Last week, when I wrote on the topic CHANGE OF GUARD: SHOULD THE NBA BE SPLIT? I was grossly misunderstood by some of our colleagues who thought I was clamouring for the splitting of the Association. It will be a wrong judgment to judge an article by its title. Since I have taken it upon myself to be writing weekly to share the little knowledge I know with our colleagues who are interested in knowing, my topical titles are always in question form. This is because as a thinker and writer, I do not want to be tyrannical on issues. I want our colleagues and other people to also express their views even if it seems I have taken a position on such issue. One of the essences of knowledge is to share it. I love what is called RIGHT TO REPLY in journalism as I love people writing to rebut whatever I have written and people consider it to be wrong. I equally detest being misunderstood without being asked to make clarification as that will open room for further discussion and understanding.
To judge an article from its heading or topic without more will be similar to what Hon. Justice Muhammed Lawal Uwais, a former CJN said to be an act of laziness on the part of a lawyer to merely read the head note or a ratio of a judgment without more. Those who have been following my write up on the platform will observe that whenever I write and identify some problems, I usually suggest some solutions to those problems. In the said article under review, I stated thus after having dwelt extensively on a particular issue that:
“…If we deny the existence of divergent views in NBA, it means we are not honest in this our analysis. Many lawyers are not pleased with what is going on in the NBA and as such have been raising their voices very loud and clear…”
To see whether I am justified or not by my position in that article, I will like to quote extensively from what the new NBA President, Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, said during his inaugural address. The learned silk had said:
“…I come into office as the 29th President of the NBA at a time that the Association is riven with and by acrimonious divisions of all sorts not to mention serious scepticism and distrust of the NBA leadership by our members. Those divisions and rifts did not start with the last Elections; they were simply exacerbated and made worse by these Elections. It is critical and urgent that we bind, heal wounds and restore unity in our House of Lawyers. We are strong only when united and together. Divided , we’re vulnerable and subject to external and devastating attacks- and these are the dangers we face daily. My immediate task would therefore be to heal these wounds, seal the cracks and unite our family of lawyers. I have already started the process of such integration and healing by extending my hands of fellowship and brotherhood to my co-contestants, Prof Ernest Ojukwu, SAN and Chief Arthur Obi Okafor, SAN. But I will go beyond them in the days ahead .I’ll seek to heal the wounds of the 2016 NBA Elections by reaching out to my very good friend and brother, Chief J.K. Gadzama, SAN and bring him back into the NBA family. I know that he has plenty to offer to our Association. There are also several of our bar Elders who have stayed outside the NBA fold for several years now for one reason or the other, mostly out of disenchantment; we’ll actively work to bring them back into the fold and in the process harvest from their rich repertoire of intellectual resources, experience and wisdom. These healing processes and integration efforts would extend to the NBA Branches where we’ve had drawn-out strives and contentions –incidents that tend to give the lie to inhibit and erode the brotherhood and friendship in our common salutation as ‘Learned Friends’…”
From the above, everyone could see that the new President has highlighted the real state of the NBA as at the time he was sworn in as the 29th President of the NBA.I salute the courage of the new President for identifying those problems and the way he has promised to go about solving those problems. The burden on good leadership is to identify the problems he meets on the ground and the way to going about in solving them and reconcile the aggrieved parties. In my said article .I equally stated that
“I am always of the view that NBA is better as one rather than being split into segments, but this can only be made possible where every member is given sense of belonging. Where some lawyers felt isolated from the scheme of things, there is every tendency of having the feeling of going their own different ways.”
The new President has done well for telling us the problems and his plan to solve them. Now assuming the man just came in after being sworn in and began to call all those who are aggrieved and on the other side names. Threatening fire and brim stone as well as saying that those who are already outside fold should immediately come in or the door will be closed against them and be sanctioned. Will such gesture guarantee the unity of the bar? The only way to bring about peace and unity is to call for a round table dialogue or conference for proper understanding. The new leader must give everyone the sense of belonging. Any peace loving lawyer must commend the fine way the new NBA President has started as anything contrary to this will only bring more discord and disunity.
NBA having passed through the unfortunate 1992 crisis and reunite cannot afford plying that way again just like the way Nigeria passed through the unfortunate civil war and later reunite again. Asking the NBA to break is like asking the Nigeria to break. The other day there was a debate on social media that the North is marginalising the South and as such the South should break away from the North. My own contribution then was that those who are agitating that the South should break away should go and learn lesson from what happened in the Sudan when Southern Sudan eventually decided to break away the Sudan only for the Southern Sudan to find itself in the civil war and could not hold itself together. Breaking away from the main hardly solves the problems of the agitators but most time rather compounded the problems.
While I do not at anytime call for the split of the NBA, my position has always been that the NBA should try to avoid anything that can lead to its split. It is on this same platform that I have encouraged all lawyers not only to be involved in the NBA politics but also in the true Nigeria politics because lawyers are said to be the best politicians. I have advised lawyers to engage in politics without bitterness and to avoid hate speeches while going about their electioneering campaign. Those who win and lose in the elections must embrace and congratulate one and another in the spirit of sportsmanship as a loser today may be a winner tomorrow. I personally was a victim of disqualification by virtue of the political inequality in NBA and as such did not lose a sleep over that. What we have been clamouring for is an all inclusive bar where every lawyer male or female; young or old will have true sense of belonging .Unnecessary and irrational discrimination must be done away with in the NBA.
One must also commend the new leadership of the NBA for its decision to now be having monthly press conference of the Association. This will go a long way to cement the relationship between the Bar and the Press as well as the general public. With all the reconciliations and reforms that have promised by the new NBA President, we pray the Almighty God to give the new regime the courage and wisdom to give all Nigerian lawyers the NBA of our dream and equally take us to the promised land. Long live NBA; long live Federal Republic of Nigeria.
SEASON OF MONETARY POLITICS
As the 2019 general elections is closing by, the Nigerian politicians are now in the season of monetary politics as many are now buying the nomination forms from their various political parties with several millions of Naira. When many people who will be voting to elect these politicians into the various political offices are complaining of no money to pay their children school fees, the politicians’ political parties are laughing to the banks. This season has shown clearly that only the rich men whether brainless or not can contest for the political of offices, while the poor men with excellent brain will be personan non granta to the political offices since they will have no money to purchase the nomination forms. The rich politicians who are buying the forms actually know what they are doing as politics in Africa is an investment.
A great Nigerian novelist and writer, late Ken Saro- Wiwa was actually right when he quoted from Okli Sendemende’s book titled “Ethics In African Politics” through one of his own characters by name “Mr. B” in his humorous novel titled BASI & COMPANY that :
“Politics is the quickest and surest way to wealth in Africa. Talent is not even needed. All you do is get there and you are made.”
That is actually the reality of politics in Africa and Nigeria in particular where politics has become the most lucrative business. The politics is now mainly for the benefit of the politicians rather than being for the benefit of the people. Until this attitude changes, people will continue to be at the receiving end. The system wherein it is only the rich hat have access to the political office at the expense of the talented poor is not the type of democracy that ought to be encouraged.
ON FAILURE TO RAISE OBJECTION WHEN NECESSARY
It is the duty of the Appellant and counsel to raise the issue before the trial court, that she did not understand the language being spoken by the prosecution witnesses .If after such objection was raised the court overruled it and yet proceeded with the case, the story would have been different .Not having stated that an objection or complaint was raised or made, it is safe in my view, to assume that the Appellant had no cause to complain.
Per ARIWOOLA, JSC in Madu Vs. State (2012) 6 SC (Pt.1) Pgs. 120-121 Lines 35,5
THE SETTLED PRINCIPLE OF LAW
On effect of elevation or retirement of a member of judicial panel on pending judgment
It is now firmly established by this court through a long line of judicial interpretations that a decision arrived at by the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court in which a member who participated at the hearing and at conference and signified his views therein, could, on account of death, retirement, elevation, dismissal or other cause, have his judgment pronounced or read by another justice as the case may be.
See SHITTA-BEY Vs. A-G. FEDERATION (1998) 7 SC (Pt. II) at Pg. 139, Line 10
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9th September 2018