Day 5 was the bomb!
We began with an interactive session with the national executives of the NBA. This was an avenue to iron out any grievances members may have before the Annual General Meeting (AGM) that would be held on Thursday, 27th August 2015.
Justice Olateru-Olagbegi chaired the session. Mazi Afam Osigwe began by shedding light on some of the policies of the present national executives. The various reoccurring questions about the seal and stamp policy was answered and he shed more light on other good policies of the present executives and how members could benefit from them.
This included the insurance scheme, the NBA ID card and discounts available to NBA members on the use of certain services in various hotels. He also intimated members on how to use the NBA Secretariat to resolve disputes or report erring members for disciplinary sanctions.
Furthermore, he said the NBA was also issuing introduction letters to members applying for visas in foreign embassies. We later caught up with Mazi Afam Osigwe and he graciously obliged our request for an interview where he can elaborately discuss these policies. Do keep a date.
Many of the questions bothered on the stamp and seal policy. 2 Delegates asked that the stamp and seal policy be extended to setting up a uniform fee arrangement so that lawyers will have minimum fees they can charge on transactions. Some other delegate suggested the appointment of a registrar of deeds for lawyers who will ensure that the stamped document complied with any prescribed minimum fees which ought to be charged for its preparation.
Another lawyer complained about the fact that some people’s applications for the stamps were not successful as the website failed to verify their status as lawyers. A delegate opined that the stamp policy was discriminatory as it denied lawyers in public service the opportunity to even do pro bono services to their family members since the colour of their stamps is different from the stamps of those in private practice.
Yet another lawyer asked that the price of the stamps be reviewed downwards as paying N4, 000. 00 per set of 120 stamps was very exorbitant.
Law Pavillion got some tongue lashing from a lawyer who expressed disappointment with the poor distribution of materials and organisation.
The NBA President apologised for Law Pavillions’ failures and lapses and took full responsibility for their failures. He explained that they received various bids for the project and that of Law Pavillion was the best. “But obviously, they have failed to live up to expectation”.
On the issue of setting a minimum fee lawyers could charge while using the stamp, the President said that the purpose of the stamp was to weed out fake lawyers from the profession and not to increase revenue for lawyers.
For the complaints of lawyers in public practice, he said that many lawyers in public service still have private law practice they manage and that same was illegal. He said the purpose of the different colours of the stamp would be to stop that as it would not be equitable if they are in salaried employment in the public service and yet engage in private practice.
On the issue of the high cost of the stamp, the president explained that it cost about N3,600. 00 to produce a set of stamp and when the cost of transportation and courier is added, it would be fair to sell them at N4, 000. 00. He further said that the expiry dates on the stamp would make them valid for just one year since practicing fees are paid yearly. “You are only entitled to fresh stamps at the beginning of the year after the payment of your practicing fees”.
On the issue of non-verification of many lawyers, the Mr. Osigwe explained that they had taken precautions to avoid identity theft by impersonators. He said all genuine complaints of non-verification would be resolved.
The Political Juggernauts
The open session commenced after the Pre-AGM with many political heavyweights. The session was chaired by the former CJN Justice Dahiru Musdapher, and featured many serving and ex-governors or their representative.
Based on theme of the role of lawyers in public service in national development, it featured the ex-governors Donald Duke, Babatunde Fashola, Godswill Akpabio and Liyel Imoke.
Serving governors of Bauchi (A.M. Abubakar), Sokoto (Tambuwal), Plateau (Lalong) were physically present while those of Rivers and Bayelsa were represented.
The IGP Solomon Arase was present while the Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives were represented too. The session featured a montage on the serving and ex-governors and they made brief remarks on their experiences in government as well as the challenges they faced.
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They all pointed out that their legal background had helped them in their jobs. According to Donald Duke, “if there is any profession that prepares you for leadership, it is the law”.
Fashola in his own remarks said that “there is an inspiring record of service across board by lawyers in public service”. He commended the NBA for recognising it. Akpabio spoke on the impact of his legal training on some of his policies such as the Free education policy which is backed up by the Child Rights Law. he further talked about the Infrastructure maintenance policy backed up by a State law made under his regime.
Lalong on his own part said the performance of fellow lawyers who were ex-governors had raised the bar and is a motivating factor for lawyers holding office.
Tambuwal talked about his experience as a lawmaker the impact of his legal training during his membership of the National Assembly.
The representative of Nyesom Wike drew thunderous applause when he attacked the indifference of the NBA to the plight of Rivers people following the shutting down of the courts in Rivers State in the last administration of Rotimi Amaechi.
He further accused many senior lawyers of indifference to their plight as many of them took advantage of the situation to earn high fees though spurious cases. The Rivers State Delegates applauded him.
The IGP Solomon Arase said the Policing is difficult but said policing will be done with a human face. Policing will be investigation driven, he said and further revealed that he would strengthen community partnership in community policing.
He further assured that tough measures are being taken against human rights abuses especially extra-judicial killings and appealed for understanding in public relations with the police. “Standing under the sun for 18 hours leads to temporally insanity, so show understanding when you relate with the police”, he concluded.
There were remarks from other people. The Bauchi State governor said only the implementation of the APC manifesto could save Nigeria and appealed for support for the Buhari. There were murmurs of disapproval. The Bar seems to be Anti-APC. Lol !
The session ended and there were many parallel sessions.
The sessions over, the Events centre came alive with music and dance. Joe Gadzama SAN, showed his skill on the dance floor. Taiwo Taiwo, the 1st Vice President and former Chairman of the Tiger branch, NBA Ikeja brought Lagos swag into the party as he gyrated to the beats in proper Eko fashion. He was a dancing peacock and you would not believe that it’s the same Tiger that led Ikeja Bar to fight any injustice that rears its ugly head. I hope to see Monday Ubani also show his skills soon.
Mazi Afam Osigwe as a proper nwa afo Igbo did not disappoint. He did his Igbo styled jigs to the Yoruba tunes earning him praises from the musician. Though I didn’t understand what the musician was saying as he poured encomiums on Osigwe, I didn’t hear any word that sounded like “Lagoon” so we are safe. Lol!
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The Lagos branch held their party at the Hotel De Bryant at Utako from 6 pm till late into the night. Heard it was nice as I did not attend. It cannot be as spicy as the Ikeja branch party. Tiger branch no fit carry last I swear! Lagos branch party make sense sha.
There was a pool party at the NICON Luxury too from 11 pm but I did not attend. My health was failing. It made me miss the parallel sessions earlier in the day as I had a cold and all the halls were fully air conditioned. I stayed outside and tried to type my stories but my health was a big impediment. That is why this Day 5 report is coming so late.
Please am serious about this. Someone sue Airtel on my behalf. I have been experiencing terrible service? Nah! It’s no internet service at all. I am not finding this funny again.
Please share this to your friends on social media. Encourage me to write more despite my failing health. Ejoor, biko, mabinu!
The Day 5 in numbers report comes up shortly.