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NEWSOgonis blow hot over killings by policemen escorting stolen fuel, condemn Shell

The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni people (MOSOP) has condemned the “killing of 3 youths” of Luebe community in Ogoniland on Sunday, November 12, 2017 by men of the Nigeria Police.

Fegalo Nsuke, Publicity Secretary, in a statement on Tuesday said the group’s checks revealed that the youths had attempted to stop the police from escorting illegally-mined petroleum products through their community en-route Ndoki in Oyigbo local government area of Rivers State.

e noted that the Luebe killings is very regrettable because the youths rose against the pipeline vandalism masterminded and prosecuted by men of the Nigeria Police.

“They showed that the crime for which the government and Shell has accused the Ogoni community is a crime by a criminal gang that is enjoying the protection of the Nigeria Police”, Nsuke continued.

“The Ogoni people are disheartened that the killing of our people by state security and the policies of government is dangerously and increasingly pointing to a deliberate state–backed genocide against the our people.

“We note with regret, the impunity that characterizes the killings and abuses perpetrated by Nigerian security forces against the Ogoni people.

“Very recently, over 35 persons were killed in Ogoniland in a military raid preceding the last re-run elections. The national assembly launched a probe into the incident.

“The report has not been made public. Last month, precisely on October 6, Nigerian soldiers shot at peaceful protesters in Tai, no one has been held to account for the shootings nor has Shell, the company that has sponsored this shooting and several others ever been questioned over her activities in Ogoniland.

“While we call on the Nigerian government to properly investigate and prosecute every erring officer involved in the Luebe killings, we demand an end to the mindless and seemingly deliberate killing of our people by Nigerian security forces.

“We expect the security forces to protect our people and not kill them. We therefore want to make clear, our strong disgust against the impunity that has characterized human rights abuses by security men in Ogoniland and demand and end to this.”

Source: http://dailypost.ng/2017/11/14/ogonis-blow-hot-killings-policemen-escorting-stolen-fuel-condemn-shell/

Extra-judicial killings: Two Nigerians killed in South Africa in 48 hours

The Nigerian community in South Africa has confirmed the vicious killing of two members in that country within 48 hours, barely a month after President Jacob Zuma was honoured by the Imo Government.

In October, a Nigerian man was shot dead in South Africa over an alleged 300 Rand (about N7,500) parking lot debt.

No fewer than 116 Nigerians have been killed in the country through extra-judicial means in the last two years, according to Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.

A dependable source close to the Nigerian community told the News Agency of Nigeria on telephone from Johannesburg on Tuesday that the first recent victim, Ikechukwu Edmond, 40, was killed on November 11.

The source said the deceased, a businessman and native of Ihembosi, Ekwusigo Local Government Area of Anambra, was killed in front of his house on Amant Street, Malvern, Johannesburg.

It quoted a witness and neighbour of Mr. Edmond, Sibongile as saying that six men came to their house and started breaking doors and taking out their personal effects.

“When she (Sibongile) raised alarm, they started beating her. When Ikechukwu came in and saw what was happening, he brought out his phone to call the police.

“A member of the gang took a brick and hit him in the face and he fell down. When the police arrived, he was already dead,” the source told NAN.

According to the source, police said they have commenced “investigation’’ into the death of the businessman.

The second victim, Eluka Agu, native of Ihiala also from Anambra, was allegedly robbed and then beaten by some South Africans at Oliven, Centurion on Monday.

Sources said the police came and took him away to his house for a search.

“The victim pleaded with the police to take him to the hospital for treatment but they refused.

“After searching his house without finding anything, he died as a result of the severe beating’’.

As usual, the Nigerian community in the area which expressed worry about the incidents, had vowed to take up the matter with “appropriate authorities’’, the source added.

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa, while reacting to the gruesome killing of a Nigerian, Tochukwu Nnadi, by police in South Africa which has brought the number of Nigerians massacred in the country to 20 in 2016 alone, had described it as “unacceptable to the people and government of Nigeria.”

“The barbaric behaviour of the perpetrators is not only unacceptable, but also calls for urgent attention by diplomatic authorities in Nigeria and South Africa,” she said, reiterating President Muhammadu Buhari’s call to Nigerians to avoid crimes such as drug peddling which attracts stiff penalties, sometimes death.

Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa urged the South African government to ensure that justice prevailed by carrying out investigation and bring the culprit to book.

NAN also reports that on October 11, Jelili Omoyele, a 35-year-old mobile phone technician, was shot dead in Johannesburg while Olamilekan Badmus, a 25-year-old from Ogun, was also killed at Vaal Vreneging, near Johannesburg.

On the same day, a third Nigerian identified as Ifeanyi, a chicken seller, was accidentally shot in the head by the police.

On October 15, Imo Governor, Rochas Okorocha unveiled a statue in honour of South African President Jacob Zuma, who witnessed the event.

Apart from the statue, a road was also named after Mr. Zuma with a traditional title of Ochiagha Imo by Eze Imo, Samuel Ohiri, to crown the state honour bestowed on him.

During the military administration of the then Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria spearheaded the struggles that ended Aparthied in South Africa.

Among other efforts, the military administration of Mr. Obasanjo, a general contributed $3.7 million to a fund set up to help tackle apartheid in South Africa and also committed personal donation of $3,000 to the fund.

All Nigerian civil servants and public officers at the time made a 2 per cent donation from their monthly salaries to the fund while Nigerian students skipped their lunch to make donations, and by June 1977, the total contribution to the fund had reached $10.5 million.

Between 1973 and 1978, Nigeria contributed $39,040 to the UN Educational and Training Programme for South Africa and in 1976, Nigeria boycotted the 1976 Olympics and Commonwealth games in 1979 as part of protest against the apartheid regime in South Africa.

From 1960 to 1995, according to available records, Nigeria spent over $61 billion to support the end of apartheid more than any other country in the world.

The late Sunny Okosun of Nigeria composed a song called “Fire in Soweto” in 1977 to show support for the fight against apartheid.

Source: https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/249354-extra-judicial-killings-two-nigerians-killed-south-africa-48-hours.html

Law Prison congestion as denial of human rights: What FG is doing

According to Nelson Mandela, “no one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.”

Most inmates come out more miserable than they were when they first got to prison while some come out deformed with no compensation for those who have been wrongly detained. Whereas if you have been wrongly detained for about 10 years in places like the USA, you are paid compensation, in Nigeria you are not even given transport fare.

Such governmental organisations as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACN) that should have risen to ameliorate the situation are starved of funds with which to work. The NHRC for example receives over a million complaints yearly but gets about N1.2 billion annually from the Federal Government out of which over N800 million is used to pay salaries while it cost not less than N50,000 to investigate each complaint.

Rising from its meeting in June 2017, the National Economic Council (NEC) directed state governors to tackle problems of prison congestion in their states by taking measures to ease prisons congestion. The stance of the NEC followed an exhaustive brief on the prisons in Nigeria by the minister of interior. The summary of the resolution of the meeting was that the condition of prisons in Nigeria was no longer tolerable and something has to be done.

Consequently, the NEC directed the governors to take certain measures to ease the congestion of prisons. Such measures include the following: Signing the execution warrants for death row inmates or commuting such sentences to jail terms; engage their chief judges to free as many as may qualify for release under agreed terms; do all within their powers to salvage prisons in their domains including the deployment of the private sector to help. NEC also advised that the Federal Government should consider the public private sector collaboration as option for prisons reform.

Recently, at the stakeholders committee to oversee the implementation of the Federal Executive Council’s directives to fast track decongestion of prisons held in Abuja, chaired by Justice Ishaq Bello, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) also stated that to manage the prison system in a fair and humane manner, national legislation, policies and practices must be guided by the international standards developed to protect the human rights of prisoners.

About 70 per cent of inmates in Nigerian prisons are awaiting trial and it is embarrassing and an indictment to the national justice system because it contradicts international standards including those provided in the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) that provides for the limited use of pre-trial detention when certain conditions are present.

The minister lamented over the alarming state of the prisons, over crowding of inmates and the unconducive environment which actually had defeated the primary purpose of the prisons as reformation centres.

“The current state of our prisons is unfortunately very alarming. There is no gainsaying that the facilities are vastly over crowded with inmates and the environment mostly not conducive, thereby defeating the primary purpose of the prisons as primarily reformation centres,” he said.

Dr. Joe Odumakin once said that she was detained for nine months at various detention centres without bathing, adding that state officials should visit prisons without notice, if they are serious about prison reforms.

Every remand warrant in Nigeria carries with it the proviso that the superintendent in charge of a prison shall produce the prisoner named in the remand warrant as at the date and time indicated in the warrant. This function is cardinal to the success of criminal justice delivery in any society.

Taking remand prisoners to court is one of the most important functions in the criminal justice chain because without the prisoners in court, their cases can hardly be expected to go on. This therefore places the onus on the prisons to make sure that all prisoners due for court sessions are produced as such.

According to impeccable sources, at the end of 2016, the fleet capacity of the Nigerian Prisons Service (NPS) stood at just 268 vehicles in various stages of disrepair and dysfunction. These are vehicles that are supposed to cater for the prisoners going to about 5,022 courts scattered all over the 774 local government areas of the country.

These 268 vehicles in the prisons inventory include those burnt in the war against insurgents in the north-eastern part of the country and quite a sizeable number rendered unserviceable by the lack of funding that has characterised prisons administration for a very long time. The paucity of escort duty vehicles in the prisons has surely affected the ability of remand prisoners to attend courts because 268 vehicles cannot service the 1,121 courts operating in the 774 LGAs of the country.

When these matters are presented on a national landscape, they may appear a bit tolerable but when placed within the framework of the operations of a state command, the grim picture appears in full. Take the FCT for instance, the prisons serving the FCT are Kuje, Suleja, Keffi and Dukpa Farm Centre. The Farm Centre seldom holds pre-trial prisoners. So the prisons serving the ATPs in the FCT are Kuje, Keffi and Suleja. Kuje prison with a capacity of 560 now has a population of 800 inmates out of which 560 or 70 percent are awaiting trial. It serves four local government areas of the FCT and attends to the needs of 90 courts in these areas.  Sadly it has only three  Green Maria mini trucks at its disposal.

Suleja, with a capacity of 250 inmates now has a population of 415 inmates out of which 249 or 60 percent are awaiting trial. It also serves the four LGAs in the FCT in addition to three other LGAs of Niger State. Suleja services 38 courts in these areas but the logistic strength of that prison is  three mini vans.

With such flawed consideration of the need for the prisoners in custody to access justice with dispatch means that we presently lack capacity to deliver on such issues which other jurisdictions in Africa have taken for granted.

Source: https://www.dailytrust.com.ng/prison-congestion-as-denial-of-human-rights-what-fg-is-doing.html

Court remands Suswam’s e-aide, others in prison over alleged diversion of N16.6bn SURE-P, LG funds

The Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday remanded in Suleja Prison, Niger State, a former aide to former Governor Gabriel Suswam of Benue State and two other officials of the state for allegedly diverting fraudulently Benue State’s N16.6bn.

The Attorney-General of the Federation’s office, which filed nine counts against the defendants, alleged that the three men diverted the sum of N16.6bn from Benue State’s bank accounts, dedicated for the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme and the Joint Allocation Account for Local Government funds.

The money was allegedly diverted by the defendants between June 27, 2011 and May 29, 2015, the day Suswam completed his second term in office.

The first defendant is a former Special Adviser to the ex-governor on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Solomon Wombo.

Wombo doubled as the Chairman, Joint Allocation Account for Local Government Committee in the state.

The second is a former Permanent Secretary of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary, Asen Sambe, who served as the Secretary to the Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee.

The third defendant is a former Director of Accounts and Finance in the state’s Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary, Isiah Ipevnor.

Justice Nnamdi Dimgba ordered that the three men be remanded in Suleja prison pending when they would meet the bail conditions imposed on them shortly after they pleaded not guilty to the nine counts on Monday.

After the arraignment on Monday, the lead prosecuting counsel, Mr. Aminu Alilu, urged the court to remand the defendants in prison pending the hearing and determination of their bail applications and their trial.

But noting that the alleged offences were bailable, Justice Dimgba directed both the prosecution and the defence teams to meet, agree and propose the terms and condition of the bail the court could impose on the defendants, other to save time.

After a short meeting outside the court room between the prosecution led by Alilu and the defence team led by Mr. Innocent Daa’gba, a set of bail conditions and terms were presented to the court.
Justice Dimgba accepted the conditions but made some alterations including imposition of an additional surety instead on one for each of the defendants as suggested by the two parties.

The judge also imposed another condition that one of the two sureties to be presented by each of the defendants must have a house in Abuja worth the N100m bail sum to be imposed by the court.

Generally, the court granted bail to the defendants in the sum of N100m each with two sureties in like sum.

The judge ruled that one of the sureties should be a civil servant not lower than Assistant Director in any state of federal ministry or other government establishment.
He ruled that the other surety could be a private businessman or woman who owned a property in the municipal area of Abuja with worth sufficient to cover the N100m bail sum.

The civil servant to be presented by each of th defendants must also present to the court their, first letters of appointment, last promotion letters, and their staff identity cards or driver’s licences.

The court also directed that the defendants must deposit with the court their passports and other traveling documents.

The judge ordered that the defendants mustt not travel outside the country without an express permission of the court sought through a motion on notice that must be serve on the defence.
But despite the defence lawyer’s appeal that the defendants be remanded in police custody pending when they would be able to fulfill the bail conditions, Justice Dimgba ordered them to be remanded in prison.

Meanwhile, before the parties went into the meeting on the bail conditions, on Monday the prosecuting counsel, Alilu, informed the judge that the case ought to be filed in the division of the Federal High Cour in Makurdi, Benue State, where the alleged offences were committed, but for the prevailing insecurity in the state when the case was filed on August 1, 2017.

He conceded that the security condition in the state had improved considerably since then.

But Alilu, who said all the defendants, the witnesses and members of both the prosecuting and defence teams were all resident in Abuja, urged the court to assume jurisdiction and continue the trial.

He also cited the provisions of section 102(1)(c) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, to back his prayer.

The defence counsel, Daa’gba, agreed with the prosecution’s prayer that the court should assume jurisdiction to continue to hear the case.

In addition to section 102()(c) of ACJA cited by the prosecution, Daa’agba also referred the court to the provisions of section 385 and 386 of the same law.
But in response, Justice Dimgba asked parties to the case to go back to reflect on the issue, noting that it was possible that the case could be more speedily determined in Makurdi where there were far less number of such high profile corruption cases than they were in Abuja.

The judge then adjourned until December 18.

The total sum of N16,604,314,604.01 allegedly diverted by the defendants was said to be owned by the 23 Local Government Councils of Benue State.

Out of the N16.6bn, the defendants allegedly, between June 15, 2012 and May 29, 2015, diverted N7,032,333,506.28 from the state’s “SURE-P Local Government component” bank account into the account of Benue State Local Government Joint Account with the aim of concealing the money and for their own personal benefits.

The defendants were also said to have, between June 27, 2011 and May 29, 2015, diverted the sum of N5,342,028,098.73 paid into the state Local Government Joint Account by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation of the state.

They were also said to have between, June 15, 2012 and May 29, 2015 diverted another sum of N4,230,953,000 from the state’s Local Government Joint Account into the Benue State Association of Local Government of Nigeria “with the aim of concealing the money being property derived directly from corruption”.

The prosecution accused the three defendants of diverting the sum of N16.6bn in violation of various provisions of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011, and the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act.

The AGF office accused the defendants of “conspiracy to transfer property derived directly from corruption contrary to Section 18 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 15 of the same Act.

The defendants were also accused of “transfer of property derived directly from corruption contrary to Section 15(1)(a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under the same Section of the Act”.

They also face charges of “conversion of property derived directly from corruption contrary to Section 15(1)|a)(ii) of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 and punishable under the same Section of the Act.”

They are also charged with offences of “obtaining by false pretence contrary to Section 1 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act, Cap A6 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 and punishable under the same section of the Act”.

The charges read in part, “That you Solomon Wombo (m), former Special Adviser to former Governor Gabriel Suswam on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Chairman, Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee of 30 Spring Road Sun-city Estate, Abuja; Asen Sambe (m), former Permanent Secretary of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary, Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee of No 1 Kungo Sambe Street, Judges Quarters Makurdi; and Isaiah Ipevnor (m), former Director of Accounts and Finance of BNA 1305, Off Abu Shuluwa Road, Makurdi, Benue State, between June 15, 2012 and May 29, 2015 at Makurdi, Benue State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did transfer a total sum of about Seven Billion thirty two million, three hundred and thirty-five thousand, five hundred and six naira, twenty-eight kobo (N7,032,333,506.28), from Benue State Sure-P Local Government Component Account number 0760175012 domiciled with the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) into Benue State Local Government Joint Account number 2017241513 domiciled 1with the First Bank of Nigeria the aim of concealing the money, being property derived directly from corruption.

“That you Solomon Wombo (m), former Special Adviser to former Governor Gabriel Suswam on Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Chairman, Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee of 30 Spring Road Sun-city Estate, Abuja; Asen Sambe (m), former Permanent Secretary of the Bureau of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and Secretary, Joint Account Allocation for Local Government Committee of No 1 Kungo Sambe Street, Judges Quarters Makurdi; and Isaiah Ipevnor (m), former Director of Accounts and Finance of BNA 1305, Off Abu Shuluwa Road, Makurdi, Benue State, between June 27, 2011 and May 29, 2015 at Makurdi, Benue State, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, did covert a total sum of about five billion three hundred and forty-two million, twenty-eight naira and seventy-three kobo (N5,342,028,098.73) meant for the twenty-three (23) Benue State Local Government Councils paid by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation into the Benue State Local Government Joint Account number 2017241513 domiciled with the First Bank of Nigeria, which you withdrew in cash With the aim of concealing the money, being property derived directly from corruption.”

Source: https://thenigerialawyer.com/court-remands-suswams-e-aide-others-in-prison-over-alleged-diversion-of-n16-6bn-sure-p-lg-funds/

Illegal demolition: Suleja shop owners sue local govt

Shop owners at the Old Minna Garage have sued the chairman and Suleja Local Government of Niger State over the alleged illegal demolition of their shops.

The fundamental rights application was filed on November 11 by their lawyer and human rights activist, Frank Tietie before a Niger State High Court in Suleja.The shop owners and occupants of Old Minna Garage, Suleja, Niger State, who are represented by: Hezekiah Bola Joshua, Onuora Ezekwesili, Paulinus Ojobe, Iyabode Joseph, Gerald Ego and Ejike Onyekwere, wants the court to issue an injunction restraining the council from further demolition of any shop “without proper acquisition procedure.”

In an affidavit attached to the origination motion, Joshua stated that they were allotted the shops at sums ranging from N600, 000 to N1m with approvals, which are subject to renewal every three years with recent expiring by August 2018

He further averred that the applicants “renovated, decked the shops in line with the modern plan required and provided security measures, safety gadgets against fire accidents, toilets, bathrooms, access roads, parking space, electricity and warehouses all with the consent of the respondents.”

Besides, Joshua stated that the demolition exercise, which was carried out without legal procedure hazardously left their equipment in the open space. They include: heavy duty printing machines like cutting machines, laminating machines, cord machines and various G.T.O machines and Mortlate machine equipment, motors and spare parts of various aspect.

No date has been fixed for hearing.

Source: https://thenigerialawyer.com/illegal-demolition-suleja-shop-owners-sue-local-govt/

SERAP asks CCB, ICPC to probe Okorocha over ‘N1bn statues of Zuma, Johnson-Sirleaf’

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has asked Dr Muhammad Isah Acting Chairman of the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) and Professor Bolaji Owasanoye Acting Chairman of Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to “jointly investigate allegations of incompatibility and/or apparent conflict of interest situation, and abuse of office involving Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State in connection with the exercise of his public functions and leadership of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation, and to collaborate with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in any such investigation.”

The organization said that “Such investigation would help to improve public confidence in public authorities, and minimize the risks of bad government by public officials.”In the petition dated 10 November 2017 and signed by SERAP executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni the organization expressed “serious concern that Governor Okorocha may have spent over N1 billion of public funds to build statues of South African President Jacob Zuma and Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.”

According to the organization, “the spending on statues and apparent misuse of public resources may have violated constitutional provisions and international standards on code of conduct for public officers. The initiatives cannot be justified under any circumstances whatsoever, especially at a time when Imo state is unable or unwilling to pay teachers’ salaries and pensioners’ entitlements.”

The petition copied to Ibrahim Magu Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) read in part: “Inviting Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf to attend the opening of his Foundation and then ‘honouring’ them with statues suggests abuse of office and apparent conflict of interest situation, as such acts were undertaken by Governor Okorocha in the exercise of his public functions to presumably promote and advance the commercial and other interests of the Foundation.”

“SERAP believes that rather than serving the common interest of the public, spending over N1 billion possibly of public funds on Zuma and Johnson-Sirleaf in the context of their participation in the opening of the Rochas Okorocha Foundation would seem to put Governor Okorocha in a conflict of interest situation.”
“SERAP notes that the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended) and UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party prohibit conflict of interests and set ethical standards for public officers. Indeed, both the Constitution and the Convention require public officers to abstain from all acts that may compromise the exercise of their public office and functions, or are inconsistent with their entrusted positions.”

“Public officers also must discharge their public duties truthfully and faithfully, abide by the constitutional code of conduct, observe the primacy of public interest, and not allow their personal interest to influence their official conduct.”

“The CCB and ICPC should carry out joint investigation in collaboration with the EFCC of the allegations of conflict of interest, abuse of office and apparent misuse of public funds by Governor Okorocha. SERAP also urges the CCB and ICPC to prosecute Governor Okorocha after leaving office if there is relevant and sufficient admissible evidence of abuse of public office against him.”

“Conflict of interest represents a situation where the person exercising a public function has a personal interest of patrimonial or commercial nature, which could influence the objective fulfilment of the duties incumbent on public officers under the Constitution and international standards.”

“Conflict of interest arises from a situation in which a public official has a private interest which is such as to influence or appear to influence the impartial and objective nature of his or her official duties in order to promote private interests, which would be contrary to the public interest.”

“According to reports, Governor Okorocha recently hosted two African presidents—South African President Jacob Zuma and Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and built statues in Owerri to ‘honour’ them. The statues reportedly cost over N1 billion to build. Further, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Zuma Foundation and the Rochas Foundation was signed, while Mrs Johnson-Sirleaf visited the newly established Rochas Foundation College of Africa (ROFOCA).”

Source: https://thenigerialawyer.com/serap-asks-ccb-icpc-to-probe-okorocha-over-n1bn-statues-of-zuma-johnson-sirleaf/

Status Of The Legal Profession Regulation Bill At The National Assembly

The Legal profession Regulation Bill which is known as A Bill for an Act to repeal the Legal Practitioners Act Cap C11 LFN 2004 and all amendments thereto; Legal Education (Consolidation etc,) Act Cap. L10 LFN 2004 and enact the Legal Profession Regulation Act which shall regulate the legal profession is currently having a smooth passage before both Houses of the National Assembly.

The Bill sponsored by Sen. Godwill Akpabio of the People’s Democratic Party in the Senate was first introduced at the Upper House on the 9th of March, 2017 when the first reading of the bill was made. The second reading of the bill before the Upper House was done on the 1st of November, 2017 which shows a space of almost seven (7) months before the second reading. Informations gathered by TheNigerialawyer shows that the bill is currently at the Committee Stage awaiting the Committee’s report, which is but only the third step in the passage-process of the Bill.

The Bill has however only passed through its first reading on the 28th of September, 2017 before the lower chamber being the House of Representatives. This invariably shows that the said soon to be Act still has a long process to undergo before it is eventually made law and as such, the likelihood of the bill commencing on the 1st of December, 2017 as stated in the draft bill dwells only in an obvious skepticism. Thus, this puts doubts in the minds of as many who think the Bill will begin legal operation anytime soon, as the legal document seems to be undergoing the incubation process in all ramifications. Considering how long bills take to be made law, it is believed that this piece of supposed legislation will not become legally binding anytime soon.

TheNigerialawyer recalls that the Long title as stated shows that if eventually passed, the Legal Practitioners Act as well the Legal Education (Consolidation etc,) Act Cap. L10 LFN 2004 will be fused into one Act known as the Legal Profession Regulation Act.

TheNigerialawyer also recalls that the Bill seeks the establishment of a council to be known as the LEGAL PROFESSION REGULATION COUNCIL OF NIGERIA as well as the Establishment of a Secretariat for the Legal Profession Regulation Council of Nigeria. The Council is intended to regulate the legal profession in the overall interest of the public and to achieve the regulatory objectives and professional principles set out under the Act; to regulate such other persons other to whom legal practitioners may delegate some of their duties, to issue Call to bar certificates amongst others.

Apart from judges, the Council is to include a Young Lawyer, women’s representatives from FIDA, three lay persons appointed by an Appointment Panel from the Institute of Directors, Nigeria; and the Nigerian Medical Association amongst others.

The bill intends to establish other committees such as the legal services, ethics and standards committee, the remuneration and welfare committee, legal aid and pro bono committee, education and training committee, young lawyers and career committee, amongst others. Quite interesting is the fact that the law seeks to make the body of benchers a committee of the council.

Part IV of the bill deals with the constitution and functions of the Nigerian law School which is an institution of the Council of Legal Education. The bill as well deals with the remuneration of legal practitioners with respect of scale of charges as well as the application for taxation of charges and other matters directly dealing on the above repealing and fusion. The bill is divided into several parts with a transitional and savings.

With the Current status of the Bill before the Lower House, it is glaring that the Bill has five steps to undertake before it will eventual metamorphose into an Act of the National assembly.

Source: https://thenigerialawyer.com/status-of-the-legal-profession-regulation-bill-at-the-national-assembly/