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SUPREME COURT FINE: Lawyers group wants NBA to disregard Afe Babalola, Olanipekun

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By Joshua Timi

The Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association, a group of lawyers within the national body has advised by the National Executive Committee of the bar to disregard a letter purportedly written by the duo of Afe Babalola SAN and Wole Olanipekun SAN to protest the heavy cost imposed on them and the harsh words directed at them by the Supreme Court at their appearance in relation to the Bayelsa State governorship election judgment.

In a statement signed by Chairman of the group, Mr. Ogunlana Adesina Ademola and the Secretary, Ayo Ademiluyi, the group wonders why two learned Senior Advocates are making efforts to set the NBA against the Supreme Court based on what is termed as “their misadventure at the Supreme Court”

Recall that both lawyers represented the All Progressives Congresses (APC) and its candidates in the last governorship election in Bayelsa State – David Lyon Pereworinmin and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo – in their request to the court to set aside its judgment, voiding their victory in the election.

The Supreme Court, in a ruling by a seven-man panel on February 26, 2020, dismissed the applications by the APC and its candidates, with Justice Amina Augie, in the lead ruling, rebuking both lawyers and awarding N30million punitive cost against each of them.

According to the two protest letters addressed to the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Babalola and Olanipekun are insisting that they did no wrong by asking the court to take a second look at its earlier judgment.

In the said letters, the Learned Silks while seeking NBA’s intervention argued that they did nothing unlawful and unprofessional to warrant the harsh words used on them and the unprecedented cost awarded against them for merely carrying out their professional responsibilities as lawyers.

Babalola SAN and Olanipekun SAN argued that the decision of the Supreme Court, as it relates to them, was capable of laying wrong precedence that lawyers could be penalised for merely seeking to explore the justice administration process for the benefit of his/her client.

While Olanipekun personally authored his letter (dated March 10, 2020), Babalola’s letter (dated March 11, 2020) was written by the Managing Partner of his law firm, Adebayo Adenipekun.

Both letters were addressed to the NBA President, Paul Usoro (SAN).

In his letter, to which he attached all processes in respect of the case, Olanipekun said: “I and the team of lawyers that I lead in the matter did no wrong, either in terms of our presentation through the filling of the application or during the oral adumbration in court.

“I repeat again, with every emphasis at my disposal and all sense of responsibility that I/we did no wrong, committed no error and did/do not deserve the harsh comments (to put it mildly) in the leading ruling of the Honourable Justice Amina Augie.

“It might interest you to note that there is no nexus or proximity or even bearing between the processes filed by us and the most unfair and least expected stern expressions of His lordship, Amina Augie.”

Part of Babalola’s letter reads:”I write to bring to the formal attention of the National Executive the Nigerian Bar Association, the unfortunate events which occurred that day, but more importantly, to protest and draw the attention of NBA to the danger posed to the due administration of justice by the disparaging remarks made in the ruling of the court concerning our principal, Afe Babalola SAN, CON and the imposition on him of the unprecedented costs of N30million.”

“The action of the Court, aside from being unfair and totally unwarranted, is, if not urgently addressed, capable of sending a wrong signal to judges of courts, lower in hierarchy to the Supreme Court about how they can and should relate with lawyers, who appear before them to plead the case of their clients.

“This in the long run will be inimical to the development of trust and respect between the bar and the bench and will ultimately hamper the smooth operation of the justice delivery sector in Nigeria.

“It is with respect to their Lordships of the Supreme Court, who sat on the 26th of February 2020 that we state that the award of cost of N30million against Aare Afe Babalola SAN, CON failed to meet the standard set by that very court concerning the award of costs.

“Costs have never been imposed to intimidate counsel as is apparent in the cost orders made by the Supreme Court in this instance.

“The cost order lose sight of the fact that Aare Afe Babaloia SAN, CON, like every other lawyer, has a duty under the rules of professional conduct to devote his attention, energy and expertise and subject to any rule of law, to act in manner consistent with the best interest of his client.

“It is in the light of the above that we most respectfully request the ‘Nigerian Bar Association, though the National Executive Council, to look into this matter with a view to preventing a situation where the courts would seek to intimidate counsel and prevent them from either adequately presenting the cases of their clients or punishing them for doing so in a manner required of them under the rules of professional conduct.

“This situation, at the risk of repetition, if allowed to persist and gain footing, will do incalculable damage to the administration of justice in Nigeria.”

RAMINBA in the statement asked as follows:

  1. Why was it that other counsel who after them have brought similar applications were not in like manner rebuked or sanctioned by the Supreme Court?
  2. What does the letters intend to achieve? Is it for the NBA to review the Supreme Court judgement and reverse same?

3.Does the NBA have locus and vires to entertain or probe the judicial action and verdict of the Supreme Court to warrant the entertainment of the letters of the Senior lawyers?

  1. Are the letters meant to incite the Bar against the Supreme Court because of what has turned out to be a misadventure of two lawyers to the quarters of the Supreme Court?

Without delving into the facts of the case upon which the two Senior Advocates brough their application or the merit thereof or otherwise, it is clear as noonday that the action of two Learned Silks in bringing the application without meeting the grounds upon the Supreme Court judgement can be called upon to review itself brings the Supreme Court to opprobrium. The words of Honourable Justice Amina Augie speak to the defiance of the Majesty of the Supreme Court to sit as a court of final jurisdiction.

Furthermore,as learned Senior Advocates, they ought to know that the Nigerian Bar Association does not have the locus or vires to entertain inquiry into, probe, review or even set aside the judgment of the Supreme Court? Why appeal to the NBA after their application for review of judgment has been struck out by the Supreme Court?

Overall, why are the two learned Senior Advocates intent on setting the Nigerian Bar Association on collision with the Supreme Court based on their misadventure at the Supreme Court? Can we then encourage a situation where the local Branches of the NBA will sit on appeal on the judgments of the High Court in their jurisdiction based on the reprimand of two members of the Branch by the same Court? The answer is NO.

We are of the view that , contrary to the prayers of the Senior Advocates in their respective letters to the NEC, the duo should be referred to the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Panel by the Nigerian Bar Association for appropriate sanctions for their actions , which amounts to gross professional misconduct.

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BUSINESS

If you’re African and use WhatsApp, you need to read this

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A new app built by an African for Africans is out. Its name is SupFrica!

The app, just like WhatsApp, has all the features that WhatsApp has. But one thing that it has that WhatsApp doesn’t is, it’s 2× faster than WhatsApp.

Sending a message on Supfrica is faster than sending a message on WhatsApp, the report claims. You can add up 2348055441309, after installation for a test. The voice and video call in Africa is of high quality just as WhatsApp. This is the time to embrace our own. It is proudly made by a Sierra Leonean!

The company, Techfrica, which is owned by Mr. Hassan Hafiz Bakarr-Kanu Sr., released the app on Google Play Store on December 11, 2020, with fewer downloads.

The app is also amazingly rated number 1 on Google Play Store Top Free Apps; leading the world’s top messaging apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Telegram, WeChat, etc.

You can forward messages to more than 20 contacts at once, unlike WhatsApp. With Supfrica, you can create a Supfrica group and add an unlimited number of contacts to your group, unlike WhatsApp. You can add up 2348055441309, after installation for a test.

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METRO

Ayadi reveals the spirit responsible for Nigeria’s problems

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The General Overseer, Power and Wisdom of God Church, Badagry, Lagos, Pastor Idowu Ayadi says Nigeria is being troubled by the “spirit of cheating”.

This spirit of cheating, he said, was responsible for the majority of the challenges facing the country.

However, he called on Nigerians to play a noble part in complementing the positive efforts of the Federal Government to address the nation’s challenges.

Ayadi made the call at a news briefing on Saturday as part of the activities marking the celebration of Christmas in Badagry.

The cleric tagged his message: “The Spirit Troubling The Nigerian Nation”.

Ayadi said he consecrated himself to pray for Nigeria, and after many days of prayers, it was revealed to him that the source of the nation’s problems was the “Spirit of Cheating”.

According to him, to destroy the spirit of cheating, everyone has to buy into speaking the truth and never sell it.

He said that society should stop worshipping money, while parents should not teach their children how to cheat.

“All clergymen should emphatically teach their followers that life does not consist in the abundance of the things they have, and that act of covetousness is evil.

“On the side of government, there must be check and balance mechanism that will prevent the commission of fraud.

“The three arms of government, the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary, must work together, effectively and efficiently.

“If all these are done, the spirit of cheating will die a natural death, and the lost glory of our country shall be restored.

“Then, we will take our rightful position among the comity of great nations,” he said.

Ayadi said many that were born with the truth had sold the truth, while many who did not have the truth, had refused to buy it.

He said the spirit of cheating in Nigerians had turned all infrastructure that would have promoted prosperity into a sorry state.

The cleric said that all efforts being made by the government to improve our roads and power supply had not yielded the desired results.

“This is because the spirit of cheating is in the people who are frustrating those government’s efforts.
“Infrastructure decay is the major contributor to our economy penury.

“There will be no economic prosperity in any nation where there is inefficient infrastructure to support the production of goods and services,” he said.

Ayadi said that the spirit of cheating made the perpetrators of insecurity to believe that whatever they could not get legally, would be obtained through the cruel and dubious means.

He said: “We should not pass the total blame of insecurity in our country on the current administration and military alone.

“It is the effect of the long term accumulated failures of our past leaders, who the spirit of cheating had deceived to believe that as long as they and their families are comfortable, what happens to others is not their concerns.”

The cleric then urged the government to set aside an hour once in a week to pray for the nation’s security.

He said Nigeria must remain one indivisible country, urging everyone to pray for unity of the country and set aside those things that would militate against it.

Also, Ayadi said that the first wave of the COVID-19 was an art of God to demonstrate to the world “His unquestionable power”.

He said the second wave of the global pandemic had come to be added to the list of diseases that would continue to affect human beings.

The cleric urged Nigerians to observe and keep all safety guidelines, advising government not to embark on any form of economic shutdown again.

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METRO

CHRISTMAS: Obasa commends Christians for prayers, calls for more love among citizens

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As Christians all over the world celebrate this year’s Christmas, Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Mudashiru Obasa reinforces the message of love, which he said, Christ signified, urging Christians to strengthen their love for their neighbours and the country at large.

While commending Christians for for playing positive roles in the unification of the country as well as their prayers for a greater Nigeria, Rt. Hon. Obasa emphasized that the prayers of the faithful in Lagos state and Nigeria have helped the country, especially in 2020 when the world was humbled by COVID-19.

The Speaker, in his message to celebrate Christmas, urged Christ’s followers “not to take God’s grace in their lives for granted by flouting the protocols against Coronavirus.

“It is no longer news that COVID-19 resurfaced at a time we were all heaving a sigh of relief.

This time, the cases recorded daily is a cause for concern.

“In spite of the growing fear, however, the fact is that we can individually play our parts by adhering strictly to all the guidelines for our collective protection.

“Therefore, as we celebrate, we should be mindful of our actions and be conscious of our environment.

“We should also remember those who are in need knowing that Jesus lived, preached and practice love.

“Let us remember Matthew 25 verse 14: ‘The king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’,” the Speaker advised.

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