Could you introduce yourself
My name is Olukunle Edun. I was born on the 31st of March, 1974. I am from Abeokuta (the city under the rock) in Ogun State. I did my Primary education in Warri, Delta State. I was privileged to attend the famous Rev. Kuti Memorial Grammar School, Abeokuta and did my SSCE in 1990. In 1991 I was admitted into the Ogun State Polytechnic, Abeokuta to read Mass Communication but the program was cut short in my first year because I got admission into Ogun State University to read law. I completed my law degree program in 1997 and was privileged to be amongst the first set of Law School students to be trained at the Nigerian Law School, Abuja for the bar Part Two program. Then it was only one campus. I was called to the bar on the 29th day of September, 1999. Presently, I am a resident legal practitioner in Warri and a Co-Managing Partner of Tri-Lex Partners LP. I am happily married to my beautiful wife, Ngozi. We are blessed with three beautiful girls.
Do you think you are the best person for the office?
In all my life endeavors I do things with passion and for the love of it. Competition brings the best and society deserves the best human resources to bring developments to the people. I do not know of any person that may want to contest the same office with me. My records speak volumes about what I have done long before now, what I am still doing and what I will do for the bar and the general society. Not that l think, but l believe that I am the best for the office that I am contesting for.
Why do you think so?
I have served the bar (national and branch) in various capacities. I have consistently followed and participated in critical NBA decisions. I have been a member of the National Executive Committee of the NBA for 4 years now. I am a Council member of the Section on Public Interest and Development Law (SPIDEL). I am also a Council member of the NBA Human Right Institute. I am currently the Vice Chairman of the superlative NBA Warri branch. I am the Chairman of the branch Human Right Committee and the Pro Bono Committee. It will take a real bar man to understand the contending issues in the bar. It is only a real bar man that can man the office of National Publicity Secretary of NBA. I am a real bar man and I connect to all the members of the Association, from the all the various zones. I desire to bridge the communication gap between the NBA and its members. National officers are to serve the members, not the reverse.
What do you think is the number one problem in the bar?
The major challenge confronting the association is the issue of integrity of leadership. Leaders must fulfil their promise to members. NBA is not a political party and whatever manifesto we present to members to get their votes we should be sincere in fulfilling the terms. It is akin to a social contract. The relationship between the bar and the general public must improve. NBA is struggling to be heard whenever there are burning national issues. I think for many years we have not really worked on these communication gaps. If you do not blow your trumpet, nobody will blow it for you. I will ensure that all the activities of NBA are in the mainstream and online media. We are the voice of the people and the people must hear us loud and clear. We are the beacon for the promotion of rule of law. That is our mantra.
How do you intend solving it?
I shall engage the President and leadership of the bar on the need to make the NBA more responsive to the cries and yearnings of the members and the general public on various issues bordering on rule of law, impunity, official corruption and related issues. The final decision will not lie with me. The President calls the shot but I know that the in-coming President would encourage team work. I will give my opinion on issues and convince the leadership to accept my views. I may not succeed but failure is not a word in my dictionary.
What plans do you have in place to address the problem of young lawyers?
The plight of young lawyers in Nigeria has reached an alarming level. It is most unfair that after a young lawyer must have passed through the rigours of studying law and being called to the bar he still finds it difficult to join a functional chambers. Just this year alone my office absorbed two young lawyers. I know that the economy is not too good for all but the consequence of having young lawyers roaming the street would be terrible for the profession. Because they must survive they may resort to all means to survive which may include fraud, sharp practice and the like. I expect the leadership of the bar to convoke a special meeting for this purpose if we still want the society to respect the legal profession. Established offices should not drive away young lawyers. Amongst these young lawyers are potential Senior Advocates and Judges.
The issue of Fake Legal practitioners, how do you intend addressing it if elected?
I was a former Chair of NBA Warri Car Sticker and Fake Lawyers’ Committee. My Committee arrested more than 40 persons using NBA car stickers but without being lawyers. That is impersonation. Some of them were charged to court and entered plea bargain. DRTV and the Police were always with us whenever we went on road search every two months. I think the same tactics should be employed by other branches. I recognize the fact that the NBA stamp project is an innovation that has also helped in reducing the incidences of fake lawyers.
What post do you intend to vie for once the ban is lifted?
National Publicity Secretary.
Do you think the Nigerian Legal profession is meeting up with the best global practices?
Yes, but slowly. Law business in developed climes is a very serious business and not a business for a sole proprietor. The idea of using business names to establish a law firm shows a lack of appreciation of the serious nature of our work. Lawyers handle multi billion naira briefs for clients, local and international. There are risk elements in it too. There is no government agency or serious company that would want to do business with a sole proprietor. The risks are just too many. If the owner is sick or passes on, the firm is down thereafter and all the goodwill and intellectual properties of the firm are lost. NBA should consider it as a priority to drive the emergence of law partnerships. There are lots of benefits derivable from it. I know as a fact that the Legal Practitioners Privileged Committee has made it mandatory that SAN aspirants must now show evidence of being in a law partnership for a number of years before applying.
How do you intend solving the problem of the absence of NBA stamp and Seal online?
I think the major challenge is the distribution network from the branches to the National Secretariat. I think we have to improve on that. But for the issue of fraud and faking the stamps, zonal or local production should be encouraged. We have the various informal zonal fora and the NBA should consider how to have a working relationship with them. Nigeria is quite big. In the U.S, State bars are in vogue. When everything is centralized there are bound to be issues.
As the National Publicity Secretary aspirant, what’s your take on the newly developed supreme court Legal mail and how sustainable will it be?
It is long overdue and a welcome development. Service of court process in Nigeria is very challenging. This innovation will put a stop to it. I hope that this new scheme would be extended to other courts. I think NJC should also make it mandatory that all the superior courts have stenographers. It is still a very big surprise that the Supreme Court Justices write in long hands.
How do you intend addressing the issue of police brutality of lawyers when elected?
I am currently the Chairman of NBA Warri Human Right Committee. Just last week we filed two fundamental right enforcement actions in High Court Warri and High Court Effurun against the two DPOs covering the areas. We also sent petitions to the Inspector General of Police. These two DPOs assaulted lawyers who went to the stations to ask for bail for their clients. One of them was even accused to be a member of a criminal gang. One of the reliefs we are asking the Courts is to declare the officers as not being fit and proper persons to be officers of the Nigerian Police Force. Since we filed the actions there have been pressures from relations and friends of the Police officers for us to withdraw the cases but NBA Warri would still go ahead. I also know that recently members of Ikeja branch threatened to stage a walking protest. We must not relent. The Police are threatening our work, particularly the livelihood of young lawyers who most of the times have course to be at the Police Stations. Unless the bar stand united against Police brutality members of the public would lose confidence in us as lawyers to rescue them from Police harassment.
What is your acceptability rating?
I am a bar man and I have for several years exhibited passion to serve the NBA. My loyalty is to the NBA. When I contested for an office two years ago I was adopted by both the South West Lawyers’ Forum and the Midwest Lawyers’ Forum. I also have many friends and followers across the various branches of NBA. This is a friendship built over the years, not just because of election. I want to use this opportunity to thank the distinguished silks, elders at the bar and colleagues in all the NBA branches for their support, advice and more particularly believing in me to deliver on my manifesto.