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Lagos NBA Annual General Meeting 2018

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I was in the court as early as 6:32 a.m. on Monday 23rd of July 2018 for the Lagos NBA Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2018. At 8:32 a.m. the event planners for the AGM rolled in with their truck to start setting up the High Court Foyer for the event. I had no doubt that the AGM would be interesting. I conducted a few businesses on the island and took time to visit the firm of a dear senior colleague.

At 12:35 p.m. I was back in the court premises. It was easy to notice that the vehicles were coming in but not leaving the High Court premises. Normally, by 12: noon, Lawyers who were done with their matters would leave and there would be more parking spots available; but it was not business as usual. The parking lot was already filled to the brim and so was the outside of the court premises along the walls of the High Court and at the other side of the road along the walls of the cricket pitch of the Tafawa Balewa Square. The scenario was the same at the other end of the court at Igbosere Road.

It was12:45 p.m. when I strolled into the foyer and in no time I started seeing the familiar faces of Lagos NBA politics. I took time to exchange pleasantries with some colleagues before I settled in the middle section of the pre-arranged foyer. The back was always too rowdy for me and the front where the top dogs of the profession who were interested in the NBA were usually seated would be too dull. I preferred the middle section because that was where you got a balanced view of everything going on not only in the meeting at  that moment but what was going on generally in Lagos NBA politics. The gist and the kind of canvassing that goes on at the back are quite interesting; and one could easily make a formidable ally or an arch enemy depending on one’s disposition. If the NBA meeting gist was a piece of amala, the one at the back was too strong, it would not digest well. The one at the front would be too light and you would not be satisfied, but the one at the middle was the stuff legends were made of; neither to strong nor too light. The midfield suited me perfectly.

I met a meeting of the Young Lawyers’ Forum (YLF). The Lagos NBA Chairman was addressing the forum. I need to attend these meetings more, I reminded myself. I didn’t know there was anything such as YLF needless to say that they would be having a meeting that day. The Chairman was addressing the conduct of the YLF in their chat group and how same should be carried on in an orderly manner and promised to be out of the group by the end of business that day. The Chairman rounded off the meeting of the YLF at precisely 1:16pm at which point the foyer was almost full.

The Lagos NBA AGM 2018 started at 1:33 p.m. with an opening prayer from Chief Ajomale who carried out the task in an orthodox style. I have no doubt he subscribed to either the Catholic or the Anglican faith.

In his welcome remarks, the Chairman took time to welcome the senior members of the Bar present. Amongst the notable present were Chief Ebun Sofunde, SAN, Chief Ajomale (life bencher), Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN amongst many others. I might just add that when Mr. Usoro’s name was called the roaring noise that followed was jostling to me. Even the DJ was involved as the sound he played prompted a certain response from the roaring crowd. The Chairman also took time to state that we had visitors (colleagues from other branches) amongst us most of whom were there to canvas for votes towards the upcoming NBA 2018 National Elections. He stated that at the appropriate time, he would introduce them mentioning their names and the offices they were vying for and they would be allowed to take a bow.

The Chairman mentioned the passing away of some of the members of the Bar. He especially mentioned the demise of Pa Tunji Gomez in such an affectionate and forlorn tone. I could feel his sadness. ‘When we brought up the idea of celebrating Papa, we did not know that he would not be here with us today’ the Chairman stated. It was so touching to me and as I always had plenty of water in my eyes for such occasions; I released some pints of the water but not too much before people would start to suspect me.

We went through the minutes of the last meeting and there was no correction; same was accordingly adopted.

The Chairman read through his address and he called on the Secretary to present his report which the latter did promptly.

The Treasurer presented her report and naturally after she was done a couple of hands were already raised. A member raised the issue of the interest rates on fixed income deposits with Skye Bank Plc and Access bank Plc. He noted that the rate at Skye bank Plc was11.5% and had the Sum of Five Million, Seventeen Thousand and Five Hundred and Ninety-Five Naira only (N5,017,595) deposited therein, while Access Bank Plc with a lower interest rate of 9.5% had the sum of Fifty Million, Thirteen Thousand, and Fourteen Naira only(N50,013,014). He asked why the Fifty Million, Thirteen Thousand, and Fourteen Naira only (N50,013,014) was not deposited in Skye Bank. The Treasurer explained that at the time the money was deposited, the best rate was given by Access Bank Plc which they took.

Just before the Chairman called the External Auditor to present his report he explained and reminded members that the audited account was not presented last year because there were issues with the auditor’s report and the issues had since been resolved.

Mr. Philips Njeteneh (a former Treasurer Lagos NBA) raised his hand and he was allowed to speak. He stated that the Chairman needed to explain to members how we got to this stage so that members would know the issues on the audited account. The Chairman explained that when the current executives were sworn in he set up a committee chaired by Mr. Sadipe to come up with a solution on the audited account that was rejected the previous year. Mr. Sadipe who was also in attendance was called by the Chairman to quickly speak on the matter. Mr. Sadipe explained that the committee met with the new auditors and that all the facts presented by the auditors were acceptable to the committee and the current report was accepted. The External Auditor presented his report and same was adopted.

2018 NBA National Annual General Conference

The Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the 2018 NBA National Annual General Conference, Mr. George Etomi was called into talk about the upcoming AGC in Abuja.

In five minutes he summarized the AGC. He stated that the theme of the year’s conference would be ‘Transition, Transformation and Sustainable Institutions’.

Knowledge Sharing Session

Guess who the speaker for the knowledge sharing session was. It was Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN! As soon as his name was called, the roaring noise followed and the DJ tagged along as usual. Then I got the lyrics of what the DJ was playing. The DJ played ‘who do you know?’ and the Usoro crowd roared ‘Paul Usoro!!!’ It was a show. It was getting exciting.

The topic of Mr Usoro’s session was ‘The Art of Cross Examination’.  He gave some real life experience in his practice and the thrust of his advice was ‘know the case’. Which he explained meant knowing your case and that of the opponent. He stated that you must be a complete authority on the case. He was done in about twenty minutes and when he said ‘thank you’ the Usoro crowd started again and the DJ supported.

Any Other Business

Bar Centre

The first typical AGM drama happened at this stage. The Chairman brought up the issue of the Bar Centre. He took time to explain that the issue of the developer that was supposed to develop the land had been settled and that the developer had been paid off. He also explained that the Association had been unable to find an affordable land close to the High Court on Lagos Island up till date. He also explained that they have met with the Attorney General of Lagos state on the development of the land the State gave to the Association at Lekki some years back. And the A.G. advised that any development on the land different from the purpose for which it was given would not be approved by the state and that the Association even stood a chance of losing the land. For the following reasons, the Chairman stated that the executive committee proposed that the Lekki land be developed. He called for a member to move the motion in the absence of any contrary view. Several hands went up. One person behind me was given the microphone. He stated that before the motion was moved he had an observation to make. He gave his name as Obafemi Ogundare. He stated that he was of the opinion that the bar centre should not be moved to Lekki for the following reasons –

  • Land is available on the Island close to the High Court and that we have not just searched enough.
  • If the bar centre was moved to Lekki, there will not be enough followership and attendance as we have at the moment.
  • That the information given orally by the Attorney General of the State could not be taken as the official position of the State on the matter.

He opposed the recommendation of the executive committee. Some people roared; it seemed he had some kind of support. The Chairman immediately called for a poll by show of hands. The Lagos Island guys lost, the Lekki guys won.

Annual general Conference 2018 (AGC)

The Chairman stated that the Association was already working with some hotels in Abuja for discounted rates for accommodation towards the upcoming AGC. He also stated that the Association would provide a bus that would convey members at an affordable rate. He also advocated that the executive wants to encourage the young lawyers to be vibrant in Bar activities for the progress of the profession. He called on the senior members of the Bar present to sponsor one young member to the 2018 AGC. A female senior advocate pledged to sponsor two young lawyers.

Olakunle Kareem

Remember Olakunle Kareem? That is the young lawyer who was assaulted in the office of his former boss by policemen. The Chairman called on Mr. Alex Muoka who was the Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee set up to mediate between Olakunle and his former Boss. Mr. Alex Muoka reported that the parties have settled to the delight of members.

Police Brutality on Citizens

The Chairman stated that the Police brutality on citizens was on the rise and lawyers were not left out. He stated that the Executives were seriously working on same with the Police to curb such acts as same was totally unacceptable to the Association.

He also stated that the welfare Committee could not present its report and that same would be done at the next AGM.

He called on the Law week Committee Chairperson to give his report and the Gentleman gave the report in four minutes. He further stated that the committee was in touch with Federal High Court Judges who said that the Lagos NBA did not usually involve the Federal Court in its activities and that they would be glad to participate in the Association’s activities. He advised that in the future the Law week’s activities should be part of the court’s diary for the year so that logistics could be adequately taken care of.

Aspirants for Electoral Posts

The Chairman called all visiting lawyers from all other branches mentioning the posts they were vying for and they took a bow. I must add that Prof Ernest Ojukwu, SAN and Arthur Obi, SAN drew resounding applauds from the crowd.

Then he called the aspirants from the Lagos Branch who were contesting in the National Elections and allowed them to speak to members. Mr. Usoro was the first and the DJ gave the familiar number and the roaring crowd in responded. He spoke and summarized his manifesto in less than two minutes. The other aspirants spoke too.

Mr. Tobenna Erojikwe took the floor and thanked extensively all those who had supported the Association in the last twelve months. The vote of thanks went to a lot of people.

The meeting came to a close at 5:25 p.m.

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Oludare
Oludare
Lawyer, Bibliophile, Polyglot, Traveller
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