Rivers Election Tribunal: Wike Insists He Won, Calls In More Witnesses

RiversThe dispute over the authentic winner of the April 11, 2015 governorship election in Rivers State continues at the election petition tribunal in Abuja as the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, called more witnesses to testify that he won the election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

At the resumed hearing of the petition filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its candidate, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, Mr Kenneth Akubue, who testified before the tribunal said that as an Area Commander on election duty, he witnessed the distribution of election materials in Rivers State and the conduct of the elections.

Another Police officer, a Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr Uche Chukwuma, who also testified before the tribunal, said that there was no threat to security during and after the elections, neither were there arrests made as a result of hijacking, ballot box snatching and other forms of violence.

Governor Nyesom Wike’s lawyer, Prof Epiphany Azinge (SAN) expressed optimism that the tribunal would weigh the evidence of the witnesses and uphold the election of his client.

Lawyer to the Petitioners, Akin Olujimi (SAN), however, expressed disappointment over the refusal of the witnesses to read reports obtained from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Having presented a total of 13 witnesses in three days, Governor Nyesom Wike now has three more days to present other witnesses.

Rivers Election Was Peaceful, Wike Tells Election Petition Tribunal

RiversThe Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike on Wednesday insisted that the April 11 governorship election conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Rivers State was held under a peaceful atmosphere devoid of ballot box snatching, hijacking of election materials and other forms of violence.

At the resumed sitting of the tribunal in Abuja, lawyer to Governor Wike, Mr Okey Wali who called seven witnesses told the tribunal that soldiers were not anywhere near polling booths as voters exercised their civic rights freely.

He argued that the reports making the round that elections never held in rivers state is untrue.

Under cross examination by the counsel to the petitioners, some of the witnesses admitted that card readers failed in some of the polling units but the election was conducted with the use of manual voters register.

Lawyers to the Rivers State Governor and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) expressed satisfaction with the testimony of the witnesses as they promised to produce more witnesses.

Although the lawyer to INEC declined speaking on camera on the ground that he is a public servant, lawyer to the petitioners insisted that he is prepared to prove that elections were not conducted by the electoral umpire in Rivers State.

The tribunal adjourned to enable panel members pay a condolence visit to the Court of Appeal over the death of two justices, who lost their lives at the Hajj stampede in Saudi Arabia, the defence team of Governor Wike now has five more days to present their remaining witnesses.

Former NBA President, Okey Wali Kidnapped

Okey WaliThe immediate past president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Okey Wali, SAN was kidnapped on Saturday, by unknown persons in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Though details of the incident which occurred at about 9pm are sketchy, the NBA has confirmed it.

In a press release signed by the current president of the association, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, the NBA described the development as shocking.

“Alegeh said “The Nigerian Bar Association has just received shocking news that the 26th President of the NBA, Okey Wali, SAN was on Saturday 11th October, 2014 at about 9pm kidnapped by unknown persons in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“Okey Wali SAN is a man of peace who has not only contributed immensely to the enthronement of rule of law and protection of human rights, but also to the development of our Nation. It is therefore saddening that he should become a kidnap victim

“The NBA calls on the Federal Government to step up efforts to fulfill its primary constitutional role of providing for the welfare and security of all Nigerians even as It passionately appealed to the abductors for his immediate and safe release to his family”.

NBA Conference: Lawyers Asked To Consider Electoral System Issues

Nigerian_lawyers_Conference2014Nigerian Lawyers have been asked to ensure that issues relating to the electoral system and other meaningful issues that will uplift the nation should top talks at the 54th Nigerian Bar Association’s annual conference holding in Imo State.

The governor of the state, Rochas Okorocha, in his address at the opening of the conference on Monday, said that discussing such relevant issues would help sustain the nation’s democracy, even as the 2015 general elections draw nearer.

The conference holding in Owerri, the state’s capital, had in attendance, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Okey Wali, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke and the Governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan.

The chairman of the occasion is a former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon and also present were the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, his Deputy, Emeka Ihedioha and the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere.

Over 10 thousand lawyers from across the country are attending the conference, with the theme, ‘Nigeria; 100 years after’.

Before gaining access to the venue of the event, each participants had to be screened of the Ebola virus with the test kit.

Okey_Wali
Okey Wali says politicians in Nigeria try to draw the Bar into political bickering

The President of the NBA, Wali said that even though the efforts of the Federal Government and security operatives needed to be commended, they still need to do more in safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians in the face of all the insecurity challenges.

He stressed that there should be concerted efforts by stakeholders to ensure free and fair election at all times as it was the only way good governance could thrive.

Mr Wali advised politicians to step up their game in ensuring that the nation’s democracy gets to an enviable level.

While commending the Nigerian Bar Association for organising the conference, General Gowon lamented that 100 years after, Nigeria had not achieved its full potentials but expressed hopes that with the resolutions made in the just concluded national conference, the journey for a new Nigeria had commenced.

In his speech, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, stressed that delivering good governance to the people was not to be negotiated.

He called on participants at the conference to ensure that at the end of the 5-day conference, issues that would be of great benefits to Nigerians and also promote the nation’s democracy would be discussed.

This is the third time the Nigerian Bar association is hosting her annual conference in Imo State 1982, 1991 and 2014. The conference is expected to last for five days and on the last day, August 29, the present NBA President, Okey Wali, will officially hand over baton to the newly elected Bar Association’s President, Augustine Alegeh.

 

Arbitrary Arrest Increasing Number Of Suspects Awaiting Trial – Lawyers

The president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Okey Wali, has attributed the increasing number of persons in Nigerian Prisons awaiting trial to arbitrary arrest of innocent citizens by police.

The union’s president stressed that lawyers were never the cause of the increase.

Mr Wali told Channels Television in Ilorin on Wednesday that it was also necessary for judges to refuse lawyers’ requests for unnecessary adjournment of cases.

“Such decision will also help reduce prison congestion,” he said.

He also listed the lack of vehicles needed for conveying suspects to courts as one of other factors responsible for the high number of awaiting trial suspects in prisons.

A human rights group, Amnesty International, had in its 2012 report accused Nigerian security personnel of dragnet arrests, arbitrary and unlawful detentions, extortion and intimidation” of Nigerians.

But the police dismissed the allegation, saying it is not factual.

Commenting on the letter written to the presidency to reinstate the retired president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, by the National Judicial Council which was not implemented, the leader of the lawyers union absolved the president of any blame.

He cited several pending court cases at that time as the stumbling block, saying that the president took the decision in order not to incur the wrath of the courts.

On the issue of the one representative allotted to the bar for the national conference, the NBA president insisted that the bar would not accept the allotment until the slot was increased.

He expressed shock that some other associations got higher slots than the bar.

NBA Condmens Baga Killings

The dust has not yet settled on the confrontation between men of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and militants in Baga a border town in Borno state, North-East Nigeria.

President of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Mr Okey Wali noted that even though Nigeria is going through difficult security challenges, it is not enough for the security agencies to turn their weapons on innocent citizens.

He further added that the NBA will give all the necessary support to victims of the incidence to ensure they get justice.

Court Stops NBA From Collecting New Practicing Fees

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has stopped the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, from collecting the newly introduced practicing fee for lawyers in the country.

The court ordered the association to revert to the status quo, pending the determination of the substantial suit filed by some lawyers.

The national executive committee of NBA had announced the new rate of practicing fees, payable from 2013 and this generated ripples amongst lawyers, who said it was 250 per cent increment compared to the fees paid in past years.

Plaintiffs in the suit; Mr Seth Amaefule, Miss Amaka Aneke, Mr Celestine Nwankwo, Mr Charles Ola-Oni, and Mrs Tayo Arojo.

They had asked the court to make an order of mandatory injunction, compelling the defendants to continuously collect the fees as it were on January 1, 2012.

The plaintiffs also challenged the upward review in the practicing fees for legal practitioners in the country and averred that with the current fees regime, lawyers with less than five years standing at the bar, were now to pay N10,000, as against the previous fees of N2,000.

Presiding judge, Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia, made the order, following an interlocutory application of injunction by the plaintiffs’ counsel, Mr Tunji Gomez, praying the court to halt the collection of the new fees.

Counsel to the plaintiffs, Gomez, who moved the motion for application of the interim order, asked the court to grant the prayer of the plaintiffs and make an order restraining the NBA from collecting or enforcing the new fees regime. The plaintiffs averred in their motion that these fees were rather too exorbitant for some lawyers who cannot afford same.

Mr Gomez also asked the court to stop the defendants from sending text messages to lawyers, persuading them to pay the new practicing fee, until the case was finally determined.

Defendants in the suit are: NBA President, Mr. Okey Wali; General Council of the Bar; the Attorney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, chairman NBA Lagos Branch, Taiwo Taiwo and the Chairman, Ikeja NBA, Monday Ubani.

In their response, the defendants urged the court to dismiss the suit as lacking in merit.

They argued that the plaintiff’s suit had no legal basis and was merely aimed at wasting precious judicial time.

The court in a short ruling agreed with the submissions of the plaintiffs’ counsel and granted their prayers, while further hearing was adjourned till May 30, 2013.

 

Judiciary lacks proper funding –NBA President

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Okey Wali (SAN) has called on the Federal Government to ensure proper funding of the judiciary as it is discovered that the budgetary appropriation for the arm of government has been on the decrease for several years now while that of other arms of government is on the increase.

The national president of the Nigeria bar association pointed this out during the association’s national executive meeting held in Asaba, Delta state to deliberate on issues concerning its internal association as well as other issues affecting the nation.

“To have a modern judiciary for a modern justice delivery system which is very key for a modern society, there must be adequate funds”

In his welcome address, Okey Wali gave a statistics of the downward decline of the budgetary appropriation of the judiciary, that in 2009, the judiciary got 78 billion, 91 billion in 2010,95 billion in 2011,75 billion in 2012 and 67 billion in 2013.

Meanwhile the host of the national executive meeting, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Delta state, Hon Charles Ajuyah (SAN) opined that the association is undoubtedly one that makes a difference in the lives of Nigerians, as legal and social issues will be taken into considerations during his meeting.

Addressing all present, the state governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan pointed narrated how his administration had been able to tactically reinforce the judicial system by bringing in one of their greatest critic to serve as the legal adviser to the state who has served as a bridge between the government and the legal system.

The meeting was attended by members of the state executive council and other members of the Nigeria Bar Association form various states all over the nation.

NBA election was rigged-Emeka Ngige

Main opposition candidate in the just concluded Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) election, Emeka Ngige, has faulted the outcome of the election.

Mr Ngige made this known in a statement he signed and released in Lagos.

He alleged that the election held in Abuja on Tuesday was seriously manipulated and rigged to truncate the true wishes of the delegates.

He specifically accused the outgoing President of the NBA, Joseph  Daudu and the electoral committee  of manipulating voters’ register in favour of Okey Wali, adding that the displayed voters’ register contradicts the actual voters’ register used for the elections

According to him:“The National Executive Committee (NEC) list was manipulated to include non-NEC members and even those who are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members.

He cited Mrs. Ranti Bosede Daudu and Mr. Paul “Tunde” Daudu, wife and son of the incumbent NBA President, J. B. Daudu who he says were smuggled in as ‘NEC members’ without the mandatory approval of the NEC as required by the NBA Constitution.

Mr. Ngige says “Given the gross and programmed irregularities that attended the delegates election, the NBA has been placed in a most difficult and uncomfortable position in its mission to promote the rule of law.

He wondered “What moral right the NBA leadership now or in the future would have to criticize INEC in the event of electoral malpractices?”.

Mr. Ngige however concluded that he will not pursue legal redress towards asserting the will of the electorate but warned of the grave dangers ahead if urgent steps are not taken by all NBA members from reclaiming the association from those he tagged as hawks.

He however said he will not seek redress in a court of law ” I have been under immense pressure from my supporters, stakeholders and concerned Nigerians to pursue legal redress towards asserting the will of the electorate. While I respect such position, moreso as this will check a recurrence, I believe that this line of action may throw the NBA into serious crisis and distraction, reminiscent of the 1992 crises which started in Port Hacourt”.

Mr. Okechukwu Wali won the election with 688 votes to Emeka Ngige’s 449 and the third contestant, Blessing Ukiri, polled 2.

Read the full press statement below:

I am compelled to note serious manipulations and grave anomalies in the just concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) biennial Delegates Conference that was held in Abuja to elect national officers.

May I state that I was a candidate for the post of president in the said elections. Permit me to further state that the entire process for the elections were marred by irregularities and gross abuse of the electoral process, all aimed to achieve a desired outcome.

It is noteworthy that, given my deep concerns that the electoral process might be rigged to truncate the true wishes of the delegates, I wrote to the General Secretary of the NBA, Mr. Olumuyiwa Akinboro on 28th June 2012 requesting especially for a copy of the Delegates/Voters List.  The letter was duly acknowledged by the Secretariat. The list was never issued to me by the current NBA leadership.

In my bulk messaging alerts to members, I equally raised alarm on several occasions that even 48 hours to the elections, the Delegates List was still shrouded in secrecy. The list was eventually released for public scrutiny barely 24 hours to voting. True to our worries, the displayed list was riddled with serious anomalies, irregularities and contradictions.

Even more worrisome is the fact that the displayed voters’ register totally contradicts the actual voters’ register used for the elections. A few examples will suffice.

1. The National Executive Committee (NEC) list was manipulated to include non-NEC members and even those who are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members. For example, Mrs. Ranti Bosede Daudu and Mr. Paul “Tunde” Daudu, wife and son respectively of the incumbent NBA President, J. B. Daudu (NBA), were smuggled in as ‘NEC members’ without the mandatory approval by NEC as required by the NBA Constitution. In fact, Mr. Tunde Daudu is less than 10 years at the Bar and is therefore disqualified from becoming a NEC member.

2.     The total figures of delegates for some branches perceived to be favourable to the adjudged winner of the presidential election were reduced in the displayed voters’ register to avoid being queried by other aspirants while the actual voters’ register used for the elections was padded with additional names to favour the adjudged winner of the presidential race. An example is Port Harcourt Branch which had only 28 members on the displayed list while additional 15 names were added into the actual voters’ register to bring the Port Harcourt list to a whopping 42.

3.     Names of deceased persons from Port Harcourt branch were added to the voters’ register. Examples are Chief Nwobidike Nwanodi, SAN and Chief C. A. B. Akparanta, SAN, both deceased.

4.     Some members included as NEC members under the “special interest groups” category are constitutionally disqualified from being NEC members by virtue of the mandatory minimum 10-year post-call requirement for membership. For example, while Mr. Chidi Ezenwafor was called to the Bar on 21st May, 2008 (a mere five years at the Bar), Mr. Monday Adjeh was called to the Bar in November 2005. Their inclusion violates Section 9(a)(v) of the NBA Constitution.

5.     Some names were duplicated in the voters’ register, giving room for impersonation of such candidates – moreso when the pictures of some of the duplicated delegates were missing from the list. Instances include names such as Mr. Dele Oye who appeared under Category F/Co-opted NEC Members and Abuja Branch as well as Mr. Anthony Ani who appeared under Category F/Co-opted NEC Members and Category E/Benchers.

6.     Some branches whose delegates were perceived to be favourable to my candidacy had their number of delegates slashed without any explanation and without an opportunity to query such arbitrariness.

7.     Some delegates who were perceived to be favourably disposed to my candidacy could not find their names on the voters’ register.

8.     The voters’ register was padded with strange names, moreso when such names were bereft of accompanying photographs.

9.     The displayed voters’ register was not properly numbered, leading to certain tranches of numbers missing from the list. For example, numbers 31 to 39, 85 to 90 and 178 to 180 were missing from the displayed voters’ register, giving rise to posers on what might have happened.

It is apparent from the foregoing that the voters’ register was grossly manipulated to favour the presumed winner of the presidential election. It is indeed highly unfortunate that the Daudu Administration cannot conduct a successful, free and fair election for mere ‘1471’ delegates.

Given the gross and programmed irregularities that attended the delegates election, the NBA has been placed in a most difficult and uncomfortable position in its mission to promote the rule of law. What moral right has the NBA leadership now or in the future to criticize INEC in the event of electoral malpractices? It is now apparent that NBA’s programmes aimed to effect electoral reforms are a mere charade aimed to hoodwink the unwary.

I have been under immense pressure from my supporters, stakeholders and concerned Nigerians to pursue legal redress towards asserting the will of the electorate. While I respect such position, moreso as this will check a recurrence, I believe that this line of action may throw the NBA into serious crisis and distraction, reminiscent of the 1992 crises which started in Port Hacourt. The NBA is bigger than all of us. I have decided to take the moral high ground than descend into the arena of malfeasance with my traducers and persons bent on turning the NBA into their personal patrimony and oligarchy.

I must however warn of the grave dangers ahead if urgent steps are not taken by all NBA members from reclaiming our cherished association from these hawks. The NBA must remain a voice for the voiceless masses of our people; it must be wrested from the conniving clique so as to act as a bulwark against tyranny and oppression. I am ready and willing to be a part of this movement, even as I call on the incoming NBA presidency to urgently initiate electoral reforms towards ensuring that our elections reflect the real wishes of the delegates. This is the least it should do, being a beneficiary of a grossly flawed process.

Permit me to note that I have no grudges whatsoever with my brother silk, Mr. Okey Wali, SAN. My concerns are entirely against the way and manner the electoral process was mindlessly manipulated by the outgoing leadership.

I thank my numerous supporters for their unflinching confidence and trust. Let me assure you all that the struggle continues. You can always count on me.

Thank you and God bless our NBA.

 

 

 

 

Okey Wali declared president-elect of Nigeria Bar Association

The leadership baton at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) changed hands as Okey Wali (SAN) was declared the newly elected president of the association.

The umbrella body of lawyers admitted to practice law in Nigeria held their election in Abuja where new national officers of the body emerged.

Mr Wali polled 688 votes to beat his closest rival, Emeka Ngige (SAN). Mr Ngige had 449 votes while a third candidate, Mr Blessing Ukiri scored 2 votes.

In other results, Justy Osas Erabor emerged first vice president while current publicity secretary, Emeka Obegolu beat 2 others to emerge as the General Secretary of the NBA.

Joyce Oduah of the Lagos branch emerged as the treasurer of the association while Mr Afam Obi was declared the publicity secretary.

Wali had in a chat with a national daily, before the election, promised to return professionalism to the bar. He further said that the bar was in need of total transformation as N1 billion worth of jobs goes to foreign firms and the status quo needs to be changed.

“My vision for the Bar is that of a professionalised Bar;  professionalised in the sense of keeping to the best traditions of the profession, best ethics, which we seem to have lost a lot of grounds on.

“If after two years of NBA presidency, the only thing I achieved is to change the image of the profession and to change the ethical standards, I would have left the NBA a very satisfied man.

“I mean professionalisation in the aspect of work. If you go through my brochure, you will find out that I have made a lot of emphasis on the expansion of the frontiers of legal practice.

“At least N1 billion worth of jobs go to foreign law firms. We are going to look at it critically and address some of the issues that cause it. Is it skills gap, we want to address them and make sure that jobs are done by Nigerian lawyers in Nigeria.”

On the rumour that he is a candidate of the NBA administration,

He said: “That is the unkindest of cuts for anybody to refer to me. At the risk of sounding immodest, by my standing in the profession, you can assess me.

“I was the secretary of Port Harcourt branch of the NBA as far back as 1992. 1 was the chairman of a big branch of the NBA like the Port Harcourt branch in 1998. I have served as the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in Rivers State. I am a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and I am a bencher.

“With all these attainments in life, it will be an abuse of language for anybody to look at me as a man that can be controlled by anybody.

The President-elect, Mr Okey Wali in his acceptance speech asked the rest of the country to learn from the successful conduct of the NBA election.

He promised his colleagues that the incoming executives will not let them down and encouraged members of the NBA to come forward with suggestions on how to move the association forward.

Okey Wali was born on October 29, 1958 in Rumualogu, Akpor in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State. He began his primary education at the Port Harcourt Township School and completed it at St. Paul’s Primary School Diobu, Port Harcourt.

After obtaining his First School Leaving Certificate in 1973, he enrolled in Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borikiri, Port Harcourt.

He also attended Baptist High School, Port Harcourt where he obtained his West African School Certificate in 1978. Upon completion of his secondary education, which he topped with the Higher School Certificate obtained in 1980. Okey Wali travelled abroad to attend the prestigious University of Buckingham, United Kingdom and graduated with Bachelor of Law (Hons) degree in 1983.

He returned home for the mandatory one-year vocational training at the Nigerian Law School, in Lagos, where he added Barrister at Law in l984 Certificate to his academic acquisitions.

 

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