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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the said meeting I raised the issue that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conscience is an open wound, only truth heals it.

A word is enough for the wise!

Monday O. Ubani Esq,

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UNION CRISIS: UBANI GETS INDUSTRIAL COURT JOB

The President of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria, Justice Benedict Kanyip has appointed former Nigerian Bar Association Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani as a Public Trustee to administer the affairs of Nigeria’s oldest industrial union, Nigeria Civil Service Union following the nullification of the union’s January 2018 National Delegates Conference.

Though one Comrade Lawrence Amaechi was purportedly elected at the conference, the election was set aside as being in contravention of a valid court order that status quo be maintained pending the determination of a substantive suit on the matter.

CITY LAWYER gathered that though Ubani’s initial attempt to resume duty this January was frustrated by the said Comrade Amaechi’s led Executive, this was reversed on 29th January, 2021 when the appointment was enforced by the Public Trustee with the support of the Court and the Nigerian Police.

The appointment letter from the Industrial Court, dated 29th of December, 2020 stated that Mr Ubani’s appointment is sequel to the Order contained in the judgement delivered on the 25th October, 2019 by Justice Sanusi Kado of the Abuja Judicial Division of the National Industrial Court in the suit between Comrade Benson Ekasa and 1 other v. Comrade Kiri Mohammed (then National President of the Union).

The letter reads: “Pursuant to Section 19(c) of the National Industrial Court Act, 2006; Order 59 of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria(Civil Procedure) Rule, 2017 and the Order contained in the judgement delivered on the 25th October, 2019 by His Lordship Hon Justice Sanusi Kado, in the above subject matter suit, I hereby appoint you, Monday O. Ubani Esq, as the Public Trustee for the Nigeria Civil Service Union(hereinafter referred to as the “Union” for an initial period of three (3) months, effective from the date of your acceptance of the appointment, on the following terms:

1. To oversee and superintend the running of the administration and finances of the Union.
2. To convene National Delegates Conference of the National Civil Service Union and organise election to elect new executive members in line with the constitution of the Union.
3. To render account of your activities within the above specified period in a report to be forwarded to the Court immediately after the expiration of the tenure.
4. To forward a copy of the report to the Honourable Minister of Labour.
5. In the event that you are not able to conclude your assignment within the three months period stated above, you may apply for re-appointment for another three months. In this event, you shall be requested to provide satisfactory reasons why you may be so re-appointed.”

Ubani has now received the commitment of the various Heads of the staff who are running the administration before his appointment. They all promised to support the Public Trustee to succeed in the onerous task that is placed before him.

The appointment of a Public Trustee by the Industrial Court is to enable him conduct free, fair election and enthrone a leadership that is acceptable to all and sundry including restoring sanity and stability to the operations of the union. 

Mr Ubani has since paid a visit to the Ministry of Labour and Employment where he met with the Minister of State for Labour & Productivity, Mr. Festus Keyamo SAN and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Dr. Yerima Tarfa to intimate them of his appointment by the Court. He has also submitted his letter of notification and acceptance to the Minister, Dr. Chris Ngige.

LAGOS LAND GRAB: ‘MY LIFE IN DANGER,’ CRIES EX NBA VP

• ASKS GOV. SANWO-OLU TO INTERVENE
• ACCUSES LAGOS AGENCIES OF AIDING LAND GRABBERS

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has expressed concern over his safety following attempts by alleged land grabbers to take-over his client’s property.

In an SOS to Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the fiery human rights activist alleged that there are frenzied attempts by some land grabbers to use Lagos State Government agencies to take over the property, urging Sanwo-Olu to intervene in the matter.

He said in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER that one “Engr. Ariori,” an alleged land grabber, boasted that “they” not only “installed” the present government in Lagos State, but that they “killed a popular doctor that stood (in) their way” concerning an adjoining land.

Said Ubani: “At the police station Engr Ariori boasted to me how powerful he is and how they installed this present government and will use them to take over that land from me. He even implicated himself while talking to me at the Police Station how they killed a popular doctor that stood their way over the opposite land in the estate. I do not know whether he was serious about this claim or he was trying to use that to scare me. I have petitioned Area F over threat to my life after that story.”

Below is the full text of the statement.

UPDATE ON THE LAND GRABBING EPISODE BY LAGOS STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES ON NO 1 FOLURUNSHO KUKU STREET, OFF OPEBI VILLAGE.

On the 31st of December, 2020 I raised alarm and sought the help of Nigerians to reach His Excellency Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu over an unbridled attempt by the agencies of Lagos State Government to disposses a private citizen of his land he acquired legitimately and had been in possession for over 20 years with a certificate of occupancy of about 31 years. My Nigerian brothers and sisters, especially those of my friends who are close to the governor reached out to him with my pathetic cry for help. Dutifully and as a listening governor, His Excellency immediately ordered many of his aides especially the Commissioners to investigate the story including the wanton destruction of a place popularly called ‘Monkey Village’ which is close to the land in question.

Some of these aides some of who I know personally and have relationship with, have reached out to me and I have supplied some information and promised to give fuller details of the land matter in question upon resumption from my short holiday I took outside the State.

Despite the fact that I have received very vital information from numerous sources of how and who instigated the operation, I decided to keep quiet until I see what the State Government is up to with this land in question. I know how lawless we can be in this part of this world but I also know that there is always a limitation to state of anomie in our country, especially over certain matters that are very clear, unambiguous and straightforward.

However the various Press Releases and denials by the various Ministries that were clearly implicated and involved in the land grabbing scandal is becoming provoking that I feel compelled to cry out once again as there clear ominous signs in place that there is a larger sinister motive by these State officials over this land grabbing episode which the governor of the State may not be aware of.

As at yesterday, Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Environment have denied knowledge of the invasion, destruction and towing of the vehicles from the site to Alausa even when there is evidence that the “Notice to Remove” the vehicles was pasted by the Ministry of Transport and the said vehicles were towed to the Ministry of Transport Premises where the Mechanics who are legitimate tenants on the premises were asked to pay some amount of money before they can secure the release of their vehicles. So if Ministry of Transport is claiming not to have knowledge of the invasion, destruction of the site and towing of the vans to Alausa, the question will be what are the towed vehicles doing on their premises in Alausa? Who towed them there?

Today I read the Press Release of the Ministry of Physical Planning owning up to the invasion, destruction of the fences and structures on site and taking over of the property in question. They made several claims among which is that they acted on an approval by the Ministry of Justice of a faceless and nameless petition written to Special Task Force on Land Grabbers in Lagos State.

Secondly, they alleged clearing the site of shanties used for criminal activities and of mechanics who are constituting a nuisance to the neighbourhood. The site in question is completely fenced with a high gate. No one can see the mechanics(tenants) from outside unless, the gate is opened for you. No alleged criminals are harboured in an environment that is completely fenced off and have legitimate tenants that are known to the land owner.

They also allege breach of planning laws. The decent question will be which planning laws was breached? Assuming but not conceding that there is alleged breach, where is the Notice of any breach of the alleged planning laws by the owner of the property from the Ministry of Physical Planning before now? Are they saying that the “Notice to Remove” cars within 48 hours issued by Ministry of Transport has now become the Notice of breach of Planning laws of the State warranting invasion and taking over of a private property by them?

The second critical question will be which petition was written to the Special TaskForce on Land Grabbers and who were the writers of the petition? Could the writers be the same persons who invaded the same land few months ago and were sued with an injunction, and who up till now have refused to respond to the legal suit? Can we be availed of the petition and approval by the Ministry of Justice to take over a private land by the said Special Task Force on Land Grabbers?

Further and better question will be whether someone who has a certificate of occupancy over his land with effective occupation including payment of Land Charges up to date can be termed a Land Grabber of his own property in LAGOS STATE?

As at the evening of the invasion and destruction of the structures including the fences on the property on the 31st of December, 2020, the information at my disposal which I have even confirmed from Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers Unit in the Ministry of Justice is that they are the ones that led the operation to the land as a result of a complaint by the persons who purportedly obtained the Supreme Court judgement. The “beneficiaries” of the judgement were said to have alleged that they have executed the said judgement many years ago but that some people have repossessed the land and so they came to enforce the judgemrnt on their behalf.

It is confirmed to me that when the governor demanded explanation about the invasion, he was told by a high ranking officer of the Ministry of Justice that it was an enforcement of judgement that was carried out by the Ministry of Justice on behalf of the beneficiaries. At least the Press Release of Ministry of Physical Planning has further corroborated this fact.

What compounds all these stories and denials that are being spewed here and there is the questionable role of one Engr Omotosho who allegedly led the Government Officials to the site for the operation. Who is Engr Omotosho? Is he in which Ministry presently? Is he in the Ministry of Physical Planning or Ministry of Justice that have owned up being the Ministries that engaged in this illegal invasion and locking up a private property that has a certificate of occupancy given by the same Lagos State Government? He was alleged to be the one that led the operation of 31st December, 2020. Who is him in all this plans to take over this property?

Why these questions are germane is because a lawyer who was representing the family at the police station when the family first invaded the land some months ago sent me a text this evening informing me that the family has terminated the contract of one Engr Abiodun Ariori whom they contracted to help grab the land from my client at that time. The said Engr Ariori whom I sued along with others, according to him is no longer acting for the family.

My conjecture from this information is that they have contracted this Engr Omotosho who perhaps is more “powerful” and more “connected” to be their consultant for the “recovery of the land” . The intimidating and frightening mobilisation of men and materials for the destruction of the site and its environs can only be the work of a very “powerful”, “fearless”, “tough”, “intimidating consultant and contractor” who are part of the people that own and determine what happens and who can own anything in Lagos State!

PLEASE KEEP THESE FACTS IN PERSPECTIVES.

1. The Land has a certificate of occupancy of over 30 years. The owner of the property has fenced the property round with gate and has been in effective occupation with tenants, tenancy agreement of over 20 years and evidence of payment of Land Use Charge up to date.

2. Some land grabbers led by one Engr Abiodun Ariori led the invasion of the land some months ago and he is not a member of the family but hired by the family because they know his antecedent in “this business”, and they claimed they have a supreme Court judgement which was delivered over 25 years ago.

3. They refused to use court bailiffs to enforce the said judgement but illegal mopol and thugs and now Special TaskForce on Land Grabbers after many years of having obtained the said supreme Court judgement.

4. At the Police station, they tendered warrant of possession that showed an address different from the present land in dispute. They also tendered several survey plans different from the one used in the case at the High Court.

5. When I sued them at the High Court to come and prove the validity of the supreme Court judgement with regards to the land in question, they declined appearance and defence up till date.

6. The High at Court Ikeja granted an injunction against them and they were served, yet they refused to respond or file any response till date.

7. At the police station Engr Ariori boasted to me how powerful he is and how they installed this present government and will use them to take over that land from me. He even implicated himself while talking to me at the Police Station how they killed a popular doctor that stood their way over the opposite land in the estate. I do not know whether he was serious about this claim or he was trying to use that to scare me. I have petitioned Area F over threat to my life after that story.

In one meeting before the police, Mr Ariori even said that my client was dead but was reprimanded by the officer from the IG Monitoring Unit whom they brought from Abuja to come and meddle into the land matter. Those ones withdrew from the matter when they discovered their inconsistencies and moreover the matter was already in court.

8. Worthy of note is the desperation of this group of people when they invaded the land by bringing surveyors from God knows where to come and start re-surveying the land. It was shocking because this is the land they said they had judgement on. Why re-survey a land you purportedly have judgement on? That to me was the turning point in my belief that these men are just unfortunate land grabbers using raw power to take by force what does not belong them.

9. Despite the court injunction, they did not stop parading the land regularly and threatening the tenants therein that they should remove their cars as they will start work on the property very soon on the property. I have a video of when they first invaded the land and had started to commence building until I was able to stop them using the police and the law court.

10. Before this invasion, destruction and locking up of a private property with an inscription on the wall that it is in respect of an unknown judgement, Ministry of Transport pasted a “notice of removal” of vehicles on the site within 48 hours. I raised an alarm and called on the Commissioner of Transport who denied knowledge of the Notice. Their press release still say so, however I have stated it earlier that the vehicles at the site were towed to Ministry of Transport Premises at Alausa with an instruction to the mechanics from the said Ministry officials to collect their vehicles on payment of fees.

11. Special TaskForce Unit in the Ministry of Justice signed a document which was sent to the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State that the Unit was the one involved in the operation of the 31st of December 2020 in enforcement of judgement of the said Supreme court.

12. The police that I sent to the site on the day in question interviewed the people demolishing structures on the land and taking over possession, and they informed the police that they are from the Enforcement Unit in the Governor’s office. I have the video of the confirmation of where they said they came from.

13. The Ministry of Physical Planning is now claiming to be the Ministry that carried out the invasion, demolition and towing of the vans that were on the site on the grounds of approval from the Ministry of Justice and breach of an unknown planning laws without any prior notice of such breach to the owner.

14. Presently Area Boys and thugs have taken over site and some hanging around the site smoking dangerous weeds day and night, keeping vigil on the property with intention to have commenced building on the site the following day after the invasion but for my cry and shout that got the godly attention of His Excellency Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu who i believe will give me a listening ear over this matter that his officials want to use to embarrass him and the Centre of Excellence.

MY PRAYERS:

1. That His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State should not allow these desperate land grabbers to start any work on that site as that will mean that “might is right”. Our clients who have been in possession were chased out of the premises and the place taken over with an inscription that this is in respect of a judgemrnt of a court even though the Ministry of Physical Planning is claiming some other things in addition and to the contrary.

2. That the matter is presently in court and as a State that respects rule of law, we have a court injunction to which the defendants have not responded to up till now. Possession of a property is 9/10 of the law. No contrary court order has asked our client to be driven out of possession of the property in question. Justice must not only be done but be seen to have been done in this matter.

3.Since the State Government has asked his aides(Commissioners) to investigate this case and report back to him, I request that I should be given an opportunity to present my case in an unbiased atmosphere in order to hear me out concerning what is playing out in this case.

It is a pathetic case that the Lagos State Government should not have been involved in the first place.

LAST LINE:

1. Those governing us and presiding over state agencies should have this at the back of their minds that power is TRANSIENT AND EHPEMERAL; THAT NOTHING LASTS FOR EVER.

2. I have absolute faith in the government of His Excellency, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to resolve this matter in favour of JUSTICE, NO MATTER THE PRESSURE/S FROM ANY QUARTER THAT BELIEVE THAT THEY OWN LAGOS AND BY EXTENSION THIS WORLD.
Our client should be restored back to his property after the truth is established that we are in lawful occupation before the unlawful invasion and ejection.

“CONSCIENCE IS AN OPEN WOUND, ONLY TRUTH HEALS IT”.

Mr M.O. Ubani Esq,
Legal Practitioner
4th of January, 2021.
ubangwa@gmail.com.

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.

NIN: UBANI SUES FG, ASKS COURT TO HALT DEADLINE

Fiery human rights activist and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has dragged the Federal Government to court over its directive to telecom networks to block all SIM cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers (NIN)

According to the court papers made available to CITY LAWYER and filed at the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court, Ubani is seeking an order of the court “halting the said two weeks ultimatum given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to telecommunication operators to block all SIM Cards that are not registered with the National Identity Numbers (NIN).”

He is also praying the court to direct the respondents to “extend the deadline for the registration of SIM Cards with NIN for at least 1 year or to such period of time as the court may consider reasonable for the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to be able to register their SIM Cards safely without any rush that might result to avoidable loss of lives and injuries.”

Aside from the Federal Government of Nigeria, other respondents are the Attorney General of the Federation, Nigerian Communications Commission and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.

The suit is brought under the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009 made by the Chief Justice of Nigeria pursuant to section 46(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

Ubani is also praying the court for “A DECLARATION that the two weeks (16th December, 2020 to 30th December, 2020) ultimatum given to telecommunications operators by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to block all Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) cards that are not registered with National Identity Number (NIN), is grossly inadequate and will not only work severe hardship, but will likely infringe on the fundamental rights of the Applicant (and millions of other Nigerians) to freedom of expression as guaranteed by section 39(1)(2) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as violate section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) which prohibits the compulsory acquisition of right or interest over moveable property.”

The vocal public commentator is equally praying for a “DECLARATION that in view of the covid-19 pandemic and the rising cases in Nigeria presently, the two weeks deadline given by the 1st, 3rd and 4th Respondents to the Applicant and over 200 million Nigerians to register their SIM Cards with NIN, will lead to a rush, thereby resulting to clustering of the Applicant and other Nigerian citizens in a NIN registration centre, subjecting him to the possibility of easily contracting the covid-19 virus, and such will amount to a violation of his fundamental right to life as protected by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

Among the grounds for the suit are:

“That the Applicant is a lawyer, activist and social commentator on national issues. He uses his MTN SIM Card for business communication, social communication and interaction with other Nigerians through phone and online through the social media. Like millions of other Nigerians, the Applicant’s SIM Card enables him to exercise his fundamental right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by Section 39(1) & (2) of the 1999 Constitution, and blocking the Applicant’s SIM Card will violate his fundamental right over his SIM Card (moveable property) as guaranteed under section 44(1) of the 1999 constitution as amended.

“That the short period of two weeks given for the Applicant and millions of other Nigerians to register their SIM cards with NIN (failing which their SIM cards will be blocked) is unreasonably too short and impracticable in view of the large population of Nigerians and the slow rate of registration by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

“That the two weeks deadline will lead to a rush and clustering of the Applicant and other Nigerians in registration centre thereby subjecting him to possibility of Stamped and contracting COVID-19 virus, which will endanger his right to life as guaranteed by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).”

In a 21-paragraph affidavit deposed by Ubani in support of the suit, he stated as follows:

“That I am a Nigerian citizen who uses MTN (one of the telecommunication operators) Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card for all my business communication and social interactions, including surfing the net, sending and receiving emails, attending online zoom meetings and conferences, and interact with family, friends and fellow Nigerians on all social media platforms.

“That like so many other Nigerians, I have till date not gotten my NIN despite several attempts as there are few NIN registration centres available, and most times the registration officials would complain of either network problem or lack of power supply to enable them function effectively.

“That the two weeks ultimatum given by the defendants for the telecommunication operators to block the SIM of all Subscribers (including myself) who have not registered their SIM with NIN is grossly inadequate, and will not only create unnecessary panic and inconveniences but will also cause severe hardship and suffering to me and millions of Nigerians who like me have not been able to get our NIN due to no fault of ours.

“That the Respondents’ directive to telecommunications operators to block the SIM of every person who has not registered their SIM with NIN after 30th December, 2020, is not a well thought out decision as same is too sudden, and will cut me and millions of Nigerians off from communication, and deny me the use of my SIM card which is my personal property, thereby infringing on my right to freedom of expression, and my entitlement to own a medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinion, as guaranteed by sections 39(1)(2), and 44(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“That the 1st Respondent who has been fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria since March 2020, and who has been advocating and enforcing social distancing did not avert her mind, when she and her agencies were taking such a decision, to the fact that COVID-19 is still present in Nigeria and cases of infected persons have been rising in recent time.

“That many prominent Nigerians have lost their precious lives as a result of not observing the social distancing, and other measures laid down by Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to avoid contracting COVID-19.

“That the resolution/decision of the Respondents to the effect that December30, 2020 (two weeks) is the deadline for over 180 million Nigerians to register their SIM with NIN is reckless, inconsiderate and insensitive in view of the present reality in the country.

“That the Respondents before arriving at such resolution did not check to confirm the statistics of Nigerians that do not have NIN, which if they did, their resolution would have been different.

“That no doubt, trying to meet up with the said deadline will put me and millions of Nigerians in untold pressure, and same will lead to a rush and result to non observance of social distancing measures, consequent upon which contracting the COVID-19 virus will be inevitable, thereby endangering my right life and that of other Nigerians, which is guaranteed by section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

“That it will be proper and reasonable for the Respondent to extend the deadline to at least 1 year, and within that period of extension make deliberate and conscious efforts towards properly sensitizing Nigerians, and putting in place massive registration outlets in every ward of the Federation with good working facilities to ensure that easy access to registration is made possible.

“That trying to enforce this policy in a period where I, as well as most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stamped in the process of rushing to get registered, which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries, thereby violating section 33(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“That if the Court does not halt or order the Respondents to urgently halt their plans, this directive may result to unnecessary panic in the country which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerians, thereby causing more pain in an already pathetic situation.

“That I am aware that millions of other Nigerians are also uncomfortable, worried and complaining about the gross inadequacy of the two weeks ultimatum given by the Respondents to telecommunication operators to block all SIM not registered with NIN. As a matter of fact, the House of Representatives (that represent the people of Nigeria) has asked the 1st Respondent to extend the deadline for the provision of National Identification Number (NIN) by telecommunication service subscribers, describing the two weeks given to SIM card users by the 3rd Respondent to provide their NIN to service providers as grossly inadequate. This was reported by the Punchng.com, published on December 16, 2020. The said online report by Punch newspaper is attached herewith and marked Exhibit MOU2.”

According to CITY LAWYER sources, no date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

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.

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.

$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.

RPC: UBANI WITHDRAWS SUIT AGAINST MALAMI

* CITES PRESSURE FROM NBA

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Firebrand human rights activist and former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has directed his lawyers to withdraw his lawsuit against Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN over the controversial amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.

Ubani had dragged Malami to court over the “unilateral amendment” of the Rules, even as the NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata directed lawyers to ignore the Rules, saying they were amended without proper authority. He also asked Malami to “immediately” rescind the amendment in the interest of the Bar.

But in a statement made available to CITY LAWYER, Ubani said that he was under pressure to withdraw the lawsuit to ensure that it is not used as an excuse to scuttle amicable resolution of the impasse.

According to the frontline activist and Bar Leader, “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.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that a gazette had surfaced recently where Malami had issued an amendment of the Rules deleting several critical sections of the RPC.

Below is the full text of the statement.

INTENTION TO WITHDRAW SUIT NO FHC/CV/1174/2020 AGAINST ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION.

Recall that recently we took out a legal suit against the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN over the recent unilateral amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.

I took this drastic legal step in conjunction with some of my very learned colleagues in the profession because we deciphered a motive orchestrated to weaken arguably the umbrella body by the damaging amendments that failed to have the input of the Bar generally through the General Council of the Bar as prescribed by the Legal Practitioners Act.

The unilateral amendment with the consequential intendment to weaken NBA as a professional body was greeted with so much furore and anger for not following procedure as prescribed by the enabling law.

It has come to our notice that the NBA leadership has expressed their reservations about the unilateral amendment and has sought the reversal of same by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice. They have written a letter to him to withdraw the gazetted Amendment as its effect will create great crisis and confusion within the bar. The purport of the letter is to provide a veritable platform to have the brewing crisis nipped in the bud and resolve the problem amicably.

The leadership of the bar at the highest level have reached out to me to have the lawsuit 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.

As an unrepentant lover of the bar and a principled individual who fights for a cause with God’s wisdom, I have reached out to my colleagues in this struggle for us to have this case withdrawn to allow no reason whatsoever to be given for the failure to arrive at an amicable settlement over the matter.

It is my belief and hope that the Attorney General of the Federation will take into cognizance the larger interest of the bar and move quickly to withdraw the said gazetted Amendment and allow the General Council of the Bar to commence some of the intended amendments that will be highly beneficial to the Bar generally.

I hereby instruct my lawyers to withdraw the said suit in order to allow the anticipated amicable settlement to be exhaustively exploited by both parties.

Long Live the NBA
Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Monday Onyekachi Ubani Esq (MOU)
Former Vice President of NBA.

 

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.”

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

NBA IKEJA ELECTION: UBANI QUITS, BLASTS CARETAKER C’TE

BY EMEKA NWADIOKE

Former Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani has resigned his position as a member of the NBA Ikeja Branch Caretaker Committee mandated to conduct election for the branch.

In a letter made available to CITY LAWYER, Ubani cited lack of obedience to NBA Bye-Law on elections as his major reason to throw in the towel, saying the conduct is an affront on his values.

His words: “Hypocrisy of this magnitude is a lethal sin. My nature abhors it. I hereby resign my membership of the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja of 2020 to avoid being part of the persons that will engineer an unnecessary crisis in my beloved Branch. Already I am aware of some members’ plans to drag the Branch into another round of crisis. It is unnecessary.  I had better walk away!”

It is recalled that the immediate past NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN had dissolved the branch Election Committee following a joint petition by AWLA President and 6 others on the constitution of the Committee.

Usoro appointed a three-man Caretaker Committee to midwife the branch elections. Aside from Ubani, other members of the committee are Messrs Olabisi Ade-ademuwagun and Adebamigbe Omole.

LETTER OF RESIGNATION FROM THE CARETAKER COMMITTEE OF NBA IKEJA.

It is with regret that I tender my letter of resignation from the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja. The main reason for resignation is to avoid my name which I have built over the years to be dragged into the mud by anybody from the branch.

What makes my resignation imperative is the brazen stance of some members of the branch  to go against the National Body despite clear letters written by both the outgone and present National Exco that the Caretaker Committee should toe the line of legality in the conduct of our forthcoming election by adhering to the Resolution of NEC of NBA in Jos  and Benin both in 2016.

The major problem is with Article 6(3) of the 2015 Uniform Bye Law which bars a candidate from contesting for a new office if he or she has not spent the requisite number of years after occupying executive position twice at the Branch or at National office. At the branch level you are required to stay off for five years, while at the national level you are required to stay off for ten years.

The said article 6(3) was resolved at Jos NEC in 2016 to have retrospective effect and reiterated or reaffirmed in Benin NEC of same 2016. It is on record that I was the only person that raised a voice against the retrospective effect of that Article in Jos NEC of 2016 and was overruled.

Since then, the interpretation has been used to disqualify any candidate who has held two executive positions without allowing the requisite number of years to exhaust before seeking for a further office all over the branches and at the national level.

Part of the Caretaker Committee’s mandate is to conduct an election for the Branch for the year 2020. Having cleared and published the voters list, the next task was to clear the contestants. However we had a petition written against one of the candidates seeking for the chairmanship position alleging that he has held two executive positions at the Branch level and has not exhausted the requisite five years before seeking for the new office.

Our findings supported the allegation and to avoid being accused of bias the Committee sought clarifications from both the outgone and present national Secretariat and they in their various letters dated 5th of August, 2020 and 14th of September, 2020 reiterated the fact that Article 6(3) of the Uniform Bye-law be  applied retrospectively and advised the the Committee should not depart from the said application moreso since the interpretation as adopted in JOS NEC has not been reversed in any subsequent NEC, AGM or by the court.

The Committee of the branch met few days ago and on a sad note decided to proceed with the said election by clearing every person including the candidate that was caught up with Article 6(3) of the Uniform Bye Law of 2015  despite the clear clarifications of the National Body that set us up in the first place. I vehemently dissented with this view and insisted that the new National Exco be written seeking clarification to the said Article if we were still in doubt as to the interpretation of that section of the law.

The Committee had to retrace the wrong step they had earlier on taken by complying with the interpretation of the contentious section   after they got a response from the present Secretariat reitering the fact that we should abide with NEC Resolution of Jos 2016.

 The Committee thereby disqualified one of the Candidates who is contesting for the chairmanship position because he has held offices for two times and have not stayed off from contesting from five years as required by the said Bye Law.

The position of the law is that the said candidate stands disqualified from contesting the 2020 NBA Election. That is the status quo ante properly interpreted.

It is regrettably though, that I have to resign the membership of the committee that refused to do the right thing in the first place.  Such behaviour is not in tandem with what I believe and stand for in the NBA. It is improper to undermine the integrity and strength of our national body through our actions at the Branch level whereas everyone in our inner-most heart, desires a very strong and united bar. Hypocrisy of this magnitude is a lethal sin. My nature abhors it. I hereby resign my membership of the Caretaker Committee of NBA Ikeja of 2020 to avoid being part of the persons that will engineer an unnecessary crisis in my beloved Branch. Already I am aware of some members’ plans to drag the Branch into another round of crisis. It is unnecessary.  I had better walk away!

God bless NBA!

Monday O. Ubani (MOU) Esq,
Former Chairman of NBA Ikeja and former 2nd VP of NBA.

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CLAMPDOWN: AUTO DEALERS TO SUE CUSTOMS

A group of automobile dealers in Lagos State has threatened to drag the Nigerian Customs Service to court over the sealing of their business premises.

In a letter to the Comptroller General of Nigeria Customs Service through the law firm of Ubani & Co, the group condemned the September 30, 2019 raid and sealing of their offices by customs operatives, saying that the action of the agency was “a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.” They also noted that all the cars in their business premises were duly cleared and appropriate duties paid to the Federal Government.

The group in the letter which was also forward to the Senate President, Speaker of House of Representatives and Attorney General of the Federation, warned that if their business premises were not opened in the next 14 days with a compensation of N10 billion for businesses losses during the period of closure, they would have no other option than to approach the court for redress.

Part of the letter which also serves as a pre-action notice reads:

“We must state here with all sense of responsibility and patriotism that the action of Nigeria custom officers in this regard is a demonstration of gross irresponsibility, unprecedented impunity and abuse of power.

“Though the Nigerian Customs & Excise Management Act gives you the power to examine, mark, seal and take account of any goods …, in this case, you did not examine, mark, seal and take account of the particular vehicles identified as not being properly cleared, but rather sealed up the entire premises without any form of examination or inspection of papers.

” This very act of yours has no protection under the Act, but smacks of impunity, illegality and flagrant abuse of executive power.

“No law under our law books, including the Customs & Excise Management Act, empowers you to take the steps you have taken in the manner you have taken it.

“The action of the Nigerian Customs is not only lawless but very oppressive. The moment when Nigerian Government agencies elevate the pursuit of revenue above the right and welfare of the citizens, Nigeria is doomed, but God forbid that things degenerate to that level.

“Take notice therefore that you have 14 days from the day you receive this letter to unseal all our Client’s members’ business premises to enable them carry out their lawful businesses as Nigerian citizens.

“Take further notice that you have a period of 30 days from the date you receive this letter to pay a compensation of N10Billion to our Clients for the severe hardship, suffering, embarrassment, loss of business, physical, mental and psychological torture and trauma your arbitrary, lawless and inconsiderate action has caused our clients and their families failing which our Client shall be left with no other option than to seek redress through a competent court of law.”

Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.