN at the weekend took a hard look at the just concluded NBA Elections and declared that it was rigged.

In a reaction made available exclusively to CITY LAWYER, the fiery senior lawyer and staunch supporter of the candidacy of Mr. Dele Adesina SAN said: “But let me tell you as I had said before that this election will be rigged and it has been rigged.”

He accused the NBA leadership of taking lawyers for granted and being secretive about the process, saying: “As lawyers we were led to the slaughter slab and we followed blindly.”

Reviewing the election, Okutepa said: “What other reaction do I have than to keep calm and see what the leadership that has been foisted on the Bar will do in the next two years.

“We are degenerating in integrity and honesty in the legal profession in geometric proportions. The Bar is divided now. The house we have is on shaking grounds. But let me tell you as I had said before that this election will be rigged and it has been rigged.

“The fragrant breach of NBA constitution is legendary in this election. The processes leading to this election were product of constitutional iniquities. The leadership of the Bar took everyone for granted and did what it did in the most secret manner. As lawyers we were led to the slaughter slab and we followed blindly.

“Misconduct was not punished. But we need to make examples of those who are dragging the nobility of this profession to the muds. Indiscipline is being celebrated and we think that is part of freedom. I weep for the legal profession.

“Many young lawyers are busy happy abusing the elders and they are happy doing it. But we all were once young lawyers. The nobility of the legal profession is in respect for the ethics and etiquette of the profession. But that is far gone now in our profession.”

Continuing, the Bar Leader said: “The days cometh when this once noble profession will bounce back in glory. That is when the rots in the profession will be addressed,” adding that those who “won” should be “kind enough to interrogate the processes that threw them on the Bar.” He warned that those who “lost” must not be “mocked,” saying: “For me there is nothing new. I had said before that we will see what we have now.”

Okutepa had told CITY LAWYER before the elections that “I do not see what we will do differently when the rigging that characterized the last election was not addressed.” Hinting that the election managers may tow a pre-determined line, Okutepa said: “Those who have the capacity to appoint the service providers will not heed any suggestions.” Asked the way forward, he said: “Until the Bar and its leadership decide to be honest and transparent with our electoral processes no suggestion will matter.”

It is recalled that Mr. Olumide Akpata was declared winner of the keenly contested presidential election. According to the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), Akpata polled 9,891 or 54.3 per cent votes to beat his closest rival, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade SAN who garnered 4,328 (23.8 per cent) votes. Adesina polled 3,982 votes (21.9 per cent) to bring up the rear. Adesina had a few hours to the end of the election demanded cancellation of the poll, saying it was fraught with irregularities. The election was held via ELECTIONBUDDY, an electronic voting software deployed by Edmonton, Canada based firm.

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.

OKUTEPA: ‘2020 NBA ELECTION IS DOOMED IF …’

Fiery Bar Leader and longstanding Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Chief Prosecutor at the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has predicted that the forthcoming Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) election is doomed to fail if certain challenges remain unresolved.

In an interview with CITY LAWYER, the rags-to-riches senior lawyer warned that unless the allegations that beset previous Bar elections are fully resolved, lawyers should not expect free and fair NBA elections. Continue Reading

OSUN ELECTION: OKUTEPA CARPETS OZEKHOME, BACKS INEC

Former Nigerian Bar Association Chief Prosecutor, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa SAN has disagreed with fiery constitutional lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN on the declaration of the Osun State  Governorship Election as “inconclusive.”

Throwing his weight behind the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Okutepa said there is a Supreme Court decision to support INEC’s position on the matter.

Ozekhome had argued that “There is no basis whatsoever, whether in law, constitutionalism, or morality, to have declared the election inconclusive.”

But Okutepa thinks otherwise. The full statement is below:

As the legality of the action of INEC to declare the result of governorship election in Osun State inconclusive is ranging on and generating legal controversies, it is necessary I point out here that this is not the first time INEC has done so and had judicial approval even at the highest court of the land.

I was deeply involved in the case of Hon James Abiodun Faleke vs INEC and others.

In that case Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN led me and other eminent senior counsel to argue that the reliance by INEC on its manual for election was unconstitutional because the constitution has already set out the parameters on how and when a governor should be declared elected in Nigeria.

We argued that as at the time INEC declared the result of Kogi State election for governorship inconclusive late Prince Abubakar Audu and Hon Faleke had won the required spread and majority of lawful votes. There was no necessity we argued for the re-run in the polling units whose results or elections were cancelled.

We further made the point that since election is to be done by those who have their permanent voters cards, reference to people on the register of voters was wrong because there was evidence that not all those whose names were on the voters register collected their PVCs.

The trial tribunal, the court of Appeal and the Supreme court did not agree with us.

This is what the Supreme court said as quoted by my learned friend Sylvester Udemezue Esq in a response to Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN position which contend otherwise.

The Supreme Court said this:
“The relevance of INEC’s Manual for Electoral Officers in the proper conduct of elections was acknowledged by this Court in the case of C.P.C Vs INEC (2011) LPELR  8257 (SC) AT PAGES 54 & 55 F – B per Adekeye, JSC thus:
“By force of law the Independent National Electoral Commission has the duty of conducting elections. Besides the constitutional provisions, it is guided by the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and the Election Guidelines and Manual issued for its officials in accordance with the Act. These documents embody all steps to comply with in the conduct of a free, fair and hitch free election.” (Emphasis mine).

“Having discovered electoral malpractices in 91 polling units in the State, it was proper for the 1st respondent to consult and apply the provisions of its Manual to determine the next course of action in the circumstances.

“I do not agree with Chief Olanipekun, SAN, with due respect that resort to its manual in the circumstances amounted to a flagrant disregard of the supremacy of the constitutional provisions as contained in Section 179(2).

“Chapter 3 paragraph 3.11, step 14 of the Manual for Election Officials (updated version) at page 325 of Volume 1 of the record provides:
3.11: Final Collation and Declaration of Governorship Election Results at State Level: The State Collation/Returning Officer for the Governorship shall:
Step 14: ‘Where the margin of win between the two leading candidates is not in excess of the total number of registered voters of the polling unit(s) where elections were cancelled or not held, decline to make a return until another poll has taken place in the affected polling unit(s) and the results incorporated into a new Form EC8D and subsequently recorded into a new form EC8E for Declaration and Return.’ (Emphasis mine)

“The provision is clear and straight forward and did not require a foray into any other provisions in the Manual for it to be effected. There is no dispute as to the fact that the margin between the votes scored by the late Prince Audu and the appellant on the one hand and Capt. Wada and Arch. Awoniyi, on the other was 41,619, which was less than the total number of registered voters in the 91 polling units where votes were cancelled.

“I therefore agree with the court below that the 1st respondent was correct to have declared the election inconclusive on the basis of the number of registered voters in the 91 affected polling units. Having regard to the clear provisions of the Election Manual, it would have been wrong for any electoral official to base his decision on any other consideration”

I think as lawyers our duty is to educate the people and avoid commentary that tend to hit up the polity.

Unless we approach the Supreme court to over rule itself, what INEC did in Osun State is within its powers to do.

I therefore suggest that politicians should get set to go and do the rescheduled re-run in those polling units on 27th September 2018 to determine the winner of the election.

 

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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.

PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURATION: Usoro, Obi Okafor Camps in Cat and Mouse Game

* Inauguration Venue Uncertain

* ‘We will not storm the venue’ – Okutepa

* Defendants May be Cited for Contempt of Court

There are strong indications that the camp of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President-elect, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN may have engaged in a hirewire cat-and-mouse game to forestall any last-ditch moves by defeated NBA presidential candidate, Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN to truncate the inauguration ceremony scheduled for today. Continue Reading