The year 2020 was momentous, eventful, unique, peculiar and difficult in many ways. It altered the course of history, and changed the world in unimaginable ways. The global effect of the Covid-19 pandemic is still reverberating with its attendant negative impact on the economy, travel, social and economic spheres. At least 1.6 million people globally have died as a result of the Virus, so far. Nigeria wasn’t left out of the undesirable consequences of Covid-19; but in addition to this, an unprecedented uprising by Nigerian youths in protest against police brutality created a fresh set of challenges for an already beleaguered nation. The year saw the emergence of new ways of professional practice, especially for the legal profession. THISDAY LAWYER presents a compendium of major cover stories that led the editions through the year just ending
12 Personalities Who Will Shape the Nigerian Justice Sector in 2020
For the Nigerian justice Sector it’s a new year, renewed hopes and renewed aspirations. What does walk the talk, this time around? Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi identified key personalities and issues to be tackled in 2020, including the need for a clear national policy on the justice sector, and specific reforms necessary to realise that vision, like the promotion of constitutional development and the rule of law; Government’s job creation plan; promoting legislation like the Nigeria Police Service Bill to transform climate, amongst others. They pointed out that “A justice system replete with individuals who are underpaid and overworked, is a well-tested recipe for corruption”.
‘Nigeria’s Justice Administration System is Flawed’
The Nigerian Bar Association is unarguably the biggest professional body in Africa, with over 160,000 members spread across 125 branches. The challenges of administering this national behemoth can be quite daunting, as it entails not just being in charge of the discipline and professional conduct of its members, but effectively playing its role as the voice and defender of the rights of Nigerian masses and the rule of law. Pastor Dele Adesina, SAN, has served the Association in many capacities at branch and national levels, including being its General Secretary. The former Pro-chancellor, Ekiti State University spoke with Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi on the Bar of his dream. He also analysed the challenges in justice administration, and spoke the truth to power on human rights and the rule of law.
Àmòtèkun: Our Right to Self Defence
The security challenges that have bedevilled this nation, have in the past few years, overwhelmed Government especially with an ill-equipped and ill-motivated Police Force, and allied security. Should the State Governments resign themselves to their fates and watch their people mowed down, raped, maimed and kidnapped on a daily basis by bloodthirsty bandits? The Governors of the South Western States rallied round each other and came up with the ingenious security mechanism, Western Nigeria Security Network, code-named ‘Operation Àmòtèkun’, to collectively defend their people. Political and tribal elements, and the Attorney-General and Chief Law Officer of the Federation, kicked against this. Are Afe Babalola, SAN, Emmanuel Onwubiko, Sylvester Udem, and Dr. Kayode Ajulo unanimously posited that this proactive initiative, Operation Àmòtèkun is not only desirable, but necessary, to complement the efforts of the overstretched Police, to curtail the growing insecurity.
Did the Supreme Court Shortchange the Imo Electorate?
The Supreme Court, even in its imperfections, is the final arbiter. There are few instances in its history, when the Nigerian Apex Court had to revisit and review their own decisions.
With the outrage and protests that trailed the decision of the court in the Imo State Governorship election petition, many were of the view that, Hon. Emeka Ihedioha should approach the court for a review of the Supreme Court judgement in his case, which l attracted so much outcry, including demonstrations in Abuja and the Imo State capital, Owerri. Was Ihedioha’s quest for a review of the decision a step in the right direction? Femi Falana, SAN and Ken Ahia, SAN in this Discourse, shed more light on the controversial decision and proffered solutions.
Nigeria: An El Dorado for Criminals and Insurgents?
A few years ago Nigerians still managed to sleep with one eye open, but on account of nationwide insecurity, every Nigerian, including lawmakers, can no longer afford the luxury of any sleep. President Muhammadu Buhari, admitted himself that he is overwhelmed by the security challenges; to which Senator Abaribe called for the President and his administration’s resignation. In this Special Cover, Norrison Quakers, SAN, Dr. Osagie Obayuwana, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, Daniel Bwala and Comrade Femi Aborisade, teased out the challenging insecurity issues and seemingly intractable problems, in the face of the damning report by Transparency International on Nigeria’s downward spiral on the Corruption Perception Index, which is a concomitant factor in the fight against insurgency.
US Visa Ban: What Implications for Nigeria and Nigerians?
It may take some time for clear reasons to emerge, as to why the United States of America included Nigeria on the list of countries placed on a visa ban, including Eritrea, Libya and Sudan. While some have rationalised and speculated that it could be the consequence of Nigeria’s interminable war against insurgency in the North East,
others opine that it is the result of Nigeria’s inability or incapability to share information with the United States for border and immigration screening and vetting.
As the effect of this ban bites harder, Daniel Bwala and Felix Eghie Patrick Sugaba share their respective viewpoints on the vexed issue in this Discourse.
Examining the Constitutionality of INEC’s Deregistration of Political Parties
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) came under criticism when it announced the purported deregistration of political parties which drew the ire of some Nigerians. On Thursday, February 6, 2020, 74 out of the 91 odd political parties were barred from partaking in the elections on account of their being deregistered. The electoral umpire now has 18 political parties. Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN and Festus Okoye took their positions on the propriety or otherwise, of INEC’s decision.
Imo and Bayelsa: Judicial Conundrums?
The Supreme Court of Nigeria, as the highest and final court of the land, is not in the habit of always reversing its decisions. In the rare cases in which it has reviewed its decisions, it was with absolutely compelling reasons. With the criticisms and demonstrations that have trailed the Apex Court’s judgements in the recent Imo and Bayelsa States Governorship appeals, many were hopeful that the court may be compelled to revisit the its judgements and possibly reverse itself, especially in the case of Imo State, in light of emerging facts and information, revealing what some Lawyers believe to be errors and misinformation. Dr. Muiz Banire, SAN and Rilwan Balogun approach the matter in different ways, examining the multifarious issues.
‘Security Agencies Now Monitor Judges’
The recent judgements of the Supreme Court have not only altered the jurisprudential landscape of Nigeria, they have also opened a floodgate of applications for reviews of the court’s decisions. This recent trend has left in its trail, debates, protests, and even unexpected negative criticism from some American lawmakers who are calling for sanctions against their Lordships at the Apex Court. Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, proffered his views on this and many other issues going on in the polity, including the vexed matter of extending immunity from prosecution to the presiding officers of the National Assembly, independence of the judiciary, why he built toilet facilities at the Federal High Court, Lagos and his ordeal as a detainee, during the dark days of the Abacha draconian military regime.
Social Media Bill: Dictatorship by Another Name
In this edition, Emmanuel Onwubiko, Udo Jude Ilo and Uju Peace critically examined the controversial Social Media Bill 2019, what it seeks to do and why its an exercise in futility by law makers.
Emir Sanusi Gone, Who Next?
The dethronement of the Emir of Kano and his eventual banishment to Nasarawa State and confinement, was like a badly scripted Nollywood movie. It no doubt, occupied the front-burner of national discourse for some time. While many believe it was malicious and unconstitutional, others argue that the dethronement serves the former Emir right for several reasons. Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN, Dr Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Abubakar Sani and Chuks Nwana posited that the State Governor acted ultra vires his constitutional powers, at least as far as the banishment was concerned.
COVID-19: Testing Nigeria’s Resilience
The Corona Virus hit the world like a meteor, and in a matter of weeks, it had left thousands dead or sick and the figures continue to rise. Across the globe, many hold the view that it’s the worse pandemic the world has ever seen. The concomitant economic, legal and humanitarian challenges of this deadly virus are the focus of Paul Usoro, SAN, Gozie Francis Moneke, Patrick Eghie Sugaba and Dr Kayode Ajulo.
Dancing on the Graves of Soldiers and Victims
To the chagrin of many Nigerians, a strange Bill for the creation of the National Agency for Education, Rehabilitation, De-radicalisation and Integration of Insurgents found its way into the chambers of the National Assembly, seeking not only to grant amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents, but to absorb many of them into the Nigerian Army and send some of them abroad for further education at the expense of hapless taxpayers. Emmanuel Onwubiko, Jide Ojo and Richard Abdullahi posited that, granting amnesty to Boko Haram insurgents is an affront to the memories of our gallant soldiers who lost their lives while fighting against the insurgents and rewarding violence and criminality, while preferentially entitling insurgents to certain economic opportunities.
COVID-19: Lockdown Nigeria
By Day 8 of the Covid-19 lockdown, security agencies were allegedly maltreating and dehumanising hapless citizens in the name of enforcing the lockdown announced by the Government. In the midst of these tails of woes, Femi Falana, SAN, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, Sylvester Udemezue, Abubakar Sani, Stephen Kola-Balogun and Richard Abdulahi, traded tackles on the powers of the Federal Government to issue a lockdown order.
Covid-19: Can NBA Extend the Deadline for Payment of Practicing Fees?
It was a thorny issue for the Paul Usoro led administration of the Nigerian Bar Association. The Covid -19 lockdown had kicked in and it was a few days to the expiration of deadline for the mandatory payment of the Bar Practicing Fees by Nigerian Lawyers, many of whom hadn’t paid as at when the lockdown was announced. Could the NBA extend the deadline, outside of its constitutional provisions? George Etomi, Afam Osigwe, Chuks Nwana and O.N. Ewelike interrogated the issues, and proffered solutions for the way out of the quagmire.
Dr Kole Abayomi, The Quintessential Law Teacher
The Nigerian legal community lost one of its most beloved and iconic figures, Dr. Koleade Abayomi, SAN who joined the saints triumphant on April 2, 2020. Dr Abayomi taught at the Nigerian Law School for over three decades, and rose to the position of Director-General in 2004, conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria. Dr Abayomi had the rare privilege tutoring a generation of Nigerian Lawyers, Judges, Legislators and Law Teachers, including THISDAY LAWYER Editor, Onikepo Braithwaite and Deputy Editor, Jude Igbanoi. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, Olanrewaju Onadeko, SAN, Afam Osigwe and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN, paid tribute to this great legal mind.
Richard Akinjide, SAN: Passage of a Legal Colossus
Nigeria has lost another legal icon; former Attorney-General of the Federation and President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Richard Osuolale Abimbola Akinjide at the age of 89. His son, Abayomi Akinjide, Paul Usoro, SAN, Stephen Kola-Balogun, Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, Chief J.B. Daudu, SAN, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, Femi Falana, SAN, paid tribute to the legal colossus and the legal theorist of the principle of 12 2/3 majority, in the 1979 election.
‘Use of Technology: An Indispensable Tool for Justice Delivery’
When the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, the practice of legal profession will be dramatically altered. Is the Nigerian legal profession, prepared for this
transformation? Charles Adeyemi Candide-Johnson, SAN is one of the leading lights in the crusade against
corruption and unwholesome practices at the Bar, and on the Bench. In an encounter with Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, the immediate past President of the Lagos Court of Arbitration, shared his thoughts on the likely challenges facing the Judiciary, presently and post Covid-19, the Nigerian Bar Association, and Arbitration practice in Nigeria.
Virtual court Hearings in Nigeria: Constitutionality or Otherwise
The long awaited leap into 21st century practice is finally here, with the commencement of remote court proceedings, which was pioneered by the Borno State High Court, and quickly followed by the Lagos High Court; howbeit foisted upon the Nigerian Judiciary by the Covid-19 lockdown, which kept both Lawyers and litigants at home for over five weeks. By this development, Nigerian courts can now hold online, real time proceedings, including taking evidence, witnesses and oral arguments with Judges and Lawyers on video calls. Dr Ayodele Akenroye and Godfree Matthew examined the constitutionality and practicability of this initiative in justice delivery in Nigeria, and how the inevitable challenges can be tackled
Respite for Senator Orji Uzor Kalu?
In what the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission described as a ‘Technical Ambush’, the Apex Court on May 8, 2020, delivered judgement in the appeal of Ude Jones Udeogu, one of the co-Defendants of former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, allowing the appeal on the ground that Section 396(7) of the ACJA which allows an elevated High Court Judge to go back to the court below to complete part-heard criminal matters, is unconstitutional. Dr Mike Ozekhome, SAN, Femi Falana, SAN, Uche Wigwe, and Chino Edmund Obiagwu, SAN dissected the judgement of the Apex Court, which in some quarters was seen as being controversial and bad for Nigerian jurisprudence.
CID Bill 2020: In Whose Interest?
The controversial Control of Infectious Diseases Bill 2020, since it was conceptualised, attracted all manner of criticism and conspiracy theories. While some were sceptical about whom the sponsors of the Bill may have
been and their reasons for doing so, others think it is simply a cheap plagiarism of the Singapore Infectious Disease Bill of 1977. Whatever it is, Femi Falana, SAN and Sam Omotoso dissected the proposed law, and examined some of its possible resultant effects on the larger Nigerian populace.
Requiem for Karibi-Whyte, JSC and Chief M.A. Ajomale
The Bar and the Bench lost two of its prominent members, retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, Life Bencher and Chairman of the prestigious Body of Benchers (2001-2002), Honourable Justice Adolphus Godwin Karibi-Whyte, and Life Bencher and Chairman of the Body of Benchers (2006-2007), Chief Mobolanle Ademola Ajomale. In this Special Edition, former
President of the Nigerian Bar Association and Chairman of the Body of Benchers, O.C.J. Okocha, SAN, and Learned Senior Advocates, Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, Dele Adesina, Charles Edosomwan and Dr. Babatunde Ajibade paid tribute to these legal titans.
Rape and Murder in God’s House
As the rest of the world was engulfed in protests over the murder of George Floyd, an African American who was killed by racist white policemen, Nigerians were also on the streets in Abuja and Lagos, protesting the rape and gruesome murder of a University of Benin student, Miss Vera Uwaila Omozuwa in Benin City. The young girl met her death in the hands of five devilish men who gang raped and viciously murdered her, right inside a church auditorium. As most Nigerian gender rights activists intensify the calls for the castration of rapists, former Edo State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, writes on why the case must be given its desired attention.
NBA Elections Will be Fair, Free and Credible
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), is unarguably the largest professional body in Africa. With almost 200,000 members, the body’s biennial elections come with understandably humongous challenges. This year’s elections to its national offices present no less, and Mr Tawo Eja Tawo, SAN was given the herculean task of midwifing the elections, which was by universal suffrage and e-voting. In a chat with Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, he outlined the responsibilities of the Nigerian Bar Association Electoral Committee (ECNBA) of which he was Chairman, and gave insights on how his Committee intended to deliver a free, fair and transparent election in July.
Edo APC Godfatherism: Death Knell for APC?
Dirty and murky intra-party politics, played out in Edo State. The issues in the convoluted journey towards picking a candidate for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the Edo State Gubernatorial election, including the disqualification of the Governor, Godwin Obaseki, from running the race on the APC platform, were as complex as rancorous; with some blaming the crisis in the State’s chapter of the party on the overbearing attitude of the National Chairman of the APC, and former Governor of the State, Comrade Adams Oshiomole. Ebun Olu Adegboruwa, SAN and Ademola Adewale gave their perspectives on what the real issues were, and how they could be resolved
The Rape Scourge in Nigeria
Is it that the crime of rape, especially against women and the girl child, has suddenly taken on unimaginable proportions and dimensions in the past few months, or countless rapes have simply been going unreported?
Some have even attributed the astronomical increase in this heinous crime to the lockdown occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, though experts say the problem had been with us long before the lockdown.
What can possibly make a sane adult male rape anybody, talk less of a girl child who is only a few weeks old? These days, male children too are not spared, as the menace of abusing and sodomising boys, is also on the rise. Prof Joy Ngozi Ezeilo and Omolara Oriye, both experts in gender based violence, delved into the thorny issue to examine and proffer practical legal solutions to this worrisome trend.
NBA General Secretary Contenders: Their Visions, their Missions
On July 29, 2020, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) went to the polls to elect national officers, who will run the affairs of the body for the next two years. For the office of General Secretary, the four candidates who were been cleared to participate in the election were, Joyce Oduah, Alex Muoka, Okey Ohagba and Chris Yakemewerigha. THISDAY LAWYER sought out the contestants to speak about their aspirations, and how they would man the National Secretariat if elected into the office.
Ensuring Free and Fair NBA Elections
Since the introduction of universal suffrage by e-voting in 2016, the elections of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) into national offices have been fraught with allegations of irregularities, manipulation and deliberate tampering with the process. This has oftentimes resulted in litigation, some of which is still pending in court. Nigerian Lawyers were scheduled go to polls again to pick their national officers for the Association. Human Rights Lawyer, Dr Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, who has always advocated for free and fair NBA elections, proffered a panacea to the NBA which could guarantee free, fair and credible election on July 29 and 30, 2020. The question was whether the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA), would give these suggestions any consideration.
Who Will Lead the NBA in 2020?
For the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Presidency, three candidates scaled through the hurdles to run in the election, Dele Adesina, SAN, Dr Babatunde Ajibade, SAN and Olumide Akpata. These three candidates engaged Nigerian Lawyers, canvassing for votes through the social and main-stream media, espousing their manifestos and their plans on how to administer the NBA for the next two years. While the trio are eminently qualified, Nigerian Lawyers are offered a choice between the three – who is the most trusted, most qualified, most experienced, with the pedigree to run the Association at this critical time, when Lawyers are craving for a reformed, rejigged and revived NBA. THISDAY LAWYER presented two of the three candidates, Dele Adesina, SAN and Dr Babatunde Ajibade, SAN in this Special Edition.
NDDC: Shortchanging the People of the Niger Delta
The Obasanjo Administration, in its wisdom and concern for the plight of the people of the Niger Delta Region, established the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in July 2000, to bring some much needed infrastructural development to the area, and tackle the ecological and environmental issues caused by oil exploration. The Federal Government went all out to adequately fund the Commission, to ensure the fulfilment of its mandate. But, to the chagrin of the people of the region and to Nigerians generally, the Commission has been bedevilled with massive looting and pilfering by its officials and the supervising Ministry. This has necessitated a probe at the National Assembly, which is unravelled deep-seated and deeply entrenched corruption, which has been the hallmark of the Commission since its inception. Learned Senior Advocates, Asiwaju Solomon Adegboyega Awomolo and Norrison Quakers examine this scandalous and extremely worrisome matter, which was tagged by many as, ‘NDDCgate’.
An Outer Barman Becomes NBA President
The much awaited outcome of the 2020 election into national offices of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), was made known just before midnight on July 30. Deputy Editor, THIS DAY LAWYER, JUDE IGBANOI who monitored the entire process, gave an account of how the election was lost and won, while Stephen Kola-Balogun who was disenfranchised and unable to vote in the election much to his chagrin, also made comments and suggestions on how the incoming President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata, can redeem the dented image of the Association going forward.
AbdulRazaq, SAN: An Iconic
Lawyer, a Man of Impressive Firsts
AbdulGaniyu Folorunso AbdulRazaq OFR, SAN meant many things to many people. His streak of ‘firsts’, is impressive. From being the first Lawyer from the Northern Region to the first Senior Advocate from Northern Nigeria and the first Kwara State Commissioner for Finance. His passage on July 25, 2020 at the age of 93, elicited tears and encomia. In this Special Edition to honour this quintessential gentleman and iconic Lawyer, the Emir of Ilorin, His Highness, Dr Ibrahim Sulu-Gambari CFR, Alhaji Lateef Olufemi Okunnu CON, SAN, Prof Ben Nwabueze, SAN, Seyi Sowemimo, SAN, Chief P.A.O. Olorunnisola, SAN, Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, Kayode Sofola, SAN, Asue Ighodalo and his first son, Dr Alimi AbdulRazaq, pay tribute to ‘AGF’ as he was fondly called by his peers.
The Dame of the Bar Speaks
The Dame of the Nigerian Bar is 80! Dame Priscilla Olabori Kuye (knighted by Pope John Paul II in 1981), has served the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in several capacities at Branch and National levels, including being National Financial Secretary, 3rd Vice, 2nd Vice and 1st Vice President, before becoming the first and only female President of the NBA in 1992. As she turned 80 on August 18, she went down memory lane with her daughter, Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, and spoke fondly of the lost glorious days of the Bar, her momentous tenure as President, her brushes with the military junta which almost cost her her life, and her pains with the present faulty NBA electoral system.
The Bayelsa Governorship Election Conundrum
When would the Bayelsa State Governor be able to settle down to begin serious work? The Governorship election of November 16, 2019 continued to be trailed by one contention or another, and the question on the lips of many is, why such a furore over this Governorship election? First, David Lyon of the APC was removed a few hours before his swearing-in to office by the judgement of the Apex Court, and Senator Douye Diri of the PDP was declared to be the winner of that election. In a curious twist of events, the Election Petition Tribunal in a 2:1 majority decision, held that the ANDP who fielded under-age candidates, was nevertheless, unlawfully excluded from the election, thereby nullifying Diri’s hardworn victory. Damilola Olaleye, Sylvester Udemezue and David Tobi Oyesowo examined the Tribunal’s judgement extensively, in this Discourse.
New CAMA, New Challenges
Even though the Company and Allied Matters Act 2020 (CAMA) addresses some of the deficiencies in the old one, the new Act assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari generated fresh controversies and raised new challenges, for both the business community and faith based organisations. While the corporate world believes the new CAMA would potentially hamper the ease of doing business in Nigeria, some religious organisations are up in arms against its implementation. What really are the issues in this contentious piece of legislation? Pastor and Learned Senior Advocate, Femi Atoyebi and Chuks Nwana analyse certain aspects of the law, and CAMA 2020’s potential impact, generally.
NBA, ‘New NBA’ and El Rufai
For six decades, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has held sway as the sole professional umbrella body to which when the leadership sneezed, even the all-powerful military juntas caught a cold. Apart from a brief hiatus occasioned by the unfortunate Port Harcourt debacle in 1992, the Association has been the custodian of the nation’s conscience. Did the developments in the Association, spell the death knell for the monopoly which the NBA used to have, which appeared to be fast withering and waning, as a splinter group emerged after the 2020 AGC, which senior members of the profession and the leadership of the NBA had to deal with, on how to rein in the young boisterous Turks whose intents and purposes were yet to be fully understood. Did the New NBA emerge as a result of the disinvitation of the Kaduna State Governor, Nasiru El Rufai who felt slighted by this? Raymond Nkannebe and Abdulrasheed Ibrahim interrogated the intricate issues in a Crossfire!
Fuel, Electricity Tariffs: A Hike too Many
In the midst of the hopelessness and despondency occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic which has made many Nigerians feed from dustbins, the nation awoke to the sad news and stark realisation that the Government had increased the pump price of fuel, while it tacitly allowed DISCOs to arbitrarily hike the electricity tariffs astronomically. Was the plight of Nigerians taken into consideration, when Government took these steps? What would be the fate of the poor and suffering masses under the new price regime? Emmanuel Onwubiko, Sulaimon Arigbabu and Kolawole Oluwadare, discussed the likely unsavoury effects of these hikes on the populace.
Can the AGF Amend the RPC?
The controversy arising from the purported unilateral amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers 2007 (RPC) by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, is not likely to die down soon. There have been arguments and counter-arguments as to who has the authority to amend the rules, and whether due process was followed, especially given the fact that the immediate developments leading to the decision to amend the rules were rather uncomplimentary and unsavoury. There are allegations that the decision arose from questionable motives, where Lawyers from a section of the country purportedly sought to create a splinter group. Others allege that, what some perceive to be the undesirable outcome of the just concluded NBA elections, could also be responsible for the purported amendments. These are the issues addressed in this Crossfire between Dr. Kayode Ajulo, Sylvester Udemezue, Oliver Omoredia and Raymond Nkannebe.
Constitution Review Must be Holistic and Unfettered
The Constitution is the heart and soul of any nation, and it is what binds the people together. Legal pundits and Nigeria’s Apex Court have driven home this point in the past few decades, with particular reface to the present Constitution which came into effect in 1999. One of the criticisms of the 1999 Constitution, is that it was foisted on Nigerians by the Military. However, that alone is not the Constitution’s only defect, as in the past two decades, there have been several efforts by National Conferences and the Nigerian Legislature to review and amend the Constitution, to properly reflect the nation’s diversity and complexities. Have these attempts yielded any tangible results, or cured the palpable defects in the Constitution? It doesn’t seem so. Dele Adesina, SAN and Sebastine Hon, SAN give a comprehensive analysis of how Nigerians can give themselves a new and workable Constitution, in this Discourse.
‘I am a Covid-19 Survivor’
Since December 2019 or thereabouts, when the Covid-19 pandemic reared its ugly head, the world rapidly changed in a matter of weeks; and it does not appear as if things will ever be the same again, or at least, not for some years to come. Closer home, the virus struck even in the face of doubts and scepticism, and one of the survivors of
Covid-19 is the former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Professor Epiphany Azinge, SAN. He narrated his harrowing experience to Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi in an emotionally-laden interview, where he gave kudos to the medical team stationed at the Isolation Centre at Gwagwalada Specialist Hospital, Abuja, where he was treated and nursed back to health. He also talked about the class action which they have filed against China, holding China responsible for the spread of the dreaded virus and the dire consequences arising therefrom, and his humble achievements after 40 years at the Bar.
What Nigeria Needs: Devolution of Powers, Not Restructuring
For one who had been in the trenches fighting autocratic military dictatorships, it could be disheartening to note that after over two decades, Nigeria has not made much progress in the march towards a free, just, democratic and equitable society. Former NBA President, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN played host to the THISDAY LAWYER team at his Ikoyi Office, where he fielded a wide range of questions from Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi. He spoke unabashedly about his Chairmanship of the NBA Board of Trustees, and why they did not overturn the last election of the Association, despite the wide criticisms that trailed the exercise. He also spoke about the nation’s quest for true democracy and federalism, economic challenges, and why he is optimistic that things will soon change for the better
#ENDSARS: SÒRÒ SOKE was our Special Edition on the nationwide protests by Nigerians who have for decades, endured all manner inhuman and dehumanising treatment from the Nigeria Police, and the introduction of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) in 1991, gradually worsened the situation. The dreaded SARS soon became law unto itself, as the outfit operated unbridled, and unleashed terror on innocent Nigerians, making Police brutality the order of the day. Many young and innocent Nigerians like Kolade Johnson lost their lives to these men, whose job description is to secure the lives of Nigerians from armed robbers. Last week, Nigerian youths decided that they could take it no more, as the alleged shooting of one of them by SARS operatives in Ughelli, Delta State, may have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back and the catalyst that ignited the protests across the country. This protest assumed a life of its own and took on serious dimensions, as even Nigerian Youths abroad took to the streets in places like the UK and USA, in a show of solidarity. Peaceful as the Protesters were, they didn’t seem to be relent on their demands, not only to #ENDSARS and not to reconstitute the dreaded outfit under the guise of any other name, as the Inspector General of Police has sought to do with SWAT, but calling for good governance generally. Ade Adegbite, Musa Shehu, Debo Oladinni, Dr Kayode Ajulo, Joseph Otteh and Deji Ajare, and Erasmus Ikhide examined what triggered the anger of Nigerian youths, the legitimacy of their demands, and what options are available to Government, in the face of the lingering protests.
#ENDSARS: Echoes of a Black Tuesday
Nigerian Youths (now popularly referred to as the #ENDSARS Protesters) have never been so united as was witnessed in the past couple of weeks, with the massive nationwide protests calling for the scrapping of the dreaded unit of the Nigeria Police, infamously known as SARS (the Special Anti-Robbery Squad). As the protests spilled over to last week, they were accompanied by untold and unsavoury consequences, which will certainly be well entrenched in the annals of Nigeria’s history. On Tuesday October 20, 2020, in an attempt to disperse the #ENDSARS Protesters, the Military were alleged to have opened fire at the Lekki Tollgate where the Protesters were stationed, and some Nigerian youths were injured, while the allegation that some may have been killed and the number of deaths, remains unconfirmed. President Buhari’s much awaited broadcast to the nation, neither assuaged nor propitiated a mourning nation. Recriminations, accusations and counter-accusations, have continued to trail the aftermath of the otherwise peaceful protests. Unarguably, the unprecedented protests have altered the course of Nigeria’s history, forever. Anthony Malik, SAN, Ossai Ojigho, Dr Osagie Obayuwana, Eyitayo Dada, Kingsley Jesuorobo and Michael Dibua weigh in on the avoidable unfortunate incident, which has put Nigeria in a negative light before the international community, in this Discourse
#ENDSARS, Hoarding Palliatives, Fining Media Houses: Symptoms of a Failing Nation?
The week of October 20, was probably a defining one for the #ENDSARS Protests. While an impoverished mass of people stormed warehouses to forcibly recover Covid-19 palliative materials, the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission (NBC) without any justification, levied a N3 million fine each on three of Nigeria’s most credible and authoritative media houses, ARISE TV, AIT and CHANNELS TV. Nigeria’s foremost human rights crusader, Femi Falana, SAN, Emmanuel Onwubiko and Shehu Abdulwaheed Adisa interrogated the complex issues surrounding the #ENDSARS Protests, the role of the Nigeria Police, Army and thugs; whether the purported looting of palliatives was an act of the people taking back what rightfully belongs to them, or a criminal act; and whether the NBC had any justification
whatsoever to levy any fine on these media houses.
Police Reforms: A Holistic Approach
One of the spinoffs and salutary effects of the nationwide #ENDSARS protests, is the urgent need for a holistic Police Reform in Nigeria. Every administration has paid lip service, to this rather crucial national concern. The social anguish which the abysmal performance of the Nigeria Police
has occasioned, was the subject-matter of this Discourse by Olawale Fapohunda, Kemi Okeyondo, Professor Etannibe Alemika, Dr Benson Olugbuo, Okechukwu Nwaguma, Danladi Plang and Innocent Chukwuma, who suggested various ways in which the Nigeria Police can be reformed and repositioned, to better carry out its constitutional duty of securing the civil populace, without terrorising the very masses they are meant to protect.
U.S. Presidential Election: Democracy Being Tested
Americans may have cast their ballot in the November 2020 Presidential election, but the for the two contenders for the White House, it may not be over until President-elect Joe R. Biden gets sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America, come January 20, 2021. Like Nigerian Politicians, President Donald Trump refused to concede defeat, despite the fact that he lost both in popular and electoral votes; instead, Trump chose to grasp at straws, citing electoral malpractice. The questions on the lips of many are: ‘Are Trump’s allegations of multiple electoral fraud against Biden’s Democratic Party true? Why has Trump refused to concede? Why did some world leaders refused to congratulate Biden, despite his clear lead in the election?’ Dr Gbenga Oduntan, Jefferson Uwoghiren, Dr Folus Ejele, Dr Anthony Ediae and Dr Kede Aihie dissected the complex issues in the just concluded Presidential election of the United States of America, in this Discourse.
‘The Ship of the Nigerian State, is Sinking’
The new consciousness raised by the #ENDSARS protest has left in its wake, a new set of challenges, victims and heroes. One obvious victim, is Truth. This was further driven home when the International Television News Station, Cable News Network (CNN) came out with a damning documentary of what they believe transpired at the Lekki Tollgate, and the adverse consequences. One of Nigeria’s foremost Human Rights Lawyers, Femi Falana, SAN, in an interview with Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, gave his perspective of what led to #ENDSARS, the initial denial that soldiers weren’t present at the Lekki Tollgate on October 20, 2020, Nigeria’s embarrassing threat to sanction CNN, and why he thinks the ship of the Nigerian State is not only wobbling, but sinking.
Nigerian Needs Restructuring Urgently
‘Nigeria has only a few Nigerians who have had the rare privilege of traversing the legal and political terrain with equal success, and still remain resolute and have great faith in the nation. Owelle George Uwechue, SAN is one of such Nigerians; an avid legal practitioner, former Chairman of the esteemed Body of Benchers and Life Bencher, and Mr. Speaker Pro tempore of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic. Owelle Uwechue who turned 82 on November 30 had a chat with Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, explaining why he believes strongly that Nigeria is in dire need of urgent restructuring, and why he thinks the #ENDSARS protest was long overdue.
‘Nigeria Needs the “Low Profile” Approach of the 1970s’
More than ever before, Nigerians are unanimous in their opinion that their basic rights are constantly under threat every passing day. The #EndSARS protest now appears to many, to be a microcosm of the bigger challenges that both the government and the citizenry have to deal with. One of Nigeria’s foremost human rights activists, Ms Ayò Obe went down memory lane with Onikèpò Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi, to recount her involvement in the pro-democracy movement during the military era, which among other things, saw her going underground on a few occasions to avoid arrest by the military, and also emerge as the President of the Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO), the first indigenous organised human rights group. She also spoke about her radio programme, the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign, the #EndSARS Protest, and why she thinks the anti-corruption war of the present administration is not yielding desired results.
‘NBA Makes No Profit From Stamp and Seal’
The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) encompasses all Nigerian Lawyers, with a membership capacity in excess of 150,000 spread across 125 Branches. Leading such a large body of learned persons, has posed considerable challenges to different administrations of the NBA, over the decades. A few past Presidents of the Association, had impressively tried to fill that leadership gap with palpable chains of tangible achievements. Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi had a chat with Mr. Augustine Alegeh, SAN, who credibly led the NBA from 2014 – 2016. He spoke his mind, on several professional and national issues.
‘My Administration is Committed to Reforming NBA’s Electoral System’
Coming into the saddle of leadership of Africa’s largest professional body, albeit through a much faulted and criticised election as President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Akpata has wasted no time in assuaging the confidence of Nigerian Lawyers that, he indeed, can deliver on all his electoral promises. Even
in the midst of a debilitating global pandemic, he told Onikepo Braithwaite and Jude Igbanoi in a chat, that his administration will not have any excuse not to lift the NBA back to its past glory (and more), and ensure the welfare of young Lawyers, amongst many other productive initiatives designed to benefit all members.