TheNigeriaLawyer recalls that the Annual General Meeting of the Bar wherein nominated was done into the Bar Council was during the Austin Alegeh, SAN led NBA administration, held at the International Conference Center, Abuja on Thursday, 27th day of August, 2015.
However, the then NBA President, Alegeh, SAN proposed to the AGM the names of the members to fill the vacant positions in the General Bar Council and which were accordingly adopted and ratified, namely:
THE MINUTES OF 2015 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING (AGM) OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION HELD AT THE INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE CENTER, ABUJA ON THURSDAY, 27TH AUGUST, 2015.
1.1 The meeting was called to order by the President, Augustine Alegeh,SAN at 10:30am.
1.2 NBA PRAYERS: The NBA Prayer was read by Anthony Ani,Esq., a former Attorney- General of Enugu State.
2.0 PRESIDENT’S OPENING SPEECH
2.1 The President, Augustine Alegeh, SAN, welcome members to the 2015 Bar Annual General Conference. He informed members of the passing away of a Past General Secretary, Segun Onakoya, Esq., in the early hours of the day, at the age of 74.
2.2 A minute silence was observed in memory of the deceased.
3.0 THE AGM AGENDA
3.1 The Agenda of the Annual General Meeting contained at page 7 of the
Annual Report and page 47 of the Conference Brochure was read by General Secretary, Mazi Afam Osigwe. He apologised for the omission of two major items on the agenda. The omitted items were:
- Voting on the new NBA Constitution; and ii. Election into the General Council of the Bar.
3.2 The Agenda was thereby corrected as follows:
- OFFICERS REPORT
- PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT
- SECRETARYS REPORT
- TREASURERS REPORT
- VOTING ON NEW NBA CONSTITUTION
- ELECTION TO GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE BAR.
- STATUTORY REPORTS
- COUNCIL OF LEGAL EDUCATION
- CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION
- LEGAL AID COUNCIL
- NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHT COMMISSION
- NIGERIAN INSTITUTE OF ADVANCED LEGAL STUDIES.
- ADOPTION OF A COMMUNIQUE
3.3 THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION:The General- Secretary reported that the draft of the proposed Constitution was circulated at the Sokoto NEC Meeting and also forwarded by e-mail to all Past Presidents, Past General Secretaries and Senior Advocates of Nigeria . He also reported that the hard copy of the draft Constitution was also circulated to all branches as well as those menat to receive same. The notice of voting on the new Constitution has been given to all Branches. The highlights of the proposed
Constitution was read out, which include
- To introduce e-voting for NBA elections.
- To allow only members who pay practice fees before March 31, to vote in the elections.
- To introduce a Uniform Bye laws for all branches.
- To keep up with the modern trends and practices.
- To limit what a candidate can do in respect to campaigns.
3.4 PROCEDURE FOR VOTING ON THE NEW CONSTITUTION: Only delegates are entitled to vote. Notice had been earlier sent to the Branches to constitute their delegates. Each Branch was entitled to have a minimum of ten (10) delegates. Branches were entitled to an extra member for every 100 members that pay practicing fees on or before 31st March. The Branches who were yet to constitute their delegates were allowed to do so before the voting. Also the newly created Branches of Barnawa and Udu were alowed to vote.
4.0 MINUTES OF THE LAST AGM
4.1 The Minutes of the 2014 AGM held at Imo International Conference Centre, Owerri, Imo State on Thursday, 28th August, 2014 contained at pages 454- 457 of the Annual Report was presented by Emeka Obegolu, Esq., the immediate past General Secretary.
4.2 Chief John Ochoga moved for the adoption of the minutes for discussion and was seconded by Mrs Stella Ugboma.
5.0 MATTERS ARISING FROM THE LAST MINUTES
5.1 There were no matters arising from the minutes.
6.0 NATIONAL OFFICERS REPORTS
6.1 PRESIDENT’S STATEMENT: The President’s Statement at pages 8 – 9 of the Annual Report was adopted by the President. The President announced the order for voting on the new Constitution which was to take place contemproneosly with the meeting. The lists of voters included the Past Presidents, Past General Secretaries, Senior Advocates and Honourable Benchers. The Branches would vote through delegates and in order to be announced in due course. The National officers though entitled to vote were to abstain in the interest of transparency and neutrality.
6.2 On the proposed Constitution, the President noted that there were divergent views on some of the part, but assured that amendments could be made from time to time. He urged the delegates to vote freely and according to their conscience on the matter.
6.3 The President also announced that the election into the General Bar Council will be deffered till the end of other delebrations.
6.4 SECRETARY’S REPORT: The General Secretary in presenting his report pursuant to the provisions of Section 13 (e) of NBA Constitution adopted the Reports at pages 10 – 457, including the activities of the NBA from September 2014 to August,2015.
6.5 ADOPTION OF THE REPORT:The Motion for the adoption of the National Officers’ Reports was moved by Emeka Obegolu, Esq., and was seconded by Chief J.0 Adewunmi, immediate past Chairman of Ado Ekiti Branch.
6.6 COMMENTS: Oluwaseyi Olawumi, Secretary, Ikeja Branch observed that the names in item 25 on page 26 item 25 did not reflect the new Branch officers. The error is noted for subsquent corrections.
6.7 There was a suggestion that the Annual Report be circulated to members ahead of the AGM for proper scrutiny. However, it was resolved that the practice is to give the reports at the Meeting and not before the meeting. Notwithstanding, the National Secretariat had introduced an e- mail circulation of theAnnual Report to enable members read the reports electronically. The effectiveness will however, depend on the proper data capturing of members to include correct e-mail addresses.
7.0 TREASURER’S REPORT
7.1 The Treasurer, Ms. Amina Ibrahim adopted the Treasurer’s Report for the year 2014/2015. The error at pages 75 – 85 was amended to read Women Forum Report.
7.2 ADOPTION OF THE REPORT: Ibrahim Eddy Mark, Esq., moved the motion for the adoption of the Treasurer’s Report for discussion and was seconded by Chief Ogbonna Igwenyi.
7.3 COMMENTS: Ichie L. L. Ejiofor commended the President and the Treasurer for the proper management of the NBA account.
7.4 Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu, Esq., suggested that the report be presented by the Auditors who should have given a proper explanation on matters arising from the report. The President quickly responded by stating that the NBAConstituiton mandates the Treasurer to present the report. The presence of the auditor at the meeting was to assist the Treasurer when there is a need, but he has no right of audience at the AGM.
7.5 Paul Omoediabe, Esq., observed that the Treasurer’s report is supposed to give flesh to the auditors report. He noted that the report at page 12 did not properly capture the break down of figures on the gratuityand terminal benefit as well as the President’s dinner for the new SAN. Suggested that this be noted in the subsequent reports.The Treasurer however, drew his attention to to the explanatory note at page 4 of the Report.
7.6 RESOLUTION: The Treasurer’s Report was formally adopted.
8.0 STATUTORY REPORTS
8.1 COUNCIL OF LEGAL EDUCATION: The Director General of the Nigeria Law School, O. A. Onadeko, Esq., presented the report on pages 5-10 of the Statutory Report. He observed that the report given by the media on the reuslts of the students are false. The correct statistic is that 61.5 % students passed and not 20% as reported by the media.
8.2 The DG specifically acknowledged the supports of the Classes of ’86 and ’89 of the Nigeria Law School. He appealed to the other Sets to emulate them and contribute and donate generously to the projects of the Institution. He concluded by thanking the President of the NBA for his leadership role and continuing supports and cooperations.
8.3 The Motion for the adoption of the Report was moved by J.S Okutepa SAN, and was seconded by Lady Debbie N. Obodoukwu.
8.4 COMMENTS: O. C. J. Okocha, SAN, Chairman, Council of Legal Education commended the D.G. Law School for the wonderful presentation of the Report. He commented on the matter of the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN) that runs correspondence course, he stated that the Council is in strong opposition to those who wanted to go to law School through “back door” in sustaining the values of the profession. Similarly, the Council also make it a requirement for the lawyers practising in the UK
and the Wales to sit for the final Bar Examinations to be entitled to call to the Nigerian Bar.
8.5 RESOLUTION: The Report of the Council of Legal Education was adopted.
8.6 CORPORATE AFFAIRS COMMISSION:The Report of the Commission was presented by the Registrar- General, Bello Mahmud, Esq., as contained on pages 47 – 52 of the Statutory Report. He urged the NBA to strive to convince the Federal Government to amend the CAMA to allow a Legal Practitioner of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria or a very senior member of the Bar to be appointed as the Chairman of the Commission so as to add value to the work of the Commission.
8.7 ADOPTION: R. A. Lawal -Rabana, SAN, moved the motion for the adoption of the report and was seconded by Garba Tetengi, SAN.
8.8 COMMENTS: Chuks Nwana, Esq, raised the issue of the implementation of the NBA stamps and seal at the CAC and called for a strict compliance by the Commission on all legal documents presented for filing. Precious Nwadimuya, Esq., commented on the poor services of the CAC portal and also called for more training for the CAC staff on the use of the portal. Mazi Okechukwu Unegbu urged the CAC to look into the activities of its staff, and attitude to money related issues.
8.9 Belema Gareth noted that by the new directives of the Minister, CAC seems no longer to be the exclusive activities of Lawyers, Chartered Secretaries and Accountants. It has now become all comers affair. The President in response observed that since the directive has a binding effect of law as a subsidiary legislation, there is little NBA can do in that regard as the Registrar General may be acting in breach of the law if he prevents other persons from filing processes pursuant to the directives signed by the Minister, which is the law for now.
8.10 RESOLUTION: The Report of the CAC was adopted.
8.11 LEGAL AID COUNCIL: The Director General of the Council, Mrs. Joy Bob- Manuel presented the report which was contained on pages 53 to 61 of the Statutory Report Bundle.
8.12 ADOPTION: Akuro George, Esq., Port Harcourt Branch, moved the motion for the adoption of the report, and was seconded by D O C Ezeigwe, Esq.
8.13 COMMENTS: Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, SAN commended the Legal Aid Council for the new Headquarters building at Gimbiya Street, Abuja which is almost ready.
8.14 Dr. Mrs. Foluke Dada, the Chairperson of Ado Ekiti Branch called on the Legal aid Council to pay practicing fees of its staff early enough. She also urged the Council to be more proactive on the prison decongestion exercise.
8.15 The Director – General of the Council in her response stated that funds had always been the challenge of the Council.
8.16 A. T. Alukwo of Oleh Branch, commented on the grievance of some lawyers towards the Legal Aid Council on the credits it claimed or took in some pro bono cases done by most lawyers.
8.17 Promise Uchekwo J P, of Isiokpo Branch sought to know the arrangements that the Legal Aid Council has for lawyers who have passion for and do most of those pro bono cases.
8.18 The President explained that there is a Pro Bono Declaration of NBA. Interested persons should key into the program and forward such pro bono cases to the NBA Pro bono Centre for certification.
8.19 Director General stated that there were no funds for prison decongestion programs. The legal aid council relies on collaboration with private individuals.
8.20 It was resolved that the Director General should submit a written report to the Secretariat on the present position of the prison decongestion programme.
8.21 RESOLUTION: the report of the Council was formally adopted.
8.22 NATIONAL INSTUTE OF ADVANCED LEGAL STUDIES: The Secretary of the Institute, James Bartner, presented the Report at pages 25-39 of the Statutory Report Bundle on behalf of Director General, Prof. Deji Adekunle.
8.23 ADOPTION: Hon. Justice A. Olateru- Olagbegi (RTD), past General Secretary, moved for the adoption of the report and was seconded by S.B. Onu Esq. of Lagos Branch.
8.24 COMMENTS: There was a comment on persons employed by the Institute but not allowed to resume duty. The Secretary of the Institute informed that the Institute is still working towards resolving the issue.
8.25 Jonathan Ekperusi of Warri Branch observed that the activities of the Institute are too far remote from the average lawyer. He appealed to the management of the Institute to circulate its programs.
8.26 He also used the opportunity to thank the President of the Bar Augustine
Alegeh, SAN, and the General Secretary for their intervention in rescuing
him from the hands of men of the F R S C who arbitrarily, impounded his vehicle on his way to the Annual General Conference.
8.27 O. C. J. Okocha, JP, SAN, also commended the President for his timely intervention in the matter of our colleague from the hands of men of the FRSC. He urged that the officers should be identified for reprimand by their boss.
8.28 RESOLUTION: The Report was formally approved.
8.29 NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: The report of the Commission at page 11-24 of the Statutory Report was presented by the representative of the Executive Secretary to the Commission, Ledak Dafer, Esq.
8.30 ADOPTION: The motion for the adoption of the report was moved by Tolu Babaleye, Esq. of Abuja Branch and was seconded by Sebastian Anyia, Esq. of Aguata Branch.
8.31 COMMENTS: Adenike Adetara sought to know the Commission’s plans for those who have interest in human right matters.
8.32 Ahmed Tijani Yusuf of Abuja branch suggested that the Commission should send out some of its staff to some police stations within and around Abuja, to look into some human right violation cases. He also drew the attention to the issue of lawyers who were not allowed to take their phones into the Federal High Court, Abuja.
8.33 The President noted that issue of phone at the Federal High Court, Abuja was a local issue which should be escalated by the Abuja Branch Chairman but if Branch was unable to resolve it then it could be referred to the National.
8.34 J. S. Okutepa, SAN, complained about the attitude of the police, VIO and Federal Road Safety Commission in Nigeria. He reiterated the need for the officers to be civil in the manner of their operation. He also urged the Commission to be more proactive in handling the report of human rights abuse.
8.35 Cynthia Obasi Azor from Enugu Branch complained about arbitrary detention and the issue of holding charge by the Police. She drew attention to the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) which prescribed a time limit for detention on holding charge. She urged the Commission to look into it and ensure that the provision is not extended unnecessarily.
8.36 Mrs C. P. Egwuatu of Port Harcourt Branch, appealed to the Commission to assist her to secure the release of her client and baby that is currently in custody. She was however asked to meet with the presenter privately.
8.37 Babakura Kaka from Maiduguri Branch commented on human right violations in the North- East and particularly on lack of access by the detainees to family members and friends. He also condemned the deplorable conditions of the detainees in detention at military facilities. He appealed to the Commission to do something on the matter.
8.38 Nelson Ogbuanya of Lagos Branch commented on Lawyers converting civil and commercial briefs to criminal matters. He urged the need to take disciplinary action on colleagues who use such approach to handle their cases.
8.39 The President responded that if there were any such cases brought to his attention, the NBA will certainly, do something about it.
8.40 G. S. Agada- Igwu of Asaba Branch raised the issue of human right abuse by the police.
8.41 Ziggy Azike of Lagos Branch commented on the issue of detention of the nursing mother with their babies.
8.42 Chinenye Ude of Ikeja Branch sought to know if there was proper machinery to compensate individuals whose rights have been violated after they were released from unlawful detention.
8.43 RESPONSE: The representative of the Executive Secretary stated that efforts were being made to establish branches of the Commission in all the States of the Federation. The budget of the Commission could not accommodate offices at every police station as suggested. However there is a human right desk in every command although not in every nooks and crannies of the country.
8.44 On the issue of Special Anti -Robbery Squad (SARS) harassing lawyers while intervening on behalf of their clients, he assured that there would be intervention of the Commission in those areas although the Commission has been intervening hitherto on individual basis. He urged that lawyers should also cooperate with the Commission and be circumspect on their intervention on behalf of alleged human right violations.
8.45 The matter of holding charge falls within the ambit of law.
8.46 On access to detainees within the police and military formations, he explained that the Commission has the mandate under its laws to make orders for compensation to the victims of human right abuse.
8.47 He however observed that many of the cases determined by the Commission have gone on appeal and attended by stay of execution orders.
8.48 RESOLUTION: The report of the Commission was formally approved.
8.49 NIGERIAN LAW REFORM COMMISSION: The Acting Chairman of the Commission was absent but the report of the Commission as contained at pages 40 – 46 of the Statutory Report Bundle was deemed as read and adopted.
8.50 RESOLUTION: It was resolved that the General Secretary should send a letter to the Acting Chairman of the Commission Kefas M. Magaji, Esq. on the reason for his absence at the Annual General Meeting.
9.1 There were no pending Motions.
10.0 ELECTION INTO THE GENERAL COUNCIL OF THE BAR
10.1 The President proposed the following names for ratification by the AGM to fill the vacant positions at the General Council of the Bar:
- AUGUSTINE ALEGEH SAN
- B DAUDU SAN
- OKEY WALI SAN
- ADEDGBOYEGA SOLOMON AWOMOLO SAN
- CHIEF NIYI AKINTOLA, SAN
- A. LAWAL-RABANA, SAN
- TAYO OYETIBO SAN
- FERDINAND ORBIH, SAN
- B. MAHMUD, SAN
- J-K GADZAMA SAN
- FABIAN AJOGWU SAN
- OKEY AMAECHI SAN
- SOLOMON UMOH SAN
- DR GARBA TETENGI SAN
- JUBRIN S. OKUTEPA SAN
- ANOZIE OBI
- AFAM OSIGWE, ESQ
- RASAQ ISENALUMHE
- CHIDI ONYIUKE
- TITI AKINLAWON
- RESOLUTION: The proposed names were adopted and ratified and the persons so named were deemed elected into the General Council of the Bar.
- There was a suggestion that the election into the Council should also be made open to junior lawyers.
- O. B.
- RECOGNITION OF SOME ELDERS AT THE BAR: The President acknowledged the presence of some elders at the bar. They include, Chief Guy Ike Ikokwu, Pa. Tunji Gomez, Afro Fayokun, (past General – Secretary), Basil Nwogu, Dr. Kingsley Nwachukwu, Chief Tunji Arosonyin, Ichie L.M. Ezeofor, Prince Tunde Olasore and Prince Tunji Arosanyin.
- PRESENTATION OF AWARD BY LAWYERS IN MILITARY FORUM:
Commodore L.N Ugwu, Chairman of the Lawyers in the Military Forum formally made a presentation of award to the President, Augustine Alegeh, SAN on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff and Lawyers in the Military Forum. He appealed to NBA to assist in ensuring that lawyers in the armed forces were accorded the right to official practice. He observed that there is a restriction imposed on them by rule 48 of RPC.
- BOOK PRESENTATION: A Book on Company Law, by Nweke Esq. will be presented on Friday.
- COMMENDATIONS: Honourable Justice A. Olateru-Olagbegi (retd.) expressed satisfaction on the well conducted conference. He commended the President and the executive committee and the Executive Director of NBA for the success.
- He also commented on issue of arbitration. He suggested that a proposal be made for the conferment of the privilege of Senior Advocate of Nigeria to give preference to those who have handled arbitration matters as well as presentation of decisions on mediation and arbitration arising from law courts such as Lagos Multi Door Court and (LMDC) and Abuja Multi Door Court (AMDC).
- He condemned resistance shown by some colleagues to ADR and opined that if there are attractions and recognitions given to the practice, there will be encouragement to engage in the practice.
- RESPONSE: The President responded that the matter is well noted and will be presented before the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria who is Chairman of Legal Practitioner Privileges Committee (LPPC).
- Mazi Okechukwu Nnegbu commented on the embarrassment of lawyers at the Austria Embassy while applying for the visa to travel for the IBA in Vienna. It was suggested that a letter of complaint should be addressed to Embassy by the NBA to take necessary actions.
- The issue of corruption as raised by President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening ceremony of the Conference was called for discussion under AOB.
- It was observed that corruption has eaten so deep into the fabric of the Nigerian Society and we must do something as an association to stop corruption amongst lawyers. Having undertaken to fight against corruption in all ramifications, let us all go out and walk the talk by playing our roles as lawyers.
- Pastor Adewunmi suggested that the conference papers should be made available for everybody and if need be at a cost. The Conference Communiqué should also be published as press release in the media for circulation.
- He appreciated the improvement on the conference organisation and suggested that at the future conferences the people who serve food at friendship centre should be given separate places from other food vendors.
- S.Okutepa, SAN suggested online mentorship program for Law School students.
- A. Lawal-Rabana, SAN, commended the President particularly, on the achievements on the following:
- Stamp and Seal ii. Bar Secretariat iii. Insurance iv. Practising license,
He suggested that practising license that can be easily carried about should be given a thought.
11.15 On Continuing Legal Education he suggested that there must be a uniform program consistent with the aspiration of everyone, for all members to key into at the Annual General Conferences. The program is to sustain ethics and tradition of the Bar. He urged the president to look at it at the next leg
11.16 The President was commended on the integration of the elder statesmen of the Bar. It was also suggested that deserving junior lawyers should also be acknowledge.
11.17 J-K Gadzama, SAN commented on the practising license and suggested that it should be made accessible online and on payment of the Bar Practising fee.
11.18 Lawyers were advised to fill and submit their insurance forms to make the policy effective and accessible when the need occur.
11.19 Chief Afro Fayokun, past General Secretary NBA congratulated the president for a well organised conference and urged the executive committee to improve on it. He thanked the executive committee on behalf of the elder statesmen of the Bar for the honours and privileges accorded to them.
11.20 He also called for pro-activeness in the fight against corruption. He noted that the Bar has power to discipline its erring members. Finally, he urged the restructuring of the Disciplinary Committee of the Body of Benchers for effective disposal of cases of misconduct found against erring legal practitioners.
11.21 PROPOSED NATIONAL SUMMMIT ON LEGAL EDUCATION: The President announced his proposal to convey a National Summit on Legal Education.
11.22 CONFERENCE REGISTRATION: The President took personal responsibility and apologised for the glitches in the process of registration for the conference. Politicians were advised on the need for keeping the promises of the election campaigns.
12.0 VOTING ON THE NEW NBA CONSTITUTION
12.1 The result of the voting on the proposed new NBA Constitution was announced as follows:
- “No” votes: 123
- “Yes” votes: 462
- Void: 5
- Total votes cast: 590
- Total valid votes: 585
- Total accredited voters: 1696
- 2/3 of the total valid votes required to pass the new Constitution: 399
- 1/3 of the total valid votes required to defeat the new Constitution: 198
- RESOLUTION: The new Constitution of NBA having met the requirements of the votes for its adoption is accordingly adopted as the Nigerian Bar Association Constitution, 2015; and immediately became effective.
- Uche Ekwueme of Lagos Branch observed that there was no transitional or saving provision in the Constitution.
13.1 The motion for adjournment was moved by Seni Adio, Esq. and was seconded by Mrs Nella A. Lawal –Rabana, SAN.
14.1 CLOSING PRAYERS: The closing prayers were said by Inuwa Abdukadir, Esq.
and Mrs Stella Ugboma.
14.2 The meeting formally ended at about 6.15pm.
AUGUSTINE O. ALEGEH AFAM OSIGWE
PRESIDENT GENERAL SECRETARY
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