Mar 12, 2019

Social Media Report Of NBA's Query To Aliyu Umar SAN | Paul Usoro SAN

1. My attention has just been drawn to social media reports of this morning on the purported query issued by the NBA to Aliyu Umar, SAN over his prosecution of the Charge against Honorable Mr. Justice Walter S N Onnoghen, the Chief Justice of Nigeria before the Code of Conduct Tribunal. I know nothing of that query, and I did not authorize it. I learnt of it for the first time from the social media reports this morning and promptly called Jonathan Taidi, the NBA General Secretary for confirmation. Jonathan, I must mention, lost his mother only yesterday and is currently in bereavement. I had passed on to him yesterday my personal condolences and the sympathies and regrets of the Bar. Our prayers are with Jonathan and his extended family and for Mama’s repose.

2. Jonathan confirmed to me during our telcon this morning that indeed he had forwarded to Mr. Umar a petition from one of our members and that Mr. Umar has already responded to the petition. He claims to have mentioned the fact of the petition to me when he received it but I have no such recollection but more importantly, as he, Jonathan acknowledged during our conversation, I have consistently insisted that he should inform me of matters by e-mail so there is a record of the issues he discussed with me and which I approved. He acknowledges that he did not send to me any such e-mail forwarding me the petition and/or his query to Aliyu Umar and/or his response. Indeed, as I write, I have seen none of those documents and I never authorized the query to Mr. Umar.

3. To be fair to Jonathan, he tells me that he acted in the ordinary course of his office and duties as the General Secretary and believed he should pass on the petition to Mr. Umar for his reaction, so he, Jonathan, is not accused of inaction or selective disciplinary actions. If I had known about this matter prior to now, I would have directed that it be handled differently and in a manner that would hold together and solidify our oneness as a united and indivisible Bar. I have directed the General Secretary to cease all further actions on the matter and to avail me with all the documents thereon as soon as possible for my study and further directives. I therefore request you, my beloved and respected colleagues, to remain calm and not be agitated howsoever by the referenced social media reports. I would reach out both to Mr. Umar and the member that petitioned against him.

4. I must however state that this unfortunate incident does not howsoever obviate, cancel, diminish or alter howsoever the NBA position of the Bar on the trial of Honorable Mr. Justice Walter S N Onnoghen, GCON, before the Code of Conduct Tribunal and matters ancillary thereto. The Resolutions that were reached by the NBA at our Emergency NEC Meeting that was held on 28 January 2019 remain sacrosanct and is the guiding light for all the positions and steps that we have taken and will continue to take in these matters. 

Long live the Nigerian Bar Association. 
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Paul Usoro, SAN
10th March, 2019