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Dust over life pension for governors, lawmakers

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Dust over life pension for governors, lawmakers

Lawyers: Life pension for govs unconstitutional

 

AKEEM NAFIU writes that the wave of approvals of pension for former governors and their deputies by various Houses of Assembly across the country amidst poverty in the land is a reflection of the nation’s nascent democratic system

 

 

Former state executives and their deputies in many states across the country have been feeding fats on their states’ resources in the name of life pensions approved by the various Houses of Assembly.

 

Funds running into several billions of naira were pocketed by these set of individuals annually in the name of pensions at a time civil servants and pensioners were not paid their entitlements for months and years.

Despite receiving over N1.8 trillion as bailout funds so far from the Federal Government, many states in the country were still reported to have found it difficult to settle workers’ salaries and pension liabilities.

 

A data from BudgtIT, a civic organisation concerned with participatory governance, indicated that as at October 2018, about 15 states across the country are defaulting in salary payments for as high as 15 months.

 

Ironically, there was no report about governors in these states defaulting at anytime in the payment of fat pensions and entitlements to their predecessors.

 

It is also worthy of note that the pension benefits for these former state chief executives are in addition to what was provided for them in the Certain Political Office Holders and Judicial Officers Remuneration Act, backed by the Revenue Mobilization, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) which prescribes 300 percent severance for governors.

 

Aside the 300 percent severance package, the Act also makes the following provisions for the state executives:

 

*Brand new cars renewable every three to four years.

 

*Accommodation at the State capital and sometimes in Abuja;

*30-day-paid holiday outside the country and free medical treatment for the former governors and their immediate family members.

 

Outrageous pensions of some state executives

 

Lagos

The Lagos Pension Law known as Public Office Holder (Payment of Pension) Law approved by former Governor Bola Tinubu in 2007, provides for the following benefits for life:

Two houses, one in Lagos and another in Abuja. Six brand new cars replaceable every three years; furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual salary to be paid every two years, and close to N2.5 million as pension (about N30 million pension annually). He will also enjoy security detail, free medicals including for his immediate families. Other benefits include 10 percent house maintenance, 30 percent car maintenance, 10 percent entertainment, 20 percent utility, and several domestic staff.

 

Rivers
In Rivers, the law provides 100 percent of annual basic salaries for ex-governor and deputy, one residential house for former governor “anywhere of his choice in Nigeria”; one residential house anywhere in Rivers for the deputy, three cars for the ex-governor every four years; two cars for the deputy every four years. His furniture is 300 percent of annual basic salary every four years en bloc. House maintenance is 10 percent of annual basic salary.

 

 

Akwa Ibom

In Akwa Ibom, the law provides for N200 million annual pay to ex-governors and deputies. He enjoys a pension for life at a rate equivalent to the salary of the incumbent governor/deputy governor respectively.

A new official car and a utility vehicle every four years; one personal aide and provision of adequate security; a cook, chauffeurs and security guards for the governor at a sum not exceeding N5 million per month and N2.5 million for the deputy governor. There is also a free medical services for governor and spouse at an amount not exceeding N100 million for the governor per annum and N50 million for the deputy governor.

Also, there is a five-bedroom mansion in Abuja and Akwa Ibom and allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary for the deputy governor. He takes a furniture allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary every four years in addition to severance gratuity.

 

 

Kano

The Kano State Pension Rights of Governor and Deputy Governor Law signed into law in 2007 provides for 100 percent of annual basic salaries for former governor and deputy. Furnished and equipped office, as well as a six-bedroom house; “well-furnished” four-bedroom for deputy, plus an office.

The former governor is also entitled to free medical treatment along with his immediate families within and outside Nigeria, where necessary. It is same for deputy.

Two drivers are also for former governor and a driver for his deputy; and personal staff below the rank of a Principal Administrative Officer and a PA not below grade level 10. There is also a provision for a 30- day vacation within and outside Nigeria.

 

 

Kwara

In Kwara, the pension law signed in 2010 gives a former governor two cars and a security car, replaceable every three years, a “well-furnished 5-bedroom duplex,” furniture allowance of 300 percent of his salary; five personal staff, three SSS, free medical care for the governor and the deputy, 30 percent of salary for car maintenance, 20 percent for utility, 10 percent for entertainment and 10 percent for house maintenance.

 

 

Zamfara

 

The Zamfara version of the law, signed in 2006, gives former governors pension for life, two personal staff, two vehicles replaceable every four years, two drivers, free medical for the former governors and deputies and their immediate families in Nigeria or abroad. The law also gives the former governors a four-bedroom house in Zamfara and an office, free telephone and 30 days paid vacation outside Nigeria.

 

Sokoto

 

In Sokoto, former governors and deputy governors are to receive N200 million and N180 million respectively being monetisation for other entitlements which include domestic aides, residence and vehicles that could be renewed after every four years.
Section 2 (2) of the Sokoto State Grant of Pension (governor and deputy governor) Law, 2013 states that “The total annual pension to be paid to the governor and deputy governor, shall be at a rate equivalent to the annual total salary of the incumbent governor or deputy governor of the state respectively.”

 

 

Gombe

 

In Gombe, the Executive Pension Law and other Matters Connected therewith, 2008, stipulates that a former governor shall be provided with a Personal Assistant not less than GL 10, two vehicles, to be replaced every four years, two drivers, free medical treatment for the former governor and his immediate family within Nigeria or abroad. 30 days annual vacation outside Nigeria with 30 days estacode with travel expense allowance for himself and wife, a furnished befitting accommodation in any part of the state as well as one direct telephone line internet facilities. The former governor also pockets N200 million as severance allowance while deputy governors go with N100 milion.

 

 

Osun

 

In Osun State, the law guiding the payment of pensions to former governors and their deputies is cited as the Pension (Governor and Deputy Governor) Law 2001. The law stipulates that former governors and former deputy governors shall be entitled to pension at the rate equivalent to the incumbent office holder.

 

 

Delta

 

Provision of Pension Rights of the Executive Governor and Deputy of Delta State, 2005 is the law guiding the provision of pension for former governors and deputy governors of Delta State.
The former governors and their deputies are entitled to one duplex in any city of their choice within Nigeria, One jeep and a backup car replaceable every two years, an office with four staff, two security personnel and a monthly salary among others.

 

Oyo

 

The Oyo State Pension Law 2004 provides that a former governor and his deputy are to collect pension as long as they live. The law stipulates that the pension for life will be paid at a rate equivalent to the annual salary of the incumbent Governor or Deputy Governor of the state.
The breakdown of the pension and allowances includes; furniture Allowance which is put at 300 percent of the annual basic salary, leave allowance is 10 percent of annual basic salary while severance allowance will be 300 per cent of the annual basic salary.

 

State legislators’ quest for life pension

 

Some states Houses of Assembly like the Executive arm are also in the quest for life pensions for their members.

 

Of late, the Kano State House of Assembly has passed a Bill seeking life pension for its principal officers into law.

The Bill tagged, the ‘Pensions Rights of Speaker and Deputy Law 2019’, passed on 9th May, 2019, will enable the two presiding officers earn life pension after leaving the office.

The new law provides that: “There shall be paid pension to person who held office as Speaker and Deputy Speaker equal to the emoluments of a serving Speaker and deputy speaker, provided that either the Speaker or the Deputy do not hold any paid elective or selective appointment”.

The Speaker and Deputy will also enjoy foreign medical trips and brand new vehicles every four years. The law is awaiting the assent of Governor Ganduje.

Similar attempt by lawmakers in Bayelsa State was however truncated after Governor Seriake Dickson declined to assent to a life pension Bill passed by them.

The Bill sponsored by the leader of the House, Peter Akpe, which was passed on 24th April, 2019, on the floor of the House, approved N500,000 post-service monthly pension to the speakers of the assembly, while deputy speakers will receive N200,000. Members are to get N100,000.

The Bill specifically provided that former lawmakers, including persons of Bayelsa origin who served in the old Rivers State, would enjoy life pensions for their services in the state as applicable to former presidents, vice-presidents, governors and deputy governors across the country.
However, to the dismay of the lawmakers, Governor Seriake Dickson withheld his assent to the Bill for being inconsistent with Section 124 of the Constitution.

The governor added that he was guided in his decision by the principle that government should not be for a select class of the privileged in the society.

In Kwara State, the legislators were even more daring as they allegedly shared out about N400 million alongside some members of the State Executive Council as severance package when their tenure is yet to run out. This is coming at a time the state owes civil servants about three months’ salary.

Acting on a petition, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had questioned the Secretary to the State Government, Sola Isiaka Gold and the Clerk of the State House of Assembly, Kperogi Halimat Jummai, over the alleged payment.

Kperogi was reported to have confirmed that the lawmakers have received their severance gratuity and that the payment was approved by the State Governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed.

 

A govt-elect pledge

Governor-elect of Kwara State, Mr. Abdulrahman Abdulrazak, has vowed to repeal the law granting jumbo pensions to former governors and deputies in the state.

This was one of his campaign promises in the run-off to the last governorship election in the state.

Addressing party supporters at a campaign rally in Omu-Aran, Irepodun Local Government Area, Abdulrazak noted that payment of pension to former political office holders was detrimental to the socio-economic development of the state.

“We need to change some terrible laws. We’ll repeal that obnoxious pension law when we get to office.

“It’s a privilege to become a governor of a state. It is dubious for anyone to become governor and then earn a pension more than the people who served the state for their entire lives.

“We cannot take that any more. But we need enough lawmakers to push through the repeal of the offensive law,” he said.

 

Lawyers speak

Some senior lawyers have also described the action of state Houses of Assembly in passing life pension laws for governors and their deputies as an illegal act.
The lawyers while speaking over the issue at the weekend faulted the action saying it is unconstitutional.

In his comment, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Mike Ahamba, noted that political office holders are not among the categories of people recognised by the Constitution as being entitled to pension.

He said: “If you check the definition of public officer, it does not include political office holders like president, vice-president, governors, their deputies and members of the House of Assembly.

“Also, if you check the Pensions Act, it is for public officers. So, what these political office holders are doing by allocating pensions to themselves is against the Constitution. Neither the National Assembly nor the State Houses of Assembly is empowered by the Constitution to give extra powers to themselves.

“The president, vice-president, governors and other political office holders are public officers for the purpose of code of conduct only. That is for the purpose of declaring their assets and nothing nothing more.

Nigerians should rise up to resist these illegal moves. Taxpayers’ money should be spent judiciously and not to pay pension certain individuals who have only worked for between four to eight years.”

He was echoed by another silk, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, who decried the high level of impunity being perpetrated by political elites in the country.

“It is quite unfortunate that Nigeria is blessed with infectiously corrupt political elite as people who have nothing to live on other than the common patrimony of other Nigerians. I have never seen anything more provocative.

“The crisis we are experiencing in the nation today is directly attributable to the greed of these political elites. Somebody will have 10, 15 cars as well as several houses because he served for only 4 or 8 years as governor and then he suddenly becomes a billionaire at the expense of the public. It is not right and I don’t support it.

“The greed of political elite has given birth to kidnapping, banditry and other vices in the country. The way we are going in this country, we will bring the edifice down unless care is taken and we all condemn these illegal acts”, Adedipe said.
A former Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani, called on Nigerians to rise up and resist the illegality.

He said: “Political office holders are not part of those recognized by the Constitution who are entitied to pension and that was why they are enacting laws to back up their illegality.
“Those who are entitled to pension under the law are civil servants who have worked for state and federal governments or in private sector.

“The executive is manipulating the legislature at various states to pass these obnoxious pension laws. You can see that the State Houses of Assembly too are now imitating what the executives are pushing them to do.

“I think it is only the Nigerian populace that could stop this kind of illegality and stealing of tax payers’ money. All these things are showing that this country is clearly sick. It is only a sick country that can allow this kind of thing to be happening unabated.
“People should speak and rise up through protests to shut down this high display of impunity by political office holders.”

 

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Law

Uzoma: Collapse of justice system responsible for increased crime

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Uzoma: Collapse of justice system responsible for increased crime

Esther Uzoma is an activist lawyer and co-convener of the Situation Room, a body comprising over 72 civil societies. Uzoma, who plies her trade in Abuja, speaks on graft war, protest march and sundry issues. TUNDE OYESINA met her

 

 

What is your view on emerging #RevolutionNow# and its convener’s 45 days detention?

 

 

There is no magic to the word Revolution. It is not a creative word. For instance, look at how our transportation system has been revolutionized; my ancestors used to trek from South-East to Lagos, and transportation revolution came.  They now fly. It used to take weeks to come from South-East to Lagos, but now it takes less than, perhaps 45 minutes. Look at the amazing revolution that has occurred in the communication sector, and formerly whenever you wanted to summon people, you will come to the village square and start sounding the gong. But now if you want to call anybody from any part of the country, including outside the state, it is easier.  There is no word revolution in the police or political context.

 

 

Revolution is just a word. If you are now bringing it down to legal specifics, there is nowhere in our criminal jurisprudence that the word revolution is criminalized; nowhere.  And you cannot begin to criminalize people’s utterances.

 

 

Whatever people say, you must bring it subject to the law. And for any action to form a crime, two things have to meet.  That is the mental intent (mens rea) and the action so commit (actus rea).

 

 

All that Sowore did was to call people to come, and in that calling people to come, he brought out a chattered of demand. We must judge his intention by those chattered of demand.

 

 

In totality, he was asking that the social inequality, so apparent in our society should be breached. That does not mean he wanted to lead war against the Federal Government. No, he just wants to have a better country.

 

 

There are so many things that incite in Nigeria. Insecurity is inciting, Hunger and joblessness is inciting. Do you know how many persons have died in this country as a result of insecurity this week alone? That is inciting. Beyond all that, it was an ex-parte motion that was filed by the DSS.  What it means was that the other party was not heard.  And so, the courts are bound by laws and rules written down.

 

 

They asked for 90 days, the court gave then 45 days. But now, there is an entry point for the other party to bring his case to be heard and determined.  It is not over. Sovereignty belongs to the Nigerian people, and that is what the Constitution says.

 

 

The judge simply applied the law.  The law says that the agencies of state can approach the court ex-parte without the other party. So, the judge simply applied the law, but then, again, this time we are in, we need huge level of judicial activism; the likes that we saw in 1984 era. This is the time for out judges to rise and save the soul of the judiciary. Democracy is under threat.  Let me tell you, free speech is one of the basic civil liberties. It is inalienable.  You cannot take it away because you did not give it. In this Sowore’s case, all he did was to talk and who can legislate on what you talk about?  All he did was to recap the failing state of amenities in this country. When has that become criminal?  It will come to a point where we can no longer complain when things are not going right. If we come to a point where we can no longer tell our leaders that you promised something and you are not doing it.  When Swore made the statement that caused his arrest, what did he do?  Did he levy war against the federal government? Without war, terrorism can’t be proved. If this government is truly afraid of free speech, then it means it is not a popular government. Giving the impression that the agencies of state are working for a particular people is not right. The security prosecution must stop.  Prosecution agency does not exist for the pleasure of the government in power. Today is APC, tomorrow who will it be?  These are agencies that are funded with tax payers’ money.  You must give the impression that you are impartial so that this country can move forward. Nigeria is all that we have.  I would have expected the government to engage the conveners on an intellectual basis.  This method used was very crude and unpopular.

 

 

Corruption and insecurity are on the rise. What do you think is the cause and the way out?

 

 

Nigeria, under the Constitution should be a country that promotes social justice.  And in the face if social injustice, people are duty-bound to at least complain about it.  Social inequality and perceived social injustice is when an accused person is granted pardon and after granting pardon, he also gives that person an executive post in the cabinet. This gives an impression to the Nigerian citizens that these are the people not us. Everything must be done to bring back that quotient of social justice in the affairs of the state.  It must happen. I mean again, the minimum wage for instance.

 

 

In the ancient Rome, there is always a time for bread and secuses. The Nigerian citizen feels wounded.  It is either somebody is being killed extra-judicially or other thing.  So, who gives support to the Nigerian citizen? Where do we get succor?  You go the court,  it is as if nothing is happening. That is why insecurity is increasing.  We must not demystify the power of the state so that justice can always be executed timeously. People will know that our government is still in charge.  If you commit wrong, they will know that you are subjected to the law.

 

 

Rapists are on the loose, what is the way out?

 

 

It is the perception of the collapse of the criminal justice system is what is driving people to commit more crime. If the good book says, if the evil man is not punished timeously, evil will multiply in the land even as the perception that ‘even big people commit this crime.  If you have money you will have your way’.  It is such feelings that make people to continue in the criminal act. It makes people to flagrantly rape minor, rape older women, rape people’s wife and go scot free.  And another thing also is the proliferation of drugs. We saw a documentary on sweet codeine. But beyond sweet codeine, there are so many substances, performance enhancing drugs,  they  have infiltrated the market.  And there is no restriction to age.  People buy this and are prone to crime.

 

 

How can you assess the anti-corruption fight of the Federal Government?

 

 

More can still be done. The politicisation of the trial of some people must stop.  Some people who are facing criminal trial have graced the cabinet of Mr. President. Yes, granted that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  I think those people standing trial should for a little while step aside, particularly because of the standard Mr. President has professed with his own mouth.  Those people should step aside.  At least, let other people who do not have extra-luggage serve this country.

 

 

Lawyers are now the object of physical attack by security agencies. What is your take on this? 

 

 

It is that same system-collapse.  It took the President through the National Human Rights Commission to institute a committee to mandate the police to obey court judgement. That is the extent to which court judgement are despised. So, when they think that what will happen, go to court now. Nobody is being punished.  That is what gives them that leverage.  So, it is still that perception of a weakening justice system.

 

 

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In defence of protest marches

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In defence of protest marches

Lawyers: Protest marches not treasonable offence

 

Do protest marches amount to treason and an act of terrorism? Lawyers say no. AKEEM NAFIU reports

 

“D

ancing on the street saying we don’t want bad governance. How does that amount to treason?  One said.

 

 

Another asked: “How can protest marches amount to terrorism? Are the protesters carrying gun or bombs?

 

 

These were among many questions dotting lips of some senior lawyers in response to claims by the police that Monday, last week’s protest march embarked upon by ‘RevolutionNow’ group amounted to treason and an act of terrorism.

 

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu had warned organisers of ‘RevolutionNow’ protests to shelve their planned actions as it amounted to a treasonable felony.

 

 

The warning was contained in a statement posted on the Force verified Twitter account @Policeng less than 48 hours to the scheduled day of the protest.

 

 

In the statement, the police chief urged Nigerians to steer clear of any activities in the name of ‘RevolutionNow’, saying the Force will not “stand idly by and watch any individual or group in the society cause anarchy in the land.”

 

 

Adamu further argued that the planned protest which aims to force “a regime change in the country” is “treasonable felony and acts of terrorism”.

 

The statement reads: “The attention of the Nigeria Police Force has been drawn to a video circulating on the social media by the ‘Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria and others’, inciting Nigerians, home and abroad, to join a planned ‘revolution’ march against the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on Monday, 5th August, 2019 with the sole aim of forcing a regime change in the country.

 

 

“The Force wishes to state unequivocally that the call amounts to treasonable felony and acts of terrorism and will therefore not stand idly-by and watch any individual or group in the society cause anarchy in the land.

 

 

“While acknowledging the rights of Nigerians to embark on protest, the Force wishes to note that such rights should not translate to a violent and forceful change of government which clearly is the meaning of ‘revolution’.

 

 

“Needless to state that Nigeria is a democratic republic and has well-defined processes for change of government exercised periodically during various cycle of elections.

 

 

“The Force therefore warns the organizers, sponsors, allies, supporters, associates and sympathisers of the group ‘Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria’ to, in their own interest, steer clear of any such planned protest, demonstration, acts of incitement and proposed “revolution”, as the full wrath of the law will be brought to bear on any individual or group engaged or found participating in the above planned criminal act.

 

 

“Parents and guardians are therefore enjoined to impress on their children and wards not to allow themselves to be used in whatever form by any person or group of persons to cause breach of law and order in the country.

 

 

“The police will work with other Law Enforcement Agencies and positive minded Nigerians to protect, defend and secure our public peace and space.”

 

 

Sowore’s arrest

 

 

Prior to the police warning, the Convener of ‘RevolutionNow’ group, Omoyele Sowore, was earlier picked up by security operatives in a hotel room around 1.25a.m. on 3rd August, 2019.

 

 

Although a day after, the Department of State Services (DSS) had informed the nation that it had taken Sowore into custody because ‘he called for a revolution in Nigeria,’ DSS’ spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, informed journalists in Abuja that the agency was aware that Sowore had been in touch with some foreign actors to destabilize Nigeria.

 

 

He added that Sowore’s words were all the evidence the secret police had of his purported violent revolution plot.

 

 

Crackdown on protesters

 

 

Despite Sowore’s arrest, the ‘RevolutionNow’ group pressed ahead with its planned protest across the country.

 

 

The group demanded an economy that would work for the masses; an effective and democratic end to insecurity; an end to systemic corruption and for total system change; the immediate implementation of the N30,000 minimum wage; including free and qualitative education for all”.

 

 

However, the protests were met with stiff resistance from security operatives.

 

 

In a broadcast on Facebook at midnight on the day of the protest, a rights activist, Inibehe Effiong, revealed that 56 protesters were arrested by security operatives in the ‘RevolutionNow’ protest across the country.

 

 

According to Effiong, who is also a lawyer to Omoyele Sowore, the figure included journalists already reported to have been arrested by security agencies at various venues of the protests.

 

 

Some of the states where protesters were arrested included Lagos, Cross River, Ondo and Ogun. The crackdown was condemned by many     Nigerians,whioe many of the arrested protesters have been charged to court.

Sowore’s 45 days detention

 

 

The Department of State Services (DSS) has also secured a court order to keep the Convener of ‘RevolutionNow’ group, Omoyele Sowore, in custody for 45 days.

 

 

Justice Taiwo Taiwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja made the order in a ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by the DSS seeking to keep Sowore for 90 days to conclude its investigation about allegation of terrorism against Sowore.

In his ruling, the judge held that the detention order would be renewable after the expiration of the first 45 days on September 21.

 

 

 

 

The security agency had anchored its motion on the provision of Section 27(1) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act.

 

 

Sowore’s appeal

 

 

The Convener of ‘RevolutionNow’ group had in the meantime lodged an appeal against the court’s ruling allowing the DSS to keep him in custody for 45 days.

 

 

In the appeal filed through his lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), Sowore argued that the remand order infringed on his fundamental human rights as well as the rules of the court.

 

 

According to him, the detention order not only contravened provisions of the Constitution but was also to legalise his “illegal” detention.

 

 

He consequently asked the appellate court to overturn the lower court’s decision.

 

 

Lawyers 

 

 

Some members of the Inner Bar have countered police claims that the protest march called by ‘RevolutionNow’ amounted to treason and an act of terrorism.

 

 

The senior lawyers while speaking on the issue at the weekend noted that security operatives have so far failed to establish the intention of the ‘RevolutionNow’ group to overthrow Buhari’s government.

 

 

They were also of the view that it was not within the purview of the police to categorize protest march as either treason or act of terrorism, saying only the court was capable of making such description.

 

 

 

The lawyers further noted that the police’s claim was an attempt by government to extend the ambit of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act to cover individuals and organisations critical of official policies or perceived marginalisation within the federation.

 

 

Speaking on the issue, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Mike Ozekhome, noted that Sections 39 to 43 of the Criminal Code and Section 410 of the Penal Code which criminalised treason envisioned a dire situation where an intention to overthrow a government, or overcome the President or Governor of a State (called “mens rea”) was accompanied by overt acts such as stockpiling and possession of arms and ammunition.

 

 

He said: “That allegation is most plural, most damning and most illogical from the government or security spokespersons.

 

 

 

 

“What is treason? For the definition of treason, you have to look at Sections 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 and 43 of the Criminal Code which applies in the Southern part of Nigeria.

 

 

“Then you must look at Section 410 of the Penal Code that applies in the Northern part of Nigeria including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Treason is the act of overthrowing the sovereign government of a state.

 

 

“Do mere uttered words “we will cause a revolution” by Nigerians who are singing, dancing and carrying placards on the streets, shouting “aluta continua, victoria acerta” without more, constitute treasonable felony especially by Nigerians who are protesting against bad governance and have carefully itemized their grievances in writing? 

 

 

“Does this amount to treason or treasonable felony? Do you announce a revolution if not for the mischief of some people deliberately reading the word literally rather than figuratively?

 

 

 

 

“Dancing on the street saying we don’t want bad governance, how does that amount to treason or treasonable felony?

 

 

“This government is allergic to plurality of voices. This government is allergic to criticism; this government is allergic to opinions. This government should know that Nigeria is a country with many colours.

 

 

 

“You cannot sample opinions. We cannot all sleep on the same bed. This government should learn to be tolerant.”

 

 

Ozekhome was corroborated by another silk, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe, who also viewed the protest march as nothing near treason or act of terrorism.

 

 

Adedipe said: “How can a protest march amount to terrorism? Are the protesters carrying gun or bombs? Are they shooting at people? Are they destroying property? Are they carrying placards? Even if they are carrying placards, are they injuring people with them? It is certainly an abuse of language to say that protest amounts to an act of terrorism and treasonable felony.

 

 

“So, I do not agree with the police on that and I think they are giving this government a very bad image. That is not how to defend the Constitution.

 

 

“These police officers should recognize that their duty is to defend the nation. However, they are sadly interpreting their role to mean that they are to defend the government of the day and its interest. Therefore, in my humble opinion marching and protest can never amount to an act of terrorism or treasonable felony.”

 

 

 

 

To Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), the claim by the police was an attempt by the Force to criminalize the protest.

 

 

He said: “Protest marches in Nigeria are not treasonable offences. No doubt, the Nigeria Police Force has capitalized on the use of the word “revolution” to criminalise the protest.

 

 

“If revolution has become a criminal offence in Nigeria why were the leaders of the APC not charged for claiming to have carried out Nigeria’s democratic revolution which terminated the 16-year rule of the PDP in 2015?

 

 

“Why was Dr. Kingsley Chiedu Moghalu, the Presidential Candidate of the Young Progressive Party (YPP) not threatened with treason when he asked Nigerians to rise up for revolution via the 2019 general election?

 

 

“Did all Nigerian senators led by APC members not commit treason or terrorism when they spent one and a half hours on May 14, 2019 to debate Senator Chukwuka Utazi’s timely motion on “Bridging the gap between the haves and have-not to nip in the bud the seeds of a looming violent revolution?

 

 

“It is worrisome that the Buhari administration has decided to extend the ambit of the Terrorism Prevention (Amendment) Act to cover individuals and organisations that are critical of official policies or perceived marginalisation within the federation.”

 

Mr. Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) said only the court can make any categorization of protest march.

 

 

“The police is not in a position to decide whether a protest march is treasonable or not. It is the court that can make such declaration”, he said

 

 

Dr. Biodun Layonu (SAN) also believed the police tag on the protest march by ‘RevolutionNow’ was a ploy to use something against the Convener, Omoyele Sowore.

 

 

He said: “The police claim is not correct. It’s a ploy to hang something on the man.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Court resolves rift over IPMAN’s election

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Court resolves rift over IPMAN’s election

Disputes over modalities to be adopted in the conduct of executive elections for Mosimi Depot under the Western Zone of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) have been resolved.

 

 

In resolving the dispute, Justice Chuka Obiozor of a Federal High Court in Lagos adopted the template used in resolving the disagreement which arose over the conduct of Executive election for the Satellite Depot of IPMAN’s Western Zone.

 

 

The Registered Trustees of IPMAN, IPMAN’s National President, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, National Secretary, Alhaji Danladi Pasali as well as three Executives of IPMAN Western Zone have dragged eleven members of the zone to court over the Satellite Depot election.

 

 

The three Executives of IPMAN Western Zone who are co-plaintiffs in the matter are: HRH Oba Obafemi Ogbaro, the Zonal Chairman IPMAN Western Zone; A8lhaji Adetunji Oloko, Zonal Secretary, IPMAN Western Zone and Alhaja Olayiwola Omotayo, Zonal Organizing Secretary, IPMAN Western Zone.

 

 

Some of the respondents in the suit are; Alhaji Debo Ahmed, Alhaji Ayo Alanamu, Chief Olatunji Aderoju, Mr. Lukman Olaogun, Elder Sanya Aluko and Bashorun Akanni Oyewole.

 

 

Others are; Kunle Bamigboye, Alhaji Dele Tajudeen, Prince Kunle Oyenuga, Pastor Gbenga Ilupeju and Mr. Lakin Olukanmi.

 

 

Parties in the suit later come together and reached a compromise on how to resolve the dispute over the Satellite Depot election. They agreed that each party shall nominate five persons each to conduct the election. The 10-man committee was chaired by HRH Oba Obafemi Ogbaro.

 

 

The resolution was subsequently adopted by the court as its ruling on the matter and the Satellite Depot Executive election was later successfully conducted on 22nd July, 2019.

 

 

The Mosimi Depot Executive elections scheduled to hold on 14th October, 2019, will now be conducted using the same template.

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‘Lawyers’ remuneration not commensurate with work’

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‘Lawyers’ remuneration not commensurate with work’

Subair Omorolayo Suliat is an alumnus of the Lagos State University. She was called to Bar on 29th November, 2016. She shares post called-to-Bar experience with JOHN CHIKEZIE

 

 

Background

 

My name is Subair Omorolayo Suliat and I am an indigene of Odiolowo Local Government Area, Ikeja, Lagos State. I attended Omoleye Children School, Ikorodu road Lagos State and Tunyo Comprehensive College, Isheri Igando, Lagos for both elementary and Secondary Schools education. I obtained a Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B) from the Lagos State University. And thereafter proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Abuja Campus, where I was called to the Nigerian Bar on 29th November, 2016.

 

 

I currently work as a Legal Registrar/Judicial Assistant to a Judge of Lagos state.

 

 

Career choice

 

 

I had actually wanted to become a pharmacist. Honestly, I never intended to study Law. However, when I went for my holiday Summer school, my mind changed. I was always getting the-you-speak so well, you will do well in art class as a Journalist or some sorts.

 

 

I really didn’t pay attention to all that until when I was about applying for the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME).

 

 

Law became my first choice. I do not think the change was caused by any feeling or by a desire to define a path for my life. Honestly, because at that time, it was really about gaining admission into the university to study a prestigious course.

 

 

However, when I began to study Law, I realised I could be much more and I could do more. I am really thankful because being a lawyer has exposed me to deeper issues that have gone a long way in defining who I am today.

 

 

How has the journey been so far in terms of challenges being faced as a young lawyer?

 

 

Honestly, the journey has not been particularly easy especially being a young lawyer with little over 2-4 years’ experience at the Bar. I graduated with a Second Class upper. And taking myself as an example, before I completed my National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) program in 2017, I applied to nothing less than 50 law firms. I think just about 10 firms called me back.

 

 

I remember an interview with a firm where the interviewer asked who my father was and who was my source of coming to the law firm. I was shocked.  The challenge here is based on the fact that you do not know anyone or you aren’t well connected enough.                     

Another challenge is the way young lawyers are being overworked with little or no pay. Inadequate remuneration is one of the basic challenges faced by young lawyers in Nigeria.

 

 

I remember a firm told me categorically that I had to work for 3 months with no pay. It clearly wasn’t even an issue of months of probation. I was livid.

 

 

Most young lawyers are exploited under the popular statement, “Gain The Experience”. A young lawyer must feed, pay his or her transport fare, change his or her dresses, at least, once in a while, recharge his or her phone, etc. But when a young lawyer lives on a very low income, it makes it very difficult for such a lawyer to cater for his or her needs.

 

 

Do you have any business you combine with your career?

 

 

Well, I own a fashion line called Rilamscloset.

 

 

At first it was hectic combinining both law and sewing. Double hustle, but it later became easier. I have two support staff that have made it easy for me to focus on work and also do what I love.

 

 

How did the love for sewing emerge?

 

 

I would say, initially, i just wanted to sew for myself as a lot of tailors weren’t really getting the styles I wanted. I wanted to be able to create anything for myself & the fact that I don’t have to spend much on clothing but then I stopped sewing for a very long time until a friend asked me to explain how I did a certain dress. She did it the exact way and got a lot of money, for a skill that I just gave away. Since that day I decided to start making extra cash from my skills.

 

 

How would you evaluate the judiciary in terms of justice delivery?

 

 

In terms of justice delivery the process is rather too slow.

 

 

Firstly, the delay in the justice system, doesn’t really settle well in terms of rapid Justice. The process is rather too long, exhausting and sometimes you end up spending so much time in court without justice. Take for example, in a land dispute where a claimant takes a defendant to court and litigates an action which could probably linger for more than 10years with no justice. How is that of a great effect?

 

 

The delays are not solely due to any particular organ in the Judiciary but also on the lawyers.

 

 

 

 

Imagine in the criminal justice system, where a suspect is awaiting trial in court and languishes in prison custody for years. How is that an effective Justice system? 

 

 

But kudos to the Lagos State Judiciary with the New 2019 High Court Civil Procedure rules, and its practice directions to help speed up the process to achieve effective delivery of justice.      

 

 

Secondly, judicial corruption has reduced public confidence in the country’s justice system. A layman who sees different issues about judicial officers being prosecuted would never see the Judiciary as a place to get justice. This is simply because, to them, most judges are corrupt; a narrative the system is attempting to change.

 

 

Lastly, the Judiciary needs to do more in terms of rendering legal services to indigent who can’t afford lawyers in court. The Legal Aid, honestly, are not doing much in this realm. Rich offenders afford well skilled lawyers, who can devise different strategies to delay or prevent successful prosecution. Poor offenders don’t have this benefit. Therefore, the system doesn’t really care much about individual who can’t afford a lawyer to defend them in court.

 

 

What are your thoughts on death penalty on rape and defilement by lawmakers?

 

 

Honestly, because of the issue in this country and the fact that nothing works, our laws really do not hold water. So, I would say that I am not for or against the death penalty.

 

 

Sentiments apart, would death penalty serve as a solution or preventive measure?

 

 

Well, in Nigeria, we do not have a sexual offenders’ list, where the public can access and view names of those listed as sexual offenders.

 

 

What are the measures on those raping and defiling kids? I would say doom them for life, no working in parks, schools or anywhere connected to where kids are located. We certainly lack the ability to keep records in Nigeria, that is why sexual offenders and rapist still go to jail and come out roaming the streets like nothing ever happened.

 

 

Finally the legislature also needs to do more in terms of limitations and time to institute an action against a person who is being accused of defilement, as it is clearly stated in Section 218 of the Criminal code. The section states that, “Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of thirteen years is guilty of a felony, and is liable to imprisonment for life, with or without caning. A prosecution for either of the offences defined in this section shall begin within two months after the offence is committed. A person cannot he convicted of either of the offences defined in this section upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness”.

 

 

From the above, the law is clear that after 2months, you are not allowed to go after the rapist. That’s a bit too unfair. you are only allowed to bring an action against such a person within 2 months of the commission of the offence.

 

 

Future ambition

 

 

I aspire to lecture someday, Maybe not for long but I would really love to impact lives across the globe.

 

 

And lastly, I hope to become a judge and contribute immensely to justice administration in the country.

 

 

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In search of solution to Edo Assembly crisis

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In search of solution to Edo Assembly crisis
  • Lawyers push for judicial resolution

 

AKEEM NAFIU writes on the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly which has not only hindered smooth legislative business but also pitched Governor Godwin Obaseki against the National Assembly

 

 

F

or the umpteenth time in five years, the Edo State House of Assembly which was embroiled in crisis is at it again. The crisis, this time around, centred on the inauguration of 9 of the 24-member Assembly on 18th June, 2019 by Governor Godwin Obaseki.

This is the second time within five years legislative business in the Edo State House of Assembly will be disrupted.

 

 

In 2014, the crisis which was allegedly triggered by the then ruling party at the national level, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), resulted in the emergence of two parallel leaderships that sat separately.

 

 

The then Deputy Speaker, Festus Ebea, an APC member representing Esan South-East, and three other APC members who defected to the PDP were  suspended for alleged misconduct and violation of House rules. They had earlier lost a legal battle to retain their seat in the House.

 

 

The four suspended APC members later teamed up to elect Festus Ebea as Acting Speaker. They also suspended the Speaker, Uyi Igbe, and six other APC members for allegedly bringing the reputation of the House into disrepute.

 

 

The 15 APC legislators of the Uyi Igbe-faction who were then backed by Governor Adams Oshiomhole, relocated from the Assembly complex at the King’s Square to the Old Assembly Chamber inside the Government House, due to police restrictions at the complex.

 

 

The PDP lawmakers however gained entry into the complex and had a plenary session with Festus Ebea presiding.

 

 

At the session which was conducted with the mace, the lawmakers re-validated the suspension of the eight APC members and formalised the election of the suspended Deputy Speaker as Acting Speaker. The rest of the story is now history.

 

 

Return of crisis in 2019

 

 

Five years on, the Edo State House of Assembly is on the spotlight again for the wrong reason.

 

 

It all started on June 17, 2019, when 19 out of the 24 Edo Assembly members-elect, expressed their displeasure at the failure of Governor Godwin Obaseki, to inaugurate the 7th Assembly, ten days after the expiration of the previous one.

 

 

Addressing a press conference, the spokesman for the lawmakers, Washington Osifo, alleged that the governor’s refusal to issue a proclamation to inaugurate the 7th Assembly as required by law, after the expiration of the 6th Assembly on June 7, 2019, has created a vacuum.

 

 

He said: “The governor by virtue of Section 105 (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), is constitutionally required to issue a letter of proclamation for the inauguration of the new Assembly to avoid vacuum.

 

 

“All states of the federation have inaugurated their Houses of Assembly; Gov. Obaseki has deliberately refused to allow the Assembly to function, thus usurping the powers of the legislators”.

 

However, 48 hours after the 19 lawmakers’ outburst, the Special Adviser to Governor Obaseki on Media and Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, issued a statement notifying the public that his boss has indeed inaugurated the 7th Assembly on June 17, 2019.

He said the new assembly was inaugurated at 3pm on the said day and that the nine members in attendance had elected Hon. Frank Okiye as Speaker.

 

 

“The much-anticipated inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly took place in Benin around 3 p.m. on Monday, June 17, 2019.

 

 

“The Clerk of the Edo House of Assembly, Alhaji Audu Omogbai, ushered the members-elect into the chamber and read out the letter of proclamation transmitted to the Office of the Clerk by the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Obaseki.

 

 

“After reading the letter, the clerk proclaimed the House and the members-elect began the process of electing the House leadership, with Frank Okiye of Esan North-East Constituency I, emerging as Speaker, w8hile Yekini Idiaye of Akoko Edo Constituency I, was elected as Deputy Speaker.

 

 

Other lawmakers said to be in attendance at the inauguration ceremony were: Nosa Okunbor, Henry Okuarobo, Uyi Ekhosuehi, Marcus Onobun, Ephraim Anehbosele, Roland Asoro and Eric Okaka.

 

 

The other 19 lawmakers left out of the inauguration exercise were however dissatisfied and have vowed that the ‘illegality’ would not stand.

NASS intervention

 

In a bid to resolve the logjam, the House of Representatives on 9th July, 2019, set up a probe panel.

 

 

The panel was put up by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, after the adoption of a motion moved by three members from Edo State, Messrs Julius Ihonvbere, Peter Akpatason and Johnson Oghuma.

 

 

The 13-member probe panel was chaired by the immediate past spokesman for the House and former speakership aspirant, Mr Abdulrazak Namdas.

 

 

Moving the motion, Ihonvbere said, “The House notes with concern the improper, clandestine and nocturnal inauguration of the 7th Edo State House of Assembly on the 17th of June, 2019, wherein nine out of 24 members-elect were purportedly sworn in without the knowledge of the other 15 members-elect.”

 

 

Members of the Green Chamber later adopted the probe panel recommendations on 17th July, 2019.

 

 

In adopting the recommendations, the lawmakers handed down a week ultimatum to Governor Godwin Obaseki to issue a fresh proclamation for the Edo State House of Assembly.

 

 

The house also directed that all actions taken by the current assembly in Edo State should be declared null and void pending proper inauguration.

 

 

The lawmakers also called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Director-General (DG), Department of State Service to shut down the Edo State House of Assembly and provide adequate security to allay further fears of intimidation and threat as alleged by members-elect.

In a similar fashion, an enquiry was also launched into the crisis by the Senate through an ad-hoc Committee.

 

The Committee’s report was subsequently adopted by the Red Chamber on 30th July, 2019.

 

Like the House of Representatives, the Senate also gave Governor Godwin Obaseki a week’s ultimatum to issue fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly.

 

In doing this, the governor was mandated  to formally inform all the 24 members-elect of the new proclamation via print and electronic media platforms.

 

 

Failure to do so, the Senate said it will invoke Section 11(4) of the Constitution which allows it to take over the functions of the state assembly.

 

Obaseki reacts

 

In his reaction to the Senate’s directive, Governor Obaseki accused the lawmakers of illegally dabbling into an issue that is currently a subject of litigation in court.

 

 

The governor speaking through a statement by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Osarodion Ogie, said he is not unmindful of political pressure on the Senate by highly placed and powerful persons who are intent on foisting their will and choices on Edo people.

 

 

“This is borne out by the record statements made by one Seid Oshiomhole (a Member-elect and younger brother of the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress Comrade Adams Oshiomhole) wherein he boasted that both the Senate President Senator Ahmed Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Rt. Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila have been instructed on what to do in this matter.

 

 

“The Government of Edo State wishes to observe that the Chairman and Members of Ad-Hoc Committee of the Senate which visited Edo State were made aware of the existence of at least three suits pending before various Courts wherein the factual and legal dispute regarding the Edo State House of Assembly inauguration have been submitted to the Courts by both contending parties for resolution.

 

 

“The Ad-Hoc Committee also failed to inform the senate of the existence of a valid injunction in Suit NO FHC/B/OS/70/2019 wherein the Federal High Court restrained various parties from interfering in any manner with the activities of the Edo State House of Assembly which said order had been brought to their attention in the course of their visit to Edo State.

 

 

“It is unfortunate that the Distinguished Senate would act in flagrant breach of these various court orders and purport to come to factual and legal conclusions concerning a matter in which the parties are already before the courts and therefore subjudice”, the statement reads.

 

 

Lawyers proffer solutions

 

 

Some senior lawyers concerned about the crisis rocking the Edo State House of Assembly have equally been speaking on the way out of the quagmire.

 

 

Majority of the lawyers while speaking on the issue at the weekend believed it is only the court that can calm frayed nerves. They asked aggrieved parties to seek legal redress.

 

 

In his comments, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Dr. Biodun Layonu, was of the view that it is better to invite the court to adjudicate on the matter because political solution has been elusive.

 

 

He said: “The ultimate solution is court when political solution fails. The governor or those members who wish should quickly preempt by going to court if the matter is not already in court”.

 

 

A former Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Monday Ubani, also believed only the court can resolve the dispute.

 

 

“Now that the Senate has toed the line of the House of Representatives in ordering Governor Godwin Obaseki to re-issue the letter of proclamation to the State House of Assembly within a period of one week or risk the National Assembly taking over the legislative function of the State House of Assembly, it is obvious that this matter has defied political solution.

 

 

“I am reinforced by this line of thought due to the prompt response of the state governor to the directive of the Senate by insisting that the National Assembly is clearly in breach of the principles of federalism and separation of powers by issuing these directives.

 

 

“According to him, the National Assembly cannot, and will not dish out orders to the state governor in a federation contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. Indeed the provisions of the constitution was very specific as to the level of intervention or involvement of the National Assembly in the state where the State House of Assembly cannot be in a position to enact laws for the good order, governance  and peace of that state.

 

 

“My observation and conclusion, I may be wrong, is that this crisis will eventually be decided by court as APC, the National Assembly, the Edo State and the major stakeholders have jettisoned wisdom over this crisis”, Ubani said.

A former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mazi Afam Osigwe, also called on parties involved in the dispute to seek judicial intervention.

 

 

He said: “If a governor has done a proclamation in law, he lacks power to do a second one. This is because those asking the governor to do another one have acknowledged that he had previously done one.

 

 

“Besides, if the House of Assembly has convened, the governor cannot dissolve it until after four years and the power of the National Assembly to make laws for a state is only activated when the House of Assembly cannot sit.

 

 

“I think the National Assembly ought to have sought legal advice before coming up with the resolutions. Sadly, the Edo State House of Assembly is entirely made of APC members and one would have expected that any differences among them would be resolved politically amicably.

 

 

“So, if some people believed that there was no proper proclamation and that notice of such activity was not given, then, I think those who are making such should go to court so that the issue can be decided one way or the other. It is not for the National Assembly to throw its weight into what has become a judicial matter”.

 

 

However, a rights activist, Mr. Kabir Akingbolu, opined that the only way out of the logjam is for Governor Obaseki to heed the National Assembly’s directive and re-issue the proclamation.

 

 

“Constitutionally, the National Assembly has the power to make law for the good governance of any state if the State House of Assembly is not functional. I think we ought to have surpassed this stage of anarchy in our democratic experiment.

 

 

“The governor should heed the voice of logic and apply wisdom; otherwise anything can happen that may lead to a breakdown of law and order which may be a fertile recipe for the declaration of state of emergency.

 

 

“How can less than one third of the House constitute a quorum on the first day when the proclamation of the house is to be made.  It is disgusting and I know people of other climes will be laughing at us. This thing should stop now and I think the National Assembly should be more serious in pursuing this to a logical conclusion.

 

 

“The state governors always believe they are above the law. Fayose did it in 2014 when he used seven members to chase away 19 under this same president but when the anomalies were allowed to stand, this is the consequences. We must nip it in the bud and the time to do it is now. So the National Assembly is on the right track”, he said.

 

 

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Gabriel Uduafi, also demanded for a fresh inauguration of the Edo State House of Assembly saying this is the only way out of the problem.

 

 

He said: “The situation of things regarding the Edo State House of Assembly is quite unfortunate. If I recall very well, the Edo Assembly is a 24-member House. If the governor is making a proclamation for the Assembly’s inauguration, I want to believe he is not unaware of the number of members elect.

 

 

“My expectation is that for the effectiveness of the proclamation, all the elected members should have been duly informed of the exercise by the clerk.

 

 

“The office of a governor is not a comedy theatre. Governance is serious business. As a human being, I was embarrassed by that inauguration, as a lawyer, I was scandalized and as a democrat, I think the exercise was undemocratic.

 

 

“It is undemocratic for the governor to inaugurate only five members in a House of 24 members. Can the five members validly and legally passed a resolution that will be binding on the House? We all have to agree that the inauguration was improper, otherwise we have a problem.

 

 

“If that inauguration was improper, is it something that we should promote? The governor was elected as a politician and if he has a political problem, he must solve it politically. So, irrespective of the party affiliation of members of the House, there was a constitutional infraction regarding their inauguration. In my view, that House was not competently inaugurated. What happened was a shame on our democracy.

 

 

“Even if you go by a simple majority, it means we must have at least half of the entire House members inaugurated. With this, there can be a basis for discussion. There is a popular saying that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well, I think the inauguration has to be properly done again. The governor should do what is right”, the lawyer said.

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‘I read law to champion cause of fairness, equity, justice’

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‘I read law to champion cause of fairness, equity, justice’

Abimbola Adekoya, an indigene of Ijebu-East Local Government of Ogun State, was called to Bar on 13th December, 2017. in this encounter, she shares her experience in the noble profession with JOHN CHIKEZIE

 

 

Background

 

My name is Abimbola Adekoya. I am from Ogun State, Ijebu-East Local Government Area. I had my elementary school at Tifedayo International School Alagbado, Lagos and Owen Thomas College, Alagbado, Lagos for my secondary school education.

I obtained a Bachelor of Law Degree (LL.B) from the Lagos State University in 2016. I thereafter proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Enugu Campus, where I finished with a First Class (Honours). I was called to the Nigerian Bar on 13th December, 2017.                                                                                               

Choice of career

 

As a cliché as it sounds, my desire to study law and to be a legal practitioner was borne out of my passion for fairness, equity and justice for the voiceless and oppressed.

 

I remember back in secondary school, I was always in trouble for standing up for people and fighting other people’s battle. In fact, I became so notorious that one of my teachers used to call me a ‘Human Rights Activist’. Law seems to be the perfect profession for me to express my passion and love for equity, fairness and justice.

 

Also, with years of legal education, I realized that the legal profession is all about training people to be problem solvers. So wherever I find myself, I am expected to proffer solutions to difficult issues and give life to hopeless situations, whether I am  advising a  business entity or representing a person whose fundamental right has been breached, I believe I am solving a problem in my own way and law has given me a platform to do so.

 

International, human rights and criminal law

 

I love International law, Human Rights Law and Criminal law but I have recently developed an interest in Corporate Commercial law, Energy law and Labour law.  Business is the heart of the economy, and I have come to appreciate the vital role the law plays in ensuring the success of businesses and companies. I find Corporate Commercial law particularly interesting because it is one area of law that is dynamic and challenging. This area of law allows for creativity and resourcefulness in providing pragmatic solutions to complex legal issues.

 

Law school experience

 

I had one of my best learning experiences at the Nigerian Law School. I met awesome and intelligent people from across the country and I was exposed to the practical aspect of law during the Court and Chambers Attachment. 

 

 

Contrary to dreadful popular opinion, law school is not as bad, sacred or mighty as people think. I think law school is one of the best learning institutions in Nigeria. Compared to most Law faculties in Nigeria, the Nigerian Law School is more structured and organized. Students know what to expect in every lecture and they have compulsory study group meetings to prepare adequately for the class. Also, there are unending learning resources available to students beforehand.

 

Reforms in the Nigerian Law School, including Law Faculties in Nigeria

 

The only issue I have with law school is the volume of work. Students are expected to absorb so much information within a very short time. This accounts for the high failure rate in law school.

I suggest that the duration of study in law school be increased to 18 months to 2 years. This will provide students with more time to learn and undergo pupilage before the Bar Exams. I honestly feel that the 5 years period of study for Bachelor of laws Degree (LL.B) should be reduced to 4 years. We need to spend more time teaching the technical side of the law.

 

 

The Nigerian Law faculties also need to do better in terms of the method of teaching, structure and organization as the teaching method adopted by most Nigerian universities are outdated. Nigerian Law Faculties should embrace the use of technology to make learning easier. Teaching should be student focused and not lecturer focused. Also, Nigerian Law Faculties should encourage and make Internship programme compulsory for Law Undergraduates. This will go a long way in preparing students for the Nigerian Law School and practice.

 

 

Embarrassing moments

 

I can’t remember having an embarrassing first time court experience. But I had an embarrassing and memorable first time meeting experience with a client. I was instructed to attend a negotiation meeting with a client a few hours before the meeting. I knew next to nothing about the case, I was scared and confused because I was barely 3 months at the Bar at the time. The client was disappointed when she found out I was going to represent her at the meeting. At the end I made it through the meeting and all our propositions were accepted by the other party. I sincerely can’t explain how that happened.

 

 

Evaluation of justice system

 

 

The Nigerian Legal system which includes the laws, courts, personnel of law and the administration of justice system in Nigeria has not recorded much development compared to the Legal system in western countries.

 

 

The stunted growth experienced by the Nigerian Legal System can be attributed to the extant laws in Nigeria. Most of our laws are obsolete and are no longer relevant to the needs of the 21st Century Nigerian Citizen. For example, the Land Use Act 1978, the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990, the Criminal Code etc. Isn’t it surprising that the statutes of general application such as the Sales of Goods Act 1893, Partnership Act 1890 and the Bill of Exchange Act 1882 which were in force in England on January 1, 1900 are still the extant laws in Nigeria even when some of these laws have been re-enacted in England.

 

 

Also, another problem facing our Legal system is the will power to implement the laws enacted. The Administration of justice system in Nigeria has made enforcement of laws difficult. As long as we don’t enforce our laws, the Nigerian Legal System will not develop even if we make the best laws.

 

 

It is pertinent to state that the Superior Courts in Nigeria have also not helped in the development of our jurisprudence in recent years. There are conflicting decisions of the superior courts particularly the Court of Appeal due to the unnecessary focus on technicality rather than seeking to do substantial justice.  In recent times, the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court hardly give judgment on the substance or merit of the cases before them instead most cases are decided or dismissed based on non-compliance with procedural laws. For instance the recent Supreme Court’s judgement on the election petition appeal in Osun state.

 

 

Insecurity

 

 

I consider the idea of using licensed vigilante Fulani herdsmen as security agents across the country demeaning and an affront to Nigeria’s security apparatus. It is indeed disappointing that we are considering the idea of resorting to non-state actors in securing lives and properties when the motion to introduce state policing was vehemently opposed.

 

 

What is the aim and objective of establishing and licensing Fulani Vigilante Group? Is it for the purpose of providing support to the security agencies in the states or to protect Fulani Herdsmen from reprisal attacks from members of the host community? The underlying motive for the implementation of Licensed Fulani Vigilante Group by the government is tainted with folly as it seeks to advance sectional or vested interests as against the common interest of all the citizen.

 

 

First, the Federal Government has in time past made efforts to ban and disarm local Vigilante Groups across the Country, licensing Fulani Vigilante group in the states where local vigilante groups have been disarmed would mean that the government is acting in the interest of the fulani herdsmen.

 

 

Secondly, some Fulani Herdsmen have been a threat to the security of communities in the Northern Part of the country, licensing them to act as security agents in the states could lead to a monumental national tragedy seeing that they have been empowered by the government, they can take laws into their own hands, engage in extra judicial killing and dispense justice as they see fit.       

 

 

Also, using untrained groups as security agents is detrimental to the security of any state as they could evolve into an ethnic militia or be used to promote political agenda.

 

 

In the interest of the public, the federal government and the state government should not in any way adopt this proposition as in the short to long term, will do more harm than good to the peaceful existence of citizens across the country and National Security as a whole.

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Why judiciary should steer clear of INEC’s boss’ appointment, by Uduafia

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Why judiciary should steer clear of INEC’s boss’ appointment, by Uduafia

Gabriel Uduafi, in this interview with AKEEM NAFIU, speaks on Federal Government’s proscription of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), Edo Assembly crisis and sundry issues

 

 

What is your take on the controversies trailing the proscription of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) by the Federal Government?

 

 

The Constitution is very clear; everyone is free to practice his or her religion. However, I am a bit skeptical when people are saying that because the IMN is a religious organization, they cannot be proscribed by government.

 

 

We should not forget that the dreaded Boko Haram terrorists group started like a religious organization. The ISIS also started in the name of religion. Every militant organization in the world today took off in the name of religion.

 

 

So, sometimes, it is better for us to look beyond what a group called itself. You can tell me you are a journalist and you are talking to me like a lawyer. Once, you start behaving as a lawyer, I will draw your attention to the fact that you told me you are a journalist. That is what is called checks and balances.

 

There must be a mechanism of checking people so that they will not engage in excessive propagation of a notion they claimed to hold, so that it will not pose a risk to the entire society. If the action of any group is posing a risk to the society, then those in authority should not fold their arms.

So, taking a look at the activities of the Shi’ite Movement in recent times, can we say all their actions genuinely tend towards the propagation of any religion?

 

 

Let me ask you a question, will you be free to move around on a day you learnt that the Shi’ite Movement will be going on a procession? Of course, it will be impossible for you to do so.

 

For a group to attack the convoy of the Chief of Army Staff and attempt to shut down the National Assembly, I think all these go beyond the propagation of any religion.

 

 

I am in total support of government’s plan to check the excesses of this group. Even, if it is a Christian group that is indulging in such nefarious activities, it should not be spared.

 

 

Don’t you think government should also be blamed for all these crises having failed to honour the court’s order releasing the Shi’ite leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky on bail?

 

 

I am a student of history. Let us deal with our immediate history before going to our remote history as a people. We all knew for how long Major Hamza Al-mustapha, the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the late General Sani Abacha, was imprisoned when he was facing trial over the murder of Alhaja Kudirat Abiola. Throughout Al-mustapha’s stay in prison until he was subsequently freed, no individual or group was involved in any protest whatsoever.

 

 

For every legal challenge, there is always a legal solution. The issue of bail is neither here nor there. I don’t believe that the only way to address a perceived injustice is to perpetrate more injustice. It is by continuing to seek justice legally.

 

We should not forget the reason behind the arrest of El-Zakzaky in the first place. You will recall that this man raised an army and his group was being funded by a foreign government. We should also be concerned about the role played by the Iranian government on the issue. These are some of the facts that we should looked at and not just the issue of bail granted the man.

 

If government is right at all times, then, citizens may no longer be relevant. We can never have any perfect government. Any government that does not make mistake is not a government of this world. This is because human beings are prone to mistakes. But, the point I am making is that we should all pursue our grievances in an orderly manner. There is no justice anywhere in the world, even in the United States.

 

My advice for the IMN is to pursue their grievance in an orderly manner. If they have issues with the proscription order, they should seek judicial remedy and prove that they are not terrorists. After all, they were not proscribed by Executive proclamation but by a court order.

 

 

What is the legality of the National Assembly’s request that Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State should issue fresh proclamation for the inauguration of the State House of Assembly?

 

The situation of things regarding the Edo State House of Assembly is quite unfortunate. If I recall very well, the Edo Assembly is a 24-member House. If the governor is making a proclamation for the Assembly’s inauguration, I want to believe he is not unaware of the number of members elect.

My expectation is that for the effectiveness of the proclamation, all the elected members should have been duly informed of the exercise by the clerk.

 

The office of a governor is not a comedy theatre. Governance is serious business. As a human being, I was embarrassed by that inauguration, as a lawyer, I was scandalized and as a democrat, I think the exercise was undemocratic.

 

 

It is undemocratic for the governor to inaugurate only five members in a House of 24 members. Can the five members validly and legally passed a resolution that will be binding on the House? We all have to agree that the inauguration was improper, otherwise we have a problem.

 

 

If that inauguration was improper, is it something that we should promote? The governor was elected as a politician and if he has a political problem, he must solve it politically. So, irrespective of the party affiliation of members of the House, there was a constitutional infraction regarding their inauguration. In my view, that House was not competently inaugurated. What happened was a shame on our democracy.

 

Even if you go by a simple majority, it means we must have at least half of the entire House members inaugurated. With this, there can be a basis for discussion. There is a popular saying that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well, I think the inauguration has to be properly done again. The governor should do what is right.

 

Do you share the view by a former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, that a way of having credible election in the country is by transferring the President’s power to appoint INEC Chairman to the judiciary?

 

I completely disagreed with him. That will be unconstitutional because we run a presidential system of government. Once a country has adopted a particular system of government, every other thing will revolve around it.

 

In the United Kingdom parliamentary system of government, everything revolves around the parliament. The Heads of various Ministries and Parastatals were appointed by the Prime Minister and they were accountable to him. This is because the bucks stop at his table.

 

 

If I may ask, why should the judiciary appoint the INEC Chairman? What will the country benefit? This is very wrong. It is the President that appoint the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), he also appoints the Justices of the Supreme Court as well as the Justices of the Court of Appeal.

 

 

Aside all these, the judiciary is a special instrument that must be insulated from partisan politics. The position of INEC Chairman and the electoral body’s Commissioners were not created for the performance of judicial functions but political functions. Therefore, they cannot be accountable to the judiciary.

 

 

I think the problem is not really in the process of appointing these individuals but their character. If we have a credible person in charge, he will surely discharge his functions and move on. We must look for the right individuals to perform the right functions.

 

 

Are you in support of the clamour for the creation of Electoral Crimes Commission to investigate and prosecute electoral crimes?

 

 

This is an idea that I supported because there are penal provisions which were never evoked in our Electoral Act. This is happening either by reason of our weak institutions or the unwillingness of those in charge to perform.

 

 

So, I wish we should have an Electoral Crime Commission just like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). This will among other things help us to deal with criminal violations of our electoral law. At the moment, we have an electoral system that is marred by massive personal interest that makes people to go to any length to achieve their political objectives.

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Law

N100bn suit: Lagos residents petition police over invasion of property

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N100bn suit: Lagos residents petition police over invasion of property

A

ngered that a property under litigation was allegedly invaded and demolished by hoodlums, residents of Ashamu Estate, Elemu Bus stop in Isolo area of Lagos State have petitioned the police, asking them to intervene as their lives were also in danger.

 

 

According to them, the alleged invasion which may spark violence if not nipped in the bud required police intervention as masterminds were agents of mayhem.

 

 

The aggrieved residents also alleged that their lives were now in danger due to the menace constituted by the masterminds, expressing worry that the ugly trend was capable of breaching public peace in the area especially since July 21 when the masterminds allegedly descended on the innocent residents.

 

 

A residents and community leader, Alhaji Teslim Almaroof while condemning the alleged criminal act, said the community would do everything within the ambit of the law to resist further demolition of property and a breach of public peace in the area.

 

 

He, however, called on the police to ensure that there was a full-scale investigation into the matter, and in order to bring the culprits to book while urging the residents to remain calm and continue in their legitimate daily routine without fear or favour.

 

 

However, in a petition to Commissioner of Police, Lagos State by Andrias and Co, on behalf of Almaroof and the residents stated that the alleged perpetrators were residents of Omowunmi Street off Alafia Street in Mushin area.

 

 

The petition, which was signed by Olumide Oyewole, reads: “Our client is the accredited agent of the administrators of the estate of late Chief Emmanuel Oyedele Ashamu, having been sole appointed by virtue of the agency agreement dated September 26, 1995.

 

 

“The late Chief Ashamu is the owner of vast area of land situates at Ashamu Estate and covered under the judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria dated November 4, 1986 in appeal number SC43/1986. And the Court of Appeal judgment dated July 16, 1985 in appeal number CA/L/111/84.

 

 

“Since the demise of Chief Ashamu on August 20, 1992, the following people were appointed the legal administrators of his estate: Mrs. Mary Oyedoyin Bandoh, Miss Jadesola Ashamu and Miss Titi Ashamu, and therefore, entitled and permitted by law to take decisions on behalf of all the beneficiaries of the estate.

 

 

“Our client informed us that on July 21, some hoodlums from Mushin, moved on to the estate and began to demolish structures belonging to other people and threatened the lives of anyone who attempted to stop them. Our client also informed us that these elements promised to deal ruthlessly with him and his staff should they go near the land.

 

 

“Sir, there is a pandemonium in the community, and except the police wade in immediately, there is a likelihood of complete breakdown of law and order in the area.”

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Law

Our agenda for CJN, by lawyers

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Our agenda for CJN, by lawyers
  • Lawyers: CJN must provide right leadership for judiciary

 

 

L

awyers were unanimous at the weekend that the newly sworn in Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, must swiftly commence a process of restoring citizens’ confidence in judiciary barely six days after he took the oath of office as the 17th CJN.

 

 

Justice Muhammad was sworn in last week Wednesday by President Muhammadu Buhari following his confirmation by the Senate.

 

He succeeded Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen who was unceremoniously removed by the president over allegations of non-disclosure of assets.

 

Prior to his confirmation as the nation’s substantive CJN, Justice Muhammad has been functioning in Acting capacity since 25th January, 2019.

 

 

President Buhari nominated Justice Muhammad as CJN through a letter dated 11th July, 2019, following a recommendation by the National Judicial Council (NJC).

 

 

The letter, titled, ‘Appointment of Chief Justice of Nigeria,’ reads: “In accordance with Section 231 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), which gives the President the power to appoint a Chief Justice of Nigeria on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council and subject to the confirmation of the appointment by the Senate, I have the honour to forward the nomination of Honorable Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad for confirmation as Chief Justice of Nigeria.

 

 

“It is my hope that this request will receive the usual expeditious consideration of the distinguished Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”

 

 

The nomination of Justice Muhammad was subsequently confirmed by the Red Chamber on 17th July, 2019.

 

 

CJN’s profile

 

 

Hon. Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, CFR, was born on 31st December 1953. An indigene of Doguwa in Giade Local Government Area of Bauchi State, Justice Muhammad attended Giade Primary School for his primary education between 1961 and 1968. He then proceeded to Government Secondary School, Azare for his secondary education from 1969 to 1973.

 

 

His Lordship was also at Abdullahi Bayero University College, Kano for his IJMB from 1975 to 1976. After successfully completing his course, Justice Muhammad got admission to read Law at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1976 to 1980. He also attended the Nigerian Law School from 1980 to 1981.

 

 

In furtherance of his educational career, Justice Muhammad went back to the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, for his Masters’ Degree in Law (LLM) on a part-time basis, from 1982 to 1984. In order to update himself in the field of Law, His Lordship went back to ABU, Zaria from1987 to 1998 and obtained his Doctorate Degree (PhD) in Law, also on a part-time basis.

 

Hon. Justice I. T. Muhammad, CFR was appointed as Magistrate Grade II from 1982 to 1984 with Bauchi State Judiciary and was Senior Magistrate Grade II from 1984 to 1986. His Lordship was appointed as the Provost, College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Bauchi from 1986 to 1989.

 

 

He was appointed Chief Magistrate/Deputy Chief Registrar, High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja from 1990 to 1991. From 1991 to 1993, he was appointed as Khadi (Judge) of the Sharia Court of Appeal in Bauchi State.

 

 

Justice Muhammad was elevated to the position of Justice of the Court of Appeal in 1993 and he was there until 2006 when he was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. He was sworn-in as a Justice of the apex court on the 8th of January 2007.

 

 

CJN’s promise

 

The newly sworn-in Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) has in the meantime promised to tackle corruption in the judici8ary headlong. He said the judiciary under his watch would be more transparent and corruption-free.

 

 

Speaking with State House correspondents after his swearing-in by President Muhammadu Buhari, the CJN expressed his concerns about corruption within the judiciary system saying his administration will focus on fighting the menace.

 

 

A way of achieving this, according to the CJN is by dealing with those who try to pervert judgement by negotiating bribe for persons standing trials.

 

 

He described as unfortunate the situation where judges allowed some people to serve as links between them and people standing trial in court, saying such scenario must stop.

 

 

The CJN consequently challenged journalists to rise to the occasion by alerting him or expose suspected cases of corrupt practices in the judiciary.

 

 

He, however, warned that allegations of corruption against any judicial officer must be substantiated to guide against tarnishing the good image of the affected individual and the system.

He said: “Anybody who is not satisfied with the job and he wants money, the judiciary or judicial line is not a place for money-making.

“Some people were posing as go-between, which is between a judge and perhaps somebody who is standing trial.

 

 

“These go-betweens, go around asking people for money here and there to settle judges and facilitate judgments.

 

 

“I’m sure any judge or any justice who is in his real sense can never ask somebody to go and collect money for him because he knows that he is being paid by the government for what he does.

 

 

“I’m telling you that the judiciary under my watch by God’s grace would be better in tackling all these kinds of corruption.

 

 

“You people or any other person who know about corruption allegations, please let him write to me or let him have contact with me and tell me.

 

 

“But remember, the thing that is difficult is when we ask you to substantiate, you will be able to substantiate. Don’t just make hollow allegations. Be sure that you are quite in possession of facts you will be able to establish when we ask you to establish your allegation, and we will deal with it.

 

 

“I want to see Nigerian judiciary, if according to my wish, as the best judiciary in the world. But you see, we are still learning. But I’m proud to say that Nigerian judiciary I’m sure is one of the best    in Africa.

 

 

“Now if you take a look at judicial officers, all of us are fully trained and all of us are almost, at interval, going on courses so that we remind ourselves of the ethics that are binding on us.

 

 

“Therefore we pray that with the cooperation of citizens of this country, Nigerian judiciary will be a very big judiciary and we hope it will be successful during our tenure.”

 

 

Lawyers agenda for CJN

 

 

Some members of the wig and gown have been talking about their expectations of Justice Tanko Muhammad as he steers the wheel of the judiciary.

 

 

The lawyers, both of inner and outer Bar, while baring their minds on the issue at the weekend emphasized the need for Justice Muhammad to provide the right leadership for the judiciary.

 

 

They thumbed up the CJN for his resolve to tackle corruption in the judiciary and also asked him to lead by example saying this is the only way the third arm of government can regain its lost glory.

 

Speaking on the issue, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba, called on Justice Muhammad to make ‘justice for all’ his watchword.

 

 

He said: my agenda for the new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) Justice Tanko Muhammad, is to ensure justice for all, at all times and at all cost”.

 

 

Ahamba was corroborated another member of the inner Bar, Mr. Seyi Sowemimo, who also asked the CJN to always pursue the cause of justice.

 

 

“The only agenda he needs to pursue is to provide the right leadership to the judiciary so that the Supreme Court can deliver sound judgements and always pursue the cause of justice”, the silk said.

 

 

Mr. Yemi Candide-Johnson (SAN) also want the new CJN to ensure the enthronement of the era where legal disputes are decided on their merits.

 

 

He said: “The job of the judicature is to decide disputes on their merits. The public will have confidence in a just, rational and progressive rule of law.

 

 

“If this Chief Justice wishes to live down the ridicule of his notorious confirmation hearing, then he might wish to consider three small things which can be solved with some energy and a bit of imagination.

“First, the dramatic eradication of cases idling away in the docket of Appellate Courts.

 

 

“Second, administrative efficiency of Federal Courts as well as root and branch reform of their clumsy and incompetent registries and lastly, the basic training of superior judges on judicial philosophy and their orientation towards societal order and progress”.

 

 

In his own comments, a law teacher, Mr. Wahab Shittu, want the CJN to change the narration about frequent disobedience to court orders by other arms of government.

 

 

“The CJN should always lead by example and demand such impressive examples from other judges. Secondly, the CJN should institutionalize a policy of zero tolerance for corruption across board.Thirdly, he should banish impunity from our collective consciousness.

 

 

“He should demand and insist upon obedience to court orders. Fourthly, he should put in place measures to avoid delays in our justice delivery system. Fifthly, the CJN should restore public confidence in the judiciary by emphasizing competence, integrity, character and capacity in judicial appointments and justice delivery services.

 

 

“The CJN as the Chairman of the National Judicial Council (NJC) must overhaul the operations of NJC by enforcing consequences for judicial infractions. The CJN must deliver quality and sufficient infrastructure to the judiciary. Of particular significance is enhancing the quality of the judiciary through the deployment of information communication Technology.

 

 

 

“In summary the CJN must strengthen constitutionalism, respect for the rule of law, due process, accountability and transparency and enhance our democratic institutions. The CJN as the symbol of justice in our country must deliver as a jurist and ensure that judges deliver too as jurists.The goal at all times should be the attainment of justice as the hallmark of his tenure”, he said

 

 

National President of the Campaign For the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Mr. Malachy Ugwummadu, wants the CJN to introduce greater transparency and inclusiveness in the recruitment processes of Judges and Justices to attain greater  competence, integrity, legal knowledge and established sense of justice.

 

 

“For the newly confirmed CJN, I humbly make the following recommendations as agenda: The weak and vulnerable in the society should have greater access to justice in terms of general cost of litigation and restraining principles of law and technicalities including locus standi. “Institutional reforms to create capacity and empower state bodies like National Human Commission, Legal Aid Council, etc to play greater roles in granting access to the public to justice.

 

 

 

 

“See through the campaign for greater independence of the Judiciary and confront known and perceived corruption in the judiciary.

 

 

“Institutionalise regular and continuing legal education and training for judges and judicial officers  on new areas of the law while also strengthening disciplinary institutions and procedures to serve as deterrent”, he said.

 

 

 

 

A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Destiny Takon, should stamp his authority as the Head of the third arm of government without minding whose ox is gored.

 

 

He said: “Justice Tanko should open his eyes to the constitutional reality that even though nominated by the President, he is the Head of the judiciary and of one of the three separate arms of government. He should not denigrate the sanctity of the the judiciary.

 

 

“He should always remember that he personifies the citadel of justice in Nigeria, which itself, represents the last bastion of hope for the common man. The courts are  ideally, the surest safeguard against lawlessness and unconstitutionalism and it is his province to uphold that expectation for all Nigerians.

 

 

“I say this especially because of the outrageous outcome of the the Osun Governorship election judgement that came out of the Supreme Court under his watch.

 

 

“Justice Tanko must remember that he is the Chief Justice of Nigeria and not of the party in government or of the President who nominated him. Justice Tanko must ensure that the courts do justice, even if the heavens fall”.

 

 

The Coordinator of Christian Lawyers Fellowship of Nigeria (CLASFON), Lagos sub-region, Prince Okey-Joe Onuakalusi, want Justice Muhammad to encourage judges to deliver judgement without fear or favour.

 

 

 

“Judgements in our courts must not only  seem to have dispensed justice but also must be seen to deliver justice to litigants. Judgements must be based on merit and not technicalities.

 

 

“The National Judicial Council (NJC) under his watch must rise to the occasion to  promote excellence and punish  incompetence.

 

 

“He must also encourage and elevate quality and competent, scholarly members of the Bar in the appointment of judges in our courts and eschew tribalism. Training of judicial staff for the 21st century work environment must also be prioritized”, the lawyer said.

 

 

To Mr. Ige Asemudara, the new Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) should put machinery in motion to restore the lost public confidence in the judiciary.

 

 

He said: “The CJN should focus on building public confidence in the judiciary. He should ensure that the public perception of the judiciary is improved to its best.

 

 

“It is important that the independence of the judiciary is not only a concept but a practical term seen to be in action,  manifesting in judicial acts and decisions. The courts must not only be courts of law but courts of justice.”

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Law

Review of court rules’ll hasten justice dispensation’

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Review of court rules’ll hasten justice dispensation’

Uju Ude, an indigene of Anambra State, obtained her LL.B from Babcock University, Ilishan Remo, Ogun State. She was called to Bar in 2017. Ude shared her post-call experience, career and sundry issues with JOHN CHIKEZIE

 

Background

My name is Uju Ude and I am from Anambra State. I currently work as a lawyer in the law FIRM of ‘Udo Udoma & Belo-Osagie in the real estate and Banking and Finance teams. I finished from the Nigerian Law School (Augustine Nnamani Campus) with a first class and was called to the Nigerian Bar in December 2017.

 

 

I graduated from Babcock University with a first class as the Best Graduating Student in the Faculty of Law(2016). While at the University, I was awarded a number of prizes for academic excellence. I completed my secondary school education at Queens College in 2011.

 

 

I recently received two awards for being the best student in Corporate Governance in the June 2018 examination for the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN).

 

 

Why law?

 

 

I always had the dream of becoming an Engineer when I was barely a teen. However, as time went on, I realised that  what I loved doing was more of writing,  reading, commentaries, etc, rather than solving complex equations. I chose to study law, partly for this reason and partly because I did see myself in the nearest future as a judge adjudicating on complex cases. My view about the latter changed when I was in my 300 level at the University.

 

 

Challenges as a young lawyer

 

 

It has been tasking, especially when I was fresh from the law school. Practice is not exactly on all fours with what we learn in school. Yes, there are areas of similarity but a brilliant knowledge of school work alone would not be of much use in the workforce. Although, I can say that I have learnt quite a lot from the departments at the law firm where I work, I acknowledge the fact that there’s always room for improvement and continuous learning.

 

 

Evaluation of Nigerian legal system

 

 

The Nigerian legal system still has a long way to go vis-à-vis the western system. Firstly, the laws. So many laws are due for change, take the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990 for instance. The Companies and Allied Matters Bill calls for more laudable reviews in order to enhance business activities in Nigeria and ultimately, improve our economy. But, it’s sad that despite the fact that the Bill has been passed by the Senate, it still has not been assented to by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

 

 

Another case is the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB) 2018. This Bill has been passed by the Senate but the President has refused assent of this Bill as well.

 

 

Considering the fact that the country places heavy reliance on its Petroleum resources, one would expect that this would be given priority.

 

Also, the issue of cases being prolonged in courts; thereby increasing the number of awaiting trial inmates in prisons involved in criminal matters.

 

 

However, the western legal system would appear to be doing far better in this regard.

 

 

Way forward for Nigerian judiciary

 

 

Cases stay a longer time in court on grounds of technicalities, inadequacy of the court rules, etc. Thankfully, in Lagos, the judiciary has been forward thinking in making new rules to enable more efficacy in the judicial process as well as the quick disposition of cases.

 

 

I think the way forward would be reviewing the rules of the court to make for efficiency, effectiveness and timely dispensation of justice.

 

 

 

Plea bargain agreement

 

 

Plea bargain agreement is very important and useful in both the dispensation of justice and decongestion of the prisons. It is often said that ‘justice delayed is justice denied’. Plea bargain agreements make for quick and efficient justice dispensation. It is an advantage both for the victim and the accused person. An advantage for the victim because there are options of repayment of stolen funds. For instance, as opposed to the accused person just spending time behind bars. An advantage for the accused person because he or she is able to agree to terms of a more lenient punishment which may not have been the case without a plea bargain agreement.

 

 

RUGA

 

I do not think the RUGA settlement is an appropriate response from the government to the several killings perpetrated by herdsmen in the southern part of the country.

 

The settlement is to among other things put an end to the constant clashes between farmers and Herdsmen, but I don’t see how this is a solution and not a problem.

 

Saying RUGA settlement is a solution, is like saying that because a person is always stealing from your house, the best way to end the stealing is to invite such person to live in your house.

 

Aside this, there are more pressing issues in Nigeria at the moment and I don’t see land allocation specifically for ‘animal farmers’ as being one of them. No matter how laudable the intentions for this settlement is, I don’t think it is the best solution to the problem it intends to solve.

 

 

Hobby

Asides legal practice, I like to write, poems specifically. I also enjoy reading and engaging in thought-provoking conversations.

 

Pre and post law school experience

Well, I’d say both experiences were both tasking and interesting on their own right. During my undergraduate studies, I think the pressure was less because it was stretched over 5 years of study. While in law school, the pressure was more intense because it was just a year of study and a week- long exam which would determine quite a lot. Despite the pressure in law school, I think I had more of a social life there than during my undergraduate studies.

 

 

Future Ambition

 

 

In summary, I hope to become a force to be reckoned with in the legal profession.

 

 

Although, I admire being a professor, I’d much rather love to become a partner at a law firm.

 

 

Becoming a partner represents the peak of the professional basically, especially because I am not into the idea of going to court, etc. I prefer corporate law and practicing in different practice areas in that aspect of law. Becoming a partner whilst in corporate practice is the peak for that practice.

 

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