Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Kaduna State have staged a peaceful protest in solidarity with the ongoing nationwide strike by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
Lawyers drawn from various branches of the association in the state came together on Wednesday and marched along the major roads in the state capital, holding placards with various inscriptions in support of the call for financial autonomy for the judiciary across all states.
They later took their protest to the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, the Kaduna State seat of power to meet with the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, and plead with him to grant full autonomy to the judiciary.
A mild drama played out earlier at the entrance of the Government House when the lawyers engaged the security operatives guarding the gate in an argument.
Thereafter, the legal practitioners presented their protest letter to a representative of the state government for onward transmission to the Governor.
In separate interviews with Channels Television, the chairmen of NBA in Kaduna and Barnawa branches, Samson Audu and Abdullahi Yahaya, described the judiciary as the bastion of democracy.
They urged Governor El-Rufai to also appeal to his colleagues to grant autonomy to the organ of government in their respective states.
The protest by the lawyers in Kaduna, just as similar demonstrations in other states, is to prevail on the 36 state governors to respect the financial autonomy of the judiciary, as enshrined by the Constitution.
Judiciary workers across the country had commenced an indefinite strike on April 6 to demand the implementation of the constitutional provisions granting financial autonomy to the third arm of government.
The industrial action has grounded court activities for two weeks in all parts of the country.
The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee has elevated 72 lawyers to the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
At the 143rd plenary session of the Committee held on Friday in Abuja, the legal practitioners were awarded the rank as a mark of excellence and for having distinguished themselves as Advocates and Academics.
The new appointees whose swearing-in ceremony has been fixed for December 14 consist of 62 Advocates and 10 from the Academia.
The appointees include Obafemi Adewale, Chukwuemeka Nwagwu, Jacob Ochidi, Mela Nunghe, Lawrence Anga, Akinola Akintoye, Abdullahi Yahaya, Uzoma Azikiwe, Efefiom Ekong, Taiye Oladipo, Babatunde Ogala, Funmilayo Quadri, Jean Anishere, Taiwo Kupolati, Aliyu Saiki, Richard Ahonaruogho, Yusufu Akirikwen, Adedapo Olowu, Olumide Ayeni and Robert Emukpoeruo
Others are Oluwatoyin Bashorun, Chukwudi Obieze, Boma Alabi, Olusegun Fabunmi, Lotanna Okoli, Peter Mrakpo, George Babalola, Osayaba Osagie, Ejike Ezenwa, Jimoh Mumini, Muhammad Ndanusa, Yakubu Hussani-Ruba, Henry Akunebo, Oladapo Akinosun, Doctor Uwadiogbu Ajala, Gideon Kuttu, Ukachi Onuobia, Uwemedimo Nwoko, Joseph Mbadugh and Isiaka Olagunju.
The 22 other lawyers who benefitted from the elevation include Nureni Jimoh, Remi Olatubora, Abimbola Mobolaji, Moses Ebute, Nasiru Aliyu, Yusuf Kadiri, Festus Idepefo, Dada Awosika, Afam Osigwe, Musibau Adetunbi, John Majiyagbe, Abdulwahab Muhammed, Fatai Dalley, Chukwuka Ikuazom, Terkura Pepe, Rasheed Adegoke, Hussaini Zakariyau, Tochukwu Maduka, Mahmud Adesina, Tijjani Gazali, Abdul Muhammed and Mohammed Mohammed
On the part of the academia, the successful appointees comprise Professor Afeisimi Badaiki, Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Professor Oghenemaro Emiri, Professor Damilola Olawuyi, Professor Zacchaeus Adangor, Professor Edward Oyewo, Professor Sani Adam, Professor Joseph Abugu, Professor Samson Erugo and Omo-Eboh Ikheowa.
The call-to-bar ceremony usually happens after the new wigs have successfully passed the Bar Final Examination and it’s the climax of any individual’s quest to join the legal profession.
In strict observance of COVID-19 protocols, the body of benchers on Tuesday held the call to bar ceremony for the new wigs at the Eagle Square, Abuja. Parents, guardians, and well-wishers were barred from entering the venue.
The Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Prof. Isa Hayatu (SAN) who spoke at the ceremony said 1, 779 candidates passed the January 2020 Bar final examinations, while six candidates were from previous Bar final examinations. He said 736 of the students failed.
According to him: “A total of 2,515 students participated at the examinations and a total of 1, 779 were successful, out of which five candidates were graded in first class, 76 graded in the second class upper, 633 graduated with second class lower while 1, 065 came out with a pass in the Bar final examinations.
“I am happy to affirm that they all exhibited good manners and decorum during their training. They have also been groomed in the best ethics and ethos of our noble profession,”.
The Chairman of the Body of Benchers, OCJ Okocha (SAN), In his remarks said that since the Nigerian Law School came into existence in 1962, the Council has always made sure that all candidates admitted into the School are given the requisite skills and knowledge, in order for them to be sound lawyers.
Okocha, who is also a life bencher warned the new lawyers that any breach of the rules and regulations will be met with severe sanctions.
He said the Body of Benchers has the power to enforce discipline and decorum at the Bar and that the exercise of the power is done through the instrumentality of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), which is a standing committee of the Body of Benchers.
On its part, the Nigerian Bar Association has congratulated the new wigs and expressed the desire and hope that they live up to the ideals expected of legal practitioners.
The President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata also used the opportunity of the call to bar ceremony to pledge his commitment to unify lawyers and restore the association’s glory.
In his tweets after attending the ceremony, Akpata said, “In the next couple of weeks, we shall be unveiling the plans that we have lined up to make their membership of the Association more beneficial to them and everyone.
The ultimate objective is to bequeath to the new wigs and the generality of our members a united and value-adding Association that we all will be proud of.
President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has described the formation of a parallel NBA as unfortunate, calling for a united body at a time when the country needs them the most.
Mr Akpata who was sworn in as NBA’s 30th President, while giving his inaugural speech on Friday, faulted the move to establish a regional bar.
“I am not unaware of very recent events and agitations that have tended to divide our Bar along regional and religious lines. This is rather unfortunate for an egalitarian Association like ours. The Bar that I want to lead henceforth is one that is united on all fronts and that recognises that our diversity is, perhaps, our greatest strength. I plead with all Nigerian lawyers to bear this philosophy of unity in mind as we commence a new journey together today.
“This enormous task cannot be achieved if we continue to fan the embers of division at a time when we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice. We must be kind, magnanimous, respectful, and sensitive in our words and actions, as doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable bar. Now is the time to come together because a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.”
Following the withdrawal of the invitation extended by the Bar to the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, some lawyers had alleged discrimination against the governor.
Two lawyers based in Kaduna, Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman, describing themselves as Convener 1 and 2, on Thursday, announced that they and others of like minds had formed a ‘New Nigerian Bar Association’ NNBA.
In a statement released on social media, the lawyers said: “The New Nigerian Bar Association members feel that their interests are no longer taken into consideration in major decisions of the NBA hence the formation of this Association.
According to them, membership of the NBA is not mandatory, adding that Section 40 of the Constitution permits freedom of association.
The new NBA members said they were in consultations with “very Senior Lawyers of Northern Nigeria extraction and those practicing therein with a view to constituting the Trustees and for purposes of fixing a date for the formal inauguration of the Association.”
The NNBA also claimed that the NBA offices were lopsided against Northern lawyers.
“A cursory chronicle of the membership composition of major organs of the NBA would reveal lopsided representation despite having large numbers of Lawyers from all parts of the country and especially Northern Nigeria who have diligently paid their Bar practicing fees and have distinguished themselves in the legal profession.
“The New Nigerian Bar Association feels that Lawyers, as professionals like Doctors and Accountants should have more than one Association regulated by the General Council of the Bar.”
Senior Lawyers Fault Move, Call For Caution
The news of a parallel body of the Nigerian Bar Association has elicited mixed reactions from lawyers across the country.
While some are opposed to the move, others say it is within the rights of the conveners to do the same.
Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who spoke at the handover ceremony of the NBA leadership on Friday, advised aggrieved members against forming an alternative association.
Ozekhome said, “drop all these issues of trying to form an alternative Bar, whether you call it new NBA or progressive NBA, it’s not going to work.
“The reason is that when you begin to create a different Bar, calling it, for example, Northern Bar or new Bar, then people, very soon, are going to start calling for Southern Nigerian Army, Southern Nigerian Navy, Western Nigerian Air Force, Eastern Nigeria Tax Authority, etc; where are we heading to? That is nothing but balkanisation of Nigeria and God forbid.”
Meanwhile, another senior lawyer, Yusuf Ali SAN, said, “Nobody has contacted me about the formation of any parallel organisation. I’ve not been consulted, I’ve not been contacted, but I want to advise caution on all the sides.
“Our elders have a saying that beheading is not the answer for headache. We are better off with our numbers and diversity of the Association.”
He also said that if in the future such a split becomes necessary, “it shouldn’t be borne out of disagreement. It should be something that comes because our numbers have become so huge and that there are needs. It should also be a pan-Nigerian thing.
“So, for me, this is just an event; it is quite unfortunate, but I think it is a matter that we should address at a conference table.
“I don’t think we should join Nigerian politicians to behave the way they normally do; you’re dissatisfied, form your own party. I’m dissatisfied, I form my own party. That’s not the best way to go, and as leaders in the country, by virtue of our training, we should show a good example and provide leadership to others to emulate us. We should not because we have issues within ourselves, balkanise our association.
“Some of us have our reservations about the decision of the NBA excluding Mallam El-Rufai, from the conference, but, that notwithstanding, we should still keep our heads and take rational decisions in the interest of our Association, our profession, and our country. I ask for understanding and caution.”
In his own reaction, Jibrin Okutepa SAN said the New NBA’s move was not surprising considering recent happenings in the Bar.
He argued that many honest lawyers were disenchanted because the NBA had lost its values, and the New NBA members had the constitutional right to form another association.
“If you have read me in several papers – myself, Femi Falana and several others – we have spoken sufficiently to the Constitutional iniquities of making Nigerian lawyers be members of the NBA, particularly that the NBA has lost it value. “So, if any lawyer feels aggrieved that he wants to form a new association, what stops them from doing so?
That is within their rights under Section 49 of the Constitution. So, I do not share the views of those who say you must be forced to be a member of the NBA. I don’t share that view. We have chosen to be members of the NBA because we believe that the NBA will live up to the standard of its motto, which is promoting the rule of law.
“But in the past years have you seen NBA promoting rule of law? Or the rule of personal aggrandisement?, he asked.
Hundreds of lawyers demonstrated in Malawi on Wednesday against interference with the judiciary, after the president sent the country’s chief justice on early retirement two weeks before a historic election re-run.
Donning black gowns and dark cream wigs, they were joined by law students and lecturers on the streets of the capital Lilongwe and the cities of Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu.
Peter Mutharika’s office issued a notice on Friday sending the country’s chief justice Andrew Nyirenda into early retirement, 18 months before he was due to leave.
Nyirenda had led the Supreme Court decision which rejected Mutharika’s bid to overturn a landmark ruling quashing his controversial re-election.
In the judgement last month, Nyirenda said “some of the grounds for appeal were not just fictious but purely unprofessional, disrespectful and distasteful”.
The country returns to the polls on Tuesday for the new vote.
The lawyers carried banners and placards calling for the separation of powers, telling the executive “keep your hands off our judiciary”.
“Our courts should be able to deliver judgements freely and independently without interference,” said lawyer Bernadette Malunga, who led the Lilongwe march.
The decision by Mutharika’s administration sparked widespread criticism from lawyers’ and judges’ organisations in Malawi and abroad.
Main opposition leader Lazarus Chakwera said the president’s action was “a tragic case of interference” and alleged that it could be a “way of capturing the judiciary in anticipation” of a poll loss next week.
“It’s a very poor attempt that has greatly embarrassed him. They are trying to get justice perverted in this nation,” Chakwera said.
The Secretary to the State Government, Usman Alhaji, made the announcement during the State Executive Council meeting which held at the Government House in Kano.
Alhaji explained that the state government took the decision to remove the traditional ruler over allegations of consistently refusing to abide by instructions given to him.
According to him, the removal was in line with the recommendation of the Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Commission which had summoned the emir.
The commission had asked the traditional ruler to respond to a petition accusing him of selling lands belonging to the Kano Emirate to the tune of N2 billion.
But in documents obtained by Channels Television and signed by the chairman of the commission, Sanusi was accused of obstructing the investigation of the commission by securing a restriction order from a court.
White House lawyers began presenting their defence of President Donald Trump on Saturday at his historic Senate impeachment trial for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
White House counsel Pat Cipollone began presenting opening arguments at an extraordinary weekend session of the 100-member Senate, which will decide whether the 45th US president should be removed from office.
“You will find the president did absolutely nothing wrong,” Cipollone said.
Democratic prosecutors from the House of Representatives, which impeached Trump on December 18, wrapped up their case for the president’s removal late Friday.
Trump’s lawyers will have 24 hours spread over three days to present their defence of the president to the Senate, where Republicans hold a 53 to 47 seat majority. They plan to speak for up to three hours on Saturday and resume their presentation on Monday.
Hundreds of Indian police staged a rare and angry protest on Tuesday after a row with lawyers that initially started over a parking space degenerated into ugly clashes.
The two groups — who usually rub along in India’s vast court system — have been at loggerheads since the weekend.
Three advocates were shot, media reports said, as baton-wielding police charged gangs of learned men and women. In total at least 30 people were hurt.
The original dispute — over who had rights to a particular Delhi parking spot — escalated on Saturday with barristers setting fire to a police van and other vehicles as officers ransacked lawyers’ chambers.
Video footage later emerged showing a fully-robed advocate punching and slapping a policeman as he attempted to flee on a motorbike, prompting Tuesday’s protest.
“We want justice. We also have human rights, the guilty lawyers must be punished severely,” one of the protesting policemen told reporters.
Delhi Police commissioner Amulya Patnaik urged demonstrators to resume work and promised to address their concerns.
“The government and the people expect us to uphold the law, it is our big responsibility,” Patnaik said.
Lawyers, for their part, have also been protesting, with some threatening to go an indefinite strike.
Social media users mocked the showdown between those tasked with upholding the law.
“What times we are witness to! Agents of law and order — lawyers and police — are up against each other. This would go down in history,” tweeted a former radio presenter.
“I thought if police unnecessarily beat up someone, lawyers are there to demand justice. Now, lawyers are doing the beating up, and police are demanding justice,” tweeted Ramesh Srivats.
The Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested three lawyers for alleged illegal acquisition and sale of a property, belonging to Mr Adetunji Adedoyin, valued at about N20 million, (Twenty Million Naira).
The accused lawyers are: Salman Rafiu, Sulyman Abaya and Saka Hammed. Two others, namely: Olarewaju Aluko and Mr Na’ Allah Suyuti are currently at large. Adedoyin alleged in a petition that the suspects fraudulently obtained a court judgment with which they claimed and sold his property without his knowledge and consent.
In getting the judgment, the suspects are said to have ensured that their victim, the petitioner did not get the summons, but went ahead and provided defence lawyers for him without his knowledge or consent and with whom he never had any discussion.
According to him, “I was informed that I was served summons all through the court proceedings, whereas it was R.A Salman who put up his colleagues: Abaya Sulyman and Saka Hammed to stand for me and these lawyers forged my signature on some documents purporting my consent in court to the sale of my hostel.”
Adedoyin further stated that “The truth of the matter is that I never set my eyes on these people (lawyers) prior to or during the court proceedings, neither did I participate directly or indirectly in the proceedings. I also was not aware of the proceedings from from the beginning to the end.”
The petitioner further explained that he had to pay the sum of N4.2million to the buyer, Mr Na’ Allah in order to recover his stolen property, but that “The hostel was taken over again in March 2019 by Mr Na’ Allah through his lawyer, Aluko Olarewaju, on the grounds that I have not paid the outstanding balance.”
The suspects denied the allegations of forgery against them during their interrogation by the operatives of the EFCC, disowning the affidavit they fabricated, which they claimed in court, the petitioner signed. Meanwhile, efforts are on-going to arrest the fleeing accomplices in the alleged crime.
Lawyers under the aegis of Anambra State Indigenous Lawyers Forum have staged a protest outside the premises of the South Africa High Commission, Victoria Island, Lagos over the spate of killings in South Africa.
Specifically, they were protesting over the recent killing of the Deputy Director-General, of the Chartered Insurance Institute of Nigeria (CIIN), Mrs Elizabeth Ndubisi-Chukwu.
Baring placards with different inscriptions, the lawyers took their protest through the streets of Sinari Daranijo, which houses the SA High Commission.
As the eight Assembly gradually winds down, two legal practitioners have argued over the performance of the legislative arm of government within the last four years.
While Sunusa Musa of the All Progressives Congress (APC) criticised lawmakers for their performance over what he described as poor performance, Ilemona Onoja being a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) however defended them blaming the Federal Government for forwarding just 11 bills over the past four years.
Both appeared as guests on Channels Television’s Politics Today to debate on good governance between the two arms of government since 2015.
“The performance of the Eight Assembly should be me as a person and for ordinary Nigerians below expectation in the sense that we have had the leadership of the National Assembly that is determined to frustrate any effort of the Executive arm of government to giving good leadership of the country,” Musa said.
According to the APC member, the lawmakers’ frosty relationship with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration “really affected the law-making business of the legislators and the society in general.”
He specifically criticised the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara for allegedly not cooperating with the Federal Government in the effective law-making process.
When asked to respond to the allegations, PDP’s Onoja defended the leadership of the outgoing Eight Assembly.
He, however, blamed the Executive for not making enough input by proposing more bills that will better the masses.
“In sheer performance terms, it’s impossible to reach a conclusion that the Eight Assembly was an obstacle in any way.
“The Executive has only submitted 11 bills to the Eight Assembly. Of these 11 bills that are apart from the routine Appropriation Act on budget proposals, two of those bills have been passed,” he stated.
Onoja also accused the Executive of undermining, intimidating and sponsoring some persons to invade the National Assembly.