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Dec 25, 2018

What is the law on street trading in Lagos State?

In Lagos, there is a Law to provide for the prohibition of Street Trading and Illegal Markets in Lagos State and for other matters connected therewith.

Season Greetings From The NBA President

The celebration of Christmas is a period that enable us reflect on the essence of living as brothers and sisters. It reminds us of our divine injunction to show love for all and being united in our resolve to fight against anti-democratic forces. 

Dec 24, 2018

Thank you and Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from all of us at Legalnaija, your support and partnership has helped tremendously in educating the public on their legal rights and obligations under Nigerians laws.

We look forward to more collaborations and successes with you in the New Year and send our warm regards to your friends and family this holiday season.

Best regards,


Dec 20, 2018

Fortnite (Epic Games) vs. Rap Artists: Legal Opinion On the Intellectual Property Use of Artists’ Dance Moves

This article considers the actions of the developers of the game—Fortnite—Epic Games, whereby it incorporated the unique dance moves of known rap artists in a version of its game (Season 5, Fortnite released in July 2018), monetizing it, without permission from the artists. Since these dance moves are intellectual creations, thereby invoking intellectual property law issues, the article answers the question whether there is any form of intellectual property that protects dance moves that could allow the rap artists to seek legal remedies. 

Dec 19, 2018

Opinion: Forum Shopping Is Also An Abuse Of Court Process

Having observed the proceedings against the NBA President, on the 18th of December 2018, the charges filed, and the application for transfer already made by the NBA President, judging from the activities of the persecutors/prosecutor, which the case obviously has it's alleged crime committed in Uyo; AKSG and its officials resident in Uyo. Zenith bank in question is in Uyo. 

When Bias Is Alleged Or Perceived - Judical Precedence | OLAJIDE ABIODUN ESQ

I can distill via the letter of transfer already filled and served, and the proceedings in court on the 18th of December 2018 that the court is towing the lane of being biased and below are authorities to that effect.

More to it than meet the very eyes

Granted, it is trite that bail is at the discretion  of the Court, however the same court has been advised repeatedly in many Supreme Court cases that such discretion must be exercised Judicially (as  an upholder of Law with pure and neutral mind) *JUDICIOUSLY* ( with wisdom and maximum discreet). 

As A Lawyer, These Facts Should Bother You

PU is surely facing his music. He personally took his plea yesterday. However, bear in mind that you also receive professional fees from clients, no matter how small. By the precedent being set in this case, your account could be investigated at any time and the result could be the same, if you do not scrutinize the sources of your fees.

Dec 18, 2018

Reaction Of Lawyers To The Arraignment Of The NBA President By EFCC

"The tradition at the Bar is fading away gradually. The respect culture for seniors and people of rank is being trampled upon. A lawyer who is a member of NBA would apply that NBA President be remanded in prison custody. How can? Oh God save the legal profession!" (Emmanuel Etietop Esq)

Dec 17, 2018

Law Suit Without A Good Cause Is An Embarrassment | Emmanuel Etietop Esq

It must be pointed out that the attitude of some of our colleagues towards the present Nigerian Bar Association, NBA administration is an ill wind that blows no one no good. The war of words,  law suits without substance and good cause of action only with the intent to embarrass the NBA leadership,  connivance with EFCC to prosecute NBA leadership for charging a corporate client a high professional fee when the client has not complained;  thereby making the little fear the security operatives used to have when dealing with a lawyer to stand the risk of being eroded,  among others are reactions from certain quarters since the inception of the present NBA regime.

Dec 14, 2018

Why You Need A Cancellation Agreement

Have you ever experienced the scenario described above? 

What did you do? 

Dec 13, 2018

Examination Of The Regulatory And Legal Framework Of Data Privacy In Nigeria | Judy-Vallery Imasuen


Should Paul Usoro Resign in Account of Unproven Allegations? | D.M. Eyyazo Esq. ACIArb (UK)

Posted on LAWYERS IN NIGERIA (Facebook) on On 13/12/2018

I never supported the candidature of Paul Usoro, I was an unrepentant fan of the renowned, amiable and proficient Teacher; Prof. Ernest Ojukwu. That, however can not blind my sense of reasoning or lure me into dancing around the truth in the recent fiasco between the NBA president (Usoro) and the EFCC. 

Dec 12, 2018

ANTI-GRAFT: Analyzing The Grey Areas Of The Case Against Paul Usoro, SAN

Controversies and speculations have continued to trail the graft allegation charge against the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), making it arguably one of the most sensational news of the day. 

In Lagos, Young lawyers get a head-start at Create-Your-Future-Workshop

For most young wigs, getting their legal career up to a good start after their post bar experience is a major bend that defines their trajectory. To help them navigate that crossroad, GreySage Consulting teamed up with dynamic attorney and digital media influencer, Akinyemi Ayinoluwa, for an exclusive mentoring workshop recently in Lagos.

IP ABC—Principles, Discoveries, and Plant Variety: Patentable or not patentable? | Infusion Lawyers

Question of the Week  

I am Anwuli Okafor, a Biotechnologist and Lead Researcher at Science & Wonders, a R & D center in Degema Local Government Area, Rivers State. We conduct research on genetic variation, medicine, and plant science.

For over 3 years, my team and I have been involved in intensive research on a special biological process for producing a plant we call Harmarain, a special plant that adapts to both harmattan season and rainy season to boost food production. We believe that Harmarain is a new invention and would like to patent it. For this purpose, we consulted a patent agent. The patent agent requested we share details of our Harmarain invention, including the drawing. Our questions are: (1) In the process of our research, we developed new principles and made new discoveries of plant biological processes we also wish to patent in our name. Can we? (2) How do we share the details of our invention, including drawings, without the risk of losing our invention to a third party?

A Proper Application Of Professional Legal Ethics In The Paul Usoro Controversy | Sylvester Udomezue

Instead of blaming prosecuting counsel for grossly violating their duties to  -

·        be fair and just;

·        be prosecutors and not persecutors;

·        avoid trial publicity. Instead of placing the blame on prosecuting counsel, some of our colleagues prefer to turn the blame upside-down by erroneously blaming Mr. Paul Usoro for standing his ground in Defence of Rule of Law, Due Process and Constitutionalism in Nigeria and by refusing to be subjected to punishment before conviction and to trial on social media instead of trial inside court of law. With due respect, some of our colleagues are not being fair to Paul Usoro. I respectfully do not care if Paul Usoro gets thrown into jail upon being (ie., IF he is) justly found guilty of any offence. I do not care about that, because the wages of crime is punishment according to law.

Dec 11, 2018

Photo of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Elimination of Drug Abuse

Photo of the Presidential Advisory Committee for Elimination of Drug Abuse inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Dec 10, 2018

Universal Day Of Human Rights

We support the Rule Of Law and the protection of human rights #law #legal #humanrights #humanrightsday #law #blawg #legalnaija

No Good Reason For Paul Usoro To Resign | Sylvester Udomezue

I am sorry, my respected Teacher, Prof, Learned Silk and personal OGA, with due respect, Sir, I  have not seen good reasons/support for the call for Paul Usoro to step aside or resign. My position is clear. Charge against Usoro is not charge against the NBA. And it is not NBA that would decide whether or not EFCC has powers to file charges against Mr Usoro. So, NBA should act wisely. 

Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, Lead Counsel For Paul Usoro SAN

The case of @officialEFCC vs. @PaulUsoroSAN is currently ongoing at the Federal High Court in Lagos. 

Legalnaija Business Monday - Electronic Transactions Bill

The e-Commerce market in Nigeria is worth around $13 billion; according to a report by London based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) predicted that the e-commerce sector is expected to contribute about 10 per cent, of a projected N10trillion, to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2018

Dec 9, 2018

EFCC v. Paul Usoro SAN: The Real Issue in Dispute | Olajide Abiodun Esq.

I have followed the events leading and subsequent to the “reported” Charge filed against Mr Paul Usoro SAN, the NBA President, I must confess that these are interesting times to be alive as a lawyer. For one, as I write, no Court process has been served on Mr Usoro SAN to the best of my knowledge. The Charge is still surrounded in mystery. 

EFCC And The Paul Usoro Quagmire | Etimbuk Johnson Esq

The unfolding Paul Usoro drama scripted by the APC and acted by EFCC  is an excruciating example of a very primitive and execrable brand of Politics being played by the government of Nigeria.

Paul Usoro Resigning Would Amount To A Gross Desecration of Nigeria’s Constitution,

*It Would Amount to a Gross Desecration of Nigeria’s Constitution, Rule of Law and Due Process for Paul Usoro to Resign His Position as the NBA President When He Has Not been Found Guilty of any Offence*

Paul Usoro has a duty to protect, promote and preserve the rule or law, the Nigerian constitution and due processs, being the leader of the Nigerian Bar. If he is arraigned in court on corruption charges, let him face the charge. But he has no reason to resign on account of the unproven charges. If he resigns, then he’s a coward and in a gross breach of our constitution and rule of law. He is the number one lawyer in Nigeria; the leader of Africa’s largest bar association. To drive my point home, kindly permit me to refer you to my words, as published on 18 November 2028: *”

A Rejoinder on Prof. Ojukwu's "Whenever Usoro is arraigned, I will write him to step down

It has been more than 24 hours since an online publication quoted Prof Ernest Ojukwu as saying that he would write Mr Paul Usoro SAN to step down upon his arraignment in Court over the Charge of Fraud and Money Laundering.

Statement By NBA President On The Occasion Of The International Anti-Corruption Day

Dear Sir/Ma,

1. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (“UNCAC”).  Since its adoption in 2003, the Convention Against Corruption has achieved near-universal status with 186 States including Nigeria signing up to the Convention.  09 December of every year is observed across the globe as the International Anti-Corruption Day (“IACD”) with the aim of raising public awareness of corruption and igniting discourse on, amongst others,required measures for tackling corruption.  The Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) joins the International Community to mark today as the International Anti-Corruption Day.

Dec 8, 2018

It Should Not Be The Duty Of A Lawyer To Investigate The Source Of Clients' Funds

I have now read the statement credited to Mr Okutepa SAN and yes he is correct that EFCC has a right to investigate anyone and that lawyers are also subject to the jurisdiction of the Court and yes the NBA President does not have immunity from investigation nor prosecution. 

Effect Of Media Trial And The Court | Olatunji M. Dawodu Esq.

Media is regarded as one of the pillars of democracy. Media has wide ranging roles in the society. Media plays a vital role in molding the opinion of the society and it is capable of changing the whole viewpoint through which people perceive various events. The media can be commended for starting a trend where the media plays an active role in bringing the accused to hook.


Mr Paul Usoro, the newly sworn in president of the NBA who has taken off with a very big bang, enthusiasm and positive energy reconstructing the old manner of businesses at the NBA House, receiving accolades and adulations from the overwhelming majority of the bar as exemplified by the standing ovation he received from members of the NBA NEC yesterday is the victim of a very primitive and execrable brand of Politics being played by the government of Nigeria..

Every discerning mind understands that it's about the unconstitutional takeover of Akwa Ibom state by hook or crook by the ruling party with the active collusion of some indigenes of the state..
Added to this and as if to add salt to injury, the National president had the "unfortunate" task of being the counsel to the Senate president Mr Bukola Saraki in his tral at the CCB at the instance of the Federal government.This he carried out dutifully and successfully with great attention to details one of the hall marks for which he's known over the years.. For this, carrying out his lawful duty as a legal practitioner he's been marked for destruction and this plan is being accentuated by a few people in the bar with access to the levers of power who are still bitter over his guts to contest for the last NBA president election which he won..
Usoro was counsel to both Udom Emmanuel and Bukola Saraki people the government/APC attempted to heckle and discomfit for political reasons. Usoro's only sin is that he's seen as a pro PDP lawyer meanwhile he's never rejected an APC brief..
The idea therefore is since they missed Udom and Saraki because of Usoro's brilliant advocacy based on evidence, they would get him (Usoro) It's like in a game of football it's said usually when the game gets tough, "if you miss the ball, don't miss the leg" our president Paul Usoro SAN, is unfortunately the "leg" in this crossfire, primitive, rough-hewn political game which the APC is known for..

How do you explain the fact that information regarding the charge of Mr Usoro SAN is already on social media meanwhile, he hasn't been served.. Why prosecute the case on Social media and not the court? The only plausible reason would be that they know their case is as wishy-washy and namby-pamby as a lamb that can't stand the weight of it's own wool. They idea therefore is to cause Mr Paul Usoro embarrassment in the eyes of the public particularly among lawyers but this has failed woefully and boomeranged as it has attracted the angst of majority of lawyers who understand that no law puts a cap on the amount a counsel ought to charge his client for services rendered which Mr Paul Usoro SAN carried out judiciously..

Why not equally look into the accounts of the states governed by the ruling party or the accounts of the lawyers who stood for them at their trying moments at the Election Tribunals to know how much they were paid by their clients (State governors)

It's in the light of the prevenient therefore that i must first salute and appreciate our eminently distinguished learned Seniors, Elders and other members of the Nigerian Bar Association for your continuous understanding of the issues and your undaunted and unblinking support and solidarity for our president at this trying period not just for him but for the Bar for it's the Bar that's under attack today.. If we allow govt institutions to begin to interfere and cap how much fees we charge especially when the remonstrance over the fees charged is not coming from our clients, then we are in serious trouble and our profession is in jeopardy..
This is therefore, the time for lawyers all over the country close ranks and come out enmase to protest and support our president and stand against the forces of facism, totalitarianism, anachronism and all their agents..
Let's fight not just to preserve the Bar but our hard earned democracy.

God bless our president
God bless the NBA
God bless our Nigeria.

*Olusegun Thompson Esq*

Dec 7, 2018

5 Reasons Why EFCC Is A Meddlesome Interloper In Matters Concerning Professional Legal Fees

At the last meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association; National Executive Council on the 6th of December,2018, the Honourable President of the Bar, Paul Usoro SAN in his speech, highlighted 5 legal positions on why the EFCC has no business investigating the professional fee of a legal practitioner, especially if neither member of the contract had cried fowl in the first place. 

Breaking News: NBA President Ready For Court Despite Non - Service Of Charge

Paul Usoro SAN, the NBA President has declared his readiness to appear in court on Monday, 10th Decemeber, 2018, despite the refusal of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to serve on him the charges brought against him.

EFCC's Recent Actions Against Paul Usoro SAN - An Affront on the Bar | Kingsley Iheakaram

A democracy without the rule of law is nothing but a pseudo militocracy. I have never seen a democracy as decayed as what we have in Nigeria today. A democracy characterised by persecution, witch hunt, intolerance, propaganda, bad losers, to mention a few.

For The Record |Emmanuel Etietob

Today those who feel aggrieved that the NBA is no longer a gold mine and those who lost the election who don't have a good spirit of sportsmanship instigate the EFCC to prefer a charge against Mr. President of NBA because he charged and was paid professional fee for services rendered. EFCC lawyers are also aiding and abetting it. The issue is not really about the security operatives. It's about lawyers who are narrow minded who want to kill the prestige of the legal profession.

A legal practitioner reserves the right to charge a high amount of money for his professional fee. If his client can afford it and has actually paid, what is wrong with it? The law is trite. Section 36 (12) of the 1999 Constirution as amended provides that no person is to be punished for any offence which is not created by a written law and the penalty there for prescribed in a written law. There is no written law that stipulates that a high professional fee charged and paid by a corporate client who could afford it and has paid without complain is money laundering.

What they are trying to do is persecution and not prosecution. Our highly respected law luminary Afe Babalola SAN charged Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in US dollars in an election petition case which makes what Paul Usoro SAN charged Akwa Ibom state government a peanut. Where was EFCC then?

The universe is not sustained arbitrarily. There are structures of realities which God, the maker of the universe has put in place. They are universal in nature. Jesus Christ said in Luke 23:31 that if it happens to the green tree what do you think will be the fate of other trees? The English adage says "if gold rusts, what will iron do?" The President of NBA is the personification of the glory and splendour of the legal profession. Any attempt to attack the president of NBA is an attack on the profession. It's an attack on all the lawyers. If our colleagues master mind the framing of frivolous and vexatious charges by EFCC against our president, they don't know the consequences before God.

If they knew they wouldn't try it.

In Matthew 7:1-3 among other things Jesus said that the measurement you use to measure unto others shall be used to measure back to you by God.

Psalms 18:26; Matthew 18:23-35 are on God putting on our own nature to interact with us after using his own nature to deal with us for a while and we fail to partake of his nature. If he is faithful and just , He wants a downstream expression of it from us when we deal with others. Else God puts on our character in dealing with us according to the measurement we measured to others. When we measured to others it is a seed. When God measures back to us it comes back as harvest. If you sow to the wind, you reap a whirlwind. Even when Esau had two legitimate reasons to be angry with Jacob his brother, God said to Esau through Hosea the prophet that whatever Esau builds he God will pull it down because he kept his anger against his brother for ever. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. I have seen kingdoms rise and kingdoms fall. People should know how they abuse this world. Enough is enough.

Emmanuel Etietob

Dec 6, 2018

Reaction of Lawyers to unlawful acts of EFCC against Paul Usoro SAN

Find below reactions from Nigerian lawyers to the persecution of the NBA President, Paul Usoro SAN - 

Though we all fought from different angles during the last NBA general election, now election is gone but the profession remains. You may hate Mr Paul Usoro but the fact is that he is the BAR PRESIDENT and we all plead our allegiance to advancement of the BAR. Therefore we must support the bar president if at all we will ever witness the  BAR of our dreams. The present criminal allegations against P. U is not just baseless but an affront to not just the BAR president but to all members of the profession. EFCC and /or any other law enforcement agency should not be allowed to cow us into relinquishing our right to charge our professional fees to them. Lawyers should stop leveraging on the unwarranted and unlawful political persecution of the president to cause more harm to the BAR by supporting the impunity just to get back to the president. Paul Usoro will one day seize to be the president but the image of the bar remains. If EFCC is allowed to carry out such impunity on the number 1 Nigerian lawyer, what then will be the fate of ordinary man in the street or ordinary member of the profession. We all must stand up against this for the sake of the profession.  #NO2PAULUSOROPERSECUTION.
Attah, Esq

When EFCC started harrassing Ukiri in 2012 over a lawyer-client dispute over fees, NBA national kept conspiratorially silent! Now you see how daring they have become?
After P.U. USORO, SAN, our President,who is above EFCC's harrassment and intimidation despite the warning of the Supreme Court in DIAMOND BANK PLC v. OPARA and EFCC v. DIAMOND BANK PLC?
Let us unite against intimidation of NBA under any guise, if the news is not fake!  P.U. USORO, SAN represents the NBA.
 We must not see this affront as his personal burden.
I will be on the legal team, trust me!
Frmr 1st Vp., NBA.

My dilemma in this matter that smack of political witch hunt is, if the alleged accused person is yet to be arraigned, why are the proposed charge flying all over the place? Who leaked the charge to the press? Why are the news about the charge circulated by those who opposed Paul Usoro, SAN during the NBA elections? Is there a collaboration between the EFCC and Sahara Reporters and some opposing lawyers? Considering the facts that the EFCC first raised these issues at the eave of the NBA elections to whistle down the credibility and choice of Paul Usoro, SAN in the election and again on the eave of the first NEC meeting to be hosted by the Paul Usoro SAN led administration, is suggestive of a deliberate agenda aimed at destabilizing this gentleman and causing him to be derailed in pursuing his set objectives.
I urge on all of us to rise up in defense of the legal profession and defend one of our own.

Because they don't want him to be president of the bar. Interests aligned together and attackers gathered together. An enemy to my enemy is my friend. That's what is in the play here. Also Usoro defeated the EFCC twice. 1, with saraki when they couldn't achieve their aim, 2, with becoming the president and also refusing to play their tune as regards the politics happening in akwaibom. Efcc freezing state account, but we all know where it will end. So attacking Usoro is the best game for them...

Just like they think the AGF too is guilty of something's as regards the maina shit, they will just dig up unnecessary facts and use it to embarrass their target. 

They did it to Mike Ozekhome SAN, he isn't talking again today. 

Mr. President, no shaking, we are with you on this one. The worst is that he would be docked and he would be let out on self recognizance after which the battle starts.... (What's gonna be the gain of EFCC) second over 700 lawyers including well respected silks are ready for this.... And on the long run the issues for determination would affect the BAR... Let's see where it ends... 

So if I charge a client 5 billion and he's paying and still oweing for numerous cases oooo, I should be docked abi.....? 

Shameless people. Let them come. 

All the wailers game plans even at NEC is already in the open.... Let's see how it goes today? Your point of order plan etc... Let's see how it goes.... 


Fintech In Taxation:A Way Out Of Tax Evasion | Omowale Kofoworola


A major challenge to the government in generating tax as a revenue is the increasing rate of tax evasion. The revenue generated from taxation forms a major source of finance to the government which is crucial to sustainable increase in economic development.  Therefore tax evasion is an important factor to be considered as it affects the government finances which is a key to economic development. This paper considers tax evasion and fintech as a way out.

EFCC is breaching the lawyer-client privilege and showing complete disregard for the judgments of the Courts | Paul Usoro SAN

Compliments of the Season and please accept our hearty welcome to the NEC meeting of our great and unparalleled Association. We thank the Almighty for journey mercies particularly for those of you who travelled for this meeting from States of the Federation outside Abuja. It is the Season of goodwill and, on behalf of the National Officers, I sincerely extend our goodwill and Seasons' Greetings to all our members, represented at this NEC meeting by you, our distinguished NEC members.
It is three months now since we were inaugurated and sworn in as your National Officers on 31 August 2018 and this is our first NEC meeting. 

This is also the NEC meeting for Quarter 2 of the NBA 2018/2019 Financial Year which, in practice, is calculated from August of each year to the July of the succeeding year. That, understandably, is why our Audited Financial Statement for each year is prepared as at July of that year. In effect, NBA's 2018/2019 Q1 spans the period August to October 2018 and Q2 of our Financial Year will span the period November 2018 to January 2019.

Our Constitution stipulates that NEC meetings must be held quarterly and as in every structured institution, this can only be interpreted to mean every financial quarter. The NEC meeting that was held on 26 August 2018 therefore qualified as our 2018/2019 Q1 NEC meeting and the meeting of today, as I earlier pointed out, is our 2018/2019 Q2 NEC meeting. All properly organized institutions schedule their quarterly Board of Directors' meetings – the equivalent of our NEC – for such dates within the quarter as would allow for the preparation and publication of the preceding quarter's Financial Statements and this is understandable because, those quarterly meetings afford the directing minds of the institution the opportunity to take stock and reflect on the organization's performance in the preceding quarter for the purposes of mapping their next quarter activities and indeed the future activities of the enterprise or organization generally.
Going forward, we would schedule our quarterly NEC meetings in like manner, making sure that our quarterly accounts are ready and circulated for dissection and discussions during those meetings. That, in large parts, informed the holding of this meeting in this month of December, thereby allowing a one- month period from the end of 2018/2019 Q1 for the preparation of our Management Accounts for the said Q1 which would be presented at this meeting and published to our members immediately after this NEC meeting, in fulfilment of our cornerstone commitment to enthrone transparency and financial rectitude in our body politic.

EFCC Investigation of AKSG Fees
Just before reviewing our performance in 2018/2019 Q1, it is perhaps only right that I address the orchestrated social and online media reports of the last 24 hours in regard to my allegedly being charged to court for money laundering offences by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ("EFCC"). 

I have not been served with any such charge neither have I been arraigned before any court on any such charge or at all. It is however correct that I have been questioned by the EFCC in the last several months in respect of fees that my Firm had been paid by Akwa Ibom State Government ("AKSG") between 2015 and 2016 and also fees that Governor Udom Emmanuel, the Governorof Akwa Ibom State had paid to me for the benefit of Counsel that worked on his Election Petition Appeal that was decided by the Supreme Court early in 2016.

Luckily, I had kept a contemporaneous and detailed record of my visits to the EFCC offices in Abuja and it would be useful that I quote excerpts therefrom on the facts of the EFCC investigation for the benefit of you, my colleagues:

"I was invited by the EFCC Bank Fraud Section, vide a letter of 28 May 2018, to provide "clarification" in respect of "a case" that they were investigating. I met with them on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 04, 05 and 06 June 2018 and their questioning of me was on two specific issues as outlined below.

(a) "Zenith Bank N300m Inflow
"I was questioned in respect of a N300m cash inflow that came into PUC's Zenith Bank Account on 14 March 2016 and the subsequent outflows from the account to various Senior Counsel between 22-23 March 2016. I explained that the inflow was payment by Governor Udom Emmanuel in respect of an Election Petition Appeal that was determined by the Supreme Court and that I served as the coordinating Counsel in respect of the matter and had engaged various Senior Counsel therefor on his behalf. The subsequent outflows which were made through bank transfers were the professional fees which I made on his behalf to those Counsel based on the N300m inflow. They wanted to know how the cash lodgment was made into the PUC account and I informed them that the lodgment was made at the instance of Governor Emmanuel (albeit, not necessarily by him) and definitely not by me or any PUC personnel and that I had no further information, clue or knowledge beyond that.

(b) "N1.110bn Inflows into PUC's Access Bank Account from AKSG
"EFCC also wished to know the basis for the aggregate inflow of N1,110,000,000.00, paid in 4 tranches, into the PUC Access Bank Account from AKSG between 24 August 2015 and 18 September 2016.

 I provided an explanation in writing to them showing that these were payments-on-account by the State in respect of several dispute resolution matters that we were and, in some cases, are still handling for the State Government. 

I backed the explanation up with (a) copies of the PUC Notes of Charges in respect of 3 of the 4 payment tranches, pursuant to which the payments were made and which clearly showed that these were payments-on-account in respect of various matters that we were handling for the State; and (b) a non-exhaustive List of 19 matters, none of which was election-related, which we were handling for the State at all times material to their enquiry and the payments. We pointed out that we were in the process of reconciling accounts with the State Government in order to determine the outstanding fees due from the Government to us and that for none of these matters were we previously paid by the State Government.

"They questioned me on the agreed fees for each of the matters and I told them that there was no such agreement which explains why the payments were made on account, albeit, there is a reconciliation process afoot. They asserted that from their experience, fees are always agreed in advance with counsel prior to engagement. I strenuously refuted that assertion and gave them illustrative instances where we've worked for FGN – the MTN Fine case, for instance – and fees were not agreed in advance and we haven't even been paid as I write. 

I also gave instances of very established organizations where we've experienced the same circumstances and concluded by informing them that the processes for engagement of counsel and negotiation/payments of their fees are not standard and immutable but remain the exclusive prerogative of the client and are at the clients' discretion. They asked for our letters of engagements and I explained that traditionally, letters of engagements are not issued to us by the State in these matters; the State merely hands over the processes to us and requests that we represent the State in the matters or institute required proceedings on behalf of the State.In any case, I told them that I wasn't aware that AKSG was complaining howsoever in respect of these fees or denying that we had provided the services outlined in our letter and even if they were, the court/arbitral records and processes in these proceedings are available to bear our services out.

"Attention then turned to the payments that PUC made to some senior counsel at all times materials to the EFCC investigation. Soon after the payment-on-account of N530m by AKSG on 24 August 2015, we had made some payments to several senior counsel. Similar payments were also made soon after the payments to us by AKSG of N260m and N280m respectively on 03 December 2015 and 18 January 2016 and the EFCC wanted to know what these payments were made for. I explained that these were the same set of Counsel – comprising eminent members of the Inner Bar and a host of other members of the outer Bar – that I had engaged to work with me in respect of the Election Petition matter for which payments were made from the PUC Zenith Bank Account (for the Supreme Court Appeal) and that these payments that were made from the PUC Access Bank Account were professional fees which I paid to them for their services at the Tribunal and Court of Appeal. They wanted to know if I was paying them out of the AKSG payments-on-account and I answered in the negative. I explained that these were independent transactions and that the AKSG payments-on-account were in respect of my Firm's professional services to the State while the payments to the senior counsel were made by me for and on behalf of Governor Udom Emmanuel, at his request and in expectation of refunds at a future date.

"The EFCC tried very hard to link the payments to the senior counsel to the AKSG payments-on- account to PUC but I told them that, at each time when the inflows from AKSG came into PUC's account, the Firm had available funds in its Access Bank account of not less than N450m (made up, amongst others, of a standing overdraft from Access Bank) and that the fresh funds always comingled with the existing available funds and it was practically impossible to separate them by source and attribute subsequent expenditures to specific preceding inflows or available funds. They wanted to know why these payments to senior counsel were made after each of the 3 inflows into the Firm's account and not prior and I explained that the Firm retained the unquestionable discretion as to when it pays its creditors and that, in any case, if the payments were made before the AKSG inflows, the same EFCC would've been questioning me as to whether those AKSG inflows were made to fill the hole in our account sequel to the senior counsel outflows. Such line of questioning, I stressed, was futile, speculative, tendentious, untenable, baseless, incorrect and unrewarding apart from being utterly unfair to me and PUC. I wondered aloud in my Statement why, if they thought a pattern was established of payments to senior counsel after each AKSG inflow, how come there was no such payment sequel to the N40,000,000.00 inflow from the State on 18 September 2016 and why I'm not questioned on this."
For completeness, I have attached to this Address, my letter of 05 June 2018 to the EFCC in which I detailed the 19 arbitral and litigation matters that we had handled for AKSG at all times material to their investigation and the payments to my Firm.
Now, the investigation of the professional fees that were paid to my Firm or through us to some other counsel has very serious and far-reaching implications for all of us and the practice of our profession which we, as lawyers and as an association of lawyers, should not ignore. I would highlight below some of such non-exhaustive implications:

(a) Client-Lawyer Privilege. It has judicially and historically been acknowledged that issues of fees, as between a lawyer and his client, is a matter of privilege. The recent decision of the Court of Appeal that was delivered on 14 June 2017 in Appeal Number CA/A/202/2015: Central Bank of Nigeria v Registered Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association & Attorney General of the Federation affirmed this position. By questioning lawyers on the legitimate fees that they have earned from clients, the EFCC is breaching the lawyer-client privilege and showing complete disregard for the judgments of the Courts in this regard.

(b) EFCC's lack of Locus Standi in Client-Lawyer Contractual Relationship. The fees that are paid by a Client to his lawyer is not only a matter of privilege but is also contractual. As we all know, non-parties to a contract are complete strangers thereto and lack the locus standi to question and/or determine the propriety of such contract(s). The EFCC stands in that position in this and other matters of this nature; it lacks the locus standi to question the basis for the fees. Only the parties to the contract can question the justification for the fees and in this instance, neither party has raised any such query. Indeed, neither party reported this matter to the EFCC or invited the Agency to carry out any investigation in regard thereto.

(c) EFCC as Auditor and/or Regulator of Legal Fees. There is no provision in Nigeria's statute books that constitutes the EFCC into the auditor of legal fees. When the EFCC arrogates to itself the right to determine the basis for a lawyer's fees, it not only intrudes into a client-lawyer contract which by its nature is privileged, but also constitutes itself into an auditor of lawyers' fees. No such position has been created in our statute books for the EFCC or any other agency for that matter. The EFCC is also not set up as the regulator of lawyers and their fees and it ought not assume such a position.

(d) Criminalization of Lawyers' Fees. The EFCC appears to be straining quite hard to criminalize the fees that are earned by lawyers for their legitimate work. Mine is not the first of these intrusions; we all recall the case of Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN when the EFCC attempted to forfeit his fees on the pretext that the funds came from illegal sources. The allegations of the EFCC against me are not any different, particularly in regard to the N300,000,000.00 which was paid by Governor Udom Emmanuel to my Firm's account for the benefit of his Counsel in the Election Petition Appeal. If these EFCC incursions are not checked, the Bar and the practice of our profession are doomed.

(e) Independence of Legal Profession and Practice. The practice of law, as we all know, is founded on the independence of the legal practitioner and his courage to advocate on behalf of his client to the best of his ability and conviction. That independence and thecourage of the advocate are now being threatened and trampled upon by the EFCC. Lawyers now have to work and walk on tip-toe, looking over their shoulders to determine whether the EFCC would be coming after them solely on account of their courage and independence in advocacy. That does not bode well for the profession or for legal practice generally. My case is not isolated; I have received incessant reports from lawyers who represent clients against the EFCC whose bank accounts and legitimate fees have been and are being investigated by the EFCC sequel to their representations of those clients – not any different from my case. Democracy and the rule of law are threatened when the lawyers' independence and courage in advocacy are fettered howsoever, whether by the EFCC or any other person or organization, consequent upon the lawyers' choice of clients.

I will say no more, for now, on this matter.
Review of 2018/2019 Q1 –Challenges
Turning to the review of our activities in 2018/2019 Q1, I should, perhaps start with the challenges we faced, as NBA, in the said Quarter. I can immediately isolate two of the most glaring challenges,the first being violent crimes and attacks on our members countrywide and the second being the extremely deleterious state of our finances.
On the first challenge, we have lost 4 of our membersto violent crimes between 31 August 2018 and today, to wit, Emeka Agundu, the late Chairman of our Obollo-Afor Branch who was violently assassinated on 02 September 2018, Adeola Adebayo, the late Secretary of our Ikole-Ekiti Branch whose decomposed body was found in the forest on 30 November 2018 after being kidnapped on 17 November 2018, RemigusOgu (Jnr), a serving magistrate in Orlu Judicial Division of Imo State whose lifeless body was dumped on the highway in Amucha Community of Imo State by his kidnappers and AdeshinaOkeya, a new wig who was violently attacked in the outskirts of Abuja in the evening of the day he was called to Bar, 29 November 2018, leading to his death the following day, Friday, 30 November 2018. The past
Chairman of our Auchi Branch, A AAtemoagbo also lost his wife when criminals rained bullet shots at his car, along Auchi-Benin Road, near Ehor, in Edo State, in an attempt to halt him. May we please observe a minute's silence in honour of these departed souls.
Returning to the incident during which Joan Atemoagbo was violently killed, Mr. Atemoagbo's car was indeed stopped by the hoodlums and he was kidnapped and only released days later after the payment of the specified ransom amount. As we pointed out in our Statement of 01 December 2018, "these incidents bring to the fore the terrifying state of insecurity in our land. It is instructive that" these incidents "occurred in the three geographical regions of Nigeria – the East, West and North – clearly making the point that no part of the country is immune from the current nemesis of insecurity. These murders" and kidnap incidents "also epitomize the all-round insecurity of lives and property and incessant killings of innocent citizens by criminals in the country". I am certain that this state of affairs would constitute a significant discussion topic under our State of the Nation agenda item at this meeting.
Our second challenge has been paucity of funds. As clearly stated in the NBA's Financial Statement as at 31 August 2018 which would be presented shortly, not only did we inherit an empty treasury, we inherited enormous liability of over N400,000,000.00 as at the said 31 August 2018 (and still counting). The said debt overhang did not only haunt and inhibit our 2018/2019 Q1 activities, it promises to castrate and affect our activities and plans for 2019;we would shortly make a Presentation to NEC members that would graphically showthe impact of that debt overhang on our projected revenue for 2019 and, by extension, our plans and activities for next year.
Review of 2018/2019 Q1 – Gains and Successes
What were our significant gains and achievements in 2018/2019 Q1? We easily number the following amongst those non-exhaustive successes and achievements, viz:
I. Financial transparency and accountability. This was our cornerstone reform agenda and we fulfilled that promise through the preparation and publication of the Financial Statement as at 31 August 2018. We indeed committed to the preparation and publication of quarterly financial statements and the 2018/2019 Q1 FS will be presented at today's NEC meeting and published to all our members soon thereafter. In order to vest this enterprise with professionalism and credibility, we engaged PricewaterhouseCoopers ("PwC"), one of the biggest international accounting firms, to assist us in the preparation of the Financial Statements. They are with us today to present the Financial Statements.
II. Financial Prudence. As the Q1 Financial Statement would clearly show, prudence in financial management has been our watchword. We are stringent in curtailing and avoiding wasteful and unnecessary spending. Some may argue that prudence is forced upon us by the exigencies of our financial paucity, but it needs be remembered that the debt overhang of over N400,000,000 was incurred at a time that our purse was empty, resulting in the non-payment of those liabilities by the previous administration. If we were so inclined, we could have racked up further credits and pile up further debts for succeeding NBA administrations. In fact, if we were so inclined, we would not even have started the policy of financial transparency and accountability which, more than anything else, forces prudence on the managers of our resources. The point that I make is that, financial prudence is practiced by us in the administration of the NBA affairs, as of choice and we are hoping to pass on this virtue to the succeeding NBA administrations through constitutional reforms.
III. Regaining the Confidence of Members. We believe that the combination of the two successes afore-highlighted has rekindled the confidence of our members in the NBA which had waned considerably as at when we took over the mantle of NBA leadership.
The fact that our members are now fully in the know of the state of NBA's finances and management, coupled with demonstrated and demonstrable prudence and openness in the management of our finances, we believe, has gone quite some length in restoring confidence in the Association and in its leadership. That confidence would continue to be boosted, we believe, with the consistency in our preparation and publication of quarterly accounts and demonstrated prudence in the management of our affairs and finances.
IV. NBA Secretariat Reforms. The work attitude at the NBA Secretariat has changed drastically and for the better consequent upon the purposeful leadership by your National Officers. We are now working to retool and completely reform the NBA Secretariat workforce in order to achieve efficiency and instill discipline. The Finance Function Diagnostic Report, which would be presented shortly to NEC members by PwC, represents one of the significant initiatives that we have undertaken in our mission to institute corporate governance and efficiency in the running of the NBA at the National Secretariat. We must also state that the August arrears of salaries which our administration inherited has been cleared and we are now working to ensure that salaries are paid timeously each month and do not get stray into the succeeding months. That has also boosted the confidence of the Secretariat workforce and gives the National Officers the boost and leverage to demand more of them.
V. Osun State Election Monitoring Report. We are told that the publication of our Osun State Election Monitoring Report was the first of such publication by the NBA. That was a report that was totally fearless and unbiased in its reporting. Our report factually identified the major actor(s) against the free, fair and credible elections in that round of gubernatorial polls and, in the process, signposted for everyone, the pitfalls that must be closely watched and avoided if we seriously intend to have a free, fair and credible
National Elections in 2019 and not subvert the will of our people. Our said report earned for the NBA tremendous international and local accolades. Sequel to the publication of that report, we have had meetings and consultations with various international organizations and foreign countries on the possibilities of collaboration in the monitoring of the 2019 National Elections. These organizations and countries include the Special Representative of the United Nation's Secretary General, the European Union delegation, ECOWAS delegation and a number of other such high-profile embassies, delegations and agencies. We would continue to work with these embassies, organizations and bodies in enhancing the credibility of the NBA not only in election monitoring but in other possible areas of collaboration.
VI. Proactive and pervasive communication and responsiveness to members' complaints. We consciously work at constant and pervasive communication with our members. We take it as our credo to always connect with our members countrywide. I have opened direct channels of communication with all the Chairmen of the different branches of our Association and I have indeed spoken with each of them directly and personally. More often than not, once we receive complaints from our members or branches, we call the member or branch directly to discuss their issues and/or complaints and assist in resolving them. Such direct and immediate interface, we have found, to be most useful in building trust and confidence with our members and also in resolving the challenges and issues that they face.
VII. Greatly Improved Turnaround Time in Delivery of Stamps. These days, stamps are delivered to our members within a fortnight of our receiving the orders at the National Secretariat from the branches. Recall that one of the hottest topics during the last NBA Election Campaigns was the inordinate delays in the delivery of stamps to our members
after orders were placed. That, indeed, was a pervasive problem and issue and we have now resolved that issueas some Branch Chairmen would readily testify. We have, of course, not achieved our optimum; this is still a work-in-progress and we do hope to shorten further the delivery time as we move into 2019.
Significant 2019 Assignments
As we move into 2019, we would deepen even more, our afore-highlighted Q1 achievements such as the consistent and continuous preparation of our financial statements, prudence in our financial management, the restructuring and reform of our National Secretariat, deepening the confidence of our members in the Association, improvement in stamps' delivery time, etc. Beyond these, we would also focus on the following key areas, amongst others:
I. Alternative Sources of Funding. If our Association must survive and thrive, we must urgently focus on finding additional and alternative sources of revenue for it. Currently, we survive mostly on a mono-source income, to wit, practice fees that are paid by our members. As I would shortly present, the funds from the payment of practice fees can hardly sustain the Association, especially, given the heavy debt overhang under which we labor. We are looking at additional streams of income that we can and will explore and exploit for the Association and would keep NEC duly updated and informed thereon.
II. Constitutional and Electoral Reforms. We believe that the sustenance of our current reform initiatives depends upon their being embedded in our Constitution. For example, if indeed we are appreciative of the current openness and transparency in the publication of the NBA's quarterly financial statements and wish to sustain the initiative beyond this administrative, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that that practice is enshrined in and mandated by our constitution. This is illustrative of the reforms which we need to carry out inthe review and amendment of our Constitution. As an accompaniment to such
required constitutional reform, we recall that, in the wake of the last NBA elections, there was a clamor for electoral reforms. Those reforms would need to be coupled with the constitutional reforms and we believe that these reviews and reforms must necessarily be concludedand finally adopted by members at the next Annual General Meeting which would hold during our Annual General Conference in August 2019 – well ahead of the NBA elections in 2020.
III. Clean Data Capture and Institutional Memory at the NBA Secretariat. We consider it a crying shame that, even as I write, the NBA cannot boast of a clean,comprehensive and publishedmembership data, not just for election purposes but for use in all circumstances including for the verification of our members. Such a clean and publishable data capture does not have to be aimed at the NBA election; indeed, for it to be credible, it must be delinked from our elections and constituted as an independent project capable of multi-use and functions. The benefits of such an enterprise cannot be over-emphasized and we do aim to work at it and achieve such a credible and published data capture before the Annual General Conference in August/September 2019.
IV. National Elections, Rule of Law. As we approach the National Elections in 2019, vigilance must be our watchword. There are already ominous signs of storms in our horizon and it behooves us as lawyers and the conscience of society to be vigilant, vocal and remain on the vanguard of fighting for free, fair and credible elections where the will of our people will not be subverted. The votes of our people must count, and their will must not be sabotaged or subverted howsoever, and this applies to all the levels of polls – Presidential, Gubernatorial, National and State Houses of Assemblies. In that wise, we intend to be very active in the coming months in our election monitoring activities. We would couple this with our consistent fight for the promotion and preservation of the rule
of law. Several actions of governments and its agencies continue to threaten and undermine the rule of law in our country and these we must continually resist and fight against. We know that we have your mandate to continue that struggle and we therefore commit not to relent in the coming months or at all.
V. Website Revamp and Young Lawyers Activities. Our members, from the feedback that we receive, are not happy with the state of our website. We indeed plan to completely revamp it early in 2019and, amongst others, make it interactive amongst our members. There are several features that we plan to introduce in the course of revamping the website and we are currently engaged in discussions with consultants thereon. Talking about website revamp brings to mind our commitment to devote special focus to and on our young lawyers – the future of our profession. Demographics clearly show that this is a major segment of our profession to whom we must pay and devote particular and special attention. Sadly, we could not do very much in that direction during Q1 because of our economic circumstances. We do plan to remedy this and to register considerable improvement in that area in the succeeding quarters of 2018/2019 and beyond.
We cannot and do not intend to roll out all our blueprint for the succeeding months in this Welcome Address. The issues that we raise in this Address are merely illustrative of the areas we would focus on in the succeeding quarters of 2018/2019 and beyond and we would keep you, our dear NEC members, constantly informed and updated on the progress thereon.
It remains for me to thank all our members for the enormous goodwill and support that we enjoy. We, the National Officers, are nothing without you. We must however remain steadfast and focused in warding off evil attacks on our profession and the rule of law. We must remain unitedand resolute in
that fight knowing and understanding that a mischievous and mala fide attack on one of us is an attack on all of us and that is what the EFCC attack on me clearly exemplifies.
As the President, I must also thank all my National Officers for the faith and trust they have in me and, more importantly, the support they have given and continue to give me. The successes we have achieved are joint successes and I merely lead from the front with your support and cooperation. I thank you all for the belief, hope and trust you repose in me and I assure you and indeed our members that I shall neither betray nor disappoint.
Once again, I thank you all, my dear NEC Members for the privilege of serving you as the NBA President. Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Long live the Nigerian Bar Association.
Paul Usoro, SAN President

Lawyers Criticize Move By EFCC To Prosecute Paul Usoro SAN Over Professional Fee

Recently the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro SAN has been the target of an EFCC prosecution on the monies received by his firm as professional fee from the Akwa - Ibom State Government. 

The Honourable President responded to the EFCC in a letter below dated 5th June, 2018 providing details on the matters being handled by his firm on behalf of the State Government. 

Furthermore, lawyers have reacted to the perceived persecution of the NBA President and view same as an attack on the legal profession with no legal or moral basis whatsoever. Find some comments by lawyers below - 

"The harassment of Lawyers by the EFCC is becoming alarming. I recall it happened to Chief Mike Ozekome, the NBA kept quiet and they became emboldened. The court ruled against the EFCC. Today it's Paul, tomorrow it will be other lawyers. It's an intrusion into the independence of the legal profession which is a core value of our noble profession. Lawyers must come together and challenge this abuse.
- Emmanuel Henry -Eshiet, Esq."

"Because they don't want him to be president of the bar. Interests aligned together and attackers gathered together. An enemy to my enemy is my friend. That's what is in the play here. Also Usoro defeated the EFCC twice. 1, with saraki when they couldn't achieve their aim, 2, with becoming the president and also refusing to play their tune as regards the politics happening in akwaibom. Efcc freezing state account, but we all know where it will end. So attacking Usoro is the best game for them...

Just like they think the AGF too is guilty of something's as regards the maina shit, they will just dig up unnecessary facts and use it to embarrass their target. They did it to Mike Ozekhome SAN, he isn't talking again today. 

Mr. President, no shaking, we are with you on this one. The worst is that he would be docked and he would be let out on self recognizance after which the battle starts.... (What's gonna be the gain of EFCC) second over 700 lawyers including well respected silks are ready for this.... And on the long run the issues for determination would affect the BAR... Let's see where it ends... So if I charge a client 5 billion and he's paying and still oweing for numerous cases oooo, I should be docked abi.....? 
Shameless people. Let them come. 
All the wailers game plans even at NEC is already in the open.... Let's see how it goes today? Your point of order plan etc... Let's see how it goes.... *No Shaking, We STAND WITH PAUL USORO*" 

Presently, over 700 lawyers have stated their interest in representing the NBA President against the allegations of the EFCC and many more have become agitated over the perceived political manipulations being spear headed by the EFCC. 


Dec 2, 2018

Statement by NBA President On The Pervasive Insecurity In The Land

Pervasive Insecurity In The Land 

The Nigerian Bar Association ("NBA") is currently in deep mourning.Within the last fortnight, we have lost 3 (three) of our members in very tragic circumstances that speak to and underscore the palpable and pervasive state of insecurity in our country.  On Friday, 31 November 2018, the decomposed body of our Ikole-Ekiti Branch Secretary, Adeola Adebayo, was recovered from a forest having been brutally murdered by his abductors.  Recall that Adeola was kidnapped on Saturday, 17 November 2018 and a N3,000,000.00 ransom paid on Thursday, 22 November 2018 for his release – see the NBA Statement of 24 November 2018. Possibly, he was killed by the criminals even before the ransom was paid.  How cruel!

In the evening of Thursday, 29 November 2018,while we were still on bended knees for the release of Adeola, AdeshinaOkeya, a new wig, wasfatally attacked by a vigilante group in the outskirts of Abujaleading to his death the following day, Friday, 30 November 2019.  Adeshina's death is particularly tragic given the fact that the brutal attack that led to his death occurred on the same day he was called to Bar,i.e.Thursday, 30 November 2018.  He didn't even have the opportunity of registering with any NBA Branch post-Call, let alone of showcasing his wig and gown before Their Lordships and/or Their Honours.  Earlier, on Friday, 23 November 2018, the lifeless body ofRemigusOgu (Jnr), a serving Magistrate in Imo State, was found in the centre of a road in Amucha Community in Njaba Local Government Area of Imo State where it was dumped by his killers.  Remmy (Jnr) was kidnapped the previous day, Thursday, 22 November 2018 and his killers, after dumping his body on the highway, made away with his official car, mobile phones and other personal effects.

As we write, no arrest has been made in regard to the kidnaps and murders of AdeolaRemmy (Jnr)andAdeshina.Adeola and Remmy (Jnr) were young fathers whose children have now been made fatherless and their young wives turned into widows. The fathers of our three fallen colleagues are all lawyers.  Dr. Williams Adebayo, Adeola's father, is a law lecturer at Ekiti State University while Ademola Okeyaserved as a past Chairman of Ikole-Ekiti Branch – the same Branch that Adeola served as Secretary up to his untimely and cruel death.  Chief Remigus Ugo (Snr), the father of Remmy (Jnr) is the doyen of the Orlu Bar having been called to the Nigerian Bar in 1976.  I have been in constant communication with all three fathers and I truly feel for and empathize with them.  Our hearts go out to the parents and indeed the families of our three fallen colleagues, both extended and nuclear.  May the Almighty comfort them and wipe their tears and may our fallen colleagues find rest.

Meanwhile, these incidents bring to the fore the terrifyingstate of insecurity in our land.  Adeshina would, perhaps, still have been with us if the state of insecurity in the country was not so gravesuch that communities have resorted to self-help in the form of vigilante groups.  Community policing in other climes refers to the collaborative efforts of communities with the police to secure lives and property.  In Nigeria, our vigilante groups effectively stand in for the police and assign to themselves the role of intercepting and confronting violent criminals.  And to carry out these functions, they are armed by the communities that they protect with dangerous weapons including arms and ammunition thereby turning them into a parallel police system. The price we pay is exemplified by the very unfortunate death of Adeshola.

The murder of Remmy (Jnr) is even more distressing and alarming.  In civilized climes – and we number Nigeria as one – criminals are loath to attack or kill judicial officers and law enforcement officers because of the instant repercussions that follow.  The long arms of the law speedily isolate, identifies, catches and brings to justice those criminals who dare or engage in such taboos and this isto accentuate the cornerstone roles of these officials in maintaining law and order in the society.  Their safety and lives must therefore remain no-go areas and off-limits for criminals; the institutions to which they belong must also not be threatened howsoever by criminals. Criminals indeed feel emboldened when they can get away with attacking and diminishing the institutions of justice and law enforcement, illustratively, by killing the officers of the institutions and/or directly attacking the institutions.  Sadly, this taboo is broken, and this affront has been achieved specifically in Imo State in the last six months.  We say this because the murder of Remmy (Jnr) is not an isolation in the demystification and degradation of the justice institution by criminals.

In June 2018, criminals invaded the Orlu High Court complex, carted away the Bar Centre generator and battery, broke into the exhibit room of Magistrate Court 1 located in the complex and made away with some exhibits.  About two months thereafter, precisely in August, the criminals again visited the same court complex, gathered and made away with the remaining exhibits and then set fire to the complex destroying the Exhibit room, the Archive and chambers of the Chief Magistrate and indeed, a section of the complex.  If we argue that these happened at night, in the pitch of darkness – which would be an extremely lame excuse– what does one say about the daylight armed robbery attack on litigants and court officialsat about 12.30pm in November 2018 right inside the same Orlu High Court complex?  And, in the same month, November 2018, our colleague, Remmy (Jnr), a serving judicial officer, was brutally murdered and his body indecorously displayed on the highway by criminals.  What more gruesomeness do we need to see to know that we are all under siege by criminals and that our law enforcement agencies appear to be overwhelmed by the superior firepower, skills and methods of these criminals?

It is instructive that the three incidents that we write about in this Statement occurred in the three geographical regions of Nigeria – the East, West and North – clearly making the point that no part of the country is immune from the current nemesis of insecurity.  These murders of our colleagues also epitomize the all-round insecurity of lives and property and incessant killings of innocent citizens by criminalsin the country.We have said it time and again: governments at all levels in the country need to and must wake up to their primary responsibility of protecting lives and property.  It is scary that criminals can so freely terrorize and murder innocent citizens, including judicial officers, and ransackour court premises, without let or hindrance, at night, under cover of darknessand even in broad daylight, during daytime.  Are our judicial institutions not meant to be heavily and fully fortified and made safe for all stakeholders?What happened to the security infrastructure that should envelop and protect our judicial officers, including magistrates? These issues should be of serious concern to our law enforcement agencies.  

We urge our governments and the law enforcement agencies to immediately institute required remediation steps that wouldprotect the lives and property of our citizenry and in the process regain public trust and confidence in our governments. Perhaps, we need to overhaul the law enforcement agencies in totality, retool them and retrain the personnelin a manner that would make them overawe the criminals and strike fear into their hearts.  The fear and dread of law enforcement agents, as a deterrent for criminal conduct, particularly violent crimes, appears to be non-existent.  That unfortunate perception must be quickly reversed by governments.  Right now, it would appear that the criminals are not at all afraid of law enforcement agents.  Beyond these remediation steps, we call on the law enforcement agencies to fish out urgently the murderers of our colleagues, Adeola, Adeshina and Remmy (Jnr) as a first and immediate step towardsrestoring the confidence of the Nigerian people.

Paul Usoro, SAN