Prof. Ernest Ojukwu SAN has written an open letter to all past Presidents of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) asking them not to allow the NBA President Mr. Paul Usoro SAN to use them to protect personal interests.
Ojukwu’s letter is coming on the heels of Mr. Usoro’s statement issued earlier today where he indicated that he has informed Past Presidents of NBA of his present ordeal and also revealed that they would soon “meet to formulate a common position and issue a statement on the matter.” Ojukwu also frowned at the NBA President’s use of the NBA letterhead in his personal communication referring to same as an abuse of office.
I have read an unsigned statement by Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN dated 19th December, 2018 released as the President NBA on NBA letterhead titled “Purported Money Laundering Charges and Related Matters”.
In that statement Mr. Usoro, SAN acknowledges that his “current travails have roots, in part, in vendetta missions that go right back to the 2015 Akwa Ibom State Election and the 2016/2017 Code of Conduct Tribunal trials of the Senate President…” and that “EFCC has become a tool for fighting personal and political fights.”
Mr. Usoro, SAN clearly knows and shows as he has acknowledged that the charges of money laundering against him are personal to him. Why is he dragging NBA into it? Why is he trying to railroad us into a fight with the EFCC for his personal battle?
Mr. Usoro’s use of the NBA letterhead in this case is an abuse of office in the same way he recently signed the NBA NEC resolutions relating to his charges. This is simply the reason why the NBA past presidents should advise Mr. Usoro, SAN to step aside temporarily and conclude this case very fast.
I am happy that Mr. Usoro, SAN notes broader issues of justice, and rule of law in which he condemns past NBA leadership for not taking up. Regrettably, Mr. Usoro, SAN did not say a word on these issues before he became President and is only saying them now that he has been charged by EFCC. Those fights are fights the NBA must take up or the NBA should completely go dead but Mr. Usoro, SAN should not use that platform to blindfold us into a fight with EFCC for his personal interests.
In that statement released by Mr. Usoro, SAN he stated that “I …kept past presidents of our Association fully informed of my current trials and it is my understanding that they are having discussions amongst themselves and will soon meet to formulate a common position and issue a statement on the matter.”
I hope I read Mr. Usoro, SAN correctly and hope that past NBA Presidents will not as a body be used by Paul Usoro, SAN against the Bar to protect personal interests?
It is on record as much as I know that Past NBA Presidents as a body has never issued any statement on the following:
- Unemployment of young lawyers
- Very poor salaries paid to young lawyers by law firms
- Maltreatment of young lawyers by many senior or older lawyers
- Molestation of lawyers by police and other law enforcement agencies
- Disobedience of court orders and judgments by Federal and state governments and their agencies
- Refusal by State Governments to allow the complete autonomy of the judiciary
- Mistreatments and discrimination against our member colleagues in the ministries and agencies
- Lack of support to our members with disabilities
- Molestation and sexual abuse of our female colleagues in law firms, public and private agencies/companies and our law students in the universities
- Terrible state of human right abuse across the country
- The terrible security situation in the country
- Herdsmen problem
- The state of Nigerian economy
- The challenges and decline of legal education and the massive abuse of intake quota of law students by universities
- Terrible state of NBA accounts
- The overpricing without approved budgets of NBA annual conferences and yet poor deliverables
- The conflicts and fractionalizations going on in our NBA branches and in some cases massive abuses of financial control and accountability
- The shoddy and undemocratic conduct of 2018 primary elections by all political parties in Nigeria which is a harbinger of unfair general elections
- The failed anti-corruption programme of the country
- The challenges of corruption and ethics in the NBA and refusal of universities to teach ethics in our LLB
- The proper recognition and capacity support for our lawyer colleagues in the Police, Army and other law enforcement agencies
- The rigging of NBA elections
- And many more
Please past Presidents, we need you now more than ever before to help the Bar chart a course for rebirth. But please when you meet advice Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN to quietly focus on his personal charges in court so that he can as soon as possible clear his name and return to lead the Bar positively and effectively. Do not allow yourselves to be used. This case is Paul’s case not NBA’s. The less we try to hang this on NBA the better for NBA and the future of the legal profession.
Season’s Greetings to you all.
Ernest Ojukwu (Teacher)