P&ID Case: Create A National Arbitration Policy, Agbakoba Tells Buhari

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olisa Agbakoba.

 

The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Olisa Agbakoba, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to create a National Arbitration Policy.

Agbakoba, in an open letter written to the President which was obtained by Channels Television on Monday, said the policy promotes national interest by ensuring the resolution of disputes between Nigeria and foreign investors in relation to government contracts.

The lawyer’s call was in reaction to a recent judgment delivered by a British court, mandating the Nigerian government to forfeit $9.6billion in favour of a company – Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID).

He believes “the incident would have been avoidable, if the advocacy for a National Arbitration Policy had been embraced over 20 years ago.”

According to him, the judgement “has grave far-reaching implications for the country, considering that it represents almost 20% of our foreign reserves, and 25% of our national budget.”

READ ALSO: $9.6bn Gas Deal: Every Nigerian Should Support FG In Fighting Judgement – Aondoakaa

“Going forward, I suggest that we establisha National Arbitration policy, represented by an enactment of an Executive Order that will commence the process and procedure of creating the policy.

“This will ensure that Nigeria’s interests are protected in its commercial relationships with foreign investors,” he said.

The Federal Government, has, however, said it will appeal the judgment.

According to the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata, the government has instructed its lawyers to appeal against the ruling.

The ruling is the latest development in the case which started in 2010, regarding an agreement to build a gas processing plant in Calabar, Cross River State.

The project, however, collapsed between Nigeria and the Irish firm after Nigeria is said to have failed to meet its end of the bargain.

Anti-Corruption War: Agbakoba Says Government Needs N5bn To Prosecute Cases

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, wants the federal government to properly fund the prosecution of the war against corruption.

Mr. Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, believes the war against graft, as its being prosecuted is lacking a proper strategy.

In an exclusive interview with our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, he said the government would require at least N5 billion to prosecute cases.

Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olisa Agbakoba.

He said, We must have a strategy on tackling corruption, and its not just about court cases. Once that strategy is in place, then you unbundle the strategy and unpack it and make sure that it fits into whatever relevant packet.

From the judicial arm and prosecution, the government has to fund corruption cases. I expect the government to put down at least N5 billion. You just cant pay lawyers N30,000 and expect that they fight corruption cases for you.

You must fund prosecution, it is key. It is beyond the Ministry of Justice. They need outside assistance. So you must be prepared to put down the budget to fight those cases, you must strengthen the prosecutorial process.

Agbakoba Calls For Accountability Of Public Funds At Local Governments

Remain Committed To Democracy, Agbakoba Tells Nigerians
A file photo of Dr Olisa Agbakoba

 

Human Rights Activist, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, has called for more accountability of Public Funds at the Local Government Level.

In a statement signed by his Media Assistant, Niyi Odunmorayo, Agbakoba noted that funds running into trillions of naira were unaccounted for.

According to the statement, Agbakoba had filed a suit at the Federal High Court, to stop the allocation of public funds to unelected and unaccountable Local Government Councils.

It further explained that the basis of the case is that Section 7(1) of the 1999 Constitution guarantees a system of democratically elected Government Councils, but Local Government Councils in Nigeria are never elected and are unconstitutional.

“Allocation of public funds to them is a violation of the Constitution, as there is collusion with State governments in the use of trillions of Naira of Public Funds.

“The current situation where most of the 774 Local Governments are unelected is not only unconstitutional but meant no development at the Local Governments,” the statement said.

Although the Federal High Court denied the case, it appears that Dr. Agbakoba’s concerns have found support with guidelines recently issued by the Nigerian Finance Intelligence Unit (NFIU).

The new NFUI guidelines direct State Governors and Local Governments to follow the Constitution regarding disbursement of Local Government funds.

Agbakoba Makes U-turn, Backs Atiku On Petition Against Buhari’s Victory

Remain Committed To Democracy, Agbakoba Tells Nigerians
A file photo of Dr Olisa Agbakoba

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Olisa Agbakoba, has made a u-turn regarding the decision of the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to legally challenge the victory of All the Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in the just-concluded election.

In a statement on Wednesday, Mr Agbakoba clarified his position, explaining that his earlier advice to Atiku against going to court was taken out of context.

“Much has been made about my position on Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar approaching the court to challenge the result of the February 23, 2019, Presidential Election.

“I have been misquoted to say the former vice president will lose at the Presidential Election Tribunal. That is far from the truth. I meant the former Vice President will face an uphill task, given the circumstances of challenging the Election results,” he stated.

He added that given that “President Muhammadu Buhari has subverted the Supreme Court by the removal of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Onnoghen and the appointment of the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

“My perception is that we need to resolve the status of the Supreme Court.”

Read Also: Court Orders INEC To Allow PDP, Atiku Access All Electoral Materials

He wondered why it is taking the National Judicial Council so long to resolve the issue of the petitions against the former CJN and the acting CJN, adding “I am also worried about the historical precedent, as no petition on Presidential Election result has ever succeeded.”

Mr Agbakoba explained further that now that Atiku has decided to approach the court on the matter, his earlier advice has become invalid.

He, however, insisted that it would be a huge task for the PDP flag bearer to prove his case.

He said, “As one of Nigeria’s experienced Election Petition lawyers, I know that the burden of proof to succeed in an Election Petition is unfairly huge. We first have to prove that there are electoral irregularities and in my view, once you prove this, you should succeed.

“Unfortunately, even if you prove electoral irregularities you will have to show how that affected the results of the Election. Remember that the gap between Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and President Muhammadu Buhari is about 4 million votes.”

Remain Committed To Democracy, Agbakoba Tells Nigerians

Remain Committed To Democracy, Agbakoba Tells Nigerians
A file photo of Dr Olisa Agbakoba

 

A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has called on Nigerians to remain committed to democracy.

He made the call in a statement on Friday, two days after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared President Muhammadu Buhari as the winner of the just concluded election.

“I feel strongly called upon to reach out to my brothers and sisters on the state of our democracy,” the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) said in the statement.

He added, “Democracy has always been about majority rule and when there is the emergence of an “unpopular choice”, it leaves many people aggrieved and dissatisfied.”

READ ALSOGoing To Tribunal Is ‘Not The Right Decision’, Agbakoba Tells Atiku

According to Agbakoba, the concluded elections which saw some lawmakers retaining their seats and others displaced have given credence to his assertions.

He, thereafter, appealed to Nigerians to join him in the struggle to strengthen democracy in the country for the benefit of its people and the coming generations.

The SAN said, “I strongly believe that there is hope for us as a people and as a nation. We have a collective duty to perfect our democracy so it always produces the popular choice.

“I have worked all my life to enthrone democracy and I am committed to perfecting it.”

“I enjoin us as citizens to continue to hold government accountable and continue to advocate for the strengthening of our institutions, restructuring of our system of governance and upholding of the rule of law. Only then can we make progress as a nation,” he added.

“In the meantime, I leave you with the words of (US) President Franklin D. Roosevelt, “This great nation will endure as it has always endured, our hopes will be revived again and our nation will prosper.”

Going To Tribunal Is ‘Not The Right Decision’, Agbakoba Tells Atiku

Going To Tribunal 'Not The Right Decision', Agbakoba Tells Atiku
A file photo of Dr Olisa Agbakoba

 

A former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has appealed to the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, to accept the outcome of the presidential election.

He made the plea in a statement on Wednesday, hours after Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Mahmood Yakubu, declared President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the winner of the poll.

Agbakoba, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said while he noted the ‘massive irregularities’ in the election, going to Election Petition Tribunal was not the right decision.

He explained that the voting pattern for the poll showed that ethnicity played a significant role in the exercise.

READ ALSOThis Is The Worst Election In 30 Years, Says Atiku

The former NBA President said he understood the grievance of the opposition party but a lot needed to be done in reforming the nation’s politics and the electoral process.

He, however, challenged Atiku not to lose sight of the legacy in his front and take up the mantle of a statesman.

Agbakoba further stressed the need to address the voting pattern in the country, saying the same thing might repeat itself in the 2023 general elections.

Read his full statement below;

2019 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: ETHNIC CONSIDERATION VS. GOVERNANCE CONSIDERATION

The voting pattern for the 2019 Presidential Election shows ethnicity played a significant role in the Election. President Muhammadu Buhari kept his base in the North while former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar largely held his base in the South.

Both All Progressive Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) benefited from primordial voting. The excepted zone is the South-west where voting occurred on the basis of issues.

The significance and consequence of the 2019 Presidential Election is huge unless we are able to reverse it. 2023 will follow the pattern of 2019 unless we do something about it.

I understand the PDP is aggrieved about the outcome of the Election and alleged massive irregularities. But I urge former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar not to approach the Election Petition Tribunal.

He might have moved backwards by his loss but he should not lose sight of the legacy and greatness that lies in front of him. Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar is in a strong position to take up the mantle of a statesman.

He can build a new Nigeria movement from the motley of small parties, third force actors, change actors and millions who are desperate for a strong, united Nigeria.

There is also a lot of work to be done in both political and electoral reforms. I request former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to step into the shoes.

This is not to say I do not recognise the massive irregularities in the 2019 Presidential Election. I can see how tempting it is to take the option of the Election Petition Tribunal but that in my view is not the right decision.

We look forward to a new Nigeria, strong and united; a new Nigeria that will not vote on the basis of ethnic and primordial sentiments.

As I said, I was shocked at the strength of the two parties in holding their respective bases. But the problem was that the basis was simply primordial and not driven by issues.

Nigerian politics must appeal to issues and not ethnic or primordial consideration. This is the biggest danger in the 2019 Presidential Election and we as Nigerians must stand up to redress it.

Dr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN)

February 27, 2019.

Agbakoba Slams AGF For Calling For Postponement Of Elections In Zamfara

Agbakoba Slams AGF For Calling For Postponement Of Elections In Zamfara
Olisa Agbakoba                                                                                                                     Abubakar Malami

 

A former President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr Olisa Agbakoba, has criticised the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, for his letter on elections in Zamfara State.

In a letter addressed to the minister and dated 14 February 2019, Agbakoba faulted the AGF for asking the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to postpone other elections apart from the presidential poll in the state.

According to him, the action of the minister raises concerns about the promise by President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the coming elections are free and fair.

“It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn,” said Dr Agbakoba who is also a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

He added, “President Muhammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.”

READ ALSOAGF Asks INEC To Recognise APC Candidates, Postpone Polls In Zamfara

In a letter which emerged earlier on Thursday, Mr Malami had asked to recognise the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Zamafara State for the elections.

He explained that his letter was informed by a petition he received from a law firm, following the ruling of a Court of Appeal in Sokoto State dismissing the appeal challenging the qualification of Zamfara APC candidates for the polls.

The minister has also asked the electoral umpire to postpone the governorship, National Assembly and House of Assembly polls in Zamfara to allow the ruling party to prepare for the polls.

Dr Agbakoba, however, stated that INEC was an independent institution which cannot take directives from the Federal Government.

He insisted that it was the APC that ought to have made such a request and not the minister, stressing that he is “not the Attorney General of INEC”.

Read the full letter by the former NBA president below;

 

14th February, 2019

Abubakar Malami, SAN

Attorney General of the Federation

Federal Ministry of Justice,

Federal Secretariat, Abuja.

Dear Attorney General,

RE:  REQUEST FOR POSTPONEMENT OF ZAMFARA STATE ELECTIONS

I am shocked by your letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on the above subject. You are the Attorney General of the Federation and not the Attorney General of INEC. INEC is an independent institution and cannot take directives from the Federal Government. If there is need for the postponement of the Zamfara state elections as indicated in your letter, the proper person to request the postponement is the All Progressive Congress (APC). In any case, Sections 38 and 39 of the Electoral Act 2010 which your request is based on have nothing to do with postponement of elections.

President Mohammadu Buhari has at various fora undertaken that the Federal Government will not interfere with INEC. Your letter puts that commitment to question.

It is my hope that this letter will be immediately withdrawn.

Sincerely,

Dr Olisa Agbakoba SAN

Supreme Court Justices: NBA Shortlists Agbakoba, Eight Others

Supreme Court Justices: NBA Shortlists Agbakoba, Eight OthersThe Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has forwarded the names of nine eligible applicants to the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman, Judicial Service Commission, Walter Samuel Onnoghen, for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

This followed a rigorous process of shortlisting done by a select committee chaired by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Abubakar Mahmoud, with eight other eminent lawyers as members.

Applicants shortlisted by the NBA for appointment as Justices of the Supreme Court are the following:

(1) Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN
Year of Call: 1978
State:  Anambra

(2) Anthony Ikemefuna Idigbe, SAN
Year of Call:   1983
State: Delta

(3) Yunus Ustas Usman, SAN
Year of Call: 1983
State:  Kogi

(4) Babatunde Fagbohunlu, SAN
Year of Call: 1988
State:  Ondo

(5) Miannayaaja Essien, SAN
Year of Call: 1985
State:  Rivers

(6) Awa Uma Kalu, SAN
Year of Call: 1978
State: Abia

(7)  Professor Awalu Hamish Yadudu
Year of Call: 1979
State:  Kano

(8) Tajudeen Oladoja
Year of Call: 1985
State: Kwara

(9) Ayuba Giwa
Year of Call: 1983
State: Edo

The above mentioned applicants were shortlisted from a total of 89 Expressions of Interest that were scrutinized.

It would be recalled that the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, had earlier forwarded a request to the President of NBA, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN  “to nominate suitable candidate for consideration as Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.”

Judges’ Arrest: Former British Cop Berates Execution Of ‘Sting Operation’

vince-onyekwelu-judges-arrestThe arrest of some court judges by a combined team of Police and DSS officials in the early hours of Saturday, October 8 has continued to generate reactions.

While various judicial stakeholders have criticised the government for the arrest, a former British police officer, Vince Onyekwelu, has picked holes in the level of expertise displayed by the DSS during its execution of the operation.

The security analyst told Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily how the arrest should have been carried out, since it was believed to be a sting operation.

“We have to understand (that) one of the major concepts of a sting operation is deceit.

“When you talk about deceit, sting operations are planned to have this element of propaganda, element of treachery, element of ‘make believe’ (and) element of trying to deceive a potential criminal,” he explained.

Outer Shell

Speaking on Thursday’s edition of the programme, Onyekwelu expressed disappointment that Governor Nyesom Wike was able to interrupt the arrest of one of the judges at his residence in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

He stressed the importance of the strategy that ought to be used and questioned if the security operatives were capable and competent to carry out such operation.

“For example, there is what we call ‘the outer shell’.

“You have to block the entrance (and) position men at critical areas.

“It makes me to ask questions how come the Governor had access to go through this outer shell (and) come to the epicentre that he was able to influence what was going on there.

“You’re supposed to have an outer shell that is well-trained to contain and to stop any kind of politically exposed person that have got so much power.

“He (Wike) can tell you his concerns (while) you record them in your notebook and promise to get back to him in the next 24 hours, but not to give him access to influence what is going on,” he stated.

Although the DSS later justified its action by giving reasons for the arrest, the operation attracted criticisms from several notable Nigerians and professional bodies, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which asked the executive to release of the detained court justices.

femi-falana-speaks
Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana

Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, however, blamed legal practitioners for the harassment of judges.

The agency subsequently released all the judges on self-recognition one day after their arrest but they are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to charge them to court continue.

The judges are accused of misconduct, corruption and had been under investigation by the DSS.

Judges Arrest: I Have No Objection To DSS’ Action – Abu Hamisu

Dr. Abu Hamisu, As reactions continue to trail the arrest of some judges over the weekend, a lecturer at the University of Abuja, Dr. Abu Hamisu, says he has no objection with the involvement of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the arrest.

The lecturer at the Political Science Department is of the opinion that if the government feels the DSS could play a crucial role in its anti-corruption campaign, there is nothing wrong with it.

“We’ve been advocating for collaboration and synergy building in such a way that all the security agencies can tap into the professionalism of one another depending on the case they want to prosecute.

“If (the) EFCC, ICPC and the government of the day feel that the DSS can be really decisive in the fight against corruption in this country, I have nothing against that,” the political scientist said.

Speaking on Tuesday on Sunrise Daily, Dr. Hamisu believes corruption is the cause of Nigeria’s underdeveloped stage, reiterating his stance on the DSS’ involvement.

“The most important thing is to ensure that corruption is really dealt with because the basis of our underdevelopment as a nation up to this very moment is corruption.

“For me, it’s something that has to do with those that are leading us and if they feel that they can give us result and DSS can play a role in this, I have no objection,” he insisted.

The academic warned that the future of the Nigerian child was at risk and called on stakeholders to tackle its menace headlong to ensure a brighter future.

“All we want is to ensure that we have a better future for our children.

“The future that we did not enjoy, the future that corruption denied us because some people were saddled with responsibilities that they abused and perverted,” he lamented.

Face-off With Wike

Dr. Hamisu’s remarks followed a face-off between the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and some DSS officials who were on an assignment to arrest a Federal High Court judge in Port Harcourt.

Nyesom-Wike-Governor-of-Rivers-State
Governor Nyesom Wike prevented the arrest of a judge in Rivers State

On getting wind of the planned arrest, Governor Wike went to the residence of the judge with the aim of averting the arrest.

He stated that it would not be appropriate to arrest a judge at an odd hour when he has not been declared as a criminal, but invited to have a chat which they said was the motive of the arrest.

The arrest caught the attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which asked the executive to release of the judge and some order court justices.

While a human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, blames legal practitioners for harassment of judges, the DSS gave reasons for the arrest.

The DSS subsequently released all the judges on self-recognition.

However, they are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to charge them to court continue.

The judges are accused of misconduct corruption and had been under investigation by the DSS.

NBA Demands Immediate Release Of Arrested Judges

Abubakar-Mahmoud-NBA-PresidentThe Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has declared a state of emergency in the judiciary over the midnight arrest of some judges by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The association is also asking the DSS to immediately release the judges without conditions.

It says the arrests are disturbing and unconstitutional, describing it a situation that had never been witnessed.

The DSS had earlier said that the judges were arrested for alleged corruption cases, with a summary of monies recovered from the judges.

The President of the NBA, Mr Abubakar Mahmoud, at a briefing in Lagos, warned the Federal Government of “grave consequences” should the demands not be met.

Mr Mahmoud said two Supreme Court justices, Inyang Okoro and Sylvester Ngwuta, were “abducted” with their families.

Not Under Military Rule

He said: “I want to, on behalf of the Bar Association, make the very following clear and unequivocal demands.

“We demand the immediate, unconditional release of all the judges abducted from about 9:00pm yesterday (Friday).

“The release must be done immediately and without any conditions.

“We demand that the Department of State Services (DSS) should limit itself to its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.

“It is not the responsibility of the DSS to perform duties meant for police officers and other agencies of the state.

“I want to emphasise again that we are not under military rule and we cannot accept this ‘unholy events’ and this ‘gestapo style of operations’.

“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately call all the state security agencies to order and to respect the rule of law and due process.

“Any issue affecting the judicial officers, there are established processes and to edited for handling them and we demand that these constitutional processes must be obeyed”.

“Given the unfolding nature of the events and the seriousness of the situation, the NBA hereby declares a state of emergency as it affects the affairs of the judiciary”.

Attempt To Intimidate

Mr Mahmoud further stressed that the NBA considered the arrests as unconstitutional, as it was a very blatant attempt to intimidate the judiciary, undermined the independence of the judiciary and the legal profession.

“It is unacceptable to the legal profession and I will meet with the Chief Justice of the Nigeria tonight or tomorrow,” he stated.

The association also set up a Crisis Management Team comprising the association’s past presidents and general secretaries to investigate the situation.

At the briefing were former NBA presidents Mr Wole Olanipekun, Olisa Agbakoba, Joseph Daudu, Augustine Alegeh, bar leaders, Yusuf Ali, Kemi Pinheiro, Koyinsola Ajayi, former NBA General Secretary, Dele Adesina and current NBA second Vice President, Onyekachi Ubani among others.

Agbakogba Wants Clarifications On China-Nigeria Bilateral Agreement

AgbakobaSenior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Olisa Agbakoba says he is yet to come to terms with the nature of bilateral agreements Nigeria signed with China.

The former President of the Nigerian Bar Association is also concerned that there is not enough information in the public about President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent trip to China.

He said that he would want the federal government to give more information on what the bilateral agreement signed with China entails.

 

Mr Agbakoba told our judicial correspondent, Shola Sholeye, that he was also worried about the legal framework surrounding some of the agreements reached.

“I am concerned that such a complicated process was finished in one week. I’m concerned as to whether it was actually finished.

“I’m concerned about what legal framework was used because in international trade there are two frameworks; multilateral, under the WTO which this is not, or bilateral investment negotiations. So I don’t know if this is bilateral investment or simply bilateral trade.

“These are very important clarifications because they carry different consequences,” Mr Agbakoba said.

Mr Olisa Agbakoba, also criticized China for asking Nigeria not to deal with Taiwan because of their new bilateral agreement.

“Who are they to say that to a sovereign country like Nigeria that we cannot deal with Taiwan? I find that offensive and contrary to the status of Nigeria as one that wants to occupy the seat of Africa in the Security Council,” he said.

The Senior Advocate said that there is a lot to learn from the China economy but ultimately Nigeria needs to develop a national plan.