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May 30, 2020

CHARLES AJIBOYE,ESQ., FICMC IS A RESOURCEFUL INDIVIDUAL AND A BLESSING TO THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION – Chairman, Young Lawyers Forum, Ezekiel Bodunde,Esq.



I was excited to hear that my predecessor in office, Charles Ajiboye has picked and submitted his nomination forms and would be vying for the position of the Assistant Publicity Secretary in the NBA Elections 2020.

I have known him for over 10 years and I make bold to say that he is indeed a transformational servant leader and a tremendous blessing to the Nigerian Bar Association.

I served with him as Assistant Secretary of the NBA-YLF Ikeja Branch while he was the Chairman. His administration was a great success as he recorded a lot of milestones.

The NBA-YLF Ikeja Branch received more visibility and relevance during his tenure. He is a team player, a goal getter, a very hardworking and selfless person. 

Charles Ajiboye is an Executive Partner at The Penthouse Law and presently the Publicity Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja.

Charles has an uncommon way of solving problems and I can guarantee that his contribution as an executive of the Bar would be felt by all and sundry.

Undoubtedly, Charles Ajiboye is a mentor to a lot of lawyers within and outside his jurisdiction. He is a multiple award winning trailblazer as he commenced offering Digital Legal Services and has been able to carve a niche for his firm in the Automotive Industry amongst others, with several awards to his credit.

As part of his selfless services to humanity, he encourages and supports young people to thrive in their businesses. He replicated same within the legal industry by regularly giving tips and advice to lawyers on how to succeed and see law as a business. So many successful law firms in Nigeria can trace their foundation to him.

I encourage every lawyer who wants to get inspired to succeed to watch his YouTube videos (https://tinyurl.com/Charles-YouTube ) and participate in the Law as A Business Group (https://chat.whatsapp.com/Eu1WRliM8Ll8WVXOPEJYg9).

I am happy that he is offering to serve. He is the epitome of all the good a Lawyer should be and he stands tall as the model every Young lawyer should aspire for.

Charles Ajiboye,FICMC has my highest recommendation for his pursuit at the Nigerian Bar Association and I pray that by the special grace of God, he shall be elected as the National Assistant Publicity Secretary so that we all can understand why I speak this way.

Ezekiel Bodunde,Esq.
Chairman of the NBA-YLF Ikeja Branch
.

Join Charles Ajiboye Friends group via this link -

https://chat.whatsapp.com/FnPjyi5moNh7llVrw1rp65

May 29, 2020

NBA Election Must Never Be Taken As A Do or Die Affair - Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN


*Q*: *The NBA will elect a new set of officers in July this year to pilot its affairs for the next two years. It is the turn of the Southwest, and consequently, Egbe Amofin under your new leadership has met to adopt Mr. Dele Adesina (SAN) as its Presidential candidate. The process leading to his adoption has been criticised by some, while your pledge to donate the seed money for the construction of the permanent headquarters of Egbe Amofin at Ibadan has been described by someone as a Greek gift. What are your reactions to these?*
Answer:
In the course of this interview, you instigated me to mention some things that we have done in the past few years by God's grace, I have reminded you of two lawyers who came to appreciate me in Ilorin for benefitting from the cars procured by their leaders through my assistance nine years ago, is this a Greek gift? The Wole Olanipekun Scholarship Scheme has been on since 1996, is it a Greek gift? I have just read on the internet that the little fund I gave to the Ilorin Branch of the NBA on 19th March, 2020 has again been used to buy two cars for two young lawyers, whose photographs with the vehicle are now trending on the internet.

I don't know any of the two lawyers. Is that also a Greek gift? For the past 15 years or so, I have steadily rendered quality assistance to the Lagos Branch of the NBA and successive Chairmen of the branch can attest to this. Perhaps, the sponsored write will also be described as a Greek gift.

My track record is in the public domain. I don't want to join issues with anybody, but I know where that sponsored piece came from, a lecturer in the Nigerian Law School, who does not hail from any of the states in the South-West.

As a lecturer, one would have expected him to do a proper research before jumping to the fray. As for the criticism of Egbe, in respect of the adoption of Dele Adesina (SAN), this has been unfair and most uncharitable.

*Q. Why do you say this?*

*Ans:" At no time in the history of Egbe Amofin has the election of a consensus flagbearer been as democratic and painstaking as this one. This has been the only time that all the Branch Chairmen of all NBA Branches in the South West, all of them, without any exception were constituted into a committee to interface with, interview and pick a consensus candidate for the Egbe.

Between August, 2019 and February, 2020, four meetings were held by the Egbe, one in Lagos on 27/8/19, and three at Ibadan on 26/10/19, 9/11/19/ and 22/2/20. At the Lagos meeting, the unanimous resolution was that on no account would the Egbe sponsor two candidates, because of our experience of 2014.

At the Ibadan meeting of 26/10/19, Muyiwa Akinboro, SAN, Dele Adesina, SAN, Tunde Ajibade, SAN, and Awoniyi Alabi, all signified their intentions to contest the NBA presidency under the banner of the Egbe, with each of them solemnly pledging in the presence of all attendees numbering about 500 that he would abide by the decision of the Egbe. Muyiwa Akinboro is a former Chairman of the Abuja Branch and former National Secretary of the NBA. Dele Adesina is a former Chairman of Ikeja Branch and former National Secretary of the NBA.

Awoniyi is a former Chairman of Osogbo Branch and former Legal Adviser of the NBA. Both Akinboro and Adesina are life members of the NBA NEC. The meeting of 26/10/19 unanimously nominated Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN to co-ordinate the meetings and deliberations of the committee set up by the Egbe for the selection of a sole candidate.

In turn, each of the candidates stood up to express his satisfaction with the composition of the committee and the choice of Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN as the coordinator. The committee submitted its report at the meeting of 9/11/19, showing that over 80 percent of the Branches/Branch Chairmen endorsed the nomination of Dele Adesina, SAN, as the sole candidate.

The meeting of 9/11/19 would have been held a week earlier, but for the passionate plea of Tunde Ajibade, SAN who said that that date would not be convenient for him and we shifted the date of the meeting to 9/11/19, because of him. He did not attend the meeting of 9/11/19, but the report of the selection committee was ratified and adopted.

It was then decided that all the Branch Chairmen and the leaders should sign the adoption document for record purposes, and all the Chairmen signed, apart from the Chairman of Lagos who is neither supporting Dele Adesina nor Tunde Ajibade.

The elders, including Chief M.A Ajomole, former Chairman of the Body of Benchers, who will be 90 years later this year, Chief Mrs. Priscilla Kuye, former President of the NBA, Chief Emmanuel Abiodun, former Chairman of Ibadan Branch, Chief Gboyega Awomolo, SAN, former Chairman of the Committee of Chairmen and Secretaries of the NBA, Chief Felix Fagbohungbe, SAN, Chief Niyi Akintola, SAN and myself signed. It was also the decision of the meeting that all the other fora in the country be informed of the choice of Dele Adesina, SAN as the consensus candidate of the Egbe.

*Q*: *What is the grouse of those criticising the adoption process?*

*Ans*: I cannot honestly diagnose their grouse. I was one of the leading lawyers of the South-West who founded the Egbe in 1999 – the others were late Chief Debo Akande, SAN, late Chief Idowu Shofola, SAN, late Chief Dele Aiku, SAN, late Chief Adigun Ogunseyitan, and Chief Gboyega Awomolo, SAN. The Egbe adopted me as its candidate in 2002 and Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, in 2008.

I can say with all sense of responsibility that the process put in place leading to the adoption of Dele Adesina, SAN has been more elaborate, democratic and painstaking. I understand that my beloved brother, Tunde Ajibade, SAN complained that the criteria used by the committee were not known to him, but I can recollect that at the meeting of 9/11/19, the committee was mandated to formulate its own criteria, taking cognisance of the criteria which had always been used by the Egbe, including experience, acceptability, national reach, positions earlier held within the NBA, etc.

Any candidate who had further ideas on the criteria to be adopted by the committee was advised to pass same to the committee.  With respect to my beloved colleague and younger brother, Tunde Ajibade, SAN, his criticism of the Egbe is very hypocritical and also amounts to double talk.

The fact still remains that he wants to contest the presidency of the NBA simply because it is now the turn of the Southwest to produce the next President, based on a zoning arrangement initiated by the leaders of the Southwest and Southeast in 2000.
Or why did he not show interest in 2018 when it was the turn of the Southeast? Can he or any other person then be taking advantage of the turn of the Southwest and at the same time be pointing accusing fingers at the Egbe under which auspices he wants to contest? Now, was he taken into confidence before the President of the NBA, Mr. Paul Usoro constituted the membership of the Electoral Committee of the NBA (ECNBA) under the chairmanship of Mr. Tawo Tawo (SAN)? Did the ECNBA seek his consent before the choice of the ICT firm that will conduct the election? Did the NBA President discuss with him, or seek his consent before setting up the e- voting portal? Yet he wants to contest the election.

My appeal to him is that NBA elections must never be taken as a do-or-die affair as it happens out there in all the political parties in Nigeria. For example, I voluntarily stepped down for OCJ Okocha (SAN) in the year 2000, and I became the President of the NBA at God's appointed time in 2002.

Some people are of the view that the Regional Fora are no longer relevant in the Bar because of the universal voting dispensation now at the Bar, what is your view on this?

Those who are peddling this suggestion should be reminded that it is a dangerous one which can be likened to a bizarre suggestion that the states and the six zones in Nigeria should be abolished. The different fora, through their branches gave birth to the NBA at the National level, and not the other way round.

On no account should any forum or the NBA generally disregard the decision of another forum, especially with regards to the choice of candidates particularly under a situation where all the Branch Chairmen in the South West, have signed and sealed the resolution that this is the choice of the South West.

It is the Southwest today, next time it will go to Arewa in the North and before you know it, it will be the turn of the South East; etc.

Excerpt from the interview granted by Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN and published by the Nation Newspapers on the 26 May, 2020.

Webinar on Digital Innovation in Financial Services


Years ago, a man(company) with deep foresight developed a software that has revolutionized payments in Nigeria. It's called the REMITA. He developed it long before the Federal Government Treasury Single Account was enforced.

FINTECH is no longer an illusion, it is the new order. And the disruptions it is causing is massive.

There are huge opportunities in it for lawyers in the new normal. Join me at The Penthouse Law Interactive Session, where the Visionary CEO of the Billionaire SystemSpecs, John Tani Obaro will be sharing on the topic: *Digital Innovation In Financial Services: Opportunities for lawyers.*

Register here now IF you have never attended any of our sessions http://tinyurl.com/The-Penthouse-Sessions

Date is Tuesday, 2nd June 2020 on Zoom. It is wisdom for lawyers to begin to expand their horizons and carve a niche for themselves in emerging areas.

Please watch our previous sessions here http://tinyurl.com/Charles-Ajiboyes-Videos

My name is *Charles Ajiboye* and I just want us to succeed together.

May 28, 2020

Penalty for Killing, Lions, Elephants and Vultures in Nigeria - #ObscureLegalFacts


KILLING OF LIONS, ELEPHANTS AND VULTURES IN DEFENCE OF HUMAN LIFE ETC

#OBSCURELEGALFACTS BY AROME ABU

In Nigeria, except for defence of human life or public interest, it is an offence to kill a Lion, Leopard, Cheetah, Royal Python, Whale, Elephant, Vulture etc

PENALTY
N1,000,000 to 5,000,000 fine.

Section 5 of the Endangered Species Act 2016.

Arome Abu is the Principal Partner of TCLP.

CAVEAT: Note that this information is provided for general enlightenment purposes and is not intended to be any form of legal advice.

Obscure Legal Facts is an exclusive daily publication of THE COUNSEL L-P.
Plot 108 Idris Gidado
Way, Wuye, Abuja.
abuarome@gmail.com
+234 803 262 2359
+234 708 1156 539.
Twitter: @TheCounselLP

Photo Credit - all Frica.com 

#ObscureLegalFacts - Organ Harvesting in Nigeria | Arome Abu


In Nigeria, it is an offence to pay a person to obtain their consent in order to remove their organ.

Iran allows commercial organ harvesting. While China is thought to rely on executed prisoners to provide the bulk of its transplanted organs.

PENALTY
Imprisonment of not less than 7 years or fine of not less than N5,000,000.00

Section 20(b) of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Enforcement and Administration Act 2015.

Arome Abu is the Principal Partner of TCLP.

CAVEAT: Note that this information is provided for general enlightenment purposes and is not intended to be any form of legal advice.

Obscure Legal Facts is an exclusive daily publication of THE COUNSEL L-P.
Plot 108 Idris Gidado
Way, Wuye, Abuja.
abuarome@gmail.com
+234 803 262 2359
+234 708 1156 539.
Twitter: @TheCounselLP

Photo Credit- Health Europa 

I Am Proud of NBA Ikere- Ekiti Branch’s Historical Achievement | Caroline Ibharuneafe

 

On behalf of my colleagues and I at Carol Ibharuneafe and Co, I congratulate the Chairman, Exco and Members of NBA Ikere- Ekiti Branch in Ekiti State for a successful Branch election and the historical achievement of the emergence of yet another female Chair and Secretary of the Branch.
 
History was made when Kike Owolabi and Ibironke Odetola won the branch election and emerged as the Chair and the Secretary respectively. Ifedapo Osadola also emerged as the branch treasurer. The confidence in these women by the Members of NBA Ikere - Ekiti Branch cannot be mentioned without the immense success of the Oludayo Olorunfemi , Esq led Exco.
 
It is amazing what our female members in the NBA are achieving through the positions they are holding and others such as the Executives of the NBA Women's Forum serve as another example. I celebrate with and congratulate all female lawyers for this amazing feat.
 
Caroline Ibharuneafe
Past Vice – Chairman, NBA Ikeja
#integrity + accuracy

 

#ObscureLegalFacts: Penalty For Forceful Eviction From Home by Husbands and Wives


‪In Nigeria, it is an offence for a man to forcefully evict his wife from the home, or refuse her access into it.‬

It is also an offence for a wife to forcefully evict her husband or deny him access into the home.

PENALTY
-Fine-N300,000
-Imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or both

It is also an offence to incite or aid a person to forcefully eject his/her spouse.

In Africa, owing to the cultural misconception that it's the husband who owns the house, many women face forceful ejection when the marriage gets frosty.

NOTE: The VAPP Act applies only in the Federal Capital Territory.

See Section 9 of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act.

Arome Abu is the Principal Partner of TCLP.

CAVEAT: Note that this information is provided for general  enlightenment purposes and is not intended to be any form of legal advice.

Obscure Legal Facts is an exclusive daily publication of THE COUNSEL L-P.
Plot 108 Idris Gidado
Way, Wuye, Abuja.
abuarome@gmail.com
+234 803 262 2359
+234 708 1156 539.
Twitter: @TheCounseLP

Photo Credit - Abrahams & Gross 

When Employer’s ‘Advice’ to an Employee to Resign Amounts to Constructive Dismissal in Employment Law | By Michael Dugeri

                                                          

Sometimes, an employee that is deserving of summary dismissal is given a soft landing by being asked to resign instead. This may be for a variety of reasons, such as to save the employee the unfavourable consequences of a dismissal (as against voluntary resignation). What if such employee later sues the employer for ‘constructive dismissal’, and claims that he/she was hounded out of the job by being ‘asked’ to resign?                                                                          

May 27, 2020

Children carry the hopes of our brighter tomorrow | Caroline Ibharuneafe

 

 
As a parent, having children is one of the most significant things that can happen to you. You may not have some biologically but that does not rule out the fact that every child deserves to be adored and loved by all. Children's Day is a time to reflect on these precious gifts that God has given to mankind and to send wishes, messages, and prayers to them to show your love.
 
Also Children's Day reminds us of the need to nurture and care for these young ones as they are the true leaders of tomorrow. Children will carry on our legacy, therefore it is not only important we educate them, whether boy or girl but that we also groom them to be active members of our community and leaders in every sense of the word.
 
As guardians and parents, it is also important that we not only teach our children the right thing but we also show them the right way to act, as children often ignore what we say and imitate what we do. Children carry the hopes of our brighter tomorrow and the dreams of our happy future. Wishing children all over the world    a very enjoyable day.
 
 
Caroline Ibharuneafe
Past Vice Chairman, NBA Ikeja
#integrity + accuracy
 
 

The ‘Why’ Question Technique In Cross Examination | Izuchukwu Temilade Nwagbara


Many rules, principles and cues for effective cross examination have been formulated and adduced by many profound litigators and legal scholars.  In fact, books and articles written on the subject are by no means scarce. Alexander Tanford argues that cross examination is primarily a tool for proving one’s case by eliciting testimony from a witness. It is pertinent to note however that witnesses would not readily oblige Counsel the needed testimony, as such Counsel’s cross examination must be strategic to elicit such testimony.

May 24, 2020

ON WHY DELE ADESINA, SAN SHOULD BE THE NEXT NBA PRESIDENT: Femi Falana SAN




We must ask ourselves: 'What has this guy done in moments of challenge and crisis?'Adesina was the chairman of the Ikeja branch of the NBA in 1992 when we had the greatest challenge to the rule of law and democracy in our country. I remember the late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Beko Ransome-Kuti, Omojola and myself were arrested. Dele Adesina linked up with Mrs. Kuye who was then the Acting President of the NBA to give us a solid defence. … That is Dele Adesina for you, always rising up in the defence of the rights of our colleagues who were struggling towards the restoration of democracy in Nigeria. The same happened in the case of (former Kaduna State Governor) Balarabe Musa who was standing trial and they were trying to jail him at all cost. Aka- Bashorun was NBA President. He callled Dele Adesina, who was Ikeja branch chairman then. He asked him and others to go with him to the tribunal to defend Balarabe Musa…The tribunal chairman said 'Mr. President of the Bar, what can we do for you?' Aka Bashorun replied, 'My Lord, we are here to see how the rule of law operates.' That was what saved Balarabe Musa. When the NBA was taken over in 1992, they brought out Decree No. 21 of 1994 to the effect that anybody who challenges anything done or purported to be done under this Decree would be deemed to have committed an offence and sentenced to one year imprisonment and payment of N10,000 fine. I told my colleagues at a meeting of the Ikeja Branch, 'I am going to court.' At that meeting Dele Adesina said 'No, you won't go to court alone. All of us here must resolve to go to court together. So if they want to jail us, let them jail all of us.' Of course we went to court and we won the case up to the Court of Appeal.

 I can vouch for Dele Adesina, SAN, his consistency, his commitment to the defence of the rule of law …  I have no problems with the other candidates, but the question remains:  What have you done for the Bar?'What you call the modern way of organizing our conferences started under the Olanipekun-Adesina tenure. They created the sections you have today in the NBA, and also introduced the Stamp & Seal. We want to go back and realize our shattered dreams.  For me, it's not just about the person of Adesina. He is an encyclopedia of the Bar! He has the history of the Association at his fingertips and can reconnect with the past, and I mean the past of relevance, the past that defended the rule of law and democracy in our country. He will serve as a link between the old and the new Bar. 

Newswire Law Events & Magazine
May 24, 2020

May 23, 2020

How the Nigerian Judiciary Can Rediscover Itself - Some Practical Tips


The contents of this post were first published as a Twitter Thread on Saturday, 27th September 2019. I wish you a happy reading.

While witnessing the proceedings in the P&ID Ltd v Nigeria case on 26th Sept I promised to do a thread on how the Nigerian judiciary can save itself. I know I make too many promises and don’t keep all. I am happy that I am able to keep this.

The Dying Art of Identifying and Applying the Ratio Decidendi of a Case – Revisiting the Case of Edibo v. The State


Introduction

It is not often that a lawyer gets the opportunity to disagree with the views of a judge. Indeed by the nature of the legal profession which we inherited from the English, apart from the avenue of appeal against unfavourable decisions of judicial officers provided by the Constitution, all lawyers are required to respond to the views and decisions of judges by chorusing the customary, ‘as the court pleases'. But as they say, sometimes Christmas comes early. A report I read in Thisday Newspaper of Sunday 17th May 2020, has provided me a channel to express my dissent not just from the views of several judges but also from those of a very senior lawyer!

Hon. Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte was passionate about the development of our nation | Caroline Ibharuneafe 


The news on the passing of Hon. Justice Adolphus Karibi-Whyte, a retired Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, is very sad. My Lord , who passed on at the age of 80 was not only a Professor of Law but was the Legal Draftsman in the Rivers State Ministry of Justice in 1973 and later the Solicitor-General.
 
Justice Karibi – Whyte in 1976 was also a Judge of the Federal Revenue Court before he was elevated to the Court of Appeal in 1980 and the Supreme Court in 1984. My Lord was not only passionate about the development of our nation but also spent a life time in service to the Nigerian people. He was appointed Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal on November 7, 1993; chaired the Nigerian Constitutional Conference 1994-1995 and later the Counterfeit Currency Tribunal.
 
He was also Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS); and was honoured with a national title of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 2008. My Lord will always be remembered for his legacy and service to humanity. I pray God grants his family the fortitude to bear the loss and I commiserate with the good people of Rivers State on the loss of their illustrious son.
 
Caroline Ibharuneafe, Mrs
Past Vice – Chairman, NBA Ikeja
# integrity + accuracy
 
 

Caroline Ibharuneafe commiserates with the NBA over the demise of Chief M.A. Ajomale 

 
On behalf of my colleagues and I at Caroline Ibharuneafe and Co., I hereby commiserate and express my condolences over the recent passing of Chief M.A. Ajomale who died on the 20th of May, 2020.
 
Before his sad passing, Chief Ajomale was a Life Bencher and former Chairman of the Body of Benchers. He would always be remembered as a fine gentleman who was passionate about the legal profession.
 
Most certainly his demise is a huge loss to the legal profession and I hope his legacies continue to live on in all our hearts. I pray God comforts his family members and grant his soul eternal rest.
 
Caroline Ibharuneafe,Esq
Past Vice – Chairman, NBA Ikeja
#integrity + accuracy
 

Caroline Ibharuneafe felicitates with all Muslim friends and Colleagues


Congratulations to all Muslim colleagues and friends on completion of the fasting and prayers in this Holy month of Ramadan. As the month comes to an end, may your supplications translate into peace, love and unity for your family and may it bring unlimited joy and happiness to your loved ones.

Also as you prepare to celebrate the Eid -el – Fitri , it is my wish that your life is filled with celebrations and good tidings always.


Caroline Ibharuneafe,Esq
Past Vice – Chairman, NBA Ikeja
# integrity + accuracy

May 22, 2020

Grounds For Divorce In Nigeria: A Legal Digest


 

Marriage is a formal contract between two consenting parties (man and woman). Generally, every contract is subject to termination or determination. Thus marriage as a contract is no exception. This article explores the legal way by which a marriage can be dissolved. There are three types of Marriage in Nigeria i.e. Islamic Marriage, Customary Marriage and Statutory Marriage. It is pertinent to state that the kind of marriage contracted determines the form of divorce. This article focuses on divorce under statutory marriage. It presents the reader, with other available options when divorce is not practicable.

May 20, 2020

A Simplistic View On Virtual Court Proceedings And The Requirement Of ‘Public’ Hearing | Babayemi Olaniyan Esq


It is a settled principle of law and life that the law cannot envisage every circumstance.

BACKGROUND

Over the years and even before colonization, disputing parties had always resolved their disputes by referring same to a third party adjudicator or mediator as the case may be. The traditional heads of the various villages or Tribes gave verdicts on issues and the parties were bound to follow them. This system had an hierarchical path, rising through varying levels.[1]

The Sexual Consent Form: All You Need To Know | Legalnaija



The history of rape and sexual assault dates as far back as the creation of man. Originally, rape was thought to be, and defined as, a crime committed solely against women but rape of males is now commonly criminalized and has been subject to more discussion than in the past. Anti-rape activists have initiated movements seeking to combat violence against and the abuse of women to give women a sense of security. Unfortunately, what has now become common is some women, driven by revenge and self-interest or based on false memories, make spurious allegations of rape. It is no surprise that people in today’s world would rather sign a consent form before engaging in sexual activity than not, in an attempt to protect themselves from groundless accusations that could ruin their reputations.

Justice Musa Nabaruma's death is a huge loss | Dele Adesina SAN


The death of Hon. Justice Musa Nabaruma, the Chief Judge of Yobe State is a huge loss to Yobe State Judiciary, the Legal Community in Yobe State, the Government and people of Yo be State and the Nation's Legal community in general. His Lordship died at the National Hospital FCT Abuja on Monday the 18th of May 2020 after a protracted illness.

Appointed in 2011, Hon. Justice Musa Nabaruma served  as the Chief Judge of Yobe State for about nine years without any stain or blemish to him as a person or to him as a Judicial officer. Justice Nabaruma was a quintessential Judge, an erudite Judicial officer and a personification of Judicial independence. Independent mindedness, judicial bravery, incorruptibility and deep knowledge of the Law are clear marks of his Lordship' s  judgements.

The Legal and Political Community will not forget in a hurry his Lordship's judgements of the Ondo and Anambra gubernatorial election petition tribunals both of which nullified the Respondents declared victories at the pool. Both judgements were confirmed by the Court of Appeal.  These and many more were the legacies of the legal and judicial giant of the Yobe State Judiciary during his life time.

My Colleagues and I at Dele Adesina LP commiserate with the Yobe State Judiciary, members of the Bar and Bench in Yobe State, His Excellency, the Governor of Yobe State and the good people of Yobe State on the loss of their illustrous son.

I pray God blesses his soul and may he rest in perfect peace.


Dele Adesina SAN

May 19, 2020

Caroline Ibharuneafe commiserates with NBA Benue on the passing of Lady Christy Kumam Anagende.


I commiserate with the exco and members of FIDA Benue, members of the Benue State Ministry of Justice and members of NBA Makurdi Branch on the sad and regretful passing of Lady Christy Kumam Anagende.

Lady Christy was before her passing, the Solicitor General and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Benue state and a life member and former chairperson Emeritus of FIDA Benue State Chapter. She died on 17/5/2020 after a protracted illness.

May the good Lord receive her soul and may she rest in perfect peace.

Caroline Ibharuneafe ,Mrs
Member, FIDA Lagos.
Past Vice Chairman
NBA Ikeja Branch
#integrity+accuracy

“C(L)Og In The Wheel Of Justice” And Other Expressions Nigerian Lawyers Could Be Using Wrong| Kelechukwu K. Okwujiako


Recently, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption  (“PACAC”) accused the Nigerian Supreme Court of “reliance on technicalities rather than justice and public interest” following its decision in the case of Ude Jones Udeogu v. Federal Republic of Nigeria & 2 Others (SC622c/2019, delivered on May 8, 2020). In a release signed by its chairman, Professor Itse Sagay, SAN (respected author of the ‘bible’ of Contract Law in Nigeria), PACAC said that having reviewed the current state of the fight against corruption in the country, it found that “these kinds of judgments pose a cog in the fight against corruption especially because high profile individuals and politically exposed persons already appear to be above the law”, see here and here.

May 18, 2020

Caroline Ibharuneafe commiserates with NBA Benin Branch on the passing of Kelechi Ohahuna Esq.




On behalf of my colleagues and I, our heartfelt condolence goes out to the family and friends of Kelechi Ohahuna.

Barrister Kelechi Ohahuna Esq. practised in Benin and passed away after a brief illness.

I pray May his gentle sould rest in peace and our thoughts go out to members of NBA Benin Branch and his family.

Caroline Ibharuneafe
Past Vice Chairman
NBA Ikeja Branch
#integrity+accuracy

PRINCE ENWEREM, ESQ WAS DEDICATED AND COMMITTED TO THE WELFARE OF YOUNG LAWYERS | CAROLINE IBHARUNEAFE


I hereby extend my deepest condolences to members of NBA Ahoada Branch on the passing of Prince Enwerem who was also the Chairman of the NBA YLF Ahoada Branch.

Prince Enwerem would surely be missed by his family, friends and colleagues who held him in high regard for his gentlemanly and professional approach. His commitment and dedication towards the welfare of young lawyers was most welcome and I commiserate with his family.

I pray that God comfort all who knew him personally and may his soul rest in peace.

Caroline Ibharuneafe,Esq
Past Vice Chairman
NBA Ikeja Branch.
#integrity+accuracy

We have lost a Woman of Candour and Character. Adieu HRH Lady Christy Anagende - Dele Adesina SAN 


On behalf of my colleagues and I at Dele Adesina LP,  I commiserate with the Benue State Government, members of the Ministry of Justice, Benue State and members of NBA Makurdi Branch on the passing of Her Royal Highness Lady Christy Anagende on 17th May 2020.

Until her sad passing, Lady Christy Anagende, whose pleasant personality was a distinguished trademark was the Permanent Secretary and Solicitor General in the Benue State Ministry of Justice. Most definitely, she would be missed by her family and colleagues.

I share my heartfelt condolences with the her family, His Excellency, Dr. Samuel Ortom, the Executive Governor of Benue State and the good people of Benue State.

May the good Lord grant her learned soul eternal rest, Amen!

Dele Adesina SAN

May 17, 2020

Exemption of members of Armed Forces from Road Tolls | Arome Abu 





#OBSCURELEGALFACTS by Arome Abu

‪In Nigeria, members of the Army, Navy and Air force on duty, are exempted from paying road tolls.

Tolls are levies collected to recover expenditure for road construction & maintenance.

See Section 235(1)(a) of the Armed Forces Act.

Arome Abu is the Principal Partner of TCLP.

CAVEAT: Note that this information is provided for general  enlightenment purposes and is not intended to be any form of legal advice.

Obscure Legal Facts is an exclusive daily publication of THE COUNSEL L-P.
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Way, Wuye, Abuja.
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Life After Law School: Setting Up The Right Path As A Law Student | Okpi Bernard Adaafu, Esq. (LL.B,B.L, ACIarb, MCIMC)

                       

ABSTRACT

The topic ‘Life After Law School: Setting Up the Right Path as a Law Student’ is robust, thus raising the question of whether one is to dabble into limited or full discussion of lawyers’ post law school life ad infinitum. However, having special consideration to the spectators, it is sine qua none to limit the discussion to the immediate phase of lawyers’ post law school life. It is necessary to discuss the topic under the following sub-headings;

May 16, 2020

Impact of Covid-19 On Employment Relations in the Private Sector In Nigeria [1]



enterprenuer.com 


It is no longer news that the Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic has greatly impacted the world’s economy.

Nigeria announced its first case of the COVID-19 on Friday the 28th of January, 2020. Following the rapid increase in the number of reported cases of the virus in Nigeria and globally, countries around the world, including Nigeria have put in place strict measures such as border closures, total and partial lockdown of businesses, restriction of movements of people, goods and services which are not essential amongst other measures to curtail further spread of the virus. However despite these measures the number of reported cases of persons infected with the virus continues to increase. As at the time of this writing the report from the World Health Organization shows that over 3 million people have been infected with the virus globally with over two hundred thousand deaths.

NBA Ilorin Branch: We need more Bar leaders like Chief Wole Olanipekun | Caroline Ibharuneafe



It has always been the practice in our noble profession for senior lawyers to mentor and lift the younger ones. Not just within the practice but in life as well and Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN exemplified this age long practice when he sponsored car gifts for two (2)  members of the NBA Ilorin Branch.
 
 
It is encouraging when senior lawyers like Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN magnanimously encourage young lawyers this way and I hope we all continue to carry – on this legacy of nurturing, mentoring, grooming and encouraging our younger lawyers.
 
I commend the Chairman and Exco of the NBA Ilorin Branch for the initiatives that continue to define the high standards within the legal profession and I appreciate and commend the learned silk; Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN for this uncommon feat of kindness.
 
Caroline Ibharuneafe
Past Vice – Chairman, NBA Ikeja
Integrity + accuracy
 

Day 23: May God's Grace Be Sufficient For Us



Ramadan Kareem 

My dear Muslim Brothers and Sisters, on this 23rd day in the holy month of Ramadan, may Almighty Allah reward your sacrifices, accept your supplications and may His Grace be sufficient for you and your family.

Ramadan kareem
Dele Adesina SAN



 


May 15, 2020

We must learn from Uche Wisdom Durueke's legacy | Dele Adesina SAN



On behalf of my colleagues and I at Dele Adesina LP, I commiserate with members of the Owerri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association and our foremost rights group, the Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), on the loss of the National President, Mr. Uche Wisdom Durueke, Esq, who passed away yesterday, Thursday, 14th of May, due to injuries he sustained during an unfortunate domestic fire accident.

Mr. Uche Wisdom Durueke, Esq., an Owerri-based member of our Association and human rights activist, was always focal on the protection of human rights and rule of law. His contributions to societal development and to humanity will always be a legacy to learn from and abide in. 

My condolences to his family, members of the NBA Owerri Branch and the good people of Imo State on the loss of their illustrous son and our brother. 

I pray his gentle soul rests in peace. 

Dele Adesina SAN

May 14, 2020

Dele Adesina, SAN: Praise Singing is a Hard Job | Adeboye ‘Seye Thompson


Asese tun se
ti a ba se yi tan, a o se mi si
asese tun se

(There would always be a repeat.
After this, you will have another event
There would always be a repeat.)

Pardon my crude translation of this Yoruba proverb but it was the best I could come up with in the circumstances. A major part of my growing up was spent supporting my dad who pastored our church (a quite small one). My church had a self-acclaimed master talking drummer who was always fond of playing with his talking drum the above-highlighted proverb, usually used to sing the praises of patrons and equally praying that such wonderful event would recur. Our talking drummer, however, met his 'waterloo' when he played this proverb with his talking drum at the burial ceremony of a 40-year old man who had died in a ghastly motor accident. The rest as they say is history! Such is the enormity of praise singing that I rarely embark on it as it could lead to the opposite of one's intention. How else can you qualify the act of a woman singing "be thou exhausted" while trying to worship God? Her intentions of exalting God almost got Baba God exhausted. That's on a lighter note, sure we know Baba God can never get exhausted.
Writing about Dele Adesina SAN, could sometimes be seen as praise singing by an average reader, but the fact is, one can hardly be immodest while talking about the learned Silk. William Hazlitt (1778-1830) famously noted that "the greatest offence against virtue is to speak ill of it." You would never find me speaking ill of a man of virtue like Deacon Adesina SAN. One virtue has particularly stood out in Deacon's interaction with people over time and this is the virtue of modesty. This coupled with his deep understanding of the tasks ahead of him makes him a stand-out candidate for the office of President of the Bar. It is not uncommon for him to use phrases like 'by the grace of God', 'God willing,' etc.
Against the background of easily the busiest and most challenging period the NBA and the world at large has seen in recent times, calmness and yet precision are unarguably key assets the next NBA Boss needs to have. *Talking about calmness, candour, precision, integrity, experience and capability, the learned Silk Adesina has them in abundance.* He is not flatulent (borrowing Prof Olu Obafemi's word in the poem "Do Gooders") and his spot-on answers to questions posed at him depict him as a reservoir of knowledge and as someone who is always prepared. His views on partnership as the future of the legal profession amongst other views depict him as someone who aptly understands the past, present and future of the legal profession. Bob Marley's famous song title "Who the cap fits" is apt at describing the suitability of Deacon Adesina for this role. He is in the words of Confucius, the great one who possesses a perfect virtue resonating around 'gravity, generosity of soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness." He is who he is, the son of his father. I dare say that praise singing is hard afterall.
Since awaiting NCDC's daily update has now become a routine, I hope and pray that Coronavirus will today afflict less Nigerians and indeed totally exit the world soonest.

I am Adeboye 'Seye Thompson and I am a member of the Nigerian Bar Association.

May 13, 2020

PAYMENT OF IMPORT DUTY ON GOODS/PERSONAL EFFECTS CONTAINED IN A PASSENGER'S BAGGAGE IS UNLAWFUL

 
On Wednesday, 13th May, 2020 the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division [Coram: J.T.Tsoho, CJ] delivered its judgment in Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN v. Nigerian Customs Service Board & Anor: Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2019.  
 
The Plaintiff (Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN) via his counsel Tunde Ahmed Adejumo, Esq had approached the Court via an Originating Summons primarily seeking a declaration that in view of the provisions of Section 8 of the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act and the 2nd Schedule to the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act, it was unlawful for officers of the Nigerian Customs Service to have demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from the Plaintiff in respect of his personal effect (A Louis Vuitton Lap Top Bag) found in his baggage following a search by the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service upon his arrival at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Abuja on the 24th June, 2019.
 
The Court in its judgment having analysed the provisions of Section 8 of the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act and the 2nd Schedule to the Customs, Excise Tariff, etc. (Consolidation) Act was of the view that the following goods are exempted from import duty and other related charges:
 
1. Goods contained in a passenger's baggage provided that the said goods are not intended for sale, barter or exchange; and

2. Personal and household effects.
 
The Court found that based on the state of the evidence before it, the Plaintiff had established that the Louis Vuitton Lap Top Bag found in his baggage by the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service was his personal effect and meant for his personal use.
 
The Court also found that before the Defendants could lawfully demand and collect import duty and other related charges in respect of the said Louis Vuitton Lap Top Bag found in the Plaintiff's baggage, the Defendants had to establish via cogent and credible evidence that the said bag was meant for sale, exchange or barter.
 
Accordingly, the Defendants having failed to establish via evidence that the said bag found in the Plaintiff's baggage was meant for sale, exchange or barter, there was no legal basis upon which the officers of the Nigerian Customs Service demanded and collected import duty and other related charges from the Plaintiff in respect of the said bag.
 
Finally, the Court having found that the decision and action of the Defendants to demand and collect from the Plaintiff import duty and other related charges in respect of his personal effect is unlawful, null and void ordered the Defendants to refund the sum of N156, 955. 20k (One Hundred and Fifty-Six Thousand, Nine Hundred and Fifty-Five Naira, Twenty Kobo) in import duty and other related charges to the Plaintiff and also to pay to the Plaintiff the sum of N5, 000, 000.00 (Five Million Naira) as exemplary damages.
 
Following this judgment, it is now unlawful for officers of the Nigerian Customs Service to demand and collect import duty and other related charges from anyone in respect of goods/personal effects found in their baggage provided that the said goods/personal effects are not meant for sale, barter or exchange. In other words, the only instance in which officers of the Nigerian Customs Service can lawfully demand and collect import duty from anyone in respect of goods/personal effects found in their baggage is where it can be established that the said goods/personal effects are meant for sale, barter or exchange.

May 12, 2020

Mrs. Akodu: The Loss of an Exemplary Legal Practitioner by Dele Adesina SAN


My Colleagues and I at Dele Adesina LP express our condolences to our Learned Silk and former President of Nigerian Bar Association, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN; the Chambers of Olisa Agbakoba Legal (O.A.L.); the members of Akodu Family and Nigerian Bar Association, Lagos Branch over the death of Mrs. Bisi Akodu.

Mrs. Bisi Akodu, the Managing Partner of O.A.L., died on Sunday, the 10th of May, 2020 at the age of 66 following a protracted illness which she fought with all her faith. She was an exemplary advocate, a passionate Legal Practitioner and a mentor to many subordinates. Her contribution to the development of our Jurisprudence and her impressive knowledge of the Nigerian Financial System was almost unrivalled.

It is an understatement to say that this hard-working, dedicated and committed Managing Partner will be greatly missed by her Families, both the blood family and of course her Professional family. It is our prayer that the Lord will give the Families the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

May her kind and gentle soul rest in peace.

Dele Adesina SAN

May 11, 2020

Mrs. Bisi Akodu was an astounding legal practitioner| Caroline Ibharuneafe, Mrs


The news of Mrs. Bisi Akodu's passing is a shock to the Nigerian legal community. I commiserate with Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, members of Olisa Agbakoba Legal, family members of Mrs. Akodu and members of the NBA Lagos Branch on this huge loss.

Mrs. Akodu was the Managing Partner (MP) and the head of OAL's Corporate/Commercial Practice and Public Sector Group. She will be remembered as an advocate for change and for being an astounding professional and brilliant lawyer whose passion was always evident in all she did.

May her gentle soul rest in perfect peace!

Caroline Ibharuneafe, Mrs.
Past Vice – Chairman, NBA Ikeja)
#Integrity+accountability

Pro bono is a great way to build your skills| Caroline Ibharuneafe, Mrs




In a democratic society like ours, lawyers play a vital role as the custodians of justice and in order to carry out that role sufficiently, it is a duty of lawyers to help promote access to justice. According to the 2018 Justice Needs and Satisfaction report by Hiil, there are 25 million legal problems per year in Nigeria. Furthermore, Low-income people are two times less likely to engage courts and more than three times less likely to engage lawyers than high-earners.

May 10, 2020

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF ADOPTING VIRTUAL OR REMOTE HEARINGS BY THE JUDICIARY IN NIGERIA



Since the announcement of the Covid-19 scourge all over the world and particularly the announcement of the index case in Lagos, Nigeria on 19 March, 2020 by Professor Akin Abayomi, Commissioner for Health in Lagos State, governments at both the Federal and State levels have adopted various strategies aimed at containing the spread including restrictions on human and vehicular movements, business, religious and social activities (except those designated ESSENTIAL) and so on.

Join the CJN, Appeal Court President and other Legal Industry Players at the Webinar organized by Wole Olanipekun & Co.


The law firm of Wole Olanipekun and Co, tomorrow 11th May, 2020 will be hosting a Webinar titled "Legal and Infrastructural considerations for remote court proceedings in Nigeria" and several policy influencers in the justice sector are billed to attend including the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, President of the Acting Court of Appeal, Justice Monica Dongban-Mensem, and several other jurists.

May 9, 2020

IMPACTFUL JUSTICE DELIVERY: FOCUS ON PRACTITIONERS | Dele Adesina SAN




Justice is key in any society. No society can prosper without justice. So my plan is to draw the concentrated attention of the participants to Justice Administration in our society and the challenges militating against an effective, efficient, fulfilling and impactful justice delivery in Nigeria with particular focus on the Legal Practitioners.

As an active player, I want to state that the challenges confronting Justice Administration in Nigeria is systemic, structural and attitudinal in nature. For me however, the greatest impediment to impactful justice delivery whereby everyone involved will get value and fulfilment is an attitudinal problem. No matter how bad a system or structure may be, if the practitioners do the right thing, apply the right approach and take the right step, the effect of the inadequacy of the system and structure can be mitigated. This is why I am focusing on the practitioners.

Whether as an Advocate or a Commercial Legal Practitioner, the end that we seek for our clients is Justice, Justice, and Justice!!!

However, it is not an overstatement to say that the practitioners of the system either as Advocates, both private and commercial and Judges on the Bench erect various impediments to getting impactful justice. That is to say getting speedy justice that will fulfil the expectations of the people without delay and or procrastination as is the case in Nigeria today. It is common knowledge that cases last in some instance for as much as 10-15-20 years journeying from the High Court to the Supreme Court. Arbitration which throughout the world is known as an alternative dispute resolution is also failing to meet its target. Examples abound in Nigeria that arbitral awards are also gradually becoming a cause of action rather than resolution of a dispute between contending parties.

How about endless adjournments, frivolous applications, frivolous interlocutory appeals, frivolous petitions against opposing Counsel and even in some cases against trial Judges. All on the part of the Practitioners at the Bar. On the part of the Bench, you see negative attitude to innovations, late sittings or not sitting at all, lack of proper apprehension of the Rules and lack of the necessary will to enforce the Rules. These are some of the frustrating attitudes of the Practitioners in achieving positive justice. We have got to change this negative attitude if we want results that will be positively impactful to the users of the system. Everyone’s attitude determines his/ her altitude.

The Legal Profession is a highly regulated profession with a standard code of conduct to guide and moderate our operations. Unfortunately, it appears to me that like any other law in Nigeria, the enforcement of this standard code of conduct is less effective; hence, impunity reigns supreme. The time has come for us to begin to do things in a different way so that we can get a different result. Otherwise, the Profession will be gone before we know it.

To address these challenges mentioned above, proper attention must be focused on our disciplinary procedure in order to ensure that smart but procedurally wrong steps are made sanctionable. A Counsel who files frivolous suits must be sanctioned for failure to offer proper professional advice to clients. The same goes for Counsel who take pleasure in defending the indefensible. After all, it is a professional misconduct for a Counsel to urge a defence he does not believe in on the Court.

We have argued over and over again that interlocutory appeals be made to terminate at the Court if Appeal. For me nothing stops the total termination of interlocutory appeals so that whatever dissatisfaction against any Ruling should be taken together with the substantive judgment. Something similar to what operates in election petition cases.

Before anybody challenges any arbitral award, the challenger must be made to deposit the award into an interest yielding account. These I submit will stop many frivolous cases challenging a properly rendered award by an arbitral panel. Most of the cases are to exhaust the patience of the other party and render the award useless.

Our Judges must come back to the days of old of erudity and industry when Bench Rulings are delivered promptly in respect of contentious applications instead of the usual adjournments that we witness today on any little argument. It is said that an ignorant Judge is a calamity to the society. Of course, the Rules of procedure must be obeyed including award of costs in accordance to the Rules for any shortcoming by Counsel.

The Lawyers must hold their duties to justice as a minister in the temple of justice superior to any other duty by doing the proper thing most expeditiously.


DELE ADESINA SAN

Excerps from an interactive session with Mr. Dele Adesina SAN and members of the NBA Nigeria- KYA group on Whatsapp on 9th May, 2020. 

May 8, 2020

Covid-19: The Legality of Virtual Court Proceedings in Nigeria | Harold Benson


1.00 Introduction

1.01 The effect of the novel coronavirus has been felt in almost every sector across the world, including Nigeria, one of which is the judiciary. In a bid to curb the spread of the virus in the Nigerian judiciary, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Dr. Justice I.T Muhammad, on March 23, 2020, directed all courts in Nigeria to suspend sittings for an initial period of two weeks at the first instance, except in matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound. After the expiration of the initial two weeks suspension of court sittings, His Lordship, Hon. Dr. Justice I.T Muhammad on 6th April, 2020, gave another directive, this time suspending court sittings sine die. His Lordship, however, noted again that courts are expected to sit particularly to dispense matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound.

1.02 Following the directive of His Lordship, the Chief Judge of Lagos State signed the "Lagos State Judiciary Remote Hearing of Cases (COVID-19 Pandemic Period) Practice Direction" (hereinafter referred to as the "Practice Direction"), which came into effect on May 4, 2020. The essence of the Practice Direction is to ensure the hearing and determination of urgent and time-bound cases through digital platforms like Zoom, Skype or any other video and audio conferencing platform approved by the Court.  Recently, the Lagos State judiciary had its first virtual sitting in line with the Practice Direction. It is expected that, other State judiciaries will adopt the Lagos model to hear cases virtually. In fact, the Borno State judiciary has also already recorded its first virtual sitting wherein a Judge delivered a judgment in a criminal matter. Another State judiciary- Ekiti State judiciary – has made arrangements to adopt virtual hearing of cases.

1.03 In addition to the above, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria, Abubakar Malami, SAN, and the National Judicial Council have both announced separate plans for Nigerian courts to resort to virtual proceedings during and after the covid-19 pandemic. It is therefore, a question of when, and not if, virtual court proceedings will become a norm across Nigeria.

1.04 In this paper, I will undertake a consideration of the current legal position that governs judicial proceedings in Nigeria. I will also test the constitutionality and legality of the Practice Direction with basic constitutional provisions that guarantees open and fair trials in Nigeria. At the end of this exercise, it will be argued that while virtual court proceedings serve an undeniable utilitarian value, proceeding with them without first amending the extant Nigerian Constitution and other relevant substantive laws, would be an effort in futility.

2.00 The 1999 Constitution and the Conduct of Court Proceedings in Nigeria

2.01 The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as altered), hereinafter referred to as "the Constitution", provides that court proceedings, including delivery of court decisions, shall be held in public. For emphasis, Section 36 (3) and (4) of the Constitution provide as follows:

"(3) The proceedings of a court or the proceedings of any tribunal relating to the matters mentioned in subsection (1) of this section (including the announcement of the decisions of the court or tribunal) shall be held in public.

(4) Whenever any person is charged with a criminal offence, he shall, unless the charge is withdrawn, be entitled to a fair hearing in public within a reasonable time by a court or tribunal..."

2.02 As highlighted above, the requirement for public hearing and determination of cases in Nigeria is mandatory as the operative word is "shall". The law is settled that, where the word "shall" is used in a statute, it means a command to do or not to do a particular thing. The law therefore, leaves no room for discretion. See the case of Onochie vs. Odogwu (2006) 6 NWLR (Pt. 975) 65 at 89. It is pertinent to note that, there are two provisos to the provision of Section 36 (4) of the Constitution, but the said provisos are not relevant to the instant discourse.

3.00 Judicial Pronouncements on Public Trial

3.01 The compulsoriness of conducting court proceedings in public has been upheld in a plethora of cases. In the case of Edibo v. The State (2007) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1051) p. 306, the appellant and others were charged with culpable homicide punishable with death. Their plea was taken in the chambers of the trial Judge. At the end of trial, the appellant was found guilty of the crime for which he was charged. He appealed to the Court of Appeal and lost. On further appeal to the Supreme Court, the legal effect of the appellant's plea which was taken in the chambers of the trial Judge was examined. In determining the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the provisions of Section 33 (1) and (3) of the 1979 Constitution, which are in pari materia with the provisions of Section 36 (1) and (3) of the 1999 Constitution (as altered). In allowing the appeal and setting aside the decisions of the Court of Appeal and the trial court, the Supreme Court held that, the taking of the appellant's plea in the Judge's chambers was not only irregular, but fundamentally defective. For emphasis, the Court held at page 326 paragraph H of the law report as follows:

"The proceedings of the 19th January, 1998 wherein the plea of the appellant and others were taken in the Judge's chambers was not only irregular; it was fundamentally defective rendering the entire proceedings null and void. I hold in the circumstances that this appeal succeeds on that issue. The appeal is accordingly allowed and the judgment of the court below is set aside. The entire proceedings of the learned trial Judge including the conviction and sentence of the appellant and others tried along with him contravened the provisions of Section 33 (3) of the 1979 Constitution and same is hereby declared null and void and is set aside."

3.02 The rationale of the Supreme Court for nullifying the decision of the trial court in the above case on the ground that, the plea of the appellant was taken in the Judge's chambers, was that, a Judge's chambers is not a public place which permits unrestricted ingress and egress from the general public. At page 334 of the law report, the Court per. Hon. Justice Ogbuagu, J.S.C, explained as follows:

"Let me dismiss with respect, and as completely misconceived and unacceptable to me, the submission at page 19 paragraph 6.2 of the respondent's brief, that the Chambers of a Judge, is a public place and satisfies Section 33(3) of the 1979 Constitution (as amended) and section 36(3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I say so because, nothing can be far from truth. If I or one may ask, can the chambers of a Judge, be described as an "open place" which is accessible to all and sundry? I think not. ... I hold firmly, that a Judge's Chambers, cannot and will never be, a public place or an "open" and unrestricted place.

By these references and arguments, can the learned counsel for the respondent, in all honesty and seriousness, maintain or insist, that he/she can walk into the Chambers of any Judge or Justice, without the consent or permission of the said Judge or Justice and unrestricted? I think not. Surely and certainly, a Judge's Chambers, is not and cannot be equated to a hall in a public building that is used for formal meetings. As a matter of fact, a Chambers, can also be defined as or equated with a private bedroom or private room. Even in Black's Law Dictionary, 7th Edition at page, 224, a Judge's chambers, is defined as "the private room or office of a Judge.""

3.03 In the case of Oviasu v. Oviasu (1973) 11 SC 315, which was a case involving the hearing of a petition for dissolution of marriage in a Judge's chambers, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the trial court and held that, the hearing of the petition in the Judge's chambers occasioned a fundamental irregularity as same was not conducted in public. The Court defined "public" to mean "open to everyone without discrimination. Anything, gathering or audience which is not private is public". Similarly, in the case of Nigeria-Arab Bank Limited v. Barri Engineering Nig. Ltd. (1995) 8 NWLR (Pt. 413) 257, judgment was given in the Judge's chambers. Relying on its decision in the Oviasu's case, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of the trial court and held that the delivery of the judgment in the Judge's chambers occasioned an irregularity which touched on the legality of the whole proceedings. Again, in the case of Alhaji Nuhu v. Alhaji Ogele (2003) 18 NWLR (Pt. 852) 251, the Supreme Court set aside the decision of an Upper Area Court which was delivered in chambers. The Supreme Court held that, the procedure adopted by the Upper Area Court was a fundamental breach of the Constitution which rendered the judgment delivered null and void.

4.00 Do Virtual Court Proceedings pass the legal test for proceedings held in public?

4.01 Fidelis Nwadialo in his book, Civil Procedure in Nigeria, 2nd Edition, posited at page 674 thereof that, "hearing in public entails a situation where the public is not barred... A trial is sufficiently public if members of the public may have access to where it is taking place. The actual presence of the public is, however, not necessary." J. A Agaba on his part, stated at page 524 of his book, Practical Approach to Criminal Litigation in Nigeria, that, "the "public" here refers not only to a formal courtroom but it must be a place where there is access by the public." In the case of Edibo v. The State (supra), Justice Ogbuagu likened "public place" to "a hall in a public building that is used for formal meetings".

4.02 While it is arguable that, a proceeding held in a "public place" does not necessarily entail a proceeding conducted within the four walls of a courtroom, the question still remains: do virtual court proceedings pass the legal test for proceedings held in public? This question is answered in the negative. Going by the decisions of the Supreme Court in the cases of Edibo v. The State (supra), Oviasu v. Oviasu (supra), Nigeria-Arab Bank Ltd v. Barri Engineering Nig. Ltd. (supra), and Alhaji Nuhu v. Alhaji Ogele (supra), one common feature of a "public place" for the purpose of conducting legal proceedings is that, same is an open place which is accessible to everyone without hindrance of any sort. Virtual court proceedings do not have this feature.

4.03 There is no gainsaying the fact that, before virtual communication of any kind can take place, the following must be available: appropriate technology gadget (like smart phone), access to internet and registration with a virtual communication service provider. According to a February, 2020 report by Statista, only about 25% to 40% of Nigerians have a smart phone.  According to another report by We are Social and Hootsuite, published in January, 2020, only 42% of Nigerians have access to the internet. Putting the foregoing together, it is already clear that, unfettered access to virtual court proceedings in Nigeria will not be feasible to a larger percentage of the Nigerian public.

4.04 Further to the above, going by the tenor of the Lagos Practice Direction, particularly Articles 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18 thereto, virtual court proceedings will be open to the Judge, respective litigants and their counsel. I expect the Practice Directions of other States to have similar provision. This practice, if implemented, is restrictive and limiting in nature as members of the general public would not have access to the said virtual proceeding. Limiting virtual court proceedings to only the Judge, respective litigants and their counsel would defeat the spirit of Section 36 (3) and (4) of the Constitution, as any "justice" arrived thereat, would be cloistered justice. In the Nigeria-Arab Bank's case (supra), the Court held as follows:

"Any act of secrecy, however desirable it might seem, detracts from the aura of impartiality, independence, publicity, and unqualified respect which enshrouds justice given without fear of favour. Its acceptance by the public at large, and the confidence it demands, depend on these aura being strictly adhered to."

4.05 It has been argued that, the link to virtual court proceedings should be shared online for all and sundry to join in. The reality is that, this is not very practicable as many virtual communication platforms can only permit limited number of participants. Again, some virtual communication platforms are paid for. Therefore, assuming without conceding that a larger percentage of the Nigerian public have access to a smart phone and internet, this is still a huge obstacle to justice for a country like Nigeria where the poverty rate is 40%, and about half of her population earn a meagre USD1.92 per day.

4.06 In the case of Edibo v. The State (supra), the Court held at page 337 to 338 of the law report that, the right provided in Section 36 (3) and (4) of the Constitution is a public right for every citizen of this country. Court proceedings must therefore, be open and easily accessible to everyone and free of obstacles. The tenor of Section 36 (3) and (4) of the Constitution is sacrosanct and the right provided therein must not be seen to be hindered in any way. It does not matter if there is no miscarriage of justice at the end of the day. In the Nigeria-Arab Bank case (supra), the respondent contended that, the delivery of the judgment in the Judge's chambers was a mere technicality which did not occasion a miscarriage of justice to the appellant. A similar argument was made by the respondent in the Edibo case. The respondents in the aforementioned cases, therefore, argued that, the decisions of the trial court ought to stand since no miscarriage of justice was occasioned to the appellants, notwithstanding that trials in both cases were not held in open court.  The Supreme Court rejected this contention by the respondents. Relying on its decision in the Nigeria-Arab Bank case, the Supreme Court in the Edibo's case held at page 332 as follows:

"A breach of a mandatory constitutional provision is more than a mere technicality; it is fundamental. And it is no argument that there has been no miscarriage of justice."

4.07 Further to the above, the introduction of virtual court proceedings do not agree with the spirits of other substantive laws and regulations like the Evidence Act, Oaths Act, Legal Practitioners Act ("LPA"), and the Rules of Professional Conduct, 2007 ("RPC") which regulates inter alia, the appearance of Counsel before Courts. For instance, Rule 45 (2) of the RPC provides that, a lawyer shall not wear the Barrister's or Senior Advocate's robe on any occasion other than in Court. Will this Rule be relaxed during virtual court proceedings? Rule 20 of the Lagos Practice Direction already provides that, lawyers shall dress "appropriately" during virtual court proceedings. And by "appropriately, it is safe to assume "clothed in Barrister's or Senior Advocate's robe". Wouldn't the wearing of these hallowed courtroom attires in a lawyer's office during virtual court proceedings be a violation of Rule 45 (2) of the RPC? Won't lawyers be committing professional misconduct in this regard?

4.08 Going by all the foregoing argument, I submit that, virtual court proceedings do not pass the legal test for proceedings conducted in public.

5.00 Can Heads of Courts Constitutionally Make Practice Directions Regulating Virtual Court Proceedings?

5.01 It has been suggested that, since certain Heads of Courts in Nigeria have been constitutionally empowered to make Rules regulating the practice and procedures of their respective courts, such Heads of Courts can validly make Practice Directions for the creation and regulation of virtual court proceedings. While it is conceded that, generally, Heads of Courts have constitutional power to make rules regulating the practice and procedure of their respective courts, it is contended that, the said Heads of Court do not have constitutional powers to make Practice Directions that are either in conflict with, or tend to expand the express provisions of the Constitution. Since the provisions of Section 36 (3) and (4) of the Constitution have expressly stipulated that the proceedings of court (including the announcement of its decisions) shall be held in public, this clearly and automatically excludes any other implied forum for holding or conducting court proceedings, including a virtual forum. The law is well settled that, where there is a specific provision in a statute, all other provisions which would be implied are excluded. The foregoing principle of law is expressed in the Latin maxim, expression unius est exclusion alterius. See the case of A-G, Lagos State v. A-G, Federation (2014) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1412) 217 at 275 – 276. Therefore, Practice Directions which seek to create and regulate virtual court room proceedings will be in direct conflict with the provisions of Section 36 (3) and (4) of the Constitution. The law is settled that, Practice Directions which are in conflict with the Constitution are null and void to the extent of their inconsistency. See the case of Buhari v. INEC & Ors. (2008) 3 FWLR 4657. See also Section 1(3) of the Constitution.

5.02 Following from the above, I submit that, Practice Directions cannot be used to create or regulate virtual court proceedings.


6.00 Conclusion

6.01 While the adoption of virtual court proceedings by the Nigerian judiciary is desirable, it is pertinent that, certain extant laws, including the Nigerian Constitution, are first amended, to avoid a situation where justice is slaughtered on the altar of modern trend.


This Article is written by Harold Benson, a Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Specialist.
This Article is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not contain legal advice or create a lawyer-client relationship. The information provided should not be taken as an indicator of future legal results. Any information provided should not be acted upon without consulting a legal counsel.

Further enquiries should be made to haroldbensonthefirst@gmail.com

May 7, 2020

DELE ADESINA COMMISERATES WITH THE FAMILY OF MR. DELE SOLANKE ESQ. AND NBA IKEJA BRANCH


On behalf of my colleagues and I at Dele Adesina LP, l commiserate with the family of our deceased Colleague and the entire members of Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja Branch on the demise of our colleague, Mr. Dele Solanke Esq. His burial takes place today, 7th of May, 2020.

Mr. Solanke had spiritedly and rigorously fought the sickness that kept him away from what he loved to do best for a couple of years. He fought a good fight of faith. He deserves a rest after the protracted struggle. Rest in perfect Peace my dear brother.

As he is buried today, may the graceful God cloth his wife, children, family members and our colleagues with His abundant grace and give us all the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.

May the mercy and love of God avail for his soul.

Dele Adesina SAN

May 6, 2020

COVID-19 and the Nigerian Justice System: Challenges The Bench And Bar Should Expect After The Pandemic And The Way Forward


ABSTRACT

The outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease- (COVID-19) has brought about unprecedented global downturn and adverse impact on the Nigerian justice system and its activities. The pandemic had its first show on human stage towards the end of 2019 in Wuhan which happens to be an emerging business hub of China, this unprecedented disease outbreak is recorded to have caused the untimely death of not less than 185,434 persons globally and infected over seventy thousand individuals within the first fifty days of the epidemic.[i] This virus was reported to be a member of the β group of coronaviruses and scientifically described as an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).[ii]  There is no doubt that the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic has  a negative effect on the Nigerian Justice System, activities of judicial officers, legal practitioners, law firms and the Nigerian Bar Association at large and this paperwork seeks to consider the post Covid-19 pandemic challenges on both the Bench and the Bar and probable solutions to remedy the situation.