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Crime/Justice

That NBA’s Subscription Payment For Young Lawyers

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Gentlemen and ladies, this news, if true, is indeed about a worthwhile project for young lawyers in Nigeria. It sounds like a continuation/renewal of an initiative commenced, under the previous NBA national leadership. Thus, just as I did the PUSAN administration when it undertook a similar project, I commend the present NBA national leadership for sustaining same.
 It is a second major step in the right direction by the present administration, after the unprecedented free NBA-Seal-for-lawyers project. Let’s get this straight; among the major first tools a young lawyer, indeed every serious-minded, success-oriented lawyer, needs for an effective law practice, are credible and useful research materials. 
Among the best law research materials are law reports because much of all of the relevant judicial precedents (case law) are usually effectively, swiftly and seamlessly found in the Law Pavilion e-resources, among others —-  there’s Legalpadia, Toma Legal, etc. Payment for an entirely free subscription for any of such E-Law-Research Resources, to grant  (young) lawyers free access to law reports of current cases, statutes and some other law practice precedents, is a worthwhile project.
 If even up to N100,000,000 is put into such every year but let it be credible and actually get to the target people, it’s commendable. Why not? Indeed, this is part of what I meant/mean by *NBA should embark on only projects and policies calculated to have direct impacts on the professional lives of Nigerian lawyers. (See: “Abdication Of Duty! How NBA Leaderships Chase After Shadows To The Detriment Of The Security, Welfare And Economic Advancement Of The Legal Profession And Its Members”. Thenigerialawyer: April 07, 2021).  Again, this time from NBA’s Ordinary Members’ Room (NBA-OMR), “the other room”, to which I currently belong, I heartily commend the present NBA leadership and  all people currently in the NBA Leadership Living Room (NBA-LLR), for this particular job very well done, because as Warren Wiersbe said, “Truth without love is brutality, and love without truth is hypocrisy”. It appears our relentless cries and wailing from the wildernesses are beginning to yield positive results. It appears NBA is now set for a peregrination from “mere pilot projects”, abdication-of-duty programs, audio actions, and white elephant policies, to an era of truly impactful projects (such as the present one, and the free NBA seal programme) that accord with the spirit and intendment of section 3 of the NBA Constitution.’ Nke a bu nke anyi ooo’ (this one na our own ooo!).  It appears this set of NBA leaders has some listening ear; I’ve not drawn conclusions, because my siddon-dey-look plus discreet research is still ongoing; let’s see how it goes.   However, please, note that much more still remains to be done for Nigerian lawyers to be able to say, we’re happy to be proud that we’ve a leadership that is for us, our concerns and our challenges.  Accordingly, we’d continue to shout from the wilderness, follow from the deserts, ruminate from the conclaves, analyse from the cubicles, wail from the rooftops, commend from downtown, assess from the upcountry, watch from the countryside and write from the hinterlands (everywhere and anywhere), until NBA national leadership moves from good to better, and finally becomes the best. It’s then I will listen to my brother, Kunle Edun’s charge to “rest the matter”. On 22 March, 2020, I wrote as follows:  “Citizens’ right to sometimes take leaders to the cleaners by way of criticisms is a necessary part of constitutional democracy, such as ours in Nigeria is…. criticisms may not be agreeable, but they’re absolutely necessary. Criticism fulfills the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to seeming flaws and puts true leaders and organisations on their toes. Everyone mustn’t necessarily sing praises of organisations.  Indirectly, criticism helps to make leaders and organisations better, and also helps the leaders to achieve more. Any leader organisation that detests or rejects criticism is headed for the Golgotha. The problem with most leaders in developing and backward societies, in Africa  (Nigeria being chief among the worst culprits) is that most of our leaders would rather be ruined by praises than saved by criticism”.  No wonder most critics are more often than not, treated as enemies of the propellers, architects and beneficiaries of the status quo. And then, sometimes, plots and plans (na true ooo), including landmines and drones, known and unknown, most of them petty, trifling and laughable, are hatched to track perceived critics down and shut them up to silence them for good. Chai!! Dear critics, e no easy oooo; but, don’t worry, just continue to speak out always but only as you ought reasonably to; unseen hands will protect you, as they usually do for me. . One should never be afraid to raise one’s voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. Indeed, if people all over the world could do this, it would change the earth. Besides, as Mahatma Gandhi said, ”Truth never damages a cause that is just”. One major source of inspiration and encouragement is taken from Winston Churchill: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t going’ away.” 
Arthur Schopenhauer said, “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident”.  Could this be why James A. Garfield said,” Truth will set you free, although first it will make you miserable”.
The point therefore is to objectively discover the truth, and to vigorously pursue it not minding the obvious risks.
Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence. It is best to refuse to compromise what you know to be right for anyone or anything.
 It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. 
All in all, please let’s stay steadily and steadfastly stuck to Thomas Hardy’s counsel: “If an offence comes out of the truth, better is it that the offence come than that the truth be concealed”. It is better to displease some people by doing what you know is right, than to temporarily please them by doing what you know is wrong. “To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice” (per Confucius).

By: Sylvester Udemezue

Udemezue is a Lecturer with the Nigerian Law School.

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Crime/Justice

On Issues Of Counter-Claim

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although a counter claim is a distinct action, and a separate decision would be given in respect of the counter-claim, it must be directly related to the principal claim and not outside and independent of the subject-matter of the principal claim. See Oyegbola vs. Esso West Africa (1966) 1 all NLR 170.
Awosanya vs. Federal Ministry of Environment, Housing & Urban Development and ORS.(2021) LCN/14971(ca).
Issue: counter-claim-Whether a court with subject-matter jurisdiction to hear a main claim can lack same to hear a counter-claim(Issue is mine)
Principle:
“I think the Appellant’s Counsel was only grandstanding, when he tried to fault the jurisdiction of the trial Court, on appeal, to entertain the counter-claim, on the allegation that the 4th Respondent was seeking “declaration of title to land and possession”, which is outside the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court. Appellant did not raise any such issue of lack of absence of jurisdiction at the trial Court, because, I believe, he knew the truth that the real issue in the case was the sale of the property to 4th Respondent by the 1st to 3rd Respondents, rather than to him, Appellant!
The case was never one for title to land, despite the inelegant couching of the reliefs by the 4th defendant at the trial Court. It could not have been issue of title and possession to land, because both Appellant and the 4th Respondent had acknowledged the Government (represented by 1st to 3rd Respondents) as the owner of property, No. 9 Mekunwen Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, and that the same was sold to the 4th Respondent, even when he (Appellant) was still on the property and wanted same to be sold to him (Appellant)! See the reliefs 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 by the Appellant in this case (earlier produced).
And so all the legal gymnastics/arguments and cases cited as to whether the trial Court (Federal High Court) had jurisdiction to hear and entertain a case seeking title to land and possession of land, were, in my opinion, completely unnecessary, and a distraction in this case, as the case of the 4th Respondent, was obviously, a counter-claim, to affirm the sale of the property to him by the 1st to 3rd Respondent and for the consequential orders for Appellant to vacate the property!
It is however conceded, that the couching of the reliefs sought by 4th Defendant’s Counsel in the counter-claim were quite inelegant, talking about declaration that 4th Respondent was the lawful owner and title holder of the property; and for possession of the said piece or parcel of land.”
I do not think the Appellant or any of the parties failed to understand the real issues before the trial Court, by the two sides, for determination, as earlier stated in this judgment, and so none can claim to have been misled by the said in-elegance in the drafting and presenting the claims (reliefs) in the counter-claim, nor by the findings and decision of the trial Court thereon. Courts are expected to pursue substantial justice, not technicalities.
It is also quite glaring, that the substance of the two cases questioned or sought, to justify the power of the 1st to 3rd Respondents to deal with the property, No. 9 Mekunwen Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, by selling same to 4th Respondent, and how the sale was made. While Appellant questioned the sale, the 4th Respondent justified it and sought an order for Appellant to vacate the property, and because the 1st to 3rd Respondents are Federal Government Agencies, which controlled and administered the property by virtue of Section 49 of the Land Use Act, 1978. The Section concedes to the Federal Government or its agency to hold title to land. The provision says:
“49(1) Nothing in this Act shall affect any title to land whether developed or undeveloped held by the Federal Government or any agency of the Federal Government at the commencement of this Act and accordingly, any such land and shall continue to rest in the Federal Government or the agency concerned.
49(2) In this section, ‘agency’ includes any statutory corporation or any other statutory body (whether corporate or unincorporate) or any company wholly owned by the Federal Government.”
Of course, Section 251(1)(r) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, says: “Notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in this Constitution and in addition to such other jurisdiction as may be conferred upon it by an Act of the National Assembly, the Federal High Court shall have and exercise jurisdiction to the exclusion of any other Court in civil causes and matters;
(r) any action or proceeding for a declaration or injunction affecting the validity of any executive or administrative action or decision by the Federal Government or any of its agency and…”
There is no doubt that the action or decision of the 1st to 3rd Respondents (Federal Agencies) to sell the property owned by the Government, to the 4th Respondent is at the root of this case of the Appellant and the 4th Respondent. The trial Court (Federal High Court) is therefore the appropriate Court with requisite jurisdiction to determine the dispute(s), in my opinion. See the views of my Lord Okoro, JCA, (as he then was) in the case of Minister, Federal Housing Authority & Urban Development & Anor. Vs. Bello (2009) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1155) 345 at 364-365.
Certainly, this was not a land case, or one for declaration of title, since the parties had agreed that title was vested in the Federal Government, and which transferred the title to the 4th Respondent. Appellant only disputed the sale, saying it ought to have been to him! The trial Court was therefore properly located to pronounce on the sale, whether it was valid or not, and whether the Appellant was entitled to it or not.
I think that, even if the trial Judge/Court were not to have jurisdiction to entertain the 4th Respondent’s counter-claim because of the inelegance or wrongs in the drafting of the reliefs sought, that the striking out of the counter-claim would not affect the value passed to the 4th Respondent by the 1st to 3rd Respondents in the property, upon the dismissal of the Appellant’s case by the lower Court. The challenge of jurisdiction, in the circumstances, was not well thought out, in my opinion.” Per MBABA, JCA.
Astor wrote from N.Ngbea & Co Chambers, Makurdi, Benue State.

By: King Onunwor with
reports from James Astor

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Crime/Justice

Monarch Hails Wike For Peace In Rivers Community

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The Eze Risi Ohia Mbam Abali/Rebisi in the Port Harcourt City Local Government Area of Rivers State, Eze Christopher Wonodi, has attributed the prevailing peace in Rebisi Kingdom to an act of God and the magnanimity of Governor Nyesom Wike to the kingdom.
Eze Wonodi, who said this in an interview with newsmen in his palace in Port Harcourt said all nooks and crannies of the kingdom are experiencing peace, adding that God has been so gracious to the people.
The second class traditional ruler also thanked Governor Wike for siting projects in all parts of the kingdom.
He said the numerous road, bridge and other infrastructural projects constructed by the present administration has opened up the kingdom for more investments.
Eze Wonodi also said the on-going dualisation of the eastern by pass/Ogbunabali road has opened up the community for more investments.
He, however, called on the people to ensure that all government projects sited in the area are not vandalised.
The traditional ruler commended the mayor of Port Harcourt City, Sir Allwell Ihunda for his numerous programmes to improve the lives of the people.
According to him, “mayor is a man of the people. He is a humble fellow He takes advice. He is close to the people,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Community Development Committee (CDC), Oro Abali, Port Harcourt City Local Government Area has lauded the mayor of Port Harcourt City local government area, Sir Allwell Ihunda for initiating several empowerment schemes for the people.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Manuchim Lammy Wopara said this during a courtesy call on the council chairman in his office in Port Harcourt.
He said his community, Oro Abali benefitted from the scheme, adding that several women and youths of the community also benefitted from the empowerment scheme.
The CDC chairman said the visit to the mayor was to show appreciation for his support to the community as well as to show solidarity and support to the administration.

By: John Bibor

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Crime/Justice

Community Leader Cries Out Over Alleged Murder Of Relation, Others

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A community leader and elite in Kono Boue Community in Khana Local Government Area of Rivers State, Dr. Promise Abanee, is definitely not a happy man today, following the alleged gruesome murder of his only surviving uncle, Mr. Nubari Ifaah, said to be a 77-year-old retired teacher; his friend and neighbour, Mr. Ideebom Monday Beteh, and a host of other indigenes of his community, by gunmen suspected to be cultists on a genocide mission, to apparently exterminate his people.
Consequent upon this, Dr. Abanee, who lamented what is currently playing out in the community, said in a chat with The Tide that the place is now a ghost town, as the inhabitants have fled their homes, with some of them scattered around Bori, the local government headquarters.
According to him, his uncle met his untimely death on Monday, August 23, 2021, when he visited the community from Bori, to see Mr. Ideebom Monday Beteh, whom he learnt had been at home for over two days, with a promise to return on Tuesday.
He said Mr. Ifaah as planned, could, however, not return to Bori, where he was living at the younger brother’s place, because over 20 gunmen had allegedly invaded the community that Monday, shot and killed three other persons before abducting the retired teacher and his friend. He also alleged that the invaders destroyed windows and doors of buildings in the community before leaving.
Dr. Abanee further alleged that the mangled bodies of the two victims, Ifaah and Beteh, were located in a bush far away from the community on Thursday, August 26, 2021, with a unit of the police in Bori providing security, contending that the remains of the victims were buried same day.
He listed the names of those who had earlier been allegedly killed by the gunmen to include Barikui Yor-ho, Torne Bari Bakpo; Emmanuel Atangsi Deele; Samuel Agbokara; and Lekara Stephen Bira.
Others are Bariya Kaanagbara; Baridakara Sorkue; Blessing George; Baridoolenu Dike Baesor; and Gbara-Akpo Imanyie; among others.
With this revelation, Dr Abanee said Kono Boue Community is today facing a humanitarian crisis, and pleaded for the urgent intervention of the Rivers State Government and the international community, to stem the spate of killings in the area.
When contacted, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in charge of Bori, SP Bako Angwashim denied allegations that people were being killed in Kono Boue Community, insisting that residents were deserting the town out of fear and suspicion.
He said the police were fully prepared to maintain law and order in any troubled community in Ogoniland, and appealed to the people of Kono Boue to return to their community.
According to him, “nothing is happening in Kono Boue Comunity”.
It would, however, be recalled that the Chairman of Khana Local Government Area, Dr. Thomas Bariere had reportedly visited the community recently as a result of the unfolding unfortunate incidents, and appealed to all communities of Boue to abide by a subsisting peace agreement.

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