Communiqué Issued At The End Of The 2022 Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Yola Branch Law Week/Hon. Justice Buba Ardo Memorial Lecture
COMMUNIQUÉ ISSUED AT THE END OF THE 2022 NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA) YOLA BRANCH LAW WEEK/HON. JUSTICE BUBA ARDO MEMORIAL LECTURE, WHICH HELD FROM THE 13TH -20TH OF JANUARY 2023 AT THE ESTABLISHMENT AND TRAINING DEPARTMENT, ADMIRAL MURTALA NYAKO HALL, STATE SECRETARIAT, JIMETA-YOLA, ADAMAWA STATE.
The Nigerian Bar Association Yola Branch Law Week/Hon. Justice Buba Ardo Memorial Lecture, is an annual event aimed at creating a forum for members of the Bar and the Bench to make enquires into trending issues plaguing the legal profession and our society at large and also to create innovative ways for speedy delivery and advancement of justice. This year’s law week was tagged “Democracy and Democratic Transition: The Legal and Judicial Roadmap.” This theme was carefully selected in order to foster discussions as to how democracy has fared so far in Nigeria; the process of democratic transitions in Nigeria, the journey so far, the challenges encountered; efforts that have been made to overcome these challenges and whether they have yielded any result. Also, what are the strategies needed to improve democracy and democratic transitions in the country? And the way forward.
The NBA Yola Branch 2022 Law Week/Hon. Justice Buba Ardo Memorial Lecture kicked off on the 13th of January, 2023 with Juma’at Prayers at the Jimeta Juma’at Mosque, physical exercise tagged “fit & proper” at the High Court Complex in Yola on the 14th and a multi-denominational service at the Adamawa State Government House Chapel on the 15th of January, 2023.
The event recorded the highest number of registered participants (over 330) in history of the Yola Branch so far, attracting both members of the Bar and the Bench.
His Excellency the Executive Governor of Adamawa State, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, was represented by Professor Maxwell Michael Gidado SAN. The Opening Ceremony was chaired by Hon. Justice Hapsat Abdulrahman, the Acting Chief Judge of Adamawa State, and the Keynote Address was delivered by the Hon. Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Adamawa State, Afraimu K. Jingi Esq. Other notable speakers were Hon. Justice Nathan Musa (Rtd.), (the immediate past Chief Judge of Adamawa State) who was also the representative of H.R.H Alh. Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustapha Ph.D./CFR (Lamido Fombina), the Adamawa State Commissioner of Police, CP SK Akande, , the NBA Yola Branch Chairman, Mr. Hassan Garba Maidawa and other senior members of the Bar.
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After the opening ceremony, Tanimu M. Inuwa S.A.N gave a presentation on the “Overview of the Electoral Act, 2022”. He congratulated the NBA Yola Branch Chairman for hosting the best Law Week so far while stating how apt the theme for the week was because of the transition of Government; pointing the role of the Judiciary in conducting free and fair elections.
The learned Silk gave an exposé on the importance of the new Electoral Act, the use of electronic voting machines, over-voting, substitution of candidates and grounds for challenging elections.
After the presentation there was a session for questions and answers.
Professor Maxwell Gidado S.A.N also presented a paper on “Electronic Transmission of Poll Results: A Veritable Measure at Strengthening Nigeria’s Electoral Process”. The paper sought to create awareness on the Bimodal Voters Accreditation System, its advantages, disadvantages, and how it can aid the electoral process in Nigeria. The presentation caused a plethora of questions to erupt, which were all addressed by the Speaker.
The next day, being Tuesday the 17th day of January, 2023, three (3) papers were presented namely:-
a. “The Concept of Plea Bargaining in The Administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria: The Role of The Prosecutor, The Defendant and The Courts”;
b. “The Legal Profession its Ethics and Corruption Issues in Legal Practice; and Overview of Up Law Forms And Ancillary Issues Thereto”; and
c. “Overview of Taxation of Law Firms and Ancilliary matters thereto”.
These Papers were presented by Hon. Justice Felix Nzarga, Paul Ali Bobai Esq., and Chris Cromwell Esq., respectively in a session chaired by Hon. Justice S.L Kyanson. The paper presentations were thought provoking which called for introspection amongst the participants, and questions were asked and solutions proffered by the respective paper discussants.
On Wednesday the 18th day of January, 2023, witnessed the following interactive sessions: –
a. Police/Lawyers interactive Session;
b. Interactive session with the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria;
c. Interactive session with the Nigerian Correctional Service; and
d. The Bar and the Bench Forum.
Two papers were presented, the first is titled: – “Highlights of the Correctional service Act 2019”, presented by ACC B.F. Kaigama Esq., and the other titled:- “Legal Aid and access to Justice delivery in Nigeria and Application Procedure for Legal Aid” presented by Francis Adam Ogbe Esq., the State Coordinator Legal Aid Council of Nigeria Adamawa State office.
The interactive sessions were robust and produced several resolutions at the end of each session which would be highlighted later in this Communique.
Thursday the 19th day of January, 2023 witnessed a Novelty football match between the Police Machine and the NBA Yola Branch football team made up of a cross-section of Lawyers from the public and private Bar. The Commissioner of Police and his team, including the NBA Yola Branch Chairman, members of his Executive Committee, two respected Hon. Judges of the High Court, Learned Silk/Senior Lawyers, Magistrates, Young Lawyers and members of the Public were present to give zest to the match which eventually ended in a stalemate; 4:4. The NBA party then followed immediately and the curtain was drawn on the 2022 Law Week with a Dinner, held at the Banquet Hall of the Adamawa State Government House, where awards were presented to outstanding citizens.
II. OBSERVATIONS: –
Coming on heel of the robust discussions by the speakers, panelist and participants, the following observations were made:
1. State High Courts lack the jurisdiction to determine pre-election matters.
2. The judiciary has a role to play in conducting free and fair elections.
3. Pre-election matters must be determined 14 days before elections.
4. There are just three (3) grounds for challenging elections.
5. The Bimodal Voters Accreditation System (BVAS) is a good measure of strengthening the electoral process.
6. BVAS can be manipulated.
7. Under the Adamawa State Administration of Criminal Justice Law, 2018 a Judge is not part of the Plea Bargain arbitration.
8. Clinicians are not given room to be part of the Plea Bargain process.
9. A Defendant cannot appeal a Plea Bargain Agreement.
10. A lot has been achieved with Plea Bargain in the Administration of Criminal Justice in Nigeria.
11. The Judge’s participation in Plea Bargain Arbitration erodes the role of a Judge as an arbiter.
12. Decisions obtained from Plea Bargain by provision of the Constitution is Appealable.
13. Lawyers need to imbibe the attitude of contentment.
14. There is need for integrity for practitioners and judges.
15. Some provisions in the Rules of Professional Conduct are not relevant to recent times.
16. Lawyers flagrantly disregard the dress code.
17. Most Lawyers are ignorant of taxation laws and rates in their areas and in the country.
18. Multiple taxation is permissible in law.
19. You can be excluded from paying tax once you meet the requirements.
20. Penalties for tax evasion can be waived even after judgment.
21. The only time an individual is excluded from paying tax is when he does not earn an income.
22. An employer who has at least 5 employees earning ₦30,000.00 and above ought to pay tax.
23. Police Officers within the metropolis are more courteous than those stationed in rural areas, hence the need for training and re-training.
24. There has been great improvement in the relationship between the Police and the Bar in Adamawa State.
25. The present Commissioner of Police has played a defining role in the relationship of the Police and the Bar in Nigeria.
26. The Police in Adamawa State has drastically improved as they are more people friendly.
27. Most people who get convicted, deserve the sentence.
28. Many suspects are languishing in custodial Centre’s because the Police are yet to hand over their files to the Ministry of Justice.
29. Some Prosecutors decide which court to take their cases.
30. The Police sometimes disobey the orders of Magistrates.
31. Some Lawyers are disrespectful to Police Officers.
32. Most Police Officers are courteous to Lawyers but disrespect and intimidate the common man.
33. There is a new Correctional Services Act.
34. The Correctional Services have changed colour of uniform.
35. Biometric central data capturing of inmates.
36. The law permits the transfer of unconvicted inmates.
37. Judges need to understand sentencing Guidelines.
38. The Nigerian Immigration Service is saddled with the responsibility of issuing traveling documents, monitoring borders and issuing visa.
39. The Nigerian Immigration Service have a portal in order to create easy access to their services.
40. Most people who want to process travel documents are ignorant.
41. There is need for the Bar and the Bench to work together.
The following were the recommendations made during the Law Week:-
1. The need to organize more physical exercise for legal Practitioners and Judges.
2. There should speedy determination of election matters.
3. Section 84 of the Electoral Act should be taken advantage of where a party contravenes the provision.
4. Lawyers should have a good knowledge of the new Electoral Act.
5. All parties should be part of the Plea Bargain Arbitration, the Judge inclusive.
6. Where the issue of fraud and undue influence arises, a Defendant can appeal a Plea Bargain Arbitration.
7. A clinician can be part of a Plea Bargain process as an advisor.
8. Conviction must not always end with a prison sentence; community service can also be imposed on convicts.
9. There is need for young Lawyers to practice for a while under senior members of the Bar.
10. Professional ethics should be part of the University curriculum for law students.
11. Lawyers must be people of integrity at all times.
12. Juniors should resist the urge of hurriedly leaving the court.
13. There is need for Judges to Understand the new Electoral Act as they are part of ensuring free and fair elections.
14. Where an inmate’s conviction has been secured and the convicted has been appealed against, the notice of appeal should be served on the Correctional Centre.
15. Direct Criminal Complaints should be screened.
16. The Courts should make monthly returns of cases.
17. More Judges should be appointed.
18. Monitoring of cases pending before Courts.
19. Speedy assignment of cases.
20. Bench rulings should be imbibed to save time.
21. Lawyers should be diligent in carrying out their duties.
22. The need to encourage out of court settlement in civil matters.
23. Lawyers should shy away from collecting money from clients in order to influence Judges.
24. Lawyers need to be knowledgeable and well acquainted with the Law.
25. The Bench should be lenient on young Lawyers.
26. Magistrate need to strive for growth in their careers and in the knowledge of the Law as well.
27. The Bar and the Bench are one and should not fight.
28. Where a Judge or Magistrate is interested in a matter it is best to transfer it to another Judge.
29. Magistrates should avoid granting bail for offences they lack the jurisdiction to try.
30. There should be a central registry for assignment of cases for the lower bench.
31. There is need for fixed fees for obtaining CTC for record of proceedings.
32. Adoption of virtual proceedings to avoid unnecessary adjournments.
33. There is need to protect and sensitize Magistrates against external influence.
34. Magistrates should refrain from corruption and unduly influencing parties.
35. Corrupt Magistrates should be sanctioned.
36. Lawyers should be enlightened on other areas in the profession so that they can take advantage of it.
37. Newly appointed Judges and Magistrates should protect their seal.
38. Magistrates should be educated on the activities of fraudsters and due process should be followed before an order is given.
39. A Defendant should not choose which court he should be tried.
40. Counsel should avoid deliberately frustrating matters in court with unnecessary adjournments.
41. Lawyers should not insist to win at all cost.
42. We should ensure that criminals are convicted and the innocent is not unduly punished.
43. Interactive sessions should be held more than once a year.
44. The well-being of every society depends on the effectiveness of the enforcement and application of the law.
45. The Police and other Security actors should not allow their personal interest override their official interest.
46. There should be inter-agency collaboration between the Police and other sister agencies towards guaranteeing Administration of Criminal Justice in the State.
Further information on the above resolutions, including other details of the 2022 Law Week and matters connected thereto, will be circulated at the next Branch meeting, in line with the Policy of transparency of this Administration.
Dated this 23rd day January 2023
PROMISE RINI-OSE AJUMEBOR ESQ.,
NBA YOLA BRANCH AND
CHAIRMAN, MEDIA & PUBLICITY
SUB COMMITTEE NBA 2022 LAW WEEK