Nigeria Bar Association Closely Monitoring Edo Election, Says Aikpokpo-Martins

The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) says it is closely monitoring the activities leading to the governorship election in Edo State.

NBA First Vice President, John Aikpokpo-Martins, disclosed this on Thursday during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily in Abuja.

He explained that the body is satisfied with the peaceful manner political actors have conducted themselves so far.

“The NBA does not have the resources to follow up from the beginning to the end. As an association, this particular team was set up to observe from tomorrow till the election will be over; that is to say to the announcement of the result.

“However, we have been watching and observing all that is going on. For now, we are satisfied to the extent that the parties have conducted themselves very well, they have campaigned hard,” he said.

Speaking on the possibility of violence in the polls, the legal practitioner said there have been allegations of “threat to violence but not actual violence yet.”

The NBA leader said the allegations and counter-allegations do not automatically translate to violence on the election day.

Aikpokpo-Martins, who is also an indigene of Edo State, said the state does not have a history of violence in previous elections.

NBA First Vice President, John Aikpokpo-Martins, speaks on the September 19 governorship election in Edo State.

Although he admitted that the political atmosphere is tensed with the “temperature very high,” he is however optimistic of peaceful conduct of the exercise on September 19.

READ ALSO: FG Approves Establishment Of New Anti-Corruption Agency

“The security is very tight now. There are a lot of soldiers, a lot of policemen on the streets. I am very sure that will dissuade merchants of violence from going out to disrupt the election in a violent way,” he said.

His remarks come two days after the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate and incumbent governor, Godwin Obaseki embraced his main rival and contender in the poll, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The duo beaming with smiles warmly hugged each other, an indication that they have decided to toe the line of peace and avoid unnecessary bloodshed in the election.

NBA Constitutes Observer Group Edo Governorship Election

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has constituted an Observer Group for the Edo State governorship elections slated for Saturday 19th of September, 2020.

A statement from the NBA says the Group will be led by its 1st Vice-President, John Aikpokpo-Martins.

Read the full statement below:

NBA OBSERVER GROUP FOR EDO STATE GUBERNATORIAL ELECTION
Dear Colleagues,
The Edo State Gubernatorial election will take place this Saturday, the 19th day of September 2020.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association – Olumide Akpata has appointed the following persons as members of the NBA observer Group for the Edo State Gubernatorial election.
They are:
1. John Aikpokpo-Martins – NBA 1st Vice-president
2. Kunle Edun – NBA Welfare Secretary
3. Solomon Odiase – NBA Benin Branch
4. A. A. Atemagbo – NBA Auchi Branch
5. Okoduwa Maile – Chairman NBA Ekpoma Branch
6. Chris Ekuze – Chairman NBA Uromi Branch
7. Kolade Olorunmola – Chairman NBA Igarra Branch
8. Ogaga Emoghware – NBA Benin Branch
9. Prof. Izevbuwa – NBA Benin Branch
10. Prof. Inegbedion – NBA Ekpoma Branch
11. Aderemi Oguntoye – NBA Lagos Branch
12. Osadorlor Okunkpolor – NBA Benin Branch.

The team will be led by John Aikpokpo-Martins – NBA 1st Vice President.

Dr. Rapulu Nduka
Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association

LeBron Leads Lakers To NBA West Finals With Rout Of Rockets

ORLANDO, FL – SEPTEMBER 12: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers brings the ball up court against the Houston Rockets during Game Five of the Western Conference SemiFinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 12, 2020 at AdventHealth Arena in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images/AFP

 

LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists as the Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their first NBA Western Conference final in a decade with a 119-96 blowout win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday.

Anthony Davis tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds, Kyle Kuzma had 17 and Markieff Morris finished with 16 for the Lakers, who eliminated the Rockets in five games in the quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida.

Los Angeles advanced to their first NBA final four since the Kobe Bryant-led Lakers beat Phoenix for the conference title and then defeated Boston for the 2010 NBA championship, the last time they won.

“It’s the reason I wanted to be a part of this franchise is to take them back to a place they were accustomed to being. And that’s competing for a championship,” said James.

“It’s an honour for me to wear the purple and gold and for us to just try to continue the legacy and just play great basketball for our fans.”

This will be James’s 11th career conference finals but when asked by reporters how it feels, he changed the subject to talk about the group as a whole.

“Every game is a learning experience for us. Every game is another opportunity for us to get better. We want to continue to build,” said James.

They will face either the Los Angeles Clippers or the Denver Nuggets in the next playoff round. The Clippers lead that series 3-2.

The Lakers got off to their best start of the series, dominating the opening plays to take a 35-20 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Their only lull of the game came in the start of the second quarter when Houston briefly woke from their slumber and cut the lead to seven, 38-31.

But the Lakers outscored the Rockets 33-18 in the third to take full command.

They drained 19 three-pointers and shot 52 percent from the floor.

With the game in hand, the Lakers sat three-time NBA champion James and Davis for much of the fourth quarter.

“Everything is falling into place. When I got here the goal was to win a championship and now we are eight wins away,” said Davis.

– ‘A piece away’ –

Once again the James Harden-led Rockets put up little resistance as Houston, after surprising the Lakers in game one of the series, lost their fourth straight and their third in a row by more than 10 points.

Harden led the Rockets with 30 points and Russell Westbrook scored just 10 in the loss.

Harden had a disappointing series, delivering another series of fourth-quarter playoff disappearing acts that have pockmarked his career.

“Tough season for us. Obviously it didn’t end the way we wanted it to. So, we just got to figure it out,” he said.

In the past five years, Harden has shot less than 25 percent from beyond the arc in post-season fourth quarters and overtime. He finished two-of-eight from three-point range on Saturday.

Harden said Saturday all they need to become great is to add one more piece to the puzzle.

“It’s very, very frustrating. Especially the amount of work individually I put in,” he said. “But I’ve got to keep chipping away. I’ve got to keep going and keep going until I can’t go anymore.

“I feel like we’re a piece away and we’ve just got keep trying to figure it out. Keep trying to put the pieces around me and Russ to get us where we want to go,” said Harden.

Tempers flared in the fourth quarter both on and off the floor. The brother of Lakers Rajon Rondo now has the dubious honour of being the first fan thrown out of a bubble game after he exchanged words with Houston’s Westbrook.

The public is not allowed in the arena because of the coronavirus pandemic but players are allowed to invite a limited number of family and friends to watch the games in person.

Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni, whose contract expires at the end of the season, couldn’t say whether he will be back.

“We’ll see what happens. I had four years. Hopefully it keeps going, but you just never know,” he said.

AFP

Body Of SAN Sets Up Committee To Audit NBA Elections, Group Condemns Move

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

 

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), has set up a Committee to audit the national elections of the Nigerian Bar Association for the years 2016, 2018 and 2020.

The BOSAN meeting which held over the weekend was presided over by the first female Senior Advocate, Mrs Folake Solanke.

At his inaugural address, the President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata had announced the setting up of an Electoral Audit and Reforms Committee to audit the 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections and recommend reforms to guide future elections.

But there are those who believe that this procedure is wrong as it should have been the decision of the National Executive Committee of the NBA especially as Mr Akpata is the beneficiary of the flawed elections.

Channels Television gathered that BOSAN feels equally concerned about the outcome of the last three elections and wants the committee to embark on a fact-finding mission to unravel what happened so that the NBA can have credible elections going forward.

Some negative reactions have, however, trailed the move. A statement by a group, Open Bar Initiative insists that BOSAN’s move to audit the elections is only because a non-SAN emerged as President of the Bar.

In the statement signed by the convener, Silas Onu, the group called on the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) to desist from its attempt to audit the 2020 NBA Elections as it amounts to an attempt to supervise, meddle and undermine the NBA.

The statement further says that “the entire membership of BOSAN is less than 600 and as such, they aren’t in any position to act or speak for the over 120,000 lawyers in Nigeria.

The Open Bar Initiative concluded by saying that it is set to take BOSAN to court if it insists on acting unilaterally in ways that undermine the core purpose and responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association.

In a swift reaction, a member of the BOSAN Audit Committee, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), debunked insinuations that the BOSAN committee was set up to rival the audit committee set up by the President of the Bar, Olumide Akpata.

Adegboruwa said the setting up of the BOSAN commuter was a unanimous decision of the body with no ill motive or foul play in mind.

According to him: “the insinuation of alleged foul play is totally unwarranted, being a deliberate attempt to twist the narrative of the BOSAN meeting, with the sole aim of blackmailing the noble men and women of the Inner Bar, into silence.

He also said all stakeholders in the legal profession are working towards a solution to the perennial complaints following the experiences with electronic voting and it is, therefore, not outside BOSAB’s mandate as lawyers to help the Bar to chart a way forward in this regard, in collaboration with the NBA and other relevant stakeholders.

See the full responses of the Open Bar Initiative and Ebun Adegboruwa’s response below:

Our attention has been drawn to the sinister activity of a group known and referred to as the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN), an independent incorporated trustee, with no connection to the NBA whatsoever, as it constitutes itself into a supervising body of the Nigerian Bar Association.

Today, they plan to announce a committee of that body to audit the just-concluded NBA Election. It is evident that many Senior Advocates who personally felt defeated by a non-SAN are now working overtime to supplant the Nigerian Bar Association with a group formed only for the SANs.

This is not the only overbearing activity embarked upon by the group without any authority from Nigerian Lawyers.

They have also constituted themselves into the drafters of the proposed amendment to the Legal Practitioner’s Act and therein attempting to give the body a statutory flavour.

This attempts to undermine the Nigerian Bar Association simply because a Non-SAN is the current President by promoting another platform that will speak for and on behalf of lawyers is unfortunate and hereby condemned.

It cannot stand and must be resisted by all well-meaning Nigerian lawyers.

Senior Advocates, like Young Lawyers, have the right to come together under a forum that is subject to the Nigerian Bar Association. However, incorporating an independent body with the aim of surreptitiously taking over the core responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association is, sadly, demonstrative of the rot that some of these Seniors have brought to this profession.

The only reason for such a body is to show a distinction between “ordinary” lawyers and the “extraordinary” Senior Advocates, who have now surpassed the level of being called lawyers, or so we imagine.

The Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, being an independent incorporated trustee has no business whatsoever in meddling with NBA Election under any guise and should discontinue any attempt to so interfere forthwith. They can organise an election for their preferred candidates to lead their own body and it won’t be our business at all.

Also, the body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria is not known to the legal practitioner’s Act and has no place in the proposed amendment of the said Act. If they have any input to make, it should be routed through the recognized body of lawyers, the Nigerian Bar Association. They cannot constitute themselves as a body acting for or on behalf of lawyers.

Their entire membership is less than 600 and as such, they aren’t in any position to act or speak for the over 120, 000 lawyers in Nigeria. They are to desist from further usurpation of responsibilities that does not fall within their purview.

We are resolved to drag that body to court if it insists on acting unilaterally in ways that undermine the core purpose and responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association.

We know that not all Senior Advocates subscribe to the objectives of this body and therefore call on the very respected Senior Advocates of Nigeria, properly so-called, to dissociate themselves from this attempt to undermine the Nigerian Bar Association simply because a Non-SAN is presently the President.

Thank you.

Silas Joseph Onu, MCIArb
Past Publicity Secretary,
Nigerian Bar Association, Abuja Branch.
&
Convener, Open Bar Initiative.

——————————————————————————————————

COMMITTEE TO AUDIT NBA ELECTIONS

My attention has been drawn to a news item currently circulating, to the effect that the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria, BOSAN, has set up a parallel Committee to audit the national elections of the Nigerian Bar Association for the year 2016, 2018 and 2020. The said report suggests that BOSAN may have done this in order to undermine the Committee set up by the NBA for the same purpose.

I attended the meeting of BOSAN held on September 5, 2020, as a bona fide member of the said organization, which is duly registered under the relevant laws of Nigeria for the protection of the interests of its members, as permitted under section 40 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended.

I was nominated along with other distinguished members of BOSAN, for a national assignment, as a patriotic member of the legal profession in Nigeria. It was a unanimous decision of BOSAN, with no ill motive or foul play in mind. The meeting was presided over by the first female Senior Advocate, Mrs. Folake Solanke, who sacrificed her time for the said meeting that lasted well over four hours, at well over 80 years of age, for the common good of all.

All stakeholders in the legal profession are working towards a solution to the perennial complaints following our experiences with electronic voting, it is therefore not outside our mandate as lawyers to help the Bar to chart a way forward in this regard, in collaboration with the NBA and other relevant stakeholders.

The insinuation of alleged foul play is totally unwarranted, being a deliberate attempt to twist the narrative of the BOSAN meeting, with the sole aim of blackmailing the noble men and women of the Inner Bar, into silence.

Personally, I am embarrassed that a meeting held to discuss the progress of the Bar and indeed Nigeria, is being bandied as a gang up, even when no official statement or communique has been issued by the executive council of BOSAN.

I verily believe that those spreading this falsehood are enemies of the Bar, who are out on a sadistic mission to pit the NBA against BOSAN, without any justification whatsoever, given that both bodies exist to complement each other.

I’m concerned that the good reputation of patriotic Bar leaders is being maligned recklessly on the altar of Bar politics, or else I cannot fathom the reason why anyone should lose sleep over attempts to build a united, strong and virile Bar.

From available history, BOSAN has never been in rivalry with any NBA Exco; it has been in existence before the new Exco assumed office and it will continue to partner with all NBA Excos for the progress of the Bar and Nigeria at large.

Personally, I offer to work with all stakeholders within the Bar, including the present leadership of the NBA, for the common good of the legal profession and our country, Nigeria, as I do in other national issues.

Thank you.

Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN
Lekki, Lagos.
06/09/2020

NBA Fines Beverley $25,000 For Referee Abuse

Patrick Beverley #21 of the LA Clippers and Montrezl Harrell #5 of the LA Clippers high five against the Denver Nuggets during Game One of the Western Conference Semifinals of the NBA Playoffs on September 3, 2020, at The AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. Garrett Ellwood / NBAE / Getty Images /

 

 

Los Angeles Clippers star Patrick Beverley has been fined $25,000 for verbally abusing a game official during his team’s defeat to the Denver Nuggets, the NBA said Monday.

NBA vice president Kiki VanDeWeghe said in a statement Beverley was fined for his conduct during Saturday’s 110-101 loss to the Nuggets.

Beverley’s verbal volley saw him assessed with two technical fouls and ejected late in the fourth quarter.

The Nuggets and Clippers best-of-seven series is locked at 1-1.

Game three takes place in Orlando later on Monday.

AFP

NBA Wades Into Case Of Kano Musician Sentenced To Death For Blasphemy

NBA President, Olumide Akpata. Photo: [email protected] Akpata

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has waded into the reported case of a musician, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu who was sentenced to death in Kano State for blasphemy.

According to a statement issued on Thursday by the NBA National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Ernest Nduka, NBA President, Olumide Akpata, has set up a two-man Fact-Finding Committee.

The committee, comprising the association’s first Vice President, John Aikpokpo-Martins and the National Welfare Secretary, Mr Kunle Edun were mandated to visit the Federal Correctional Centre in Kano.

READ ALSO: FEC Approves $3.1bn For Automation Of Nigeria Customs

According to the statement, the visit followed calls by well-meaning Nigerians to allow the convicted musician to have access to his lawyers.

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

*NBA WADES INTO THE REPORTED CASE OF REFUSAL BY THE FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL CENTRE TO ALLOW LAWYERS ACCESS TO YAHAYA SHARIF-AMINU, WHO WAS SENTENCED TO DEATH BY THE KANO STATE UPPER SHARIA COURT. *

The President of the  Nigerian Bar Association – Mr. Olumide Akpata, in response to the allegations on the social media by Nigerians and calls by members of the Nigerian Bar Association on the Federal Correctional Centre, Kano to allow Yahaya Sharif-Aminu have access to his lawyers, set up a two-man Fact-Finding Committee made up of the NBA 1st Vice President – Mr. John Aikpokpo-Martins and the National Welfare Secretary – Mr. Kunle Edun. The committee was mandated to urgently embark on a fact-finding mission to the Federal Correctional Centre in Kano.

On the 2nd day of September 2020, the 1st Vice President and the National Welfare Secretary visited the said Correctional Centre and sought audience with the Controller of the Correctional Centre.

Recall that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was recently sentenced to death by the Kano Upper  Sharia Court having been convicted for blasphemy. The Governor of Kano State has been reported to have promised to sign the execution warrant if Yahaya Sharif-Aminu fails to appeal the death sentence within the statutory time allowed by law.

At the Correctional Centre, the NBA National Officers were informed that the Controller of the Correctional Centre was not available.  They were granted an audience by the Second in command.

The NBA National Officers informed the said Second in Command about their mission at the Federal Correctional Centre, Kano. They requested to see Yahaya Sharif-Aminu in order to ascertain the veracity of the allegation that lawyers were not allowed to gain access to him. The said Second in Command informed the said National Officers that he does not have the authority to grant the access sought, but would seek the permission of his boss, the Controller (who was not available as at the time of the visit) before allowing the National Officers access to Yahaya Sharif-Aminu.

The afore-mentioned National officers were eventually denied access to Yahaya Sharif even after the said Second in Command made the call to his superior.

However, the said National Officers were able to confirm that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu has been denied access to any lawyer since his conviction. They were further informed that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu was not represented by a lawyer during the trial at the Upper Sharia Court.

The Nigerian Bar Association states that since the visit was a fact finding mission, the NBA shall take further steps in ensuring that Yahaya Sharif-Aminu is given the requisite opportunity to exercise his constitutional right of appeal and his right to be represented by a lawyer of his choice.  It is imperative that Yahaya is granted access to a lawyer of his choice.

 *Dr.  Rapuluchukwu Ernest Nduka*

National Publicity Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association

Parallel NBA: Akpata Describes Move As Unfortunate, Calls For Unity

 

President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata, has described the formation of a parallel NBA as unfortunate, calling for a united body at a time when the country needs them the most.

Mr Akpata who was sworn in as NBA’s 30th President, while giving his inaugural speech on Friday, faulted the move to establish a regional bar.

“I am not unaware of very recent events and agitations that have tended to divide our Bar along regional and religious lines. This is rather unfortunate for an egalitarian Association like ours. The Bar that I want to lead henceforth is one that is united on all fronts and that recognises that our diversity is, perhaps, our greatest strength. I plead with all Nigerian lawyers to bear this philosophy of unity in mind as we commence a new journey together today.

“This enormous task cannot be achieved if we continue to fan the embers of division at a time when we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice. We must be kind, magnanimous, respectful, and sensitive in our words and actions, as doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable bar. Now is the time to come together because a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.”

READ ALSO: Akpata Sworn In As 30th NBA President

Following the withdrawal of the invitation extended by the Bar to the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai, some lawyers had alleged discrimination against the governor.

Two lawyers based in Kaduna, Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman, describing themselves as Convener 1 and 2, on Thursday, announced that they and others of like minds had formed a ‘New Nigerian Bar Association’ NNBA.

In a statement released on social media, the lawyers said: “The New Nigerian Bar Association members feel that their interests are no longer taken into consideration in major decisions of the NBA hence the formation of this Association.

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

 

According to them, membership of the NBA is not mandatory, adding that Section 40 of the Constitution permits freedom of association.

The new NBA members said they were in consultations with “very Senior Lawyers of Northern Nigeria extraction and those practicing therein with a view to constituting the Trustees and for purposes of fixing a date for the formal inauguration of the Association.”

The NNBA also claimed that the NBA offices were lopsided against Northern lawyers.

“A cursory chronicle of the membership composition of major organs of the NBA would reveal lopsided representation despite having large numbers of Lawyers from all parts of the country and especially Northern Nigeria who have diligently paid their Bar practicing fees and have distinguished themselves in the legal profession.

“The New Nigerian Bar Association feels that Lawyers, as professionals like Doctors and Accountants should have more than one Association regulated by the General Council of the Bar.”

 Senior Lawyers Fault Move, Call For Caution

The news of a parallel body of the Nigerian Bar Association has elicited mixed reactions from lawyers across the country.

While some are opposed to the move, others say it is within the rights of the conveners to do the same.

Mike Ozekhome, SAN, who spoke at the handover ceremony of the NBA leadership on Friday, advised aggrieved members against forming an alternative association.

Ozekhome said, “drop all these issues of trying to form an alternative Bar, whether you call it new NBA or progressive NBA, it’s not going to work.

“The reason is that when you begin to create a different Bar, calling it, for example, Northern Bar or new Bar, then people, very soon, are going to start calling for Southern Nigerian Army, Southern Nigerian Navy, Western Nigerian Air Force, Eastern Nigeria Tax Authority, etc; where are we heading to? That is nothing but balkanisation of Nigeria and God forbid.”

Meanwhile, another senior lawyer, Yusuf Ali SAN, said, “Nobody has contacted me about the formation of any parallel organisation. I’ve not been consulted, I’ve not been contacted, but I want to advise caution on all the sides.

“Our elders have a saying that beheading is not the answer for headache. We are better off with our numbers and diversity of the Association.”

He also said that if in the future such a split becomes necessary, “it shouldn’t be borne out of disagreement. It should be something that comes because our numbers have become so huge and that there are needs. It should also be a pan-Nigerian thing.

“So, for me, this is just an event; it is quite unfortunate, but I think it is a matter that we should address at a conference table.

“I don’t think we should join Nigerian politicians to behave the way they normally do; you’re dissatisfied, form your own party. I’m dissatisfied, I form my own party. That’s not the best way to go, and as leaders in the country, by virtue of our training, we should show a good example and provide leadership to others to emulate us. We should not because we have issues within ourselves, balkanise our association.

“Some of us have our reservations about the decision of the NBA excluding Mallam El-Rufai, from the conference, but, that notwithstanding, we should still keep our heads and take rational decisions in the interest of our Association, our profession, and our country. I ask for understanding and caution.”

In his own reaction, Jibrin Okutepa SAN said the New NBA’s move was not surprising considering recent happenings in the Bar.

He argued that many honest lawyers were disenchanted because the NBA had lost its values, and the New NBA members had the constitutional right to form another association.

“If you have read me in several papers – myself, Femi Falana and several others – we have spoken sufficiently to the Constitutional iniquities of making Nigerian lawyers be members of the NBA, particularly that the NBA has lost it value. “So, if any lawyer feels aggrieved that he wants to form a new association, what stops them from doing so?

That is within their rights under Section 49 of the Constitution. So, I do not share the views of those who say you must be forced to be a member of the NBA. I don’t share that view. We have chosen to be members of the NBA because we believe that the NBA will live up to the standard of its motto, which is promoting the rule of law.

“But in the past years have you seen NBA promoting rule of law? Or the rule of personal aggrandisement?, he asked.

Akpata Sworn In As 30th NBA President

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

 

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has sworn in its 30th President, Mr Olumide Akpata.

He was sworn-in at a short ceremony held at the NBA National Secretariat in Abuja.

The ceremony which was streamed live online marked the end of the tenure of the Paul Usoro administration.

Mr. Akpata immediately thanked the past executive for ensuring that the Association was held together after which he swore in members of his executives.

In his inaugural address after his swearing-in, Mr Akpata called on lawyers to unite as the work ahead of the Association is enormous

Akpata, said he considers it a great honour and privilege on the epochal 60th anniversary of the NBA, “to be sworn in as the 30th President of the foremost professional membership association in Nigeria and the most influential network of legal practitioners in Africa.”

READ ALSO: Nigeria Will No Longer Tolerate Harassment Of Citizens In Ghana – FG

Akpata who was declared the winner of the keenly contested poll by NBA Electoral Committee on July 31, will lead the Affairs of the bar for the next two years.

The inaugural speech reads in part:

“It is apposite to begin the formal part of the address by tackling two major issues arising from the 2020 NBA election – the seeds of discord that were sown during the election campaigns and the issues pertaining to the election process itself.

The Need for Unity at the Bar

“I am not oblivious of the cleavages that emerged during the campaign and the attempt to pitch senior members of the bar against their younger counterparts. We were all witnesses to the widespread agitations against the holders of the enviable rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria to the extent that some people were eagerly anticipating a revolution. In some ways, this was understandable, having regard to the issues that characterised the election and the uniqueness of my candidacy, being the first non-Senior Advocate of Nigeria to win an election as NBA President in thirty years. However, the elections are now over, and we must, of necessity, retrace our steps.

“One of the cardinal pillars of my campaign and on the basis of which I made myself available to run for this high office, was the promise to run an all-inclusive Bar. There is no gainsaying the fact that this necessarily includes giving due recognition and deference to the senior members of the Bar who are the builders of, and significant contributors to, our noble Association. Even as a candidate, I never saw myself as a harbinger of division between senior and young members of the Bar, but as bridge candidate to build better rapport between young and senior lawyers. This is a role I will approach will all seriousness.

“One of the first things I did after the result declaration was to call on my supporters to desist from joining issues or otherwise attacking other lawyers, especially senior members of the Bar, but instead to be magnanimous in victory. Permit me to repeat what I said in that publication. Ours is a noble profession that prides itself on a high sense of discipline, learning, respect for seniority and character for which its members are reputed. Let us therefore join hands to move the NBA forward. The mandate that I have from Nigerian lawyers is to work for all members of the Bar irrespective of who they voted for. There is so much work to be done to revitalise our Bar and make it work for everyone without discrimination.

“I am also not unaware of very recent events and agitations that have tended to divide our Bar along regional and religious lines. This is rather unfortunate for an egalitarian Association like ours. The Bar that I want to lead henceforth is one that is united on all fronts and that recognises that our diversity is, perhaps, our greatest strength. I plead with all Nigerian lawyers to bear this philosophy of unity in mind as we commence a new journey together today.

“This enormous task cannot be achieved if we continue to fan the embers of division at a time when we desperately need to unite and speak with one firm voice. We must be kind, magnanimous, respectful, and sensitive in our words and actions, as doing otherwise would be a great disservice to our vision of building a stronger and formidable Bar. Now is the time to come together because a divided Bar is a defeated Bar.

Electoral Reform

“It is pertinent to state categorically that, in my view, the 2020 Election – the voting and result of which were monitored live by a significant proportion of Nigerian lawyers and non-lawyers alike – was ultimately free and fair, and the result was, by all estimation, truly reflective of the will of Nigerian lawyers. The above notwithstanding, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge that there were several glitches in the build up to the Election. As Nigeria’s foremost professional Association, our electoral process ought to be the standard for others to follow and should, to the extent humanly possible, be devoid of the glitches that we witnessed. It was with this in mind that I personally wrote two separate letters to the ECNBA Chairman on 20th July 2020 and 29th July 2020 to highlight the issues that threatened the conduct of a credible election and to recommend measures to immediately address those concerns.

“The consensus is that there is need to urgently review the 2020 elections and to institute urgent reforms of our electoral systems. Indeed, the Board of Trustees of the NBA in their letter of 19 August 2020 to Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN called for a major transformation of our electoral process and framework. Let me repeat what I said to the Board of Trustees in my letter to them in response to the petition of Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN; “as an Association that prides itself as Nigeria’s foremost and oldest professional membership organisation, we need to manage our electoral processes better. I pledged during the electioneering period to introduce an efficient data management system for the NBA and to follow that up with other institutional and structural reforms that would enable NBA to serve the benefit of its members and the Society. In the wake of the criticisms that trailed the Election, this is now a top priority issue for me.”

“One major complaint about the last election was the issue of the database of lawyers and resultant difficulties in coming up with a credible voters’ register. To address this, my administration will improve upon the membership portal introduced by the President Paul Usoro administration. Additionally, I am immediately constituting an Electoral Audit and Reforms Committee, comprising distinguished practitioners of the highest standards to audit our 2016, 2018 and 2020 elections and recommend reforms for our electoral systems and processes.

NBA Eyes Return As Players, Owners Discuss Action On Racial Injustice

Angel Rodriguez #13 of the Austin Spurs handles the ball against Devontae Cacok #12 of the South Bay Lakers on March 11, 2020 at UCLA Heath Training Center in El Segundo, California. Adam Pantozzi / NBAE / Getty Images / AFP
File photo: Angel Rodriguez #13 of the Austin Spurs handles the ball against Devontae Cacok #12 of the South Bay Lakers on March 11, 2020 at UCLA Heath Training Center in El Segundo, California. Adam Pantozzi / NBAE / Getty Images / AFP

 

 

 

NBA playoff games were cancelled for a second straight day on Thursday, but players pledged to return to the court as they sought support from team owners in tackling racial injustice.

A Milwaukee Bucks boycott inside the NBA’s Orlando “bubble” on Wednesday sparked a wave of protest that ultimately saw dozens of games called off across an array of sports — basketball, football, baseball, ice hockey and tennis.

Black players, their teammates and supporters demanded action in the face of yet another police shooting of an African American after Jacob Blake was shot several times in the back in the Midwestern city of Kenosha on Sunday.

The Bucks boycott, which was joined by their scheduled opponents the Orlando Magic, prompted the NBA to postpone all three playoff games scheduled for Wednesday and three more slated for Thursday as players from all teams debated whether to continue the season already disrupted by coronavirus.

Players agreed on Thursday to continue the playoffs, with LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers — who had been in favour Wednesday night of abandoning the season — reportedly “on board” with the decision.

“NBA playoff games for (Thursday) will not be played as scheduled,” league executive vice-president Mike Bass said in a statement after an NBA Board of Governors meeting Thursday.

“We are hopeful to resume games either Friday or Saturday.”

ESPN and other US media reported late Thursday that games would most likely resume on Saturday.

Players from all 13 teams in Orlando, along with representatives from the National Basketball Players Association, the league office and NBA Labor Relations Committee Chairman and basketball legend Michael Jordan met Thursday to discuss player concerns.

Details of the meeting were not immediately available, but ESPN reported that players pushed for owners to join them in a “direct action plan” to promote voter turnout, police accountability and police reform legislation.

Meanwhile, the NBA’s stoppage continued to ripple through the sports world.

The National Hockey League, which didn’t postpone games on Wednesday, called off games in its quarantine bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton on Thursday and Friday.

“We understand that the tragedies involving Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others require us to recognize this moment,” the league and its players’ association said in a statement.

“We pledge to work to use our sport to influence positive change in society.”

Seven Major League Baseball games were called off on Thursday and nine NFL teams cancelled practice with the start of their season just two weeks away.

The courts were quiet at the National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, although two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka agreed to go ahead with her Western & Southern Open semi-final on Friday after initially saying she was pulling out of the event.

“I was (and am) ready and prepared to concede the match to my opponent,” Osaka said. “However, after my announcement and lengthy consultation with the WTA and USTA, I have agreed at their request to play on Friday.”

“They offered to postpone all matches until Friday and in my mind that brings more attention to the movement.”

 

 

 In this file photo taken on March 12, 2020, an NBA logo is shown at the 5th Avenue NBA store in New York City. Photo by Jeenah Moon / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP)

The WNBA women’s basketball league postponed its slate of games on Thursday for a second day running, but players said they intended to return to the court on Friday.

Since resuming their season in a quarantine bubble in Florida, WNBA players have demanded justice for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was killed in her own apartment by police in Louisville, Kentucky, who burst into her home executing a “no-knock” search warrant.

Los Angeles Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, President of the WNBA players’ union, said Thursday’s pause in games was a “moment of reflection” for players and a chance for them to “recommit” to their fight for racial and social justice.

– ‘Change happens with action’ –

Demands for racial equality have reverberated across basketball following the killing of unarmed black man George Floyd by Minneapolis police in May.

The NBA’s coronavirus-halted season resumed last month against the backdrop of ongoing nationwide protests following Floyd’s death.

While the league has embraced the Black Lives Matter movement, the shooting of Blake — which Blake’s lawyer says left him paralyzed — galvanized players to further action.

Lakers superstar James, already backing a get-out-the vote initiative, said action was imperative.

“Change doesn’t happen with just talk!! It happens with action and needs to happen NOW!” James wrote on Twitter.

There was a predictably cool response to the NBA activism from President Donald Trump.

“They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing,” Trump said.

AFP

‘Enough Is Enough:’ Awosika Calls For Joint Efforts To Build Nigeria

Ibukun Awosika
File photo of Ibukun Awosika.

 

The Chairman, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria, Ibukun Awosika wants Nigerians to take their destiny in their own hands and build the country.

Awosika who was speaking during the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) 2020 Conference on Wednesday, believes that instead of complaining about issues plaguing the country, Nigerians, particularly lawyers, would have to take extra steps to address those challenges.

READ ALSO: Osinbajo Advocates 12 To 15-Month Time Limit For Court Cases

“With all due respect and no offence meant,” she said, “I just want us to know that for us to build a nation we all dream of, the one we complain about every day, we are going to have to go outside of ourselves; we are going to have to decide that enough is enough and it is time to use everything that we have to make a difference.”

According to her, the NBA should take stock of its activities since existence and reflect on the impact the body has had over the years.

For the banker, the NBA has all it takes to be a major building block in the country, citing their knowledge and expertise as well as number.

“For sixty years with thousands of members, with thousands of lawyers and many new lawyers graduating every year, how has the country been fully impacted by the knowledge that we have and the understanding that we possess in terms of building an equitable country where justice reigns? she asked.

Awosika added that whether at the political or judicial level, the NBA, has “the strength of number, we have the capacity through knowledge. We have the power of influence at every level.”

‘Am I a Nigerian?’

This year’s NBA conference runs from August 24-26, 2020, and will have several dignitaries including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), in attendance.

The event will also see the former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and a former Education Minister, Obiageli Ezekwesili speaking.

According to the NBA, the theme of this year’s conference is: ‘Am I a Nigerian – A Debate on National Identity, the Indigeneship-Citizenship Conundrum.”

Buhari Advocates 12 To 15-Month Time Limit For Court Cases

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the Nigeria Bar Association to work towards reforming the Nigerian judicial processes to ensure the speedy dispensation of justice in the country.

Buhari made the call on Wednesday during the Annual National Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos, where he was represented by Vice President Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

The Nigerian leader wants to see judicial reforms that will fast track all court cases so that the longest will be a maximum of 15 months.

“Reform is urgent because the fabric of our society is stitched together by our system of justice and law enforcement,” he said.

“We cannot afford to have the stitches come undone. The first issue I would like to commend to your consideration is the terribly slow pace of trials in our courts.”

READ ALSO: Governor Umahi Calls For Creation Of Special Courts Over Rape, Other Crimes

For Buhari, fixing a time limit as has been done with cases in the Supreme Court might lead to speedy trials.

“My question then is that why can’t we have timeliness on all cases? Why can’t we put in place the rules that will state that a criminal trial all the way to the Supreme Court must not exceed 12 months in duration?

“Why can’t we do the same for civil cases even if we say it that civil cases must not go beyond 15 months – between 12 and 15 months? I think that for me will be stepping forward.

“The question of speed raises a related concern in the context of a competitive global economy, the speed of our legal institutions and processes must match up with the global pace of transactions,” he said.

Besides speedy dispensation of court cases, he noted that multiple and conflicting court orders are making a mockery of the judicial process while highlighting the need for reforms in that area.

NBA Holds Annual General Conference

NBA President, Paul Usoro addresses participants during the Annual General Conference on August 26, 2020 in Lagos State.

 

 

The Nigerian Bar Association is currently holding its Annual General Conference.

According to NBA President, Paul Usoro, the 60th edition of the conference represents a novel platform for knowledge exchange on the continent.

It hopes to bring together world leaders, political icons, judges, leading lawyers, thought leaders, policy makers, business icons, and civil society.

The participants will not just discuss but produce an implementation plan to foster the adoption of policies, standards and practices leading to socio-political stability, economic growth, sustainable and infrastructural development for accelerated regional and economic integration.

The conference is being held at the Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Lagos State.