My sister-in-law dropped me off at the ICC some minutes to 9 am on the 4th day of the conference. Security was still very tight with a combination of DSS, Mobile Police Officers, Soldiers and officers of the Civil Defence Corp manning the gates.
The security officers were however more friendly as they threw a cheerful hello to anyone who looked in their direction. As usual, bags were searched while delegates passed through metal detectors for bombs and other dangerous weapons.
Another Bad Start
The LOC and Law Pavillion or Perversion was yet to sort out the issue of distribution of conference materials on the 2nd day after the conference was formally declared open. The crowd of delegates searching for their name tags continued.
It was chaotic. Even the VIP section had people seething with rage. An attempt to take pictures of the VIP section put the VIPs on the edge and they unleashed their frustration on me. Threats were made but I escaped without a scratch (as a proper Lagos boy, lol!) or pictures.
Remedying the Situation!
The LOC and law perversion (Pavillion) had to allow Delegates who could not find their name tags to make do with hand written name tags. Those without meal tickets could also have their meals with their name tags after registering in a register indicating they have no meal no tickets.
So though I had no meal ticket, I still had breakfast in company of two friends. The day’s business had begun when we got to the African Hall in the ICC.
Osibanjo in the Building
I returned to the Africa Hall for the morning session when Prof. Yomi Osibanjo was making his speech. The morning session had begun. Titled “the Role of Law in National Development”, the morning session featured a keynote speech by Osibanjo and a panel session with very eminent panellists.
The Chief Judge of Borno State Justice Kashima Zanna made a presentation on the ICT revolution in the Judiciary. The presentation chronicled the gains made by the Judicial Information Technology Policy Committee.
Features include e-filings, e-service etc. A practical example of how the service could be used was demonstrated. We shall do a detailed report on how to use the ICT service which for now only works at the Supreme Court.
The Panel session
The panellists were Mr. J. B Daudu SAN from the Kaduna division and former president of the NBA, Elijah Banda President Pan African Lawyers Union who was represented by the Secretary-General of the Union, Nene Amegatcher President of the Ghana Bar Association, Rev. Father George Ehusani of Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Catholic Cathedral and Saudatu Mahdi of the Women’s Right Advancement and Protection Alternative. Olisa Agbakogba SAN moderated the session.
Joseph B. Daudu SAN
In his remarks, the former helmsman of the NBA suggested an immediate identification and weeding out of corrupt and erring judges to save the judiciary from the cancer of corruption. “What are we waiting for to weed out corrupt judges”, he queried. He also tackled the CJN’s earlier comments that most of the petitions written against Judges were baseless. “It takes a lot for a person to write a petition against a judge, no such petition should be treated with levity”. Finally, he suggested that judges should only be appointed on merit. He drew applauses in the midst of his speech.
The Ghanaian Bar President in his short presentation discussed the reforms that have taken place in the Ghanaian Judiciary. These include the use of ICT, decentralization of courts, prison decongestion and many more.
Rev. Father George Ehusani
Erudition and scholarship best describes the short presentation of the clergyman on the perception of lawyers by the public. He left no one in doubt of his impressive learning. He literally resurrected Justice Oputa with quotes and clichés of the Socrates of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
He said the purpose of law must be the attainment of justice and nothing more and frowned at use of law by the society’s high class to dominate the poor saying that both the framers and enforcers of such law who are judges and lawyers could not escape responsibility for such laws.
He charged the Bar to be alive to its duties of ensuring that the law is deployed to the fight of injustice and the protection of the weak. Lawyers he said should fight for the cause of justice by doing pro bono services.
He truly cast doubts on his assertion that he has never been to a law class with his scholarly sophistication and academic erudition.
Hajia Saudatu Mahdi
“We are backward because we have left women behind”
Hajia Mahdi began with that remark in reaction to J.B Daudu’s assertion that Nigeria is backward because we have relegated issues of economic development to the background while we hanker after political power. She asked the Bar to rise up and fight against domestic violence and ensure the protection of the rights of women and other minorities who are vulnerable. “Women don’t believe in the system and laws as even the constitution speaks to men only”, she said.
Despite the laudable provisions of the National Gender Policy, there is no political will to enforce it, she declared.
She also advised that lawyers should provide pro bono services to victims of domestic violence, adding that the number of pro bono cases an applicant to the rank of SAN is required to have undertaken should be reviewed upwards.
She further regretted that the abducted Chibok girls are yet to return more than a year after their abductions and asked:
“Who will take responsibility for the girls that will not return even if the rest are found?”
There was a question and answer session and lunch followed next.
Conference Material Blues
Dashed off to the NICON Luxury for a final attempt to get my conference materials but left defeated for lunch. The crowd was still much and there was no end in sight to the problem of distribution of conference materials.
Lunch was served the same way as breakfast. I took heavily spiced cold rice and chicken. Water was finished so had to buy water.
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Many parallel sessions were organised but I was able to attend the session chaired by Dr. Ibe Kachikwu on theme “Legal and Regulatory Framework of the Petroleum Industry in Nigeria: Review of Existing Laws and the Petroleum Industry”.
Lucius Nwosu SAN kick-started the session with a very critical review of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB).
I left the session after his speech and headed for another session. I wanted to get all the knowledge. My money no go waste. Lol !
I headed to the next session. There was a shouting match between lawyers I understood were from Rivers State who were pissed with Rotimi Amaechi’s presence. Under the latter’s tenure as governor, the Rivers State judiciary was shut down for nearly a year, leaving lawyers to groan in poverty.
The session was titled “Public Perception of Lawyers: Is the Esteem Justified?” Organised by the NBA section on Legal Practice, Rotimi Amaechi and Governor Adams Oshiomole co-chaired the session. Amaechi was allowed to speak after the NBA President calmed down the Rivers State delegates.
After hearing Amaechi and Oshiomole speak, I left for yet another session organised by the Young Lawyers Forum. Based on the theme “Generational Shift and Opportunities in Emerging Areas of Practice”, and chaired by the Ex-President of the NBA Mr. Okey Wali.
I exited that session for a tour of the Exhibition stand. Different products and services were on sale and I was able to seal some few deals for my blog. I booked appointments for more discussions with some other people.
I tried to post my stories online but network service was very poor and thus just had to make do with writing and editing till 7pm when I went to the events centre where a mad party was going on.
We danced till 9:30 pm when I got the news that the Aba warriors were trashed by the minions from Owerri branch in the football competition. Headed home.
Forgot to add that Law Pavillion had a free wifi service for delegates to benefit from and I used same when Airtel and MTN were messing up. I have not forgiven Law Pavillion despite the fact I used the service.
The rest of the incidents for Day 4 will appear in Day 4 AGC in Numbers!
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Ehen, I forgot to add that putting up all this is very difficult. The records show that over 300 readers visit the blog daily since we started the AGC reports which features two posts daily. Your comments, opinions and questions are welcome. That would be very encouraging! Also share this stories on your social media accounts so your friends can see them.
Finally this was posted late due to problems experienced with my internet services. I do apologise sincerely.