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Lagos NBA urges CJN to constitute caretaker committee for national body

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Justice Walter Onnoghen

Lawyers petition NHRC, demand trial of Edo rights activist

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch, has called on Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, to save the NBA from implosion by immediately constituting a caretaker committee for the association pending the resolution of its crisis.

Chairman of the branch, Martin Ogunleye, in a statement yesterday said the branch took the decision to call on the removal of the national executive and constitution of a caretaker committee after its extra-ordinary general meeting held on May 23, 2017.

According to him, members at the meeting in compliance with the decision of the court that sacked the national executive of NBA, voted to return to the use of its 2003 bye-law. He said his branch would use the 2003 bye-law to conduct its upcoming elections slated for June 29, 2017.

“This decision was reached by a majority of 96 votes against 13 votes, in spite of the presence of NBA General Secretary, Mr. Isiaka Abiola Olagunju, who led a strong lobby from Abuja to persuade the branch to keep faith with the uniform bye-laws contained in the now voided 2015 Constitution,” he said.

Justice John Tsoho of the Federal High Court, Abuja had on March 30, 2017 declared the 2010 and 2015 constitutions of the NBA null and void. It was based on the voided constitution that the new executives were elected.

The court had further declared all actions taken under those constitutions null and void and restrained the association and all its members from further conducting its affairs by those voided constitutions. The NBA has, however, appealed the decision.

According to Martin, in an apparent show of power or authority, the NBA national secretariat has launched the first salvo of retaliation by withdrawing and recalling the ICLE official who had flown in from Abuja to accredit their 2017 Law Week conference and issue Continuous Legal Education (CLE) certificates to participants.

In another development, some interested lawyers have petitioned the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) over what they described as “illegal and continued” detention of a rights activist, Mr. Curtis Ugbo.

In a petition dated May 22, 2017 and made available to newsmen yesterday, Edo State-based lawyer, Matthew Edaghese, alleged that Ugbo had been detained for over 60 days on alleged trump-up charges of treason by Edo State government.

The lawyers in the letter posited that the “learned magistrate that initially presided over the case directed the state to quickly issue the necessary advice in respect of the case.

“Till date, the state has refused to file the necessary charge against him. We believe that if the state has anything against our client, they should be eager to charge him to court rather than incarcerating him in prison custody without trial,” the lawyers said.

The lawyers, therefore, urged the commission to intervene in the matter. Ugbo, President of Benin Solidarity Movement (BSM), had been charged to court following a protest he led to agitate for a better deal from the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company for Benin youths.

Edo State government considered the protest capable of undermining the peace of the state, and consequently arraigned Ugbo before a magistrate’s court.



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