The Notice of the Lagos NBA Meeting had stated the time as 2:00 p.m.
I got to the High Court’s foyer at 1:46 p.m.
The meeting started at 2:28 p.m. when the Lagos NBA Chairman called the meeting to order. He called on Chief C.B. Azike to give the opening prayer. The Chairman welcomed members to the first meeting of the year.
Minutes of the Last Meeting
The Chairman stated that only substantive amendments would be allowed. He advised that typographic corrections should be sent to the Secretariat. The minutes of the last meeting was examined and there was neither correction nor amendment made to same. The minutes was adopted.
Proposed Rules – The Chairman confirmed that the Judiciary Relations Committee has submitted the proposals of the Branch to the Rules Review Committee headed by Justice Alogba and the Honourable Justice had acknowledged the receipt of the proposals by a letter sent to the Branch.
A lady was allowed to speak to members about pro bono services and mentorship. It was not clear to me whether the Lady was a member of the Branch. The occasional noise from the back did not allow me to hear the introduction. But it was clear that her organization wanted to partner with the Branch on pro bono and mentorship.
Knowledge Sharing Session
Mr. Tobe took the floor to introduce the guest speaker for the day. He took about five minutes to read out the resume of the guest speaker, Mrs. A. Adepomore (I hope I got the name correct). The topic was ‘Mediation Advocacy’.
The presenter engaged the audience and related her experience in practice on the topic.
The Chairman called on Mrs. Titilola Akinlawon, SAN to thank the guest speaker for the presentation and a former Chairman of the Branch, Mr. Alex Muoka to thank the host of the day’s meeting, Mr. Ajose Adeogun on behalf of members.
After the presentation, the Chairman quickly took time to recognize the presence of senior members of the Bar present at the meeting amongst who were – Mr. Ayo Akintunde, SAN, Mr. Wole Adesokan, SAN, Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN, Mrs. Titilola Akinlawon, SAN. The Chairman also stated that the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro sent his apologies as he wanted to be at the meeting but he had to appear at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.
Treasurer’s Report/Budget 2018/2019
The Treasurer gave her report and also presented the budget for 2018/2019 year. Members were allowed to ask questions and make comments. Some few comments were made and some questions were asked. Mrs. Usoro asked how the last budget performed. The Treasurer gave an answer which appeared satisfactory to her. The Chairman thanked the Chairman of the Finance Committee, Chief Sadipe for his support.
Any Other Matter
The Prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria – after deliberation amongst members, the Branch aligned itself with the position of the national body, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on the prosecution of the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Honourable Justice Walter Onnoghen, GCON on charges of non-declaration of assets, to the extent that the rule of law must prevail.
The position was taken when the Chairman brought up the matter for deliberation. Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN stated that it was already late to be issuing press statements as the matter was already subject of litigation and that best thing for the Branch to do was to align with the position of the parent body, NBA on the ground that rule of law must prevail.
Several other members spoke on the matter. Some were of the view that the matter could be handled by the NBA by calling out the Vice-President and the Attorney-General of the Federation on the matter as they are senior members of the Bar. Chief Emeka Ngige, SAN rose to state that in the circumstances, it is only the Attorney-General of the Federation that could be asked any question on the matter, if any at all, as he is the chief law officer and the number one prosecutor of the federation. He posited that if the association is calling out the Vice-president on the matter only on the ground that he is a lawyer then all the lawyers in this government should probably be asked questions. He therefore suggested that any question that has to be asked on the matter by the Bar should be directed to the Attorney-General of the Federation. Some members also stated that the official statement of the NBA President released to members had sentimental undertones and that the Branch should avoid sentiments but stand with the national body only on the ground that rule of law must prevail.
Another senior member of the Branch stated that the Bar is already acting too late on the assault on the judiciary. He stated that when the doors of a judge’s residence were broken, the Bar did nothing and that it had gotten to the CJN the Bar wants to take a position. He nevertheless advised that
an action has to be taken.
Some senior lawyers agreed with the position of Chief Emeka Ngige SAN that the Branch should align itself with the national body on the ground that the rule of law should prevail and the Chairman of the Branch made pronouncement in that regard.
Branch Elections – the Chairman reminded members that it is an election year and called on the chairman of Electoral Committee, Mr. Ayo Akintunde, SAN to speak with members. The smooth talker learned silk informed members that the election is going to be by electronic voting and other branches and even the national body would admire the branch for same. He further stated that the committee needs the support of members for the exercise to be successful. He urged members to update their information with the Secretariat and to endure that all information are clearly, accurately and promptly given to the Branch’s Secretariat so that the e-voting would be a huge success.
Meeting Attendance – the Chairman brought up the issue of members who write the names of other members who did not attend meetings. He warned that any member caught in the act would be proceeded against on grounds of professional misconduct. He urged members to desist from the act as measures would be put in place to get erring members from the next meeting.
Mr. Ajose Adeogun – The Chairman also enjoined members to appreciate members who sponsor meetings as members’ number is growing regularly and it is becoming increasingly difficult to get members to sponsor the meetings. The former chairman of the Branch who was called upon to give a vote of thanks to Mr. Ajose Adeogun (who was not present at the meeting), the sponsor of the meeting, also towed the line of the Chairman. He enjoined members to appreciate members who sponsor the meetings as it is a huge sacrifice for the Branch. He asked for any member from Mr. Adeogun’s firm or a friend who could accept the vote of thanks on behalf of the learned sponsor but there was nobody to accept the vote of thanks on behalf of Mr. Adeogun. The former Chairman delivered the vote thanks.
The meeting came to a close at 4:47 p.m.