Alleged Misconduct: Again, NBA Writes BOB Chairman, Olanipekun, Insists On His Recusal

A file photo of the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau. [email protected]

 

 

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yakubu Maikyau has written to the Chairman, Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun to step aside and not preside over the call to bar ceremony of the Nigerian law School scheduled for Tuesday Dec 6th & Wednesday 7th.

This is in connection with the NBA’s call for Chief Olanipekun to recuse himself in relation to the scandalous email by a former partner in his firm, Ms Adekunbi Ogunde to SAIPEM, an expatriate company claiming that her principal, Chief Olanipekun uses his office as BoB chairman to influence Judges and get favorable judgements for his clients.

The NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, described the continuous silence by the Body of Benchers to the ‘indictable letter’ of Mrs. Adekunbi Ogunde, as ‘disgusting, and a betrayal of the confidence Nigerians have in the legal profession’.

Channels TV’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele obtained a copy of the NBA’s 10 page letter dated Dec. the 4th, 2022.

The letter was copied to the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola and to all Benchers.

It had the title, “ A CALL TO SALVAGE THE IMAGE, REPUTATION AND INTEGRITY OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION, AND FOR THE CALL TO BAR CEREMONY SCHEDULED FOR 6 AND 7 DECEMBER 2022 TO BE PRESIDED BY, HONOURABLE JUSTICE MARY PETER ODILI, JSC, RTD – THE VICE CHAIRMAN BODY OF BENCHERS.

Mr Maikayau’s letter is coming on the heels of a similar letter by the immediate past President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata, who had also asked Chief Olanipekun to recuse himself from the Chairmanship of the BoB to restore confidence in the body. The request was rebuffed by the body who kept mum over the letter.

Below is the full letter of the NBA President, Y.C Maikyau (SAN)


READ ALSO: NBA Asks Minister To Apologise Over Comments On Court Judgment


4 December 2022
Chief Wole Olanipekun, CON, SAN,
The Chairman, Body of Benchers,
Plot 688, Institute & Research District, FCC Phase III, Abuja.
Dear Sir,
A CALL TO SALVAGE THE IMAGE, REPUTATION AND INTEGRITY OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION, AND FOR THE CALL TO BAR CEREMONY SCHEDULED FOR 6 AND 7 DECEMBER 2022 TO BE PRESIDED BY, HONOURABLE JUSTICE MARY PETER ODILI, JSC, RTD – THE VICE CHAIRMAN BODY OF BENCHERS
1.The Body of Benchers has, since its establishment, seen some of the best legal minds this nation has ever produced. A roll call of its chairmen since 1971 simply showcases the integrity and honour of the profession – a collection of distinguished personalities of impeccable character. The list is our pride as lawyers, a representation of those who sacrificed their lives for the legal profession and gave us a platform upon which we learnt and now practice law. This Body to a great extent, houses the Hall of Fame of our noble profession with the likes of Hon. Justice Adetukunbo Ademola, GCFR, CJN; Hon. Justice Taslim O. Elias, GCON, CJN; Hon. Justice Augustine Nnamani, JSC; Hon. Justice Mohammed Bello, GCON, CJN; Hon. Justice G. S. Sowemimo, GCON; Chief Toye Coker, SAN; Chief Dr. G. C. M. Onyiuke, SAN; Chief T. O. S. Benson, CFR, SAN; Chief R. O. A. Akinjide, CON, SAN; Alhaji A. G. F. Abdul-Razak, OFR, SAN; Hon. Justice Kayode Eso; Chief F. R. A. Williams, CFR, SAN; Hon. Justice Mamman Nasir, GCON; Mr. Kehinde Sofola, SAN; Mrs. Hairat A. Balogun, OON; Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim, CON, SAN; Hon. Justice Umar F. Abdullahi, CON – just to mention a few in no particular order from that list.

2. The composition of the Body is like no other in the Nation; a collection of the finest members of the legal profession on the Bench and the Bar as outlined in Section 3(1)(a) – (l) of the Legal Practitioners Act Cap L11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. The presence of their Lordships, Hon. Justice M. L. Uwais, CJN, Rtd; Honourable Justice M. A. Mukhtar GCON, CJN, Rtd; Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed, GCON, CJN, Rtd; Hon Justice Walter S. N. Onnoghen, GCON, CJN, Rtd; Hon. Justice I. T. Muhammad, GCON, CJN, Rtd.; and now Hon. Justice Olu Kayode Ariwoola, GCON, CJN and other distinguished members of the Legal Profession, is a constant reminder of the prestige of this Body.

3. Mr. Chairman, I have, since assuming office as President of the NBA, expressed concerns over the negative impact of the email by Adekunbi Ogunde (as with so many other actions of our colleagues), on the Legal profession in Nigeria. In my inaugural Address on 26 August 2022, I specifically referred to the email and the matters arising therefrom and said:
“It is important to emphasise that how these matters are eventually resolved by the LPDC and the Court, will go a long way in determining the continued relevance of the Bar, the confidence in which the Nigerian people will hold the legal profession and the eventual freedom which Nigeria will or will not enjoy. Put differently, the resolution of these matters one way or the other, will determine whether members of the legal profession in Nigeria either individually or through the instrumentality of the NBA, will be in position to provide the required leadership for the recovery, reformation and repositioning of Nigeria, to bring about the freedom we all need.”
I went on to say:
“…there are many voices that should have been heard but were not heard specifically on this matter. In my humble view, given the important critical nature of this issue to the continued relevance of the Bar as earlier noted, the silence of these leading lights in the profession, who wield enormous amount of influence not only amongst the members of the legal profession but also the Nigerian public at large, is already hurting the profession and ditto the Nigerian public. Let me add that it does not matter what their views are on the matter, they simply owe the profession and the Nigerian public a duty to not only wade into the matter, but also be seen to have done so. As I stated earlier, the ultimate outcome will either make or mar the legal profession in Nigeria”.

4. Mr. Chairman, I did not mince words about the devastating effect of that email on our noble profession of law and by virtue of the strategic position of this Body in showcasing the crème-de-la-crème of the legal profession in Nigeria, this Body must acquit itself of any complicity, albeit after the fact, in any act of professional misconduct.

5. In the address delivered by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the commissioning of the Body of Benchers Complex on the 29 September 2022, the President, underscored the prestige of this body when he remarked as follows:
“I consider this Body as critical to the legal profession. I say this, because the membership of the Body cuts across all facets of Government and the legal profession, particularly, the Executive, Legislature, Judiciary and the Bar.
Furthermore, all Justices of the Supreme Court, retired Chief Justices of Nigeria who are alive, President of the Court of Appeal and Presiding Justices, Chief Judges of the High Courts, the Federal and State Attorneys General, Chairmen of the Judiciary Committees in the two Houses of the National Assembly, leading members of the Bar and others constitute this Body.
I am unaware of any other institution or organ in the legal profession that draws its membership from all segments of the profession like the Body of Benchers. No wonder, the statute describes it as consisting of men of the highest distinction in the legal profession. (Underlining mine for emphasis)

6. This is how this Body is viewed by no less a personality than the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and Mr. President was right! That was no flattery; that is who we are as members of the legal profession who are called primarily, by reason of the privilege of our training as lawyers, to provide leadership to the Nigerian people and the only way to do this is to constantly have our eyes on the need to do justice. This responsibility to deliver justice is directly connected to the survival of this nation and given the fact that the legal profession is the only profession that is trained in the subject of justice, the survival of this nation is thrusted on our shoulders. That is why we are referred to as Ministers in the Temple of Justice. Sheikh Usman Bin Fodio, the founder of the 18th century Sokoto Caliphate, made a profound statement when he said: “a people can exist without religion, but they cannot exist without justice”, and I cannot agree more. In other words, the existence of this country depends on the presence of justice, and it is the exclusive call on members of the legal profession to provide same.

7. Mr. Chairman, for us as members of the legal profession to discharge this responsibility, we must be in position to earn and command the confidence of the people. Needless to say, the confidence of Nigerians in the legal profession is at an all-time low and, like I observed in my Address during the 2022/2023 Legal Year Ceremony of the Supreme Court on 28 November 2022, the unfortunate situation is not unconnected with the conduct of members of the profession, both on the Bench and at the Bar.

8. It is for this reason that I must respectfully call on this Body to take definite steps toward regaining the confidence of Nigerians in the legal profession. The email by Adekunbi Ogunde, which presented this Body and indeed the entire legal profession in Nigeria, as one subject to and/or susceptible to manipulation by the Chairman, is the greatest damage ever inflicted on the legal profession in Nigeria and the psyche of Nigerians. Whatever confidence Nigerians may have had in the legal profession was drastically eroded by the content of that email, which gained wide publicity in the social media. For ease of reference and a better appreciation of the point being made, the content of the email is hereunder reproduced:
“My name is Adekunbi Ogunde and I am a Partner leading the oil & gas practice area in Wole Olanipekun & Co. I am writing specifically in relation to the ongoing USD130 million case at the Rivers State High Court brought by the Rivers State Government against Saipem SPA, Saipem Nigeria, and others. I believe that, you need a more influential lawyer/law firm to prevent a potential huge pay out to the Rivers State Government and without a doubt, I believe that my law firm, Wole Olanipekun & Co., can help in this regard.
A quick research about Wole Olanipekun & Co., will show that the law firm is the leading litigation firm that has helped other multinationals in sensitive, highly political matters. It will also reveal that the presence of our lead partner, Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR, in the matter will significantly switch things in favour of SAIPEM. Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR is currently the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, which is the highest ruling body in the Nigerian legal profession, made up of Supreme Court Judges, Presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal and Chief Judges of all State High Courts, including the Rivers State High Court. In order words, Chief Olanipekun SAN, OFR, is the head of the entire legal profession in Nigeria.
Wole Olanipekun & Co. has also helped other multinationals, such as in the famous cases of MTN tax dispute, Shell Petroleum, Equinor (former Statoil) dispute etc. avoid huge pay outs in more complex, sensitive and highly-political matters.
We are aware that another law firm is currently in the matter but you will agree that highly-sensitive and political matters require more influence. We are happy to work with the current lawyers to achieve the desired results.
I hope that you consider this so as to help SAIPEM avoid a huge pay out in claims and I am happy to set up a meeting to discuss further. (Underlining mine for emphasis).

9. There is no gain-saying that this email has brutally hurt the legal profession; it made a caricature of the Nigerian Court system and brought the entire legal profession to abject disrepute. It is disgusting! That this lie was told and allowed to be fed to Nigerians is the greatest assault on our collective psyche. Why then do we go to Court if this was true? Of course, this is not who we are, but we would appear to celebrate the content of the email by our silence and the insistence by the Chairman to continue to preside over the affairs of this Body without any remorse whatsoever over the embarrassment which the entire legal profession is subjected to on account of the content of that email.

10. What is even more worrisome is the fact that, this Body did not in any way react to the email to demonstrate to Nigerians, that what was said of the Body and the entire profession was false and that the legal profession cannot be manipulated by the Chairman, or any other individual or group of persons. Interestingly, there was no denial that the said email was indeed written, and whether the content of the email was authorised or not is immaterial to the impression created by its content. The only way this Body can demonstrate that it “consists of men of the highest distinction in the legal profession” is to come out and speak boldly against that negative narrative and refuse to celebrate it in anyway under any guise.

11. I am aware that the law firm of Wole Olanipekun and Co, has been excused from any liability regarding the email in issue, and I am not and will not question the correctness or otherwise of that decision. Suffice it however to say that the public reactions that trailed the emergence of that email and the decision exonerating the law firm would give a bit of insight into how this Body is presently being viewed by some members of the profession and the Nigerian public. A highlight of some of the comments are as reported in the social media are as follows:
(a) Malcolm Omirhobo, Esq. said:
“It is an embarrassment to the entire legal profession for the BOB to keep mum and allow Chief Olanipekun to continue to remain in office as her chairman, clothing and enabling him with impunity and immunity. More damning and disgusting is the fact that the BOB stood by and watched Chief Olanipekun preside over the call to bar of 1,507 (One thousand, five hundred and seven) new wigs, polluting the minds of the green horns with sentiments. Just hear him out: … For the BOB to gain the trust of the generality of members of the legal profession, it must itself at this point ask Olanipekun to excuse himself for the LPDC to carry out her lawful duty.”
1(b) An online news publication known as “TheNigerianLawyer” reported that:
“In a statement dated 25th July, 2022, issued by Aondona Tyolmun, the Network stated that “LAWNAC recognizes that as custodians of the highest distinction and guardians of the nobility in the Legal Profession, the leadership of the Body of Benchers must be seen to be above reproach.”
2(c) Mr. Sylvester Udemezue, a lecturer in the Nigerian Law School observed as follows:
“It is unfortunate for anyone to think that this scenario is not remotely and proximately connected to Chief Olanipekun SAN; it’s shocking to hear any lawyer make such suggestions. On the contrary, may I humbly suggest that to appreciate whether or not it connects Chief Olanipekun SAN, one should just take Ms Adekunbi Ogunde’s letter and read it all over again!

Although the Chief’s Law Firm has denied all allegations and imputation, I see no way this matter could be resolved with finality and to the satisfaction of the reasonable segment of the general public, (that justice has been done and seen to be done) if any investigation goes on with Chief Olanipekun SAN sitting as the BOB Chairman.”
3.The learned law teacher continued with a reference to judicial authority to buttress his point and added that –
“In the Nigerian case of ZAMAN v. STATE (2015) LPELR-24595 (CA) the Court of Appeal took time to explain the rationale for the wide application of the Nemo Judex rule. The court stated: “…. One important object, at all events, is to clear away everything which might engender suspicion and distrust…, and so to promote the feeling of confidence in the administration of justice which is so essential to social order and security”.
4.Mr. Udemezue concluded by citing young lawyer’s social media comment in rection to Adekunbi Ogunde’s email thus:
“…Young Lawyers … don’t believe [that] these things are taken seriously. With every passing day, young lawyers are being given reasons to lose faith in the profession. We’re being given reasons to jump ship”.
5(d) Joshua Nwachukwu, a young lawyer expressed the following concerns:
“Many are quiet, but we can’t because we don’t want to inherit a dysfunctional and unethical Bar that will be irredeemable. If the senior lawyers think professional ethics is now irrelevant, they should eradicate it and let’s run “jankara” practice rather than cherry-pick at their convenience.”

12.Mr. Chairman, I have just highlighted only a few of many such comments which are in the public domain, and which have been well fed into the psyche of members of the legal profession and the Nigerian public.

13. In the Keynote Address delivered at the 2022 Annual General Conference (AGC) of the NBA by the internationally renowned Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, observed that:
“The Nigerian Bar Association has shown that it is capable of boldness, of good troublesomeness, with its deeply admirable tradition of fighting the abuse of executive power. But the story is incomplete without acknowledging the things that were and are a blight to that tradition.
Many Nigerians are disillusioned with our justice system. They believe that justice is for sale. That we can buy justice. And they have reason to believe this. They have seen the strange judgements in the courts, whether they be on election cases or commercial cases, which do not stand the test of fairness or the test of legal reasoning.
Nigerians have heard of legal retainers being obtained through bribes. They have heard of contract laws used to extort money from the government.
They have heard of lawyers who compromise their own clients for money. (This is not common but it does not have to be common to be something that needs to be addressed. One is too many.) It is, as a friend of mine put it, “like your own doctor deliberately giving you poison.” If one single doctor deliberately gives poison to a patient, that act has consequences for the entire medical profession.
Nigerians are disillusioned because they know of senior members of the legal profession who act in unbefitting ways, and who do not voluntarily recuse themselves when they should.
Nigerians are disillusioned because they know of the decline of professionalism in some sections of the legal profession”

14. Mr. Chairman, I am not oblivious of the fact that my predecessor had by a letter dated 22 July 2022 called on the Chairman to recuse himself from the Chairmanship of the Body of Benchers. I believe that recusal by the Chairman should have been the very least of an individual action which the disgusting email ought to have elicited. Unfortunately, that did not happen. But beyond that, even if the Chairman had recused himself from the Chairmanship of the Body of Benchers, that by itself will not address the negative perception already created by the content of the email. A collective action of this Body is absolutely necessary and imperative in letting Nigerians know that the members of this Body are not who the email says they are, and no one can do to this Body what the email suggested the Chairman does and can do. At the very minimum, Mr. Chairman, you ought to recuse yourself if only to show some respect for what this Body stands for. Mr. Chairman, if those who preceded us in this profession had tolerated any form of assault on the legal profession, there would not have been one to which we belong today.

15. Nigerians look up to the legal profession and this Body cannot afford to be silent. To do so is to betray the confidence which Nigerians have in the legal profession. It was Martin Luther King, Jnr who said: “There comes a time when silence is betrayal”. I believe we are at that time when the silence by the legal profession and this Body can pass for a betrayal of the confidence Nigerians have in the legal profession. This Body cannot afford to betray Nigerians by keeping quiet in the face of this grave assault. No one is bigger than our dear legal profession!

16. The Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, described lawyers in the following words:
“We lawyers are a dangerous breed; we challenge, we refuse to let anarchy and unfairness and inequity reign. We stand in the gap. We refuse to be silent. We fight. Not with arms, but with words. We use the law as our weapon, and we wield it with skill and determination. We must teach the next generation to do the same… you play a central role in setting the parameters for the next generation of lawyers who will have the formidable task of safeguarding the rule of law in the new and challenging context in which we now live.”

17. We must not allow younger members of the profession to have the slightest thought that the content of Adekunbi Ogunde’s email is a template for legal practice in Nigeria. No one should be in any doubt that, the content of the email is condemnable and does not represent this Body and the legal profession. We owe the younger generation of lawyers the duty to speak and not be silent. My administration has committed to protecting the legal space for the benefit of the upcoming generation of lawyers. Not only are we resolved to resist any external incursions into the legal space, but we shall also equally resist any action that seeks to destroy the fabric of the profession.

18. I make this call on behalf of the NBA in furtherance of the Association’s duty to protect the integrity of the legal profession, and to engender public confidence in the Judiciary and other institutions saddled with the administration of Justice in Nigeria. I am fully persuaded, if this approach is approved and adopted by this Body, it will mark the dawn of a new day for the Legal Profession in Nigeria and the eminent and distinguished members of this Body would have individually and collectively vindicated themselves from the negative insinuations and narrative created in the minds of the Nigerian public. It will herald the recovery, reformation, and repositioning of the legal profession and by extension our nation Nigeria.

19. To do otherwise will spell doom for the legal profession and the nation. The Recovery of this nation can only start with the actions of the Legal profession and there is no better time than now and no better Body than this to key into this crusade that the NBA has taken the lead to do.

20. We cannot celebrate that email with our silence; our forebears in the profession will cringe and turn in their graves if they could read its content. The conduct depicted therein is NOT the reason we celebrate Chief F. R. A. Williams, SAN; Chief G. O. K. Ajayi, SAN; Kehinde Sofola, SAN; Hairat Balogun, OON; Chief Folake Solanke, SAN; Aare Afe Babalola, SAN; Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN; Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN; Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali, SAN; Chief Bayo Ojo, CON, SAN; Augustine Alegeh, SAN; Okey Wali, SAN; A. B. Mahmud, SAN; J. B. Daudu, SAN; O. C. J. Okocha, SAN; Chief A. O. Mogboh, SAN; Chief T. J. O. Okpoko, SAN; Salman Alhaji Salman, SAN; Prof Koyinsola Ajayi, SAN; Abdullahi Ibrahim, SAN; Odein Ajumogobia, SAN; Bankole O. Aluko, SAN; Gbenga Oyebode, MFR; Miannaya Essien, SAN; Chief (Mrs.) A. J. Offiah, SAN; Funke Adekoya, SAN; Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN; Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu, SAN; Obafemi Adewale, SAN; Mr. Bashir Dalhatu, SAN; Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, CON, SAN; Mr. D. D. Dodo, SAN; Kemi Pinheiro, SAN; Dorothy U. Ufot, SAN; F. Boma Alabi, SAN; Ebun Sofunde, SAN; M. D. Belgore, SAN; Mr. Jide Ogundipe – listed in no particular order – and a host of other very successful legal practitioners of the inner and outer Bar, who have kept faith with the Rules of Professional Conduct.

21. The profession has given us so much by the grace of God, and like the Secretary General of the Commonwealth said – as lawyers this is the way we must fight to bequeath a future to the young generation of lawyers and Nigerians. As Sir, Christopher Sapara Williams noted in his days, “the legal practitioner lives for the direction of his people and the advancement of the cause of his country”. This must be our pledge to our dear country Nigeria.

22. I have endeavoured to be as emphatic as I can in my submissions on this matter so as to leave no one in doubt that this is my firm persuasion. I have in writing this today, followed my convictions and discharged my duty to my conscience, to the legal profession and to Nigerians. Arakunrin Rotimi Akeredolu, CON, SAN, former President of the NBA, always admonishes us to follow our convictions, this I have done and this I will always do, so help me God!

23. In the circumstances therefore, and given the need for an urgent remedial action, I adopt the letter by my immediate predecessor-in-office dated 22 July 2022 and call for its immediate consideration. I also humbly call on the Chairman to immediately yield to the Vice Chairman of this Body – Hon. Justice Mary Peter Odili, JSC, Rtd., to preside over the Call to Bar Ceremony scheduled for 6 and 7 December 2022. We owe the younger generation of not only lawyers but Nigerians honest and sincere mentorship. To allow the status quo to remain in spite the colossal damage that has been done to the conscience of this nation – the legal profession, is to abdicate our responsibility to the nation.

24. Find attached as annexures A and B respectively, copies of the email by Adekunbi Ogunde and the letter dated 22 July 2022 by Olumide Akpata as NBA president.

Yours faithfully,
Y. C. Maikyau, OON, SAN
President

CC:
1.The Chief Justice of Nigeria,
Honourable Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, GCON
2.All Life Benchers
3.All Benchers

NBA Asks Minister To Apologise Over Comments On Court Judgment

A photo combination of Women Affairs Minister, Pauline Tallen and the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau.

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has asked the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Pauline Tallen to withdraw her comments on a judgment of the court and tender an apology to the court within seven days.

The NBA made the demands via a letter dated November 14 and signed by its President, Yakubu Maikyau.

In the judgment of the Federal High Court in a suit between Nuhu Ribadu and the All Progressives Congress (APC) and 2Ors, delivered on October 14, 2022, the court had in resolving the issues held that the Adamawa State APC Governorship Primary Election, which took place on  May 26, 2022, was invalid having been conducted in violation of the Electoral Act 2022 and the APC Constitution and Guidelines.

The court consequently voided the return of the 2nd Defendant, Aishatu Ahmed, as the winner of the primary election, and in addition, refused the prayer for fresh primaries.

READ ALSO: 2023: Peter Obi Knows That He Can’t And Won’t Win – Soludo

The NBA noted that while speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the Global Reunion and Annual General Meeting of her alma mater, Federal Government Girls’ College, Bida, the minister had referred to the said judgment of the Federal High Court as “a kangaroo judgement” and also went on to justify her remarks with comments which were disrespectful and contemptuous of the court.

While noting that the NBA does not have any interest in the matter and holds no brief for any of the parties to the dispute, the President of the Bar restated the NBA‘s steadfastness and commitment to its responsibility of protecting the integrity and independence of the courts.

“The association does not and will not take kindly the action of any person or group of persons which treats the Court and its processes or proceedings with levity and contempt,” he said.

“Your comments were clearly calculated to impugn the integrity of the Court, bring it to disrepute and incite the public against the Judiciary.

“The only permissible, lawful, and civil way to express one’s discontent with the decision of a Court is to appeal the decision and not resort to the use of derogatory language in reference to the Court, no matter how unhappy one may be with its decisions.”

The NBA President went on to describe Tallen’s conduct as uncivilised and totally unbecoming, particularly of the holder of a public office who knows better and enjoys tremendous influence over political supporters who may interpret such comments as a marching order against the court.

NBA’s Nets Suspend Irving At Least Five Games In Anti-Semitism Furore

(FILES) In this file photo taken on November 1, 2022 Kyrie Irving #11 of the Brooklyn Nets brings the ball up the court during the fourth quarter of the game against the Chicago Bulls at Barclays Center in New York City. – The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games on Thursday, saying they were “dismayed” by the NBA star’s response after he was criticized for posting a link to anti-semitic material. (Photo by Dustin Satloff / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

 

 

The Brooklyn Nets suspended Kyrie Irving for at least five games on Thursday, saying they were “dismayed” by the NBA star’s response after he was criticized for posting a link to anti-semitic material.

The Nets said in a statement they had made repeated efforts over the past several to work with Irving on the issue to “help him understand the harm and danger of his words and actions, which began with him publicizing a film containing deeply disturbing anti-semitic hate.

“We were dismayed today, when given an opportunity in a media session, that Kyrie refused to unequivocally say he has no anti-semitic beliefs, nor acknowledge specific hateful material in the film,” the team said. “This was not the first time he had the opportunity – but failed – to clarify.

“Such failure to disavow anti-semitism when given a clear opportunity to do so is deeply disturbing, is against the values of our organization, and constitutes conduct detrimental to the team. Accordingly, we are of the view that he is currently unfit to be associated with the Brooklyn Nets.”

The Nets’ announcement came hours after NBA commissioner Adam Silver expressed his disappointment that Irving failed to apologize for his social media posting link to the film “Hebrews to Negroes: Wake Up Black America” — a 2018 film widely lambasted for containing a range of anti-semitic tropes that was criticized by, among others, Nets owner Joe Tsai.

Silver was pleased that Irving and the Nets had since announced he and the team would make $500,000 donations to groups working to eradicate hate, Irving admitting the film had a “negative impact” on the Jewish community.

But the commissioner pushed for an apology that was not forthcoming when Irving appeared at a later press conference and said only that he took responsibility for the post.

“We have decided that Kyrie will serve a suspension without pay until he satisfies a series of objective remedial measures that address the harmful impact of his conduct,” the Nets said. “And the suspension period served is no less than five games.”

Controversy Trails Emergence Of New Legal Body Law Society Of Nigeria 

A file photo of a court gavel.
A court gavel

 

Reactions have started trailing the news of the emergence of a new association for lawyers.

In one of the earliest reactions, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Richard Oma Ahonaruogho has issued a disclaimer to the statement of the purported Pro Tem National Executives of the Law Society of Nigeria (NLS).

The learned silk who says he is the convener and founding secretary of the Law Society Of Nigeria (LSN) stated that the purported executives of the LSN as announced are not known to the body.

He asked all Nigerian Lawyers and the Body of Benchers to disregard the “hasty announcement”.

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While acknowledging that recent events in the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) have led to an increasing agitation for the full commencement of activities of the Law Society of Nigeria (LSN), he described as hasty the letter sent to the body of benchers by some representative of the persons now claiming to be Executives of the Law Society of Nigeria (LSN) as consultations are still ongoing on the issue.

He admitted that he held a meeting with one of the promoters of the Law Society of Nigeria on 6th October 2022, in Lagos, where the appeal for the commencement of full activities of the LSN was tabled, considered, and deferred for further consultations with some of the other key promoters and the sole surviving Trustees.

The SAN also disclosed that the logo and Motto – Justice For All on the purported letter claiming to be that of the Law Society of Nigeria (LSN) are alien to the Law Society of Nigeria (NLS) and amount to the tort of passing-off.

When Channels Television’s Judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele, sought the reaction of the President of the LSN, Kunle Ogunba (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) to the disclaimer, he said he was aware of it and would issue his response at a later date.

The Publicity Secretary, Douglas Ogbankwa, also promised to address the concerns shortly.

New Association For Legal Profession Law Society Of Nigeria Emerges

A file photo of a court gavel.
A court gavel

 

A new professional association of lawyers called to the Nigeria Bar has been established. Called Law Society of Nigeria, (LSN), its promoters say it was founded and registered as a national organization of lawyers admitted to practice law in Nigeria.

A copy of its certificate of registration shows that the Association was registered as far back as Dec 1994.

A statement issued on Sunday by the National Publicity Secretary of LSN, Mr Douglas Ogbankwa described the association as a “new sheriff in town”.

Ogbankwa says legal practitioners in Nigeria had been regulated solely under the umbrella of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) founded in 1933 but the LSN emerged in a bid to redefine the ideas of the founding fathers of the legal profession.

“This is in keeping with International best practices, which allow for an alternative, to ensure that lawyers thrive within the realm of those they have shared values with”.

“The Law Society of Nigeria promises to up the ante, in matters that have been ignored in the legal profession, prominent of which are premium on members’ welfare and an open and transparent system in choosing leaders of the legal profession at the National Level,” he said.

On its Twitter page @LawSocietyof Nig, the association describes itself as an alternative for change.

It has a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kunle Ogunba as its President, Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack as its Vice President and Abdulquadir Alhaji Sani as its Secretary.

Other members of the new association are, Olasupo Ojo as its Welfare Secretary, Chioma Ferguson as Treasurer, and Douglas Ogbankwa as Publicity Secretary.

Channels Television’s Judiciary Correspondent, Shola Soyele, obtained a copy of a letter dated Oct. 24, 2022, and signed by its President, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Kunle Ogunba.

In the letter, the LSN wrote to the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun to notify the BOB of its existence and to introduce its pro tem National Officers.

The letter reads as follows:  The Chairman, The Body of Benchers, Plot 688 Institute & Research District FCC, Phase 111, Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Attention: Mr. Daniel Tela (Secretary, Body of Benchers) Dear Sir, LAW SOCIETY OF NIGERIA: NOTICE OF EXISTENCE AND NATIONAL EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE. The pro tem National Executive Committee of the Law Society of Nigeria presents its compliments to the Chairman and distinguished members of the Body of Benchers as we write to formally notify our revered Body of Benchers of the existence of the Law Society of Nigeria, and its pro tem National Officers.

The Law Society of Nigeria (LSN) was founded and registered as a national organization of Lawyers admitted to practice law in Nigeria. The LSN, with membership, spread all over Nigeria, exists to empower the legal profession with quality member services (high standards of learning, competence, and professional conduct); facilitate access to justice; maintain and advance the cause of justice; and promote the rule of law, through advocacy and good governance.

The following are protem National Officers of the Law Society of Nigeria:

a. Kunle Ogunba, SAN – President

b. Hon. Nimi Walson-Jack – Vice President

c. Abdulqadir Alhaji Sani – Secretary d. Olasupo Ojo – Welfare Secretary e. Chioma Ferguson – Treasurer

f. Douglas Ogbankwa – Publicity Secretary

g. Zara Umar Yakub – Financial Secretary

h. Alice Ogaku Awonugba – Assistant Secretary

i. Hassan Sherif – Assistant Publicity Secretary

Celtics Suspend Coach Ime Udoka For Entire NBA Season

 

Photo of Ime Udoka

 

The Boston Celtics suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 NBA season on Thursday for “violations of team policies.”

“A decision about his future with the Celtics beyond this season will be made at a later date,” the team said in a statement.

“The suspension takes effect immediately.”

The Celtics did not specify what Udoka’s policy violations were.

ESPN and The Athletic reported that the 45-year-old Nigerian-American had a consensual relationship with a female member of the Celtics staff that broke the franchise’s code of conduct.

The punishment, among the harshest ever issued to an NBA head coach, comes with the Celtics’ pre-season training camp due to open next week.

In a statement obtained by ESPN, Udoka said he accepted the Celtics’ decision.

“I want to apologize to our players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and my family for letting them down,” Udoka said. “I am sorry for putting the team in this difficult situation, and I accept the team’s decision.

“Out of respect for everyone involved, I will have no further comment.”

Assistant coach Joe Mazzulla will step in as interim coach for the 2022-23 campaign, ESPN reported.

Udoka’s top assistant last season, Will Hardy, departed in June to become coach of the Utah Jazz.

Udoka replaced Brad Stevens as coach last season after Stevens was promoted to president of basketball operations following the departure of Danny Ainge.

Udoka played seven seasons in the NBA, the last four with San Antonio before his playing career ended in 2011.

He had stints as an assistant coach with San Antonio, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn before taking charge of the Celtics in June 2021 and had an impressive debut season.

Under Udoka’s guidance, Boston developed the top defense in the NBA and closed last season on a 28-7 run.

They beat the star-studded Brooklyn Nets in the first round, then ousted the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games in the second round.

They dispatched the Miami Heat in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals to reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.

They fell in six games to the Golden State Warriors in the championship series in June, but players were full of praise for Udoka.

“When you have a coach who’s willing to hold you accountable, and not just you but everyone on the team the same way, that’s how you know you have the makings of a great coach who’s trying to get somewhere special,” Boston’s Marcus Smart said during the NBA Finals.

– NBA scandals –

The turmoil adds uncertainty to the upcoming Celtics’ campaign after what had been an encouraging off-season that included the acquisition of Malcolm Brogdon and veteran free agent Danilo Gallinari.

Gallinari tore a ligament in his left knee playing for Italy in a Basketball World Cup qualifier in August and will miss the season.

Celtics Center Rob Williams is expected to miss the start of the season after knee surgery.

The affair is also another scandal for the NBA as the October 18 start of the season approaches.

Embattled Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, banned for a year and fined $10 million by the NBA for racist misogynist remarks and workplace bullying, said Wednesday he will sell the Suns and the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury.

That announcement came after NBA stars including the Suns Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James denounced the NBA punishment meted out to Sarver as too lenient.

Sarver also came under pressure from sponsors, with Suns backer PayPal saying it would not renew its deal with the team if Sarver returned after his suspension.

-AFP

NBA Coach Udoka Faces Disciplinary Action For Relationship With Colleague

 

Photo of Ime Udoka

 

The coach of Bolton Celtics Ime Udoka is currently facing disciplinary action for his involvement in a consensual, intimate relationship with a woman who is a member of staff of the Boston Celtics. 

The act is expected to include a significant suspension as the Head Coach of the Boston Celtics.

According to ESPN, their sources revealed this information to them on Wednesday.

“The relationship was considered a violation of the organization’s guidelines, and a decision on the length of that suspension is expected to come as soon as Thursday”

“While no final decision has been made, internal discussions have included scenarios that would keep Udoka out for the entirety of the 2022-23 season,” sources said.

Ime Udoka who is a Nigerian-American professional basketball coach and a former basketball player for the Nigerian National team is engaged to the multiple award-winning actress Nia Long, they have one child together.

“It isn’t believed that Udoka’s job is in jeopardy, Joe Mazzulla would likely be in serious consideration for an interim role,”  sources told ESPN.

Udoka replaced Brad Stevens as the Coach of the Celtics in June 2021, he also became the first rookie coach to win multiple Games in his first post-season according to ESPN Stats & Information research. 

A former D’Tigers forward, Ime Udoka, oversaw Boston Celtics’ qualification to the NBA finals for the first time in 12 years in a spectacular fashion. He is the 18th head coach in the Celtics franchise’s history and the first Nigerian head coach in the history of the NBA.

 

NBA Condemns Intrusion Of Appeal Court Justice’s Residence In Kano

A file photo of the NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau. [email protected]

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has strongly condemned the intrusion of the residence of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, Justice Ita Mbaba, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a statement on Wednesday by the NBA President and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yakubu Maikyau, the NBA described it as unwarranted and completely unacceptable.

It said while it does not in any way oppose the EFCC or any other law enforcement agency in the discharge of their statutory duties, the NBA would lawfully resist any attempt to harass, intimidate, or in any way bully judges and justices.

The legal body also questioned the timing and manner of the “Property Verification Exercise” of the EFCC, saying as such verification could have been done without armed operatives, and at a more appropriate time of the day through a civil process.

It, therefore, called on the EFCC to not only take appropriate disciplinary actions against the concerned officers but to also issue a public apology to the affected justice, saying it would monitor the observance of the demands.

Read the NBA President’s full statement below:

I have been following the unfortunate event of the intrusion of the residence of the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, at about 5am this morning, by armed officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

I have personally spoken with His Lordship and I was quite relieved to know that His Lordship is fine and calm. I contacted the Kano Branch Chairman of the NBA, who together with the Attorneys General of Kano and Jigawa States, engaged the officials of the EFCC on the matter.

A few hours later, I again spoke with His Lordship the Presiding Justice, who confirmed that the Chairman of the EFCC had called to explain the conduct of the officials and apologize for the ensuing embarrassment.

I have also seen the ‘Press Statement’ of the EFCC and called the Chairman of the Commission to express the concerns of the NBA over the incident. He explained the circumstances surrounding the incident and also confirmed that he reached out to His Lordship.

The EFCC in its statement admitted that its operatives were on a “Property Verification Exercise” and stated that His Lordship is “not under any investigation by the Commission”.

The statement however fell short of rendering an apology to His Lordship and the Judiciary for the invasion of His Lordship’s privacy and the resultant embarrassment by the actions of its operatives.

The NBA strongly condemns the intrusion of the residence of His Lordship; it is unwarranted and completely unacceptable. Whilst we do not in any way, oppose and will not stand in the way of the EFCC or any other law enforcement agency in the discharge of its statutory duties, the NBA will lawfully resist any attempt to harass, intimidate or in any way bully our Judges and Justices.

The timing and manner of the “Property Verification Exercise” leave much to be desired, to say the least. Such verification could have been done without armed operatives, at a more appropriate time of the day, and through a civil process. We are a Country of laws and regulations, and we must show regard for the Rule of Law and due process.

I, therefore, call on the EFCC to not only take appropriate disciplinary actions against the concerned officers but also issue a public apology to His Lordship, the Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Kano Division, and the entire judiciary. The NBA will monitor the observance of these demands.

I thank His Lordship, the President of the Court of Appeal, the Chairman of the EFCC, Attorneys General of Kano and Jigawa States, the Chairman and executive members of Kano Branch of the NBA, other stakeholders, and the public for their concern and prompt interventions, following the incident.

The NBA will not shirk in its responsibility to protect and defend the Rule of Law as well as the integrity and independence of the Judiciary.

Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN President

Sport Leaders Eye Africa As Talent Source, Investment Target

This photograph taken on April 20, 2022 shows an exterior view of the al-Janoub Stadium in Doha (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

 

 

Africa offers a vast underdeveloped market for global sports, with thousands of athletes ready to join international ranks if only there were major investment, industry leaders and stars say.

But more government and private-sector partnerships are needed to turbo-charge African sports and bring young players into top-tier leagues of football, basketball and even American football, participants at a business forum said Monday.

In the event on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, NBA commissioner Adam Silver hailed Africa as bursting with sporting potential, noting that more than 10 percent of players in the world’s premier basketball league were born in African countries or have African parents.

“Invariably more NBA, WNBA players will be discovered, will be nurtured, will be developed and then be able to play at the highest level,” he said of the region’s younger generations and the benefits of expanding youth training programs there.

Silver also stressed that in order to attract the “literally billions in investments that are needed,” sport in Africa must be seen as economically viable.

“In order to persuade… great businesspeople to invest in the infrastructure, we have to demonstrate that it’s a real business — that there is real return over time,” he said.

The forum featured former NBA stars like Congolese-American Dikembe Mutombo, WNBA sensation Chiney Ogwumike who is of Nigerian origin, and current Toronto Raptors power forward Pascal Siakam, a Cameroonian who caught the attention of scouts at a Basketball Without Borders camp in South Africa.

American football too has beefed up its presence. More than 100 current NFL players are African, according to Osi Umenyiora, a Super Bowl champion who leads an NFL initiative to expand the pipeline of new talent from places such as Ghana and Nigeria.

“From a business standpoint it would actually make sense to me to start making business in Africa now,” Umenyiora told the audience, adding the NFL has recently opened new player camps in Africa.

– ‘Grounded’ –

The discussion comes along the launch of the new African Super League, which is dangling major prize money for the 24 football clubs that qualify for the first edition next year.

Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe said that while Africa’s link to European and American leagues is “important,” the Super League “will attract billions of dollars in football in Africa to pay the smartest and most talented young Africans and keep them on the continent.”

Recent 100-meter hurdles gold medalist Tobi Amusan, who in July became Nigeria’s first world champion in a track and field event, warned that Africa’s lack of infrastructure including training facilities could fuel a migration of athletes.

“I’m not saying don’t go to other places,” Amusan, who herself is based in Texas, told AFP.

“But if the government and private sector have stuff like this implemented in Africa, we keep our own grounded in our countries and not just have them wander away to other countries.”

The head of the region’s new top-flight basketball league also spoke of the delicate balance between international player recruitment and sports development on the ground.

“Africa needs to cease being just an exporter all the time,” said Amadou Fall, president of the Basketball Africa League, which launched last year.

AFP

NBA President Demands Deliberate Investment In Welfare Of Judges

A file photo of Mr Yakubu Maikyau.

 

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, on Monday called on the Federal Government to urgently act to improve the welfare of judges.

Mr Maikyau made the call at the Annual Legal Year Ceremony of the Court of Appeal in Abuja. Decrying the poor working condition of the court and the welfare of justices, he urged the government “to deliberately invest in the welfare of Judges and Justices by strengthening the human capital within the justice sector and meeting all the infrastructural needs of the judiciary as a matter of urgency”.

The welfare of judges has been an issue for some time now and attracted national attention recently when justices of the Supreme raised the matter.

READ ALSO: Vandalisation Of Conference Materials: NBA President Inaugurates Probe Committee

According to Maikyau, salaries and allowances of judges and justices in the country have remained the same since 2008 and that has had a negative impact on justice and justice delivery in the country.

Also, he emphasized the need for the judiciary to be truly independent and described as worrisome the fact that “none of the presidential candidates for the upcoming  2023 election, who attended the Opening Ceremony of the just concluded NBA-AGC on the 21st August 2022 spared any thought on the independence of the judiciary”.

Mr Maikyau called on “the Federal Government to revisit the 2018 Report of the Committee on the Review of Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service, to bring same in tune with our present-day realities and give effect to the final recommendations that will arise therefrom.”

Read the full statement below:

NBA PRESIDENT DEMANDS DELIBERATE INVESTMENT IN THE WELFARE OF JUDGES

Today 12th September, 2022, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN delivered an address at the Annual Legal Year Ceremony of the Court of Appeal.

The event was held at the Court of Appeal Headquarters, Abuja and it had in attendance the President and Justices of the Court of Appeal as well as other eminent jurists and members of the Bar.

The NBA President in his address decried the poor working condition of the court and welfare of Justices. He stated that the salaries and allowances of judges and justices in the country have remained the same since 2008 and this has a negative impact on justice and justice delivery in the country.

He emphasized the need for the judiciary to be truly independent and described as worrisome the fact that “none of the presidential candidates for the upcoming 2023 election, who attended the Opening Ceremony of the just concluded NBA-AGC on the 21st August, 2022 spared any thought on the independence of the judiciary.”

The NBA President urged “the government to deliberately invest in the welfare of Judges and Justices by strengthening the human capital within the justice sector and meeting all the infrastructural needs of the judiciary as a matter of urgency.”

Also, the President called on “the Federal Government to revisit the 2018 Report of the Committee on the Review of Judicial Salaries and Conditions of Service, to bring same in tune with our present day realities and give effect to the final recommendations that will arise therefrom.”

The NBA President reiterated the commitment of the NBA under his leadership to maintain a robust Bench and Bar relationship.

Akorede Habeeb Lawal
National Publicity Secretary, NBA

Vandalisation Of Conference Materials: NBA President Inaugurates Probe Committee

A file photo of Mr Yakubu Maikyau.

 

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Yakubu Maikyau, has inaugurated a 15-member committee to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the sad incident of Tuesday, August 23rd when lawyers broke into the pavilion for the distribution of conference materials, destroyed the booths and carted away bags and other valuables.

The incident occurred during the recently concluded 62nd Annual General Conference of the NBA at the Eko Atlantic City, Lagos.

At the inauguration ceremony which was held on Monday, the NBA chief charged the chairman of the investigation committee, the Attorney General of Ekiti State, Wale Fapohunda (SAN), and the other members to also make recommendations concerning the incident taking into consideration the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association, 2015 (as amended in 2021), Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 and other relevant legislations, policies, and guidelines.

READ ALSO: [Augie Constituency] Court Orders INEC To Accept, Publish Sani Noma As PDP Candidate

The committee has four weeks within which to submit its findings and recommendations.

Find below the Statement by the President, the Nigerian Bar Association at the inauguration of the NBA Annual General Conference Incident Investigation Committee, today 5th September 2022

1. On Tuesday, the 23rd day of August 2022, on the sidelines of the just concluded 62nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association at Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, Lagos, an incident occurred at the venue for the distribution of conference materials. The sad incident resulted in the vandalisation of the said venue and destruction of valuables which allegedly include Conference materials, laptops, phones, and other items.

2. The conduct of our colleagues involved in that incident borders on possible violations of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners and other relevant laws applicable in Lagos State. It has been a source of embarrassment to the Association and raises cause for grave concern to the legal profession and to the general public; both within and outside Nigeria.

3. Recall that in my Inaugural Address on 26th August 2022, I had committed to setting up a committee to investigate the incident and identify all those who participated in that disgraceful act. Consequently, the Committee has been set up with the following Terms of Reference:

1) Investigate the said incident; the immediate and remote cause(s) of the same and identify the persons involved therein.

2) Make recommendations concerning the matters stated above, taking into consideration the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Constitution of the Nigerian Bar Association, 2015 (as amended in 2021), Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 and other relevant legislations, policies, and guidelines.

The Committee as constituted is made up of the following persons:

1-Olawale Fapohunda, SAN – *Chairman*
2-CP Lough Simon Asamber SAN – *Alternate Chairman*
3-Oyinkan Badejo
4- Ada Edozie
5-Florence Marcus – *Secretary*
6-Mujahid Muhammed
7- Lucky Ekarume.
8-Chini Nwora
9-Adama Mohammed
10-Shehu Sani Idris.
11- Oyindamola Fashakin
12-ThankGod-Mina Hope Obeten
13-Folashade Owolabi.
14-Mrs. Toluwalope Aderiye

The Committee shall submit its Report (Findings and Recommendations) within a period of 4 weeks from the date of its inauguration or within such extended time as may be allowed by the President.

We thank the Learned *Silks* and our distinguished colleagues for accepting to serve on this Committee.

Nigerian NBA Rookie Agbaji Traded By Cavaliers To Utah Jazz

Ochai Agbaji
File photo of Ochai Agbaji playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in July.

 

Nigerian NBA rookie, Ochai Agbaji, has been traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Utah Jazz for three-time all-star Donovan Mitchell.

The Jazz are also getting Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, three unprotected first-round picks, and two pick swaps.

Utah now has thirteen unprotected or lightly protected first-round picks through 2029 and two 2022 first-round picks as the franchise reshapes its roster following the offseason trades of all-star centre Rudy Gobert and now Mitchell.

Born to a Nigerian immigrant father, the 22-year-old Agbaji was drafted fourteenth overall in the 2022 NBA Draft by Cleveland and signed a standard rookie contract in early July worth $4.68 million per season over four years.

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He played four seasons at the University of Kansas where he improved year on year, culminating in being named the most outstanding player in the NCAA final four after leading the Jayhawks to their first championship since 2008.

According to nba.com, Agbaji averaged 18.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game as a senior at the University of Kansas while shooting 41% from beyond from 3-point range.

He also received big xii player of the year and consensus first-team all-American honours.

Agbaji impressed for the Cavs in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas in July, scoring 16 points on his debut against the San Antonio Spurs which ended in a 99-90 victory.

He continued his impressive play in the NBA summer league with 24 points on 7-for-13 shooting from the field and 4-of-8 from the 3-point range against the Charlotte Hornets.

Described by NBA scouts as ready to contribute immediately in his rookie season, Agbaji will now look to continue his career in Utah along with another Nigerian and University of Kansas alumnus, Udoka Azubuike.

Utah has made the playoffs the past six seasons which is the longest current streak in the western conference but has not made it past the second round during that run.