I got to the Foyer of the High Court of Lagos State at 12:43 pm.
The meeting commenced at 1:19 p.m. The Chairman of the Branch called the meeting to order and called on Chief Ajomale to give the opening prayer. For the first time I noticed that he read a prepared NBA prayer from a projector’s screen. I was informed by a colleague that was the standard NBA prayer. So we have an NBA prayer; I need to pay more attention to these NBA, things, I thought.
After welcoming members to the meeting, the Chairman announced that the meeting shall not exceed two hours; he said something about a resolution of the National Executive Council (NEC) in that regard.
The Chairman quickly stated that the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN sent his apologies for his absence as he was in Rome for the International Bar Association (IBA) Conference.
He also stated that Mr. Nylander was the person sponsoring the meeting.
We entered into the minutes of last month’s meeting. There was no correction made to same. One Mr. Aderemi Oguntoye moved for the adoption of the minutes of September 2018 and same was seconded by Mr. Adebola Leman. The minutes of September’s meeting was adopted.
Olakunle Karim – do you remember the young lawyer that was assaulted by policemen in the office of his former Boss? The Chairman stated that an action was instituted at the Federal High Court, Lagos Division against the Police because the Police failed to meet all the Branch’s demands. And the suit is before Honorable Justice Buba. He stated that the matter was supposed to come up in court on 3rd of October 2018 but the court did not sit.
Land for Bar Centre – the Chairman reminded members of the resolution to build the Lagos NBA Bar Centre on the land in Lekki given by the Lagos State Government to the Branch. He stated that following the recommendation of the Mr. Tunde Busari, SAN led Committee on the land for the payment of N10M to the erstwhile developer; the land is now free for development.
Welfare Scheme – the Chairman stated that when the current administration took over affairs of the association it was discovered there was no welfare scheme for members and decided to put one in place so there will be a structure in place for the scheme. To that end, a Welfare Committee was set up to look into the matter and come up with a blueprint on the welfare scheme. He stated that the committee’s report had been circulated; I did not have one but it seemed a lot of members had the report.
He called for comments on the report. Mr. Njeteneh stated that on his part, he would prefer that the scheme should dwell more on the welfare of members whilst they are alive rather than when deceased. So he suggested that the life insurance scheme be re-negotiated so that health insurance is included so that more members could benefit while they are alive.
The issue of the eligibility for welfare benefits was discussed. It appeared that the committee in its report recommended at least five (5) meeting appearances for eligibility. Some members suggested that the appearance be reduced to two others advocated for ‘no meeting appearance’. Eventually the Chairman put the decision to a voice vote and the ‘no appearance’ had the day. On the welfare package for weddings, a member, Mr. Dan Wiski (the member was far away from me and I could not ask how the name was spelt so I wrote as I heard it) submitted that the sum of Twenty Thousand Naira (N20,000) was too small (he looked like a bachelor) and the Chairman asked him what he would consider as adequate to which he said Fifty Thousand Naira (N50,000). Another member was against giving money for weddings (he looked like a married man). He stated that we should not encourage an entitlement culture as the decision to marry is a personal decision and should be treated as such. Another member argued that since no one is against giving money to the family of a deceased member why should we not give money to a member who wants to get married (seemed to be a fan of Njetenh suggestion. Let the association take care of members whilst they are alive). He stated that if the decision to get married is personal, that death is even more personal. He supported the decision to give money for wedding celebrations. It was not clear whether the amount would be revised but I have no doubt that aspect of the welfare package would remain intact.
Young Lawyers Mentorship – Mr. Tobenna stated that the mentorship session for young lawyers would hold in November and participation has been pegged at one hundred participants. He stated that Mr. Anthony Idigbe, SAN has agreed to sponsor the said event.
Knowledge Sharing Session – the speaker for the month’s knowledge sharing session was Mr. Uchechukwu Attoh. The topic of the session was “Negotiating Skills”. He spoke succinctly and direct to the point. What I could not forget was the introductory part in respect of the daily praying terms of the Muslims where he said that if the Prophet (SAW) was not a skillful negotiator, Muslims would have been praying fifty (50) times per day! Mehn that one no go easy oo. He negotiated with God from 50 to 5 times daily. I made a mental note of asking my Muslim friends about the story. Fifty times daily! I was so happy the Prophet (SAW) was a skilful negotiator.
The Chairman called on Mr. Wale Akanni, SAN to thank Mr. Attoh for the presentation. The Chairman also called on Mr. Ayo Akintunde, SAN to thank Mr. Nylander being the sponsor of the Branch meeting for the month and the Learned Silk did so with a politician smile to Mr. Nylander who acknowledged with a gentle nod, a modest smile and a cool body language.
Financial Report – the Treasurer gave a summary of the financial position as at the end of august 2018 after which the Chairman invited members to ask questions and make comments. As usual, this is one place where members must ask questions or make remarks. A colleague asked whether the money promised and given by the NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN to an ill member was from the Branch’s till or from the President to which the Chairman answered that it was from the President.
Any Other Matter
Judiciary Committee – the Chairman stated that the Committee met with the Chief Judge (CJ) of Lagos State led by the Chairman of the Committee, Mrs. Funke Adekoya, SAN. One of the complaints laid before the CJ was that the One Thousand Naira (N1,000) charged for services at the archives for every year since the matter was concluded was unreasonable in addition to the flat rate of Five Thousand Naira (N5,000) that has to be paid. He stated that they also informed the CJ that Judges who would not sit should endeavor to send information to Counsel so that time and resources would not be wasted. He stated also that the executives of all the NBA Branches in Lagos met with Mr. Femi Falana, SAN on matters that affect practice in the state and it was resolved that all the branches would meet the CJ together instead of having separate meetings with the CJ. He stated that meetings would also be held with the CJ of the Federal High Court and that of National Industrial Court.
Young Lawyers’ Summit – the Secretary announced that the Young Lawyers’ summit would take place on the 16th and 17th of October 2018 at the Foyer of High Court of Lagos State.
Commencement of the New Legal Year – the Secretary of the Branch announced that the new Legal Year would commence with services at the Cathedral Church, Marina, Lagos and the Central Mosque, Nnamdi Azikiwe Street, Lagos at 10:00 a.m. respectively.
Hygeia – the Chairman invited the representative of Hygeia to talk to members. Hygeia had in September given free medical screening to members at the Foyer. The Representative spoke about their health insurance plans and the attractions. He summed it up by stating that one the affordable plans would cover child birth and specific ailments like diabetes.
The meeting came to an end at 3:59 p.m.
True to the Chairman’s words, the meeting did not exceed two hours.