NBA Raises Alarm Over Conflicting Court Orders

Alleged $40m Fraud: Jonathan’s Cousin To Know Fate On May 27
A file photo of a Federal High Court.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has raised an alarm over the recurring trend of contradictory court decisions and orders, especially among courts of coordinate jurisdiction.

In a statement on Monday, the President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata, says such decisions typically arise from ex-parte applications and almost always in political matters.

He believes the recurring contradictory decisions of the courts, based on the apparently indiscriminate grant of orders and counter-orders – relating to the nomination of candidates by the major political parties for the forthcoming governorship election in Anambra State, and the equally embarrassing situation playing out in respect of the leadership crisis of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that has seen three different contradictory rulings by courts of coordinate jurisdiction – leaves a lot to be desired.

“These are antithetical to the actualisation of the just society and independent judiciary that we all aspire to, and run contrary to everything we teach and hold dear as a profession,” Akpata said. “They do nothing but bring the judiciary and the system of administration of justice to ridicule.

“Before blaming the judges, we must first look inwards and call out our members, most of whom are senior members of the Bar, who continue to yield themselves to be used as willing tools by politicians to wantonly abuse the judicial process.

“In our view, these actions contravene the RPC esp Rule 1 which requires a lawyer to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and not engage in any conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner.”

According to the NBA President, the Bar agrees with Justice Chioma Nwosu-Iheme in her condemnation of the indulgence by some judicial officers of politicians who go round the country shopping for judgments, and thereby bring the judiciary to public ridicule.

“Beyond that, we shall say no more at this time,” he said. “I will on behalf of the NBA, urgently seek audience with My Lord, the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria to address this issue holistically.”

Akpata also sought the support of the NBA Judiciary Committee Chairman, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, SAN; NBA-SLP Chairman, Mr Oluwaseun Abimbola, SAN; and NBA-SPIDEL Chairman, Dr Monday Ubani, for the proposed engagement.

“As the nation approaches its next round of general elections, the NBA cannot, and will not, be a spectator whilst our hard-earned democracy is threatened by the venal acts of a few.

“It can no longer be business as usual,” he averred.

Football-Crazy Nigeria Aims For Olympic Glory In Basketball

The D’Tigers are aiming for a medal finish at the 2020 Olympic Games.

 

Football has always been Nigeria’s favourite sport with a historic Olympic gold the pinnacle of its success, but the country now eyes basketball for glory at the Tokyo Games.

The West African nation of 210 million people made history 25 years ago when their football team struck gold in Atlanta at the expense of top-rated Argentina, the first Olympic title won by an African team.

But for the Tokyo Games, both the men and women’s football teams failed to qualify, with medal hopes shifting to other sports including the men’s basketball team, as ‘D’Tigers’ carry the nation’s aspirations following some shock results in the lead-up to the Olympics.

Ranked 22nd in the world, Nigeria upset a United States team featuring NBA stars like Kevin Durant 90-87, having been blown away 156-73 by the same opponents at London 2012.

The Nigerians also stunned world No.4 Argentina 94-71 in another warm-up game for Tokyo.

“We have not won anything yet, but I have a feeling I can uplift a whole continent,” said 51-year-old coach Mike Brown, formerly in charge of the Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We are not going for the experience, we’re going to Tokyo to win,” he said.

“This morale-boosting performance on the eve of the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics is a positive signal that Team Nigeria will achieve podium finishes at the Games,” added Nigeria’s sports minister Sunday Dare.

“I am delighted with the progress our athletes are making in their respective sports and I strongly believe we will have many of our athletes in strong medal positions at this Olympics and future international global events.”

Like the Nigeria football team, the ‘D’Tigers’ squad is dominated by players from the diaspora who play in the NBA.

They have strength in depth at each position, with Miami Heat trio Gabe Vincent, Precious Achiuwa and KZ Okpala on the roster, along with Minnesota Timberwolves guard Josh Okogie and Detroit Pistons center Jahlil Okafor.

Against the USA, Vincent scored 21 points while Israel-based Caleb Agada pitched in with 17 as Nigeria became the first African nation to beat the 15-time Olympic champions.

“It gives all of us the confidence to go out there and perform at a high level just like we did against USA and Argentina,” said Okafor.

“The message is to take care of business and avoid any let-down.”

READ ALSO: France Thrashed By Mexico In Olympic Opener As Brazil Beat Germany

Domestic league struggles 

D’Tigers head coach Mike Brown.

They trained stateside for four weeks before concluding preparations in Kisarazu, Japan.

However, critics argue that the team’s fate in Japan will have minimal bearing on the domestic championship, which has been disrupted in recent times by a drawn-out power tussle in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).

The men’s domestic league does not have a title sponsor amid grumblings that no home-based player made the cut for Tokyo.

“What the team have done is a great development for Nigerian basketball internationally, but it’s killing us locally because we’re not investing at home,” said former ‘D’Tigers’ captain Olumide Oyedeji.

“We have got carried away by what we are achieving internationally.”

Oyedeji advocated for better opportunities for the players based in Nigeria.

“It’s not a crime to be born in Nigeria, it’s not a crime to play in Nigeria, it’s not a crime to reside in Nigeria,” he said.

“So, we should give the local boys a chance too, a hope for the future.”

“The players who are now available for Nigeria are those who were not previously because the NBA season was on,” he said.

“They don’t have a chance to play for the US who have so many great players, but they all now want to play for Nigeria because they will be seen at the Olympics and it will be great for their CVs.”

Tokyo marks the third straight appearance at the Olympics for Nigeria, who failed to make it past the group stage at the past two editions.

They have been drawn in a tough-looking group with Australia, Germany and Italy, and tip off their campaign on Sunday.

“I see no reason why they cannot continue their success in the exhibition matches at the Olympics,” said Will Voigt, who led Nigeria to their first-ever African basketball championship title in 2015.

“They are talented, confident and self-driven.”

AFP

US NBA Star LaVine Gets Olympics All Clear After COVID-19 Scare

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 17, 2021 Usman Garuba #16 of Spain catches a pass under pressure from Zach LaVine #5 of the United States during an exhibition game at Michelob ULTRA Arena ahead of the Tokyo Olympic Games in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Ethan Miller / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

 

Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine was given the all-clear to travel to Tokyo for the Olympics Wednesday after being placed into Covid-19 safety protocols this week.

The 26-year-old, who played in all four of the United States’ recent exhibition matches in Las Vegas, averaging 10.8 points and 2.5 rebounds, was sidelined on Monday.

USA Basketball said at the time he did not travel with the three-time defending champions to Japan “out of an abundance of caution” after starting Covid-19 health and safety measures.

But it did not say if he contracted the virus or was being kept back for contact tracing.

READ ALSO: ‘We’Ve Done It, Brisbane!’: Australian City Awarded 2032 Olympics

“US Olympic men’s basketball team member Zach LaVine has cleared USA Basketball’s health and safety protocols and will join the USA team in Tokyo Thursday afternoon,” USA Basketball said in a statement Wednesday, without giving further details.

The US squad has already lost Washington guard Bradley Beal after he was placed into Covid-19 protocols, and center Kevin Love to a calf injury.

The Americans added Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee and San Antonio Spurs guard Keldon Johnson to replace Beal and Love.

The US squad, which opens its Olympic campaign on Sunday against France, is set to add three more players in coming days following the conclusion of the NBA Finals — Phoenix guard Devin Booker and Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton.

AFP

Alleged N1.4bn Fraud: Court Acquits, Discharges Ex-NBA President Paul Usoro

Mr Paul Usoro (file)

 

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos State has acquitted and discharged the immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Paul Usoro.

Mr Usoro had been standing trial on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering made against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He had pleaded not guilty to the offence and made a no-case submission insisting that the anti-graft agency had made no case against him to warrant him to enter a defence.

In his decision on the no-case submission today, trial judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa held that the anti-graft agency failed to establish any prima facie case against Usoro.

Justice Aikawa noted that the penal code, under which the former NBA President was charged, is not applicable to the southern states of Lagos and Akwa-Ibom, which were said to be the locations of the alleged offences.

“On the whole, I hold that the prosecution has failed to establish any prima facie case.

“Accordingly, the defendant is hereby discharged and acquitted,” Justice Aikawa held.

The EFCC had arraigned Usoro on December 18, 2018, before Justice Muslim Hassan on 10 counts, all of which he pleaded not guilty to.

He was subsequently re-arraigned before Justice Aikawa on charges which alleged that he committed the offence on May 14, 2016.

He was alleged to have conspired to convert the sum of N1.4 billion, property of Akwa Ibom State Government, which the court says he ought to have known was part of the proceeds of an unlawful activity

In his testimony before the court, an EFCC investigating officer Abdulrahman Arabo, said that the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Udom Emmanuel, hired Usoro who, in turn, invited other SANs to join him at the Election Tribunal where his victory was being challenged in 2015.

The EFFC witness also testified that the sum of N1.4 billion legal fee paid to the SANs was drawn from the treasury of the Akwa Ibom State’s account.

Usoro vigorously denied the allegations.

On February 25, the former NBA President had filed a no case submission where his counsel, Effiong O. Effiong SAN submitted that the EFCC called only two witnesses and closed its case because, according to him, it knew it didn’t have any case against the defendants.

He asked the court to allow the no-case submission.

But the EFCC opposed his application and asked the court to dismiss the no-case submission, citing the “overwhelming evidence” it said it had adduced and exhibits admitted in evidence.

It also asked the court to order the defendant to enter his defence.

Durant Scores 29 As Nets Roll Over Bucks In NBA Series Opener

Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks during Round 2, Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 5, 2021 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Kevin Durant #7 of the Brooklyn Nets shoots the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks during Round 2, Game 1 of the 2021 NBA Playoffs on June 5, 2021, at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. NATHANIEL S. BUTLER / NBAE / GETTY IMAGES / GETTY IMAGES VIA AFP

 

Kevin Durant had 29 points and 10 rebounds as the Brooklyn Nets withstood Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 34-point performance to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 115-107 in the opening game of their second-round series.

The Nets won the battle between two of the NBA’s most potent offences on Saturday night despite losing James Harden to a nagging hamstring injury in the first minute of the game.

Harden was forced out just 43 seconds in, pulling up and grabbing the back of his leg after a drive. He did not return.

Kyrie Irving had 25 points and eight assists, Blake Griffin tallied 18 points and a team-high 14 rebounds for the Nets, who beat the Bucks in six games in 2003, the last time they met in the playoffs.

Journeyman Mike James came off the bench to score 12 points in the win.

“You never want to lose a guy like James but we have been in this situation before,” said Griffin. “I trust these guys.

“Everyone had to step up. We played like that most of the season. We got guys that step up and Kevin and Kyrie do what they do.”

Game two is on Monday in Brooklyn.

“Our defence was good, we didn’t give them too many wide-open looks. We cleaned up some things as the game went on,” said head coach Steve Nash.

Antetokounmpo, the two-time reigning NBA Most Valuable Player, played 35 minutes, shooting 16 of 24 from the floor and grabbing 11 rebounds for the underdog Bucks, who led the league by averaging 120.1 points per game in the regular season.

“It was a little bit of everything. Shots didn’t go in. We did not compete as hard as we wanted to defensively,” said Antetokounmpo.

Both clubs came into the second round of the postseason after cruising through their opening series.

Milwaukee completed a four-game sweep of Miami last Saturday to reach the second round for the third straight season.

Brooklyn, who averaged 118.6 points during the regular season, needed five games to get past the Boston Celtics thanks in large part to the trio of Durant, Irving, and Harden.

Due to injuries and rest, the trio had played just eight games together during the regular season.

Brooklyn had hoped to have the big three healthy for the playoffs but have hit another injury snag with Harden going down in front of a crowd of 15,700 at Barclays Center arena.

The Nets announced later in the first half that Harden would undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the injury.

“It has happened to us all year that someone goes down,” said Nash. “We made a few plays. We hustled. It was great to see guys who hadn’t been in the rotation step up.

The 31-year-old Harden has had hamstring problems before, missing 21 games in April and May. The Nets are 20-17 without Harden and 29-7 with him in the lineup.

Harden averaged 27.8 points and 10.6 assists in the first round against the Celtics.

Antetokounmpo scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Bucks led 32-30 at the end of 12 minutes. Antetokounmpo said it didn’t change things when Harden got hurt.

“We still had our game plan. We still had a game plan for Kyrie and KD and Joe (Harris),” he said.

In the second quarter the teams exchanged runs as Brooklyn went on a 20-8 blitz to take a 59-48 lead but the Bucks clawed their way back with a 13-4 run of their own to get within two, 63-61, at the half.

The Nets went on another 12-4 run to end the third to take a commanding 98-84 lead into the fourth quarter.

AFP

Twitter Ban: There Is No Constitutional Authority To Support FG’s Peremptory Action – NBA

NBA President, Mr Olumide Akpata.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has said that there is no constitutional nor legal authority that supports the ban of Twitter by the Federal Government.

NBA President, Olumide Akpata disclosed this in a statement on Friday night.

Akapata described the government’s decision as illegal and threatened to challenge in court, the decision of the government to suspend the operations of the microblogging site.

Twitter had deleted a post by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, and this prompted the government to announce a ban.

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, announced the suspension earlier on Friday, citing the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence”.

The minister’s statement was silent regarding the time that the ban would be enforced however, the pronouncement stirred various reactions locally and internationally, with the NBA arguing that the ban infringes on the right Nigerians to freely express their constitutionally guaranteed opinions through Twitter.

Below is the statement put out by the President of the NBA.

READ ALSO: Rescind Suspension Of Twitter In Nigeria Or Face Legal Action, SERAP Tells Buhari

JUSUN Strike: Lawyers Hold Solidarity Protest Over Judiciary Autonomy

A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria's North-Central region.
A map showing Kaduna, a state in Nigeria’s north-west region.

 

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.

Financial Autonomy: Lawyers Visit Lagos Govt House In Support Of JUSUN Strike

Members of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) hold a solidarity protest at the Lagos House in Ikeja over the JUSUN nationwide strike.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch has held a solidarity protest with the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to demand the implementation of the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

Led by its Chairman, Bartholomew Aguegbodo, members of the branch on Monday walked from the bar center of the Lagos High Court Ikeja to the Governor’s Office in Alausa.

The gate of the Government House was shut when they arrived but at least three different people came out to meet with the lawyers who insisted on handing over the letter containing their demands to the Governor, his Deputy, or the Head of Service.

The lawyers were later prevailed on to send their representatives to go into the government house to drop the letter.

Four of them including the Chairman went in while other members waited outside.

They were gone for less than 20 minutes and on arrival, the Chairman of the branch said the letter was received by a certain Mr Deji, the officer in charge of mails who would make sure that the Governor receives it. He also said they were fine with the arrangement.

Meanwhile, Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele has learned that four of the NBA Branches in the state, namely Lagos, Ikorodu, Epe and Badagry have agreed to pay a “visit” to the Governors’ office on Tuesday in line with the directive from the NBA President, Olumide Akpata.

READ ALSO: Financial Autonomy: Security Agents Lock NASS Gate, Deny Protesting Lawyers Entry

The branch chairmen were said to have met over the weekend via WhatsApp to agree on modalities for the visit and have resolved to deliver a ‘joint letter’ to press home the demand for financial autonomy for the judiciary

Channels Television confirmed that efforts to make the Ikeja branch join the other branches in the visit tomorrow met a brick wall, as the branch insisted that it had resolved at its last monthly meeting to embark on a “protest march,” today, even before the directive from the NBA President.

The NBA had on Friday night directed its branch chairmen nationwide to mobilise their members and visit their respective state governors to demand the implementation of the financial autonomy of the judiciary.

In a press statement personally signed by its President, the association said “at the visit, the branches in each state are to present a jointly written demand to the state governors requesting full compliance with existing legislative instruments and court judgments on the financial autonomy of the judiciary.”

See Photos Below:

 

Lawyers March To NASS, As Judiciary Workers Begin Nationwide Protest

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association march in solidarity with the protesting JUSUN workers in Abuja, the nation’s capital. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Monday marched to the National Assembly in solidarity with judiciary workers who are protesting financial autonomy.

The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to press home their demands has commenced a nationwide strike.

At the nation’s capital, the JUSUN workers converged on the gate of the court of appeal in Abuja chanting solidarity songs and displaying placards.

Members of the Nigerian Bar Association march in solidarity with the protesting JUSUN workers in Abuja, the nation’s capital. PHOTO: Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Toping the list of demands is the issue of financial autonomy to the judiciary. They are also asking for the payment of peculiar allowances to their members.

JUSUN had since April 6, 2021, left the courts in Nigeria under lock and key because of the non-implementation of financial autonomy for the judiciary as the third arm of government.

The union had alleged that the Federal and State governments had over the years, declined to grant financial autonomy to the judiciary.

JUSUN workers protest at the gate of the court of appeal in Abuja. PHOTO: Channels Television/Sodiq Adelakun

 

The NBA President had earlier on Friday directed its branch chairmen nationwide to lead “visits” to government houses in their states over the 36 governors’ alleged unwillingness to implement judiciary’s financial autonomy.

A statement by the president of the association, Olumide Akpata, directed the branch chairmen to lead the “visits”, which are more like peaceful protests, on Monday, and on all other subsequent Mondays until the demand for the judiciary’s financial autonomy is met.

It urged the branch leaders “to effectively mobilise their members” for the “visit to the governors at the state government houses” to press home the demand.

 

See more photos from the protest below…

 

Judiciary Workers Strike: NBA Directs Members To ‘Visit’ State Governors

NBA president, Olumide Apata. Photo: [email protected] Akpata

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has directed its branch chairmen nationwide to lead “visits” to government houses in their states over the 36 governors’ alleged unwillingness to implement judiciary’s financial autonomy.

NBA President, Olumide Akpata, directed the branch chairmen to lead the “visits”, more like peaceful protests from Monday, April 19, and on all other subsequent Mondays until the demand for the judiciary’s financial autonomy is met.

It urged the branch leaders “to effectively mobilise their members” for the “visit to the governors at the state government houses” to press home the demand.

The association said, during the visits, the branch leaders should “present a joint written demand to their state governors requesting full compliance with existing legislative instruments and court judgments on the financial autonomy of the judiciary.”

It also urged them “to ensure that these visits are embarked upon, every subsequent Monday, until there is full compliance with this demand that is aimed at strengthening our democracy and the dispensation of justice.”

 

SEE THE NBA’S FULL STATEMENT BELOW…

 

DIRECTIVE TO NBA BRANCHES TO VISIT THEIR STATE GOVERNORS AND DEMAND FOR COMPLIANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION ON FINANCIAL AUTONOMY FOR THEIR STATE JUDICIARY

Dear Colleagues,

As you are aware, we are now in the second week of the nationwide strike action and total shutdown of the Nigerian courts by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (“JUSUN”) which was embarked upon to press home the long-standing demand for financial autonomy of the Nigerian Judiciary. This demand for financial autonomy is legitimate, constitutional, and is in the best interest of the Judiciary as it is one of the key parameters for enthroning independence of the Judiciary and fostering democracy.

Prior to the commencement of the strike action, the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) while supporting the objective of the industrial action, had taken a position that the timing of the strike action would work a hardship on legal practitioners, and everyone involved in the justice administration process.

As a result, the NBA has since then been in touch with JUSUN and other critical stakeholders to discuss the strike action and various strategies for resolving the same in the interest of everyone concerned. For instance, in a bid to resolve the issue, the National Officers of the NBA had a meeting with the National Officers of JUSUN on Thursday, 8th April 2021 to properly strategize and synergize the age-long partnership of both bodies on the critical issue of achieving financial autonomy for the Nigerian Judiciary.

Furthermore, on 12th April 2021, the NBA leadership was in a larger meeting, comprising the leadership of JUSUN, Federal Government officials including the representatives of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Inspector-General of Police, the Presidential Committee on Financial Autonomy for the Judiciary, the Body of Chief Judges of States, the

National Judicial Council (NJC) and the Hon. Minister of Labour, Dr. Chris Ngige. After extensive deliberations, the meeting was further adjourned to Thursday, 15th April 2021.

Unfortunately, the said meeting was called off at the last minute and adjourned sine die.

It is also important to note that an earlier meeting scheduled for Wednesday, 14th April 2021 with the Nigerian Governors Forum did not hold as there was no feedback from the Nigerian Governors Forum, the most critical stakeholder on this issue.

With these developments and the recent actions and utterances of officials of some of the State Governments, it has become apparent that most of the State Governments are not ready or willing to implement the constitutional provisions which grant financial autonomy to the Judiciary.

After due consultations with several stakeholders, we have come to the inevitable conclusion that the NBA must take more decisive steps at this troubling moment. We must, as a body, act in consonance with the aims and objects of our Constitution, by effectively playing our role in the defence of the independence of the Judiciary which this fight for financial autonomy seeks to achieve.

In view of the above, the Chairmen of all the branches of the NBA are hereby requested to effectively mobilize their members and pay visits to their respective State Governors at the Government Houses on Monday, 19th April 2021 to press home the demand for implementation of financial autonomy for the Judiciary. At the visit, NBA Branches in each State are to present a joint written demand to their State Governor requesting full compliance with existing legislative instruments and court judgments on the financial autonomy of the Judiciary.

The Chairmen of the NBA Branches are further requested to ensure that these visits are embarked upon, every subsequent Monday, until there is full compliance with this demand that is aimed at strengthening our democracy and the dispensation of justice. We trust that our members will give the leadership of their respective branches all the support that they require to achieve this much needed victory for our justice system.

OLUMIDE AKPATA

NBA PRESIDENT

Financial Autonomy: NBA Asks Judiciary Workers To Reconsider Timing Of Strike

A file photo of lawyers at the Supreme Court in Abuja. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has appealed to the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) to reconsider the proposed industrial action by its members scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

NBA President, Olumide Akpata, who made the appeal on behalf of the lawyers on Monday, described the decision of the judiciary workers to go on strike as commendable and laudable.

He, however, decried its timing and the devastating consequences it would pose for justice administration in the country.

Akpata decried that the strike was coming on the heels of prolonged lull in judicial activities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the enforced lockdowns.

According to him, courts are trying to play catch-up for lost time and it will be catastrophic for the administration of justice for the courts to be shut down again due to the strike by JUSUN.

The NBA President also noted the adverse economic consequences of the strike for families and lawyers alike, who earn a living by providing various support services to the court system.

He stated that the NBA has reached out to JUSUN on the prospects of reconsidering the industrial action at this time.

Read the full statement by the NBA president below:

PROPOSED STRIKE ACTION BY JUSUN OVER FINANCIAL AUTONOMY FOR JUDICIARY: STATEMENT OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION

The attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) has been drawn to the proposed strike action by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (“JUSUN”), as contained in a notice issued by its General Secretary, I.M Adetola, dated 1st April 2021.

By the said notice, members of JUSUN across the Federation have been directed to down tools, effective from Tuesday, 6th April 2021, to press home JUSUN’s demands for enforcement of financial autonomy in the Judiciary.

The NBA is deeply worried that despite the clear provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as altered) which consecrate the autonomy of the Judiciary, the Executive arm of Government, particularly at the State level, has customarily refused to comply with the provisions of the Constitution, which are targeted at safeguarding the independence of the Judiciary.

The NBA is aware of the judgment of the Federal High Court of 13th January 2014 which unequivocally confirmed the autonomy of the Judiciary in line with the spirit and letters of the Constitution.

While that judgment was followed by a Memorandum of Understanding between JUSUN and relevant stakeholders under which parties agreed to conscientiously give effect to the judgement of the Court, that has not been the case for seven years after the landmark judgment.

This situation does not augur well for our constitutional democracy, as it suggests that members of the Executive arm of Government, who swore to uphold the principles of the Constitution, can flout it, with impunity.

The Judiciary is an equal arm of Government relative to the Executive and the Legislature, and its independence is fundamental to the effective discharge of its mandate under the Constitution.

A situation where the Judiciary literally begs for its resources from the Executive arm, as is currently the case across several States, cannot guarantee its independence and constitutes an affront to the Constitution and the Rule of Law.

The NBA is equally aware that the Executive Order No. 10 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari, on the 20th of May 2020, which to a large extent, sought to address this constitutional imbroglio by treating the funds due to the State Judiciaries as a first-line charge, and requiring that the funds be paid directly to the Heads of Court concerned.

However, information available to the NBA shows that the State Governors have challenged the Executive Order, citing constitutional infractions.

The NBA is of the considered view that the provisions of Section 121(3) of the Constitution on the financial autonomy of the State Judiciaries are clear and do not really need the instrument of an Executive Order to give effect to them.

To the contrary, it is a simple matter of enforcement by the States as the Federal Government has admirably done in respect of the Judiciary at the Federal level.

However, as commendable and laudable as the proposed strike action may be, the NBA is concerned about its timing and the potentially devastating consequences it would pose for justice administration in the country, particularly coming on the heels of prolonged lull in judicial activities owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the enforced lockdowns.

Across the country, the Courts are trying to play catch-up for lost time, and it would be catastrophic for the administration of justice for the Courts to be shut down again.

This is not to mention the adverse economic consequences for families and lawyers alike, who earn a living in one way or the other, by providing various support services to the Court system.

For the avoidance of doubt, the NBA, as a leading stakeholder in the justice sector, and in keeping with its motto of promoting the Rule of Law is in support of the demands of JUSUN, and has been a constant voice of advocacy towards enthroning judicial autonomy.

But the timing of an action, is as good as the action itself.

Against the backdrop of the above, the NBA has reached out to, and is discussing with JUSUN on the prospects of reconsidering the strike action at this time, and will provide updates as discussions progress.

NBA Asks Obaseki To Review COVID-19 Curfew In Edo

File photo of Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has asked Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki to review the dusk to dawn curfew imposed to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus in the state.

NBA in a statement issued on Monday by its Chairman, Pius Oiwoh, said the move is necessary because some security operatives have turned it into an extortion ring and a huge money spinner.

“The Nigerian Bar Association, Benin Branch appeals to the Edo State Government to urgently review the modus operandi of the curfew currently in force in the Edo State,” the statement partly read.

READ ALSO: Defence Headquarters Holds Summit Over Terrorism, Insurgency

“While lauding Government’s effort so far in reducing the spread of COVID-19 which is the raison d’etre for the curfew, it has however been brought to our attention that some members of the security forces have turned it into an extortion ring and a huge money spinner.

“This ridiculous and opportunistic behaviour by some security personnel has brought embarrassment to both residents and visitors in the state.”

The NBA said it had received many complaints about the activities of the security agents, particularly policemen.

While noting that a matron, who was conveying a diabetic student to St. Philomena Hospital, Benin was detained by the police on Friday night, the legal body said it took the intervention of Edo Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu, who had to personally come to the scene at Dawson Akpakpava to facilitate the movement of the matron and the patient to the hospital for medical attention.

It also asked the security operatives to be mindful of the fact many cases of injustice against Nigerians triggered last October’s #EndSARS protests, which led to loss of lives of many innocent persons and destruction of valuable property.

But the Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) in the state, Bello Kontongs, denied the extortion allegation.

He explained that since the state government imposed a curfew, it is the duty of the police authorities to ensure it.

“There is an order by the state governor which stipulated that by 10pm, there has to be no movement.

“Being the Number 1 security officer of the state, that is the order her has given. The police have been given a marching order to enforce this order.

Anything that becomes a nature of enforce, people don’t like it because you have to use force not to allow people move within that period of time as the governor has directed,” he stated.