LAWYERS4CHANGE

Monday, July 25, 2016

NBA PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS 2016: THE YEAR OF THE SARDAUNA?

Election years in the Nigerian Bar Association are always interesting. Usually the period of the election is filled with the tension of vigorous power plays, slippery maneuvers, alignments, re-alignments and all manners of permutations all towards the end of winning elections or gaining office.

2016 is an election year, as general elections are billed to hold on July 31 2016. However 2016 has a unique and peculiar feature, it is the very first time in about twenty-five years that feasibility of the elections holding at all comes into question.

Underscoring this point, is the suit filed in Abuja against the NBA, its leadership and the two presidential candidates, Joe-Kyari Gadzama S.A.N and A. B. Mahmoud S.A.N by one John Unachukwu a past national officer (assistant publicity secretary). Unachukwu’s apparent grouse appears to be the on the system of the elections, dubbed “Internet voting” as against the “electronic voting” provided in the constitution.
 

As at press time no one is sure which side, the judicial swing will go. Another significance of the Unachukwu suit is that it reflects a discernment as well a credibility question on the coming elections among the mass of the electorate.

 

The situation is from the point of political policy a self induced challenge or “criticality.” First, is that the out-going Alegeh administration is replacing the 18 year-old delegate system of voting with direct and universal sufferage while at the same time routing the voting the electronic or internet way. That route, is seen rightly or wrongly by a vast majority of voters as a contrivance to rig the election in favour of A.B Mahmoud, the presidential candidate, seen again rightly or wrongly, as the preferred choice of Augustine Alegeh, the NBA president, organizer of the General elections.
 

The e-voting being novel and not test run, carries a huge mystery can and the general impression is that it is an unverifiable process, thus lacking credibility. The electoral process as understood by the Squib is so tainted that the only way the election if held, would be held credible is if Joe-Kyari Gadzama is declared the winner of the presidential race.
 

It would be recalled that the perceived partisanship of Austin Alegeh had inspired a petition against him by Gadzama to the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Gadzama in the petition called for the intervention of the Body, bitterly complaining about the favouring of Mahmoud in the race by the out-going president.
 

As things stand today, it is difficult to predict an out-right win for either Mahmoud or Gadzama. This is because both candidates are claiming majority support in all the three geo-political zones of the association. Furthermore the universality of the sufferage takes the game of influence more away from the political lords of the delegate system thus making the determination of the success of the candidates at the polls more at the mercies of the 'masses' who at best only know the 'shadows' 'echoes' and mere 'nuances' of the gladiators and nothing qualitative enough to make informed choices - a major if rather silent but unsettling factor which also affects the outcome of the voting process. Our interactions with many potential voters reveal that they may not vote in the coming elections largely due to apathy and ignorance. The fixture of the voting days for the weekend (Saturday & Sunday) is perhaps an unwitting platform for voters indolence and apathy.
 

Traditionally, weekends are reserved for rest and socials in Nigeria, thus save for the concerned, public spirited members of the Bar, most others are not likely to take any special interest or pain to perform their civic duty of voting on “days of relaxation.”

 

The situation will be aggravated by the fact that no less than eighty percent of the voters, even in cosmopolitan Branches like Lagos, Ikeja, Port-Harcourt, Abuja are not internet savvy or inclined, being steeped still in the old analogue and manual methods.
 

Personality types and traits and the political tendencies, in and out of the Bar, of the two presidential candidates will influence the choice of informed voters, should the election hold.
 

Called to the Bar (outer) in 1980 A. B. Mahmoud is the older of the two contestants. Habitually wearing a sober, reflective pose, he is being branded by his supporters as a focused, disciplined and sound legal practitioner, who would bring “much needed” sanity into the Bar.
 


Joe-Kyari Gadzama, younger at 55 years and called to the outer Bar in 1986, is presented as a self made man of action and ideas, a well travelled go-getter, capable of freeing the N.B.A from the grasp of a particular cabal who have been running affairs of the Association oppressively and selfishly, since the exit of Rotimi Akeredolu S.A.N as NBA President in 2010.


 

Interestingly both men have once tasted electoral defeat each in their quest for the NBA presidency. In 2004, Mahmoud was beaten to the third place in a four-man race involving Bayo Ojo S.A.N. (the winner) Joseph Daudu S.A.N (1st runner-up) and Phillip Umeh.
 
In 2010, it was Joe-Kyari Gadzama’s turn to fail at the polls, as Joseph Daudu defeated him by a rather wide margin to become president.
 
Now it is 2016 and both former losers are now slugging it out. Who wins? Who deserves to win?
 
As said earlier, these are difficult questions to answer but one thing is clear; the popular perception is that  A.B. Mahmoud is the candidate of the ESTABLISHMENT, whose present face is Austin Alegeh, a man who inherited a cohesive bar, started well, even brilliantly but is leaving the Bar substantially in disarray and in turmoil.
 
Gadzama, the Sardauna of the Uba emirate, Borno seeming to be more likely candidate to reverse the last minute mis-governance of President Alegeh, may just swing it but then the old guards don’t die easy.


*THE MANIFESTO OF CHIEF JOE-KYARI GADZAMA, SAN FOR NBA PRESIDENT

See:
http://vote-gadzama-for-nba-president.blogspot.com.ng/
 
*THE MANIFESTO OF A.B. MAHMOUD, SAN
See:
http://www.abmahmoud.com/manifesto/

 
 

OGUNLANA VS NBA (The Retro Law Case)

For some time now, the famous N.B.A Ikeja Branch has been embroiled in a peculiar post election crisis. What is peculiar about the dispute is the active involvement of the national leadership of the NBA in the state of affairs at the Tiger Bar, an unprecedented act in the Bar.

As the centre of the storm is Adesina Ogunlana, the clear cut winner of the 2016 chairmanship of the Ikeja Branch election. While Ogunlana polled 94 votes, his opponents, Bartholomew Aguegbodo and Gloria Nweze, polled 53 and 51 votes respectively.

Prior to his election, the Election Monitoring Group of the Nigerian Bar Association holding a retrospective view of Section 6(3) of the Uniform Bye-Law of Branches of the NBA 2015 had instructed the disqualification of both Adesina Ogunlana and Gloria Nweze from the chairmanship race on the ground that both had run foul of the section which provides as follows: “No member of the Branch shall occupy the same office for more than two (2) years (one term); and any member who has held elective offices as a Branch officer for two (2) terms shall not be eligible to contest for a Branch office until at least five(5) years after his/her last term of office”.

However the Electoral Committee of the Ikeja Branch holding prospective view of Section 6(3) and exclusively saddled with the determination of eligibility of candidates in the election by virtue of Section 15(5) of the Uniform Bye-Law rejected the instruction and cleared both Ogunlana and Nweze to run. Section 15(5) provides as follows: “The Election Committee’s decision as to eligibility of any candidate to stand for election shall be final”.

Ogunlana won the election hands down on 13th June 2016, claiming 48% percentage of the valid votes cast. On the 14th June 2016; he was sworn in with other executives at the Annual General meeting of the Bar.

On the 16th June 2016, the President of the N.B.A sitting as the Chairman of the National Executive Committee, relying on the report of the Dafe Akpedeye Committee report, declared Ogunlana’s election null and appointed Nurudeen Ogbara former chairman of the NBA Ikorodu Branch to conduct election into the office of the Chairman NBA Ikeja within a week from the time of appointment.

Ogunlana kicked against the president’s orders and approached the court on the 20th June in suit no LD/1141GCM/16 Adesina Ogunlana vs The Registered Trustees of Nigerian Bar Association and 4ors seeking the nullification of the president’s directive as well as obtaining restrictive injunction against the Defendants including Nurudeen Ogbara the president’s cats-paw.

Despite being duly served with the various processes in Ogunlana’s suit, Nurudeen Ogbara continued with his work, claiming he was yet to see any restraining order of court against him.

At the hearing of the first application for interim injunction on 22nd June, 2016, the learned trial Judge, A. M. Lawal J of the Lagos High Court, declined the grant, ordering instead that the Claimant put the Defendants on notice. All arguments to persuade the impressively circumspect Judge to grant the interim injunction failed, with the Judge expressing strong disbelief that legal practitioners having notice of pending suit against them would proceed with actions that would offend the Judicial position in cases like Ojukwu and Governor of Lagos State.

The Judge’s position hardened when his Lordship noticed that there was no evidence before the court that Ogbara the pronounced executor of the NBA president’s order had taken any steps at that point in time towards the achievement of his brief. Little wonder then that the Judge in his ruling stated that there was no urgency in the reliefs sought before the court.

On Thursday 23rd June 2016 Ogbara who styled himself 'Election Facilitator into the office of The Chairman of N.B.A Ikeja Branch' rolled out his programme of action. According to the one-man Electoral Committee, nominations would open Friday 24th June 2016 and would close on Monday 27th June 2016. On the same 27th June 2016, screening of candidates would be done and the Elections would subsequently hold on Wednesday 29th June 2016.

On the 27th June 2016, as directed by the honourable court, Ogunlana caused to be served on the defendants, Ogbara (4th Defendants) inclusive, his fresh application for interim injunction upon the failure of the earlier one filed on the 20th. Ogbara was served by Sheriff of court at the Ikeja Bar centre in the midst of screening candidates for the proposed election of 29th  June, 2016.

After the service of the latest processes of Ogunlana (now having exhibits evidencing clear evidence that Ogbara would hold his election on the 29th June, 2016 two days ahead the 1st July return date of the case), on Ogbara as well as the Hearing Notice, pure magic on the side of the “Election Facilitator” took place.

At about 6.30 on the 27th June 2016, the very interesting news via SMS came to members of the Ikeja Bar that one Prince Dele Oloke, a member known for persistent unsuccessful electoral runs in the Branch, since 2002 had been returned unopposed. According to the broadcast authored by Nurudeen Ogbara, seven (unnamed) candidates were screened, while one was disqualified, five of the remaining six, stepped down for Dele Oloke, who Ogbara on the Screening day and not Election Day, declared “returned unopposed.” The announcement ended with the news that Oloke would be sworn in as Chairman on Wednesday 29th June 2016.

The announcement was a clear political move and calculated to be a sucker punch to the solar plexus of the Ogunlana camp; for it meant that the Ogunlana application for interim injunction to restrain the Defendants from conducting elections had been over-taken by events and as such neutralised. If the deadly Ogbara shot had been directed at a lesser camp, it would have served the purpose of a knock-out. However the Ogunlana camp, comprising of bonded intellectual activists and veterans of Bar politics handled the danger smoothly and with aplomb.

Within an hour of the Ogbara news 'bomb,' the progressives fired back and repeatedly on the air-waves denying any Ogunlana complicity or participation in the Kangaroo schemes that produced Oloke as “Chairman elect.”

They also used the Ogbara SMS message as the meat of a further affidavit in support of the Claimant’s application. Composed, sure-footed and graceful under fire, the Ogunlana camp presented a formidable legal team which finally at the eleventh hour on June 28, 2016 persuaded the Judge to grant an order specifically restraining the Defendant from swearing or causing to be sworn in Prince Dele Oloke or any other person. The honourable court also ordered that status quo between the parties be maintained as 20th June 2016 when the claimant filed his Originating Summons.

Despite the clear orders of Court, it soon became well known that the Dele Oloke would very much like to be sworn in on the 29th June, just a few hours away then.

True to type, Oloke and his supporters actually came to the Bar Secretariat for the swearing in at about 10.30am in the morning of 29th June 2016. However that activity did not take place for two major reasons. The first was that Ogbara the “Election Facilitator” upon having notice of Justice Lawal’s orders, stayed away. Second, was that Oloke and his crowd suddenly discovered the secretariat unserviceable that morning. It was not opened on the orders of Ogunlana who later explained the compelling reason for the manouever which was to avoid or minimize violence or physical confrontation amongst members of the Branch and also prevent damage to the Branch properties, a situation most likely to happen should Oloke’s proposed violation of the Court Order happened at the Secretariat and in the public glare.

However there are faint rumors making the rounds of Oloke being dragged to a roadside kiosk ipebi not too far from the Ikeja High Court by a few ardent supporters and sworn-in secretly by a person whose identity is shrouded in mystery till date. At about 1.00pm when it appeared that heat had died down, Ogunlana upon consultation which certain elders of the Branch present caused the secretariat opened.

On Friday 1st July 2016, 1st – 4th Defendants were represented in court “on protest” by some counsel led by Afolabi Fashanu S.A.N. Interestingly enough, the 4th Defendant’s Preliminary Objection to the Claimant’s suit was filed and signed by Dele Oloke! It was on the strength of this P.O that Afolabi Fashanu S.A.N. urged the court to temporize on the matter until his Lordship determined the issue of Jurisdiction. Ademola Adewale for the claimant urged the court not to fold its hands and watch the subject matter of the litigation erode because of the defendants objection to the jurisdiction of court.

In its ruling, the Court agreed with Adewale and renewed its earlier orders directing maintenance of status quo as at 20th June, 2016 and restraining the Defendant from swearing in Dele Oloke, pending the determination of the Preliminary Objection. The matter was adjourned to 21st July 2016. 

Away from the court room wars, Adesina Ogunlana the new chief Tiger has been contending with a largely rebellious cabinet comprised mainly of gentlemen in skirts. Notable opposition bordering on hatred against the chairman is exhibited openly by  Muna Esegine the Secretary, a devotee of Dele Oloke. Five days after the purported nullification of Ogunlana’s election, Esegine obviously believing that Ogunlana has met his irredeemable Waterloo sharply told the chairman on phone “see Mr. Ogunlana, you are not my chairman. Before we left for Benin you were the chairman and I obeyed your instructions but all of us were present at Benin and we all knew what happened. If you tell me you now have a case in court, do you have an injunction? You are not my chairman.” Another open resenter of the chairman is the Treasurer, Thelma Coco-Bassey who ironicaly enough was encouraged into participation in the leadership cadre of the Tiger Bar two years ago in part by Ogunlana.

From all indications, the man in the eye of the storm is unfazed by the hostile environment surrounding his leadership, digging deep into his reservoir of political experience to cope and even excel in the situation. In a meeting he had with the other members of his executive on Wednesday 29th June, 2016 at about 4.00pm, he counselled thus “I am your chairman. Gentlemen we need to accommodate ourselves because we all have to work together for the next two years. I am sure that not all of you voted for me during the election and it is not all of you too that I voted for but here we are together and we need to work together for the good of our people, irrespective of feelings.

DISCIPLINE IN THE NIGERIAN BAR SINCE 2007: THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE ANDREW ORU CASE...the Akintokun case revisted

GBAJABIAMILA J. (RETIRED?)

David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and ordered that the men of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar)

'Your glory, O Israel, lies slain on your

heights.

How the mighty have fallen!,

TELL IT NOT IN GATH,

proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon,

lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad,

lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.'

2 Samuel 1: 17-20

 

Since last week, the Lagos State Judiciary as well as the Bar in Lagos State have been in a mourning mood. The cause was the sudden news of the compulsory retirement of Honourable Justice Oluyinka Gbajabiamila from the High Bench of Lagos State by his employer, the National Judicial Council.

 

The sack of Justice Gbajabiamila threw the Lagos legal community into mourning because the affected Judge enjoys an all round reputation as an INCORRUPTIBLE Judge. Quiet, gentle soft- spoken, polite and patient in person and in court, Gbajabiamila J. is considered a “nice and decent Judge.” Nevertheless the National Judicial Council after considering and determining a strongly worded petition authored by a Senior  Advocate of Nigeria, C.A Candide Johnson who in the main alleged:

 

(a) that judge Gbajabiamila J. persisted in hearing a matter before his court dispute having done and proper notice to a pending application for story of execution and that  an appeal has been lodge.

 

(b) that Judge Gbajabiamila J. delivered judgement in a matter before him, twenty-two months after counsel had adopted their written addresses.

 

(c) that the court registrar of  Justice Gbajabiamila, under the direction of the Judge, misrepresented to the Deputy sheriff by way of memo, that there was no appeal in the matter, whereas two notices  of appeal and two summons to settle records in the Courts file exist; decided against the judge.

 

The National Judicial Council in finding merit in the allegations levelled against the Judge recommended his compulsory retirement to the Lagos State Governor and pending when the Governor will act on the recommendation, she ordered the immediate suspension of the judge from duty.

 

Majority of legal practitioners who interacted with SQUIB over the Justice Gbajabiamila case expressed shock at the fate which had befallen the judex, and wished that the sanctions would be lifted or reduced. Such practitioners were moved by the fact that Gbajabiamila J had zero reputation for corruption or being otherwise compromised in the discharge of his duties-only few other judges in the state enjoy such a high level of pristine reputation

 

Lamented one sympathising counsel: “Alas, what a strange world we are! Dry and dead trees survive storms while the wet and the living ones fall down or are uprooted. Why should it be a judge like Gbajabiamila who will be forced from service? He is such a honest, upright Judge. Yes he may have made mistakes but which Judges don’t? They say he did not deliver judgment within three months, in that case almost all judges are guilty of that, at least in Lagos State, since they are over worked generally”

 

Another sympathizer accused the NJC of partiality and inconsistency in the treatment meted to Gbagabiamila J. Said the lawyer (names with held):

 

'So it is Gbajabiamila that can be compulsory retired by the NJC? That’s not fair, was it not the same NJC that allowed a much worse case: Ofili Ajumogobia to remain on the bench just a few weeks ago? Or was the accusation against Ofili-Ajumogobia not that she failed to determine a case challenging the holding of a seat by an elected lawmaker in the legislature of Ogun state until the expiration of the life of that assembly?'

 

On the other hand, there were a few legal practitioners who contended that the NJC acted well in compulsorily retiring Justice Gbajabiamila. According to such lawyers, the Judge though inversally acknowledged as honest and a judge of integrity is however slow, indolent and guilty of colouring Judicial duties with his religions sentiments and perspectives.

 

Said one of such lawyers - “People should stop defending the indefensible. What was wrong in the retirement of a Judge who sits only two or three times a week and behave more like a pastor then a Judge? He is even too slow in adjudication and you hardly get your cases completed in his court in good time. Those supporting him should remember that this is not a case of witch hunting. Is it true or not that twenty-two months passed after written addresses had been adopted before he delivered ruling or judgement?”

 

Hon Justice Oluyinka Gbajabiamila formerly a Muslim, now a Christian cleric with the Redeemed Christian Church of God was called to the Bench in 2001 and was one of a set of Judges known as the 'Millennium Judges' in the Lagos State Judiciary, on account of the significance of the year of their appointment.

NBA IKEJA BRANCH ELECTIONS 2016: THE TIGERS ARE PREGNANT AGAIN

It is election time again in the Nigerian Bar Association Ikeja Branch as the two year term of the incumbent Yinka Farounbi administration draws to an end in June 2016.

Ordinarily, going by the now out-dated bye-laws of the Branch, the general elections into the Executive Committee of the Branch will hold in May and not in June as is the case now under the new Uniform Bye-Laws of the Nigerian Bar Association which has now grown into one hundred and eight branches.

 

The uniform Bye-Laws which was passed in August 2015 at the Annual General Meeting of the Association during the 2015 conference imposes certain conditions on prospective voters in the coming elections.

 

Unlike in the past, when all what qualified a voter to participate in the elections was financial membership of the Branch and payment of practicing fees in the election year the eligible voter in the new dispensation would have in addition the record of attending general meetings of the Branch for no less than five times in the election year.

 

One rule in the uniform Bye-Laws which may spark controversy is section 6(3) which reads as follows “No member of the Branch shall occupy the same office for more than two (2) years (one term); and any member who has held elective offices as a Branch officer for two (2) terms shall not be eligible to contest for a Branch office until at least five (5) years his/her last term of office” This provision was a major topic for discussion at the last National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Association in February at Jos, Plateau State. Robust debate on the issue was however uncharacteristically squelched by Austin Alegeh S.A.N the president, who presided over the meeting even as he expressed an unpopular preference for an interpretation of the section 6(3) accommodating a retro-active effect.

 

It is widely believed that at the April monthly meeting of Ikeja Bar popularly cognomened the ‘Tiger Bar’, the executive committee will officially declare campaigns open.

 

Another interesting aspect of this year’s election is the severe clamp on campaign modes for candidates. By virtue of Section 15(8) of the new constitution candidates are forbidden to make publications of their campaign materials and distribute same, outside the allowance of submitting them to the Electoral Committee to the Electoral Committee for broadcast.

 

Aimed obviously to curb the excessive monetization of campaigns, this new rule may adversely affect proper dissemination of the ideas, values of candidates. While the number of offices open for contest in the Ikeja Bar remains eleven, two of the traditional offices; to wit 2ND VICE-CHAIRMAN and AUDITOR have been abrogated while two new ones LEGAL ADVISER and PROVOST have been introduced.

 

Squib investigations indicate that so far, the office of the Chairman has attracted the highest number of aspirants-four; the office of the Secretary (General) only two while the other offices do not seem to attract so much competition.

 

One of the General Secretary contestants is Memunat Esegine, former Publicity Secretary of the Branch 2012-2014. She had contested the office of General Secretary before in 2014 but lost to the incumbent office holder Seyi Olawumi. A dogged and visible campaigner, she hopes for the best this time around.

 

Another aspirant to the knowledge of this magazine is Folorunso Ilori. A quiet, self-effacing personality devoid of glamour but well known in his circles as a committed and tire-less worker,

 

From all indications, in the first two week of April 2016 the office of the Secretary may attract one or two other more contestants.

 

In the Chairman category the contest promises to be interesting. The four contestants are easily categorized into two class. The first class is that of contestants who have held offices in the Tiger bar while the second class of contestants who are green horns.

 

In the first class are Adesina Ogunlana (former Welfare Officer, former General Secretary and former 1st Vice-Chairman) and Gloria Nweze (former Treasurer, former 2nd Vice-Chairman and incumbent 1st Vice-Chairman)

 

In the second class are Wale Ogunade and Bartholomew Aguegbodo.

 

Bartholomew Aguegbodo

An oak of a man, Aguegbodo was called to the Bar in January 2001 However inspite of his imposing bulk, he perhaps appears the least prominent of all the contestants.

A genial personality but a forceful speaker, Aguegbodo hopes to create upsets in the elections.

 

Wale Ogunade

Called to the Bar in May 2001, Ogunade is the youngest at the Bar of all the contestants. He is lively and extroverted. A television commentator, Ogunade sprouts populist preachments and is the founder of the VOTERS AWARE, a private organization set up to promote the ideas of holding valid and proper elections through the sensitization of the electorate. He is however seen as not being actively involved in the affairs of the Ikeja Bar yet but may turn out a force to reckon with being an early bird campaigner in the race.

 

Gloria Nweze

The only lady in the contest, Nweze, called to the Bar in 1988, is the oldest at the Bar. She has a record of service in the Bar starting from 2008, when she was appointed the Treasurer of the Branch by the Dave Ajetomobi administration. She later became the 2nd Vice-Chairman 2010-2012 and is the incumbent 1st Vice-Chairman. She and her supporters have brought a sexist angle to the contest contending that after about thirty five years in existence, it was high time a gentleman in skirt becomes the leader of the great Ikeja Bar.

 

As the incumbent the Chairman of the Human Rights Committee, she has energized her committee to hold seminars and clinics on its assignment.

 

Adesina Ogunlana

The last but not the least in the race for the Chairmanship post is Adesina Ogunlana the widely respected publisher of the resilient and fiery anti-corruption legal magazine, The Squib. Certainly the best known of the contestants both at the local and national Bars, Ogunlana was called to the Bar 1996, after bagging a first degree in English studies at the University of Ife, eleven years earlier in 1985. An articulate progressive activist and politically ambidextrous, Ogunlana a former General Secretary and former 1st Vice Chairman of the Branch, is also the National Coordinator of a key organizational participant in the 2015 General Elections, the Lawyers4Change.

 

Investigations indicate that as today, Ogunlana, a main-streamer in Ikeja Bar since 2002 he is the candidate, all other contestants consider the biggest obstacle in their path of electoral success

OFILI-AJUMOGOBIA J.: STILL FIT FOR THE BENCH?

STAMP & SEAL 'WAHALA'

Mr. Chris Owolabi is a legal practitioner and was called to the Nigerian Bar is 1990. So he has seen no less than a quarter of a century in the profession. But today he is not a happy man courtesy of the new policy in the practice of law in the country compelling the affixure of the seal of the Nigerian Bar Association to all documents and processes to make it acceptable for purpose of use in court registries and elsewhere.

Last Friday the Squib ran into the veteran advocate at the secretariat of the Ikeja Branch of the N.B.A where he granted this explosive and thought provoking interview, counting the essentials of his angst about the STAMP & SEAL POLICY.

 As part of our Cover Story, we add the less polemical views of our long-time columnist, on the subject to serve curiously as both a compliment and moderation of the position of Chris Owolabi Esq.

 

SQUIB: Can we meet you sir?

OWOLABI: I am a legal practitioner called to the Bar in 1990. I own my practice.

SQUIB: I can see you standing there displeasing, while processing forms in respect for obtaining the stamps for practice

OWOLABI: You are right, but I am more than displeased, I am shocked and disgusted at the whole exercise. It is a disgrace and clearly illegal and unconstitutional and from the way the exercise is being carried you begin to suspect the integrity of the stated purpose of the whole exercise.

SQUIB: What do you mean sir?

OWOLABI: Let's start with the legality of the exercise. The policy states that your processes, papers and letters must carry the stamps before they can be accepted at the registeries or be considered valid for use otherwise.

People have cited one or two Supreme Court judgments to back this position. I have asked for these cases but nobody has been able to help out in that regard. But even if that’s the Supreme Court position, that position is wrong. Don’t forget that the Supreme is only final, not infallible!

My question is this, who is the issuing authority of the almighty stamp without which a lawyer can no longer practice his trade? The issuing authority is the Nigerian Bar Association. How can that be normal, reasonable and right, when the NBA has nothing to do with my qualification as a legal practitioner?

As we all know, it is the Body of Benchers that call successful students of the Nigerian Law School into the Bar of the Supreme Court, qualifying them as legal practitioners.

Then why should it be that it is not the Supreme Court or the Body of Benchers, the qualifier of legal practitioners that will issue stamps empowering their candidate so to say to practice but the Nigerian Bar Association, which is merely an association of people who are already in the Bar.

When a legal practitioner has run foul of the laws of his profession is it the NBA that sanctions him? No. The warning, suspension or disbarment is done by the Body which qualified him in the first instance into the profession.

So if it is the Body of Benchers who can qualify and disqualify a legal practitioner, how is it that it is another body - an association for that matter that now has the capacity to effectively rusticate him or reduce him to a lawyer only in name?

Yes, that is the effect of the stamp and seal policy. If you don’t have the N.B.A stamp, you can’t practice and that means you can’t earn your livelihood.

Don’t you think it is funny that somebody can be a member of the Inner Bar and yet he cannot function as a legal practitioner despite his office and preferment if he doesn’t have the stamp of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Also is the stamp, my practicing license? I have paid my practicing fees, why can’t I then practice except I have the stamp?

Is the N.B.A stamp now a practicing stamp? And why should it be that my fees for practicing license is not used to cover the stamp assuming the necessity of the stamp exists.

I am not sure that the authorities took time to think through the project before implementing and enforcing.

Look my brother, the imposition of this stamp is worse than double taxation, it is the worst possible form of restraint of trade.

They have by this stamp policy restrained most unfairly a duly qualified lawyer from practice

RONKE GOES TO COLLEGE

Rosulu Oluronke, a mother of four and a staff of the Lagos State Judiciary, where she had put in no less that thirty four years, spent her 2015 Christmas in prison. And she is still there. And, infact will still be there for the next ten years, courtesy of the judgement of a Lagos State High Court, per Hon. Justice Lawal Akapo who convicted her of conspiracy to commit obtaining money (three hundred thousand U.S. dollars) except where the said judgement is successfully quashed at Appeal.

The learned trial judge, just four days to Christmas Day last year sent Ronke to the gallows having found her enmeshed in a web of deceit involving Fred Ajudua (a lawyer and businessman made famously infamous over the years with unproven serial allegations of stupendous scams) to the end of obtaining money from Major General Ishaya Bamaiyi while both men were in detention for various reasons at the Maximum Security Prison, Kirikiri Lagos in 2004.

 

However Ronke Rosulu has not resigned to fate, still strongly affirming her innocence despite her conviction which has so ingloriously terminated her career, has appealed against Justice Akapo’s judgement which rocked the workers’ cadre of the Lagos State Judiciary. A date for the hearing f the Appeal has not been fixed.

VOL. 16 N0. 2

Thursday, October 29, 2015

SHOCKER: IKEJA HIGH COURT REGISTRAR TURNS EMERGENCY JUDGE

COURT REGISTRAR FREES DANGEROUS CRIMINAL SUSPECTS: ON THE RUN
Femi Ogundare, said to be in his late thirties and an employee of the Lagos State Judiciary is on the run. Well known in the Ikeja High Court as one of the Court Registrars of Honourable Justice Onigbanjo.
Femi Ogundare disappeared from work since august 2015 and from his known residential address when his fraudulent escapades as a Court Registrar blew open inadvertently.

Our investigations reveal that Femi Ogundare has for a long time now, perfected the terrible act of working with yet unknown prison officials to effect the illegal release of accused persons awaiting trial on prison remand.

 The method of the rogue is daring but extremely simple: create a fictional case in the name of a real person in detention, fix a date or dates for the hearing of the fictitious case and after a while forge a ruling in the name of the judge, releasing the accused, on bail or finally discharging and acquitting him.

 Ogundare’s method is an exploitation of the Nigeria Prison Service’s slackness in proper verification of orders and warrants purported to issue from courts of law in the state, regarding prison inmates.
 
The shenanigans of the rogue registrar was exposed accidentally on a certain occasion, when prison officials came to make enquiries about the next adjourned date of the case. They met the wrong person in person of the Senior Registrar of Justice Onigbanjo’s court (name withheld) who searched in vain for the case file of the matter so as to ascertain which dates to give. In the event, the poor senior registrar gave a date in the hope that the “missing file” would be found, before the said date arrived.

From what we further gathered, it was in the while of searching for the “missing file” that a letter of enquiry arrived from the Federal Special Anti Robbery Squad to Justice Onigbanjo’s court about one Emeka Okeke, alleged to have committed serious crimes including attempted murder and armed robbery but who had been purportedly released on bail on the orders of the honourable judge as far back as May 2015.

When Ogundare learnt about this letter, he immediately decided to obey the diction of his fathers which states that “Ko ju maribi gbogbo ara logun e” (To avoid doom, you flee the scene).

But it was not immediately clear to Ogudare’s co-workers that he was implicated in the scam. Nobody was unduly suspicious of his absence from work in the first twenty fours because the High Court was already in the annual vacation period that time. However when his phone lines were no longer going through, alarm bells began to ring. Later when the police visited his home, he had packed out with his family leaving no forwarding address.

Squib surface-to-air geckos reported that the ugly development was a huge shock and embarrassment to Justice Onigbanjo who had been taken on by Ogundare’s perceived industry, confidence and smartness. The judge was said to have lamented that he did not know who to trust again in this world.

Always sharply dressed, the clean shaven Ogundare in his hey days walked with quite some swagger and looked more like an up and coming director of a blue chip company than a civil servant. To account for his “success story” of power dressing and collection of sleek cars, Ogundare’s fib to any who cared to listen is that he was trading in some fast moving commodities, on the side.

There are unverified reports that Ogundare has absconded to Texas, in the United States of America.