Jul 16, 2018

PUTTING YOU FIRST PAUL USORO, SAN’S REFORM MANIFESTO FOR PRESIDENCY OF THE NBA

INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT (continued)

V. NBA National Electoral System and Succession Plan.  No institution succeeds on a long-term basis without proper succession planning that ensures, amongst others, continuity of programmes and activities.  The NBA has no such succession plan.  Our current model changes the entire leadership every two years without any form of succession planning and it is no wonder that programmes, no matter how laudable, remain at the mercy of succeeding administrations and are indeed prone to being jettisoned by such new administrations. Indeed, even our national electoral system requires review and quite some tweaking.  Currently, our national elections bring out different lawyers with their respective and disparate manifestoes and agenda for the  various offices.  Usually, there is no alignment of plans between the various contestants for the different offices. Thus, it is not uncommon for the Presidential candidate's agenda for financial management to be fundamentally different, illustratively, from the respective agenda of the General Secretary, Financial Secretary and Treasurer for the same financial management. Upon election, these disparate persons, with their differing and uncoordinated agenda and plans are expected to miraculously coalesce and work together as a team. Such forced coalition does not always work, and I believe that we need to review the electoral system in a manner that would not only ensure some level of succession planning that guarantees continuity of programs but also be far more harmonious and coordinated than our present riotous experience.  Very early in my tenure, I would encourage a roundtable dialogue of all stakeholders in that regard aimed at reforming the national electoral processes. I would also establish Standing Committees for the review of our Constitution and for the conduct of our National Election that would build on all our previous experiences and have sufficient time to deliberate upon and implement required reforms in our electoral system as well as our Constitution.    

VI. Branch Administration.  It is my expectation that the enthronement of governance principles at the NBA National level, with transparency and efficiency as the cornerstones, will gradually percolate and become the staple for NBA branches as well thereby strengthening the capacity of the Branches to function effectively and professionally thus earning the respect and trust of its members. In my respectful opinion, that will be a significant antidote to or panacea for the current spate of strife, brawl and infighting that is tearing our Branches apart in the bid for elective offices.  As soon as we make transparency and governance principles the standard practice in the management of the Association's finances and affairs, both at the national and branch levels, the quality of our leaderships across board would greatly improve and we would experience far less strife than we currently face.  If elected President of the NBA, I would ensure these practices in the branches as well as capacity-building and the empowerment of the branches in a manner that would enable them to confidently develop programmes, manage projects, raise funds, and interface with justice sector institutions and State actors at States and local government levels.

VII. Establishment of NBA Liaison Offices within the three NBA Zones. There seem to exist a gulf between the National Secretariat of the NBA and the lawyers at the NBA branches, notably those branches outside the Federal Capital Territory. That gulf will be bridged with the establishment of NBA Liaison Offices within the three NBA Zones – Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano.  These offices will take the national leadership and the national secretariat of the NBA closer to the lawyers at the branch level and would foster a more accessible and effective working relationship between the parties. Well managed and coupled with the accrued benefits from across-board improved and entrenched transparency and governance practices, these Liaison Offices would boost membership activism, confidence and trust and also increase NBA income-generation capabilities.

VIII. Revenue Generation Plans for the NBA. To alleviate the burden of members in financing the Association and its activities and administration, I would work on innovative revenue generation strategies for the Association.  In particular, I would look at the possibility of generating income from the management of the Association's assets, including its brand and real estate, and optimizing other NBA income streams and NBA revenue potentials such as sponsorships. 

IX. Infrastructural Development. The NBA National Secretariat building (NBA House) is yet to be fully completed. When completed, the auditorium in the building, apart from saving the Association huge costs on venue rentals for major events, would also be a source of additional income for the NBA. If I am elected to the office of the NBA President, I would raise funds for speedy completion of the NBA Building Project.
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Paul Usoro SAN FCIArb Reflections - NBA Electoral Reforms



"Non-Inclusive Bar"

If I had any doubts as to the need and urgency for NBA electoral reforms, those doubts have been completely erased by my recent experiences in the run-up to the 2018 NBA Elections.  As is commonly known, I am contesting with two others for the office of the NBA President and as part of my consultations in the different Branches of the Association for votes, I was in Port Harcourt recently where my supporters had planned an interactive cocktail party for me at the NBA House. 
For those who may not know, lawyers' events are routinely held at the Port Harcourt NBA House upon payment of the prescribed rental amount and my supporters had duly paid for the evening some days ahead of the event and sent out notices and invitations therefor.  Barely an hour to the event, the following unsigned disclaimer was circulated electronically to all members of the Branch and beyond:
"Disclaimer: Pls note that the branch is not in approval of the cocktail invite from Paul Usoro, SAN at the NBA House.  Pls discountenance same.  However, you may attend at your own frolic for conviviality sake.  PH branch supports the adopted candidate of the EBF.  Thanks."
I understand that, prior to the circulation of this malicious "disclaimer", there were unsuccessful direct and subterranean attempts to get the Branch Executive to resile on the rental contract in order to scuttle the event. It was after the failure of these attempts that the perfidious "disclaimer" was issued, not by the Branch Executive, but by some faceless cabal. Happily, the Executives and members of the Branch and beyond rightfully ignored this malodorous "disclaimer" and attended the cocktail party in their numbers and turned it more into a celebration of our presidential vision. 
The question that plagues my mind is, what level of desperation would drive lawyers to such electoral rascality, bare-faced misinformation, intimidation, bullying and hooliganism?  What level of desperation would make lawyers discard and forget all about the hallowed constitutional rights and freedom of expression and association of their colleagues?  What is in the NBA Presidential Elections in particular that makes some of us to behave the same as if not worse than the intolerant and totalitarian Nigerian political class that we routinely and roundly condemn and deprecate? What really is the difference between the faceless cabal in Port Harcourt that engineered the disclaimer and the political authorities in some States and even in the center who contrive ways of denying opposition political parties the use of stadia and other facilities for political rallies and conventions? 
Incidentally, that Port Harcourt incident is not isolated.  I had some weeks earlier attended the Port Harcourt NBA's monthly Branch meeting and was graciously given the platform to felicitate with my colleagues and say a word or two about my Presidential plans.  Just before I launched into my address, my good friend and colleague, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, raised a point of order to the effect that the Eastern Bar Forum had adopted a candidate (I am, like thousands of lawyers from the eastern region, not a member of the EBF) and therefore I should not be allowed the platform to address my colleagues.  Should you be wondering, like I did, at what forum I was, let me assure you that this wasn't a monthly meeting of the Eastern Bar Forum ("EBF") but a meeting of the NBA at the Branch level holding at the NBA House!  Happily, wise counsel prevailed after a very respected past President of the Bar rose up in my defense to the applause and approval of everyone other than my friend, the mover of the point of order.
It is not quite clear to me why the EBF and the supporters of its adopted NBA Presidential candidate are resorting to this low level of bullying and intimidation in an NBA Election.  These, I must again point out, are not isolated incidents. In another State in the NBA Eastern Zone, a Branch Chairman who is an apostle of the EBF adoption connived with court officials to deny my supporters and I access to a courtroom where we were scheduled to have an interactive session.  But for the timely intervention of a senior lawyer in government, we were almost forced to scout for an alternative meeting venue.  I ask again, what is in these elections that drives leaders of the Bar to such desperation of wanting to forcefully muzzle contrary NBA political groups, opinion, thoughts and ideas? What is the driving force that makes us want to deny other lawyers the right of holding contrary political opinion and positions forgetting that our profession is itself anchored on plurality of thoughts and opinion and the freedom to express them in our adversarial submissions?
Just before concluding, I would relate one final incident of this now pervasive political intimidation, blackmail, bullying and intolerance in our NBA polity. Recently, I had dinner with my supporters in Abuja.  It was a very well attended event and it afforded me the opportunity to interact with my colleagues.  There were several speakers at the event and one of them was a visually impaired colleague who had been my friend for a bit of time; he's from the NBA's Eastern Zone and believes wholly in our vision.  My friend spoke passionately and very stirringly about our NBA project and urged everyone to queue behind and vote for me.  The following day I received this text message from my friend:
"I thought that NBA politics is a fair game and not otherwise! To my dismay, I have received whole lots of taunts ever since the PUC dinner, merely because I support NBA's only best interest.  God help us."
He's not the only one who's been bullied in this manner; so many others of my supporters, particularly from a section of the NBA's Eastern Zone, send me similar reports of threats, intimidation and bullying tactics that are deployed against them solely because they speak up in my support.  What kind of lawyers would taunt a colleague simply because he chooses an NBA political direction that is different from theirs?  What has the NBA politics turned us into?  How much longer before we start spilling blood in the name of NBA Presidential politics – because that's where we're headed!  Really, what makes our colleagues so mindlessly desperate that we've forgotten all about democratic principles, anchored on freedom of choice, not to mention our respective rights to hold different political opinions and beliefs and belong to such political associations as we please?
I truly believe that we must urgently address these issues and reform our NBA electoral processes if we must avert the imminent catastrophe of bloodshed and violence which stares us in the face.  The current road that we travel leads to perfidy and we cannot continue on it.  We must retrieve and restore our Bar values as learned friends and colleagues and maintain a professional friendship and brotherhood that abhors NBA political violence, rascality, bullying, thuggery, intimidation, blackmail and smear campaigns.  We must return to the Bar values of political decorum, decency, empathy, tolerance and accommodation of diverse views and positions.  Only by so doing can we restore our dignity as lawyers and set examples and standards for national politics and politicians.  We can start that process by voting wisely come 27/28 July 2018.
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Jul 13, 2018

Tribute in honour of late chief Gani Adetola Kazeem SAN (1948-2018)


Yesterday 12th July, 2018 witnessed a landmark event, where high standing members of the Labour Union and officials at the Judiciary arm of the Nigerian Government spoke as one in paying tribute to a fallen hero, Chief Gani Adetola-Kaseem SAN.
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Day 2: Paul Usoro SAN's Reform Manifesto For Presidency Of The NBA

INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENT
I believe that the NBA, at the national level, is in need of urgent and far-reaching reforms if it must retain its relevance not only in the larger society but even to its members.  These reforms will, at the minimum, achieve four significant and immediate goals, to wit, (a) enhance efficiency in the operations of the Association; (b) engender confidence and trust amongst its members (or, as some would say, win back the confidence and trust of members who are disengaged); (c) transform the NBA into a sustainable institution; and (d) increase the moral equity of the NBA to enable it effectively influence required reforms in the justice subsector and remain a respected watchdog of the society.
As my set-out point, it is my position that no institution or organization can be deemed or classified as successful if it fails to adhere to corporate governance principles, the cornerstones of which are transparency and emplacement of established and well-defined processes and procedures coupled with strict adherence thereto. The NBA, as currently constituted and operated, lacks these basic ingredients and characteristics of an institution – and this has been confirmed by the recent KPMG Diagnostic Report on the NBA. In driving the goal of building an institution out of the NBA, we need to entrench these governance principles and thereby not only guaranty efficiency in the administration of the Association but also boost the confidence of our Members and external stakeholders.  Entrenching these principles will also clothe us with the moral toga to challenge and speak truth to power, particularly in instances of financial and/or administrative malfeasance, misappropriations and misconducts.
The specific programme strands that shall enable me deliver on this agenda, if elected as President of the NBA, shall include the following:

I. Professionalize and strengthen the NBA National Secretariat for effective and efficient service delivery so as to meet the needs of our members and the public. The required reforms in the NBA must logically start from its apex, to wit, the governance structure at the national level. The operational complexities of the Association in 2018 justify the delegation of day-to-day operations and management of the NBA by the elected part-time National Officers to an executive management team made up of suitably qualified, skilled and experienced full-time personnel. 

II. Entrench Corporate Governance in Financial Management: Without financial planning and accountability, a Bar Association will fail to function. We will therefore ensure a complete overhaul of the account and finance unit at the NBA National Secretariat with proper definition of the unit's role and the engagement/retention of qualified, experienced, well-motivated and skilled accountants to man the unit. We would also institutionalize internal control systems and processes. The essence of internal control systems and processes is to prevent leakages and fraud and to bullet-proof the organization against identified risks. To enhance the Association's corporate governance in financial management we would constitute a Standing Audit Committee of the Association that would, amongst others, assist in reviewing and monitoring the efficacy of and compliance with our internal control systems and processes. Budgeting and budget reviews will also be made standard practice and quarterly financial statements would be routinely published to members to inform on the Association's financial health.  Transparency would be the watchword in the management of the Association's resources including its finances and assets.
III. Upgrade and improve the operational capacity of NBA Sections, Institutes, and Fora so that they would be able to fulfil their mandate. Generally speaking, the NBA organs operate at sub-optimal levels. Well organised and run, these organs should serve, amongst others, as the engine-room for planning the contents of and for the Annual General Conferences (AGC) of the NBA.  These organs offer opportunities for members to deliberate on topical issues and raise the bar in advancing the course of specialisation within the NBA. They therefore constitute a veritable NBA resource for planning our AGCs, content-wise in particular.  In addition, the various committees of our Sections ought to be hosting, on regular basis and annually, workshops and seminars in their respective specialized fields.  Best practice also recommends that some of the committees collaborate to host such workshops where the topics are common to and touch on the specialised fields of such committees.  In summary, the NBA organs as currently constituted would be deepened and made to achieve much more in terms of structure, activities, inclusion, outreach, communication, and evaluation.

IV. NBA Strategic Plan. We would review, update and ensure the implementation of the NBA Strategic Plan to ensure continuity and sustainability of programmes, policies and projects. There was a Strategic Plan that was approved by the NBA National Executive Committee (NEC) at its meeting at Aba in March 2017 but I am not aware that there has been a monitoring of its implementation.  Well-run institutions routinely monitor the implementation of their Strategic Plans during the quarterly meetings of their directing organs – i.e. the Board of Directors or its equivalent.  NEC is the NBA equivalent of a Board of Directors and it does not appear that the monitoring of the Strategic Plan is a staple on its quarterly agenda.  That would be corrected in my tenure as the President and the Strategic Plan itself would be reviewed, widely circulated and published and made to incorporate long, medium and short term plans, complete with measurable milestone activities and timelines.

PAUL USORO, SAN, FCIArb

Photo: Paul Usoro SAN at the NBA Kaduna Branch Meeting on Friday, 13th July, 2018.

(To be continued)
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Jul 12, 2018

10 Credibility Questions For The Police Complaints Commission

Yomi Shogunle is an Assistant Commissioner Of Police in charge of the Police Complaint Commission. Despite the cries of many Nigerians on the escalating rate of extortion and unlawful actions by his officers, rather than look objectively at the allegations of unlawful behaviour, he has consistently claimed the allegations are false and fabricated.

However, what is most shocking is that the Complaints Commission which he heads is used as propaganda for the police and cannot be said to have been succesful in eradicating or limiting the cases of gross indiscipline by the police. 

Recently,on the 12th of July, 2018, one Mr. Emmanuel contacted the Legalnaija Blawg and explained how he had been extorted of the sum of 100,000 Naira by officers of the Nigerian Police. Like a responsible citizen, Mr. Emmanuel contacted the helpline of the Police Complaints Commission but he was reffered to the Whatsapp Number of the Commission, on engagement with the Whatsapp account, he was further redirected to the helpline. Up till now, Mr Emmanuel has been unable to lodge his complaint. 

The above experience is proof that the Police Complaints Commission is not an effective tool in resolving complaints against the Police. The statistics shown in the graph below also depicts one important reason why police extortion is on the rise. We have therefore come up with this series of questions to test the credibility of the police complaints commission.

 If 5,927 cases were resolved, 

1. How come only 10 officers were dismissed during the period under review?

2. How come only 2 officers were suspended during the period under review?

3. How come only 64 officers were awarded other punishments under the period in review? 

4. How come only 4 officers were reduced in rank during the period under review?

5. How many officers have been prosecuted and jailed for participating in the extortion of citizens? 

6. Out of the 87,600 calls received, how come only 5,175 were processed?

7. Is there any form of sensitization in the over 1300 Police Stations on human right treatments and extortion.

8. How are police stations run, are there any monies given to each station for running operations or is each station supposed to source for its own funds?

9. Out of the over 1800 cases of financial requests for bail, what punishments, if any, were given to officers who demanded bail.

10. What are the profiling and investigative techniques used by the police when they identify young Nigerians as fraudsters. 

Answers to these questions will reveal to everyone if the Police Complaint Commission in itself is a sham.
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RUFUS N.GODWINS, HEAD OF RIVERS STATE CIVIL SERVICE DECLARES SUPPORT FOR PAUL USORO



Mr. Rufus N. Godwins, the present Head of Rivers State Civil Service and a former Solicitor-General of Rivers State today assured Paul Usoro, SAN of his full support and he admits they are of like minds.
According to Rufus N. Godwins, Paul Usoro, SAN blazed the trail in Communications Law in Nigeria when it was believed that no Nigerian Lawyer could handle it. He is confident that the reforms Paul Usoro will bring to the Nigerian Bar Association will take the association to greater heights.
Find images from their meeting below:
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Paul Usoro SAN's Independence Is Intact


Our attention has been drawn to some social media chats concerning a statement credited to the Hon AG of Akwa Ibom State. PU Team had immediately earlier in the week issued statements affirming the independence of Mr Usoro and denying any knowledge of the existence of any polling centers sponsored by AKSG or any sponsorship howsoever by any State Government including Akwa Ibom State. For avoidance of doubt, we reiterate that Mr Paul Usoro, SAN is self sponsored, has not received any acts of sponsorship howsoever from AKSG.  In the SAN's words:

"I AM INDEPENDENT AND ECONOMICALLY SECURE AND CAN DO THE RIGHT THING FOR AND BY THE ASSOCIATION WITHOUT BEING HOBBLED BY INTERESTS/ CONSIDERATIONS  BE THEY ECONOMIC, POLITICAL AND SOCIAL  OR BY "GODFATHERISM"

TEAM PAUL USORO

# Putting You First.
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Jul 11, 2018

Photos: Paul Usoro meets with Preye Agedah in Bayelsa State

Paul Usoro meets with the Permanent Secretary & Solicitor-General of Bayelsa State. Preye Agedah, Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Bayelsa State, addressing Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN and his team. 
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Jul 10, 2018

Guest Blogger - What Every Lawyer Should Know about Pro Bono Work|Bukola Helen Olusolade


Abstract
There is no denial that lawyers play a very important role in global development. Just like every public-spirited people from every profession seek to contribute to the developmental cause, our knowledge as lawyers and our problem-solving ability can greatly contribute to the wide ranging skills needed to promote development worldwide. This work focuses on how lawyer's dedication to pro bono legal services can help in community development. 
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7 Things You Need to Know About the #PoliceReformBill



Today, the Nigerian Senate passed for Second Reading A Bill to Repeal and Re-enact the Police Act of 1943. This is following last week's resolution by the Senate to direct its constitutional review committee to put in place the machinery to amend the Constitution to allow for the creation of State Police and the mandate that the Police Reform Bill must be passed within the next two weeks.

The current Police Act of 1943 , which has been in existence for over 70 years — without any amendments, is being repealed and re-enacted to meet the current security challenges of a changing nation.

Highlights of the Bill include:

1. The establishment of a service-oriented and modern Police that will meet globally acceptable policing standards in a democratic setting.

2. The modernization of the current Police Force (which was conceptualized and established in the Colonial environment to protect colonial interests) with a Police Force that is geared towards protecting and safeguarding the lives and properties of Nigerian citizens.

3. The establishment of guiding principles to ensure effective policing in Nigeria. These principles include efficiency and effectiveness; accountability, and transparency; protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms; and partnership with other security institutions.

4. Methods of dealing with abuse of weapons by police officers. The Bill also ensures that the police and police officers are held accountable in their actions especially in the areas of arrest and detention of persons and searches.

5. Clauses that mandate record keeping by the police and clauses that ensure that citizens are fully protected from abuse by Police officers.

6. The establishment of a Community Police and Boards in all the States of the Federation that will consist of broad representatives of the community and the State to ensure effective, efficient and participatory community policing.

7. The establishment of an independent complaint authority to receive and investigate and effectively deal with complaints against police officers' misconduct from the public.

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