Caroline Ajie in addition to threatening to sue the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Mr. Paul Usoro SAN for refusing to nominate her to certain NBA positions also raised some serious allegations of financial improprieties against Mr. Usoro and the NBA.
Below is her allegations:
…Essentially it’s an alert that our NBA President Paul Usoro is facing money laundering charges by EFCC and about a Billion Naira plus is involved. He and the Commissioner for Finance and AG Akwa Ibom State. We have voted a potential liability as our NBA President.
Do you know he employed three PAs paid by NBA when the regular staff have not been paid salaries for two months thereby exposing our poor women to vulnerability.
Do you know NBA is paying accommodation for one of his PAs Nicholas Emem Obong N25,000 a day in Reinz Continental when some regular NBA staff earn N50,000 per month and Usoro s presidency is owing the regular staff.
His other PA Victor Ekim he calls Executive assistant resident in FCT.
Usoro s third PA is Ayi Ekpeyong he says he is PA Domestic Matters.
As we speak NBA Wi-Fi has been cut off from the national secretariat.
As we speak Usoro is sending lawyers who are total strangers to statutory bodies etc to represent us. Because they stood for Usoros when JB Daudu sacked Mrs Mfon Usoro as Chair SBL because George Etomi brought her into SBL leadership without following due process. In NJC there is zero representation of the Igbos. Ms Obodoukwu a Bar woman was removed and replaced with Mrs Efosa Etomi who is unknown to NBA.
Usoro has not told us what he is paying PwC to re-audit the account. He appointed PwC unilaterally without NEC or AGC approval and if he is paying from his pocket we must know the stated fees charged at least. Usoro is not running a transparent regime.
The NBA Constitution says you must call NEC meeting every quarter. November is the end of this quarter. Usoro calls a NEC meeting in Dec in contravention of NBA Constitution.
Henceforth do not pay any money into Usoros regime please. He is not a Bar leader to trust with your money because he won’t keep his professional obligations unless there is something in it for him.
Mr. Usoro SAN has through the NBA Assistant Publicity Secretary Mr. Akorede Habeeb Lawal reacted thus:
- PRESIDENT’S PERSONAL ASSISTANTS
As rightly stated by you, the president of our association has three Personal Assistants. However, all these three gentlemen unlike what obtains in previous administration are on the payroll of the President and not the NBA. Mr. Usoro pays their salaries and hotel bills.
2. SALARIES AND WI-FI
Upon inception of office, we were faced with huge financial challenges. Account was literally in red. The recently published financial statement evidences this fact and this affected internet services at the secretariat for about a week or two. This internet service has however been restored since September.
It has to be stated that the internet services on the President’s floor is being paid for by Mr. President. And just so that the burden on the NBA’s empty purse is reduced, Mr. President picks all his bills including hotel and travel expenses.
We also had a salary backlog for the month of August inherited from previous administration. We needed to take some steps to block leakage while also ensuring that we address our over bloated wage bill. For this reason, we had to disengage the Executive director of the NBA whose salary was in excess of a million naira and who apparently knew nothing of the demands of her office.
We’ve paid the August and September salaries. We’ve met with the hardworking staff of our association, we laid bare our constraints and they fully understand these challenges. Before the end of this week, we hope to settle the October salary.
- NEC MEETING
The relevant provision of our constitution prescribes that NEC meeting be held every quarter. The last quarter of every year is from September to December. We’ve sent out the requisite notices to NEC members for December 6, 2018. No provision of the constitution has been breached.
- PWC ENGAGEMENT
The engagement of PWC was decided by the national officers in view of the state of our financial health and the need to report same to our members through NEC. We hope to secure the due ratification of NEC in accordance with our constitution.
We’ve pledged financial transparency and we are committed to issuing financial report every quarter. The report of the first quarter shall be published before NEC on December 6 and the cost of services rendered by PWC shall be adequately captured.
- PAUL AND EFCC
The members of our association have a right to know that contrary to your position, Mr. Usoro faces no money laundering charge.
What you refer to is a civil suit between Akwa Ibom State Government and EFCC and others and the NBA President is even not a party in this suit. Your erroneous information is sourced from averments in EFCC pleading. No lawyer worth his or her gown should believe in pleadings in a case where no evidence has been called.
This calls into question your motive for deliberately spinning this spurious narrative which is unbecoming of a lawyer.
- YOUR MOTIVE
Would you like to inform the fine members of our association that your motive stems from your attempt to force yourself on the NBA leadership as the Bar’s International Bar Association (IBA) representative and National Judicial Council (NJC) nominee and we rejected you?
Would you also like to inform members that you were recommended as the NBA representative on the board of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) because of your advertised human right struggles, but you rejected same on the basis that it may take some time before the NHRC board is inaugurated and that you may only accept to represent us at NHRC as a bonus to your appointments at NJC and IBA?
Lest I forget, you already have a prepared suit where you are asking the court to enforce your rights to be the nominee of NBA at IBA and NJC.
We hope this puts an end to all of these unnecessary distractions.