- At last, Steve Sun has acknowledged the Paul Usoro leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA): In his rejoinder to an article by me, sometime in 2018, my respected learned friend, Steve Nwankwo (aka, Steve Sun) had declared thus:
“…I would’ve joined … in calling for Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN) to step aside but I personally do not recognize him as the NBA President and so i cannot be asking him to divest himself of what I do not recognize him as possessing. Recognizing him as the NBA President would come at the conclusion of the suit filed by Chief Arthur Obi Okafor SAN at the FCT High Court, if it goes in his favour.”(See Steve Sun’s article titled, “Record Breaking 161 First Class: ‘Your Rejoinder Came a bit too Late’ – Steve Sun tells Udemezue” published on https://dnllegalandstyle.com/2018/record-breaking-161-first-class-your-rejoinder-came-a-bit-too-late-steve-sun-tells-udemezue/ accessed on 21 February 2019)
First, I am not aware that there is any case in court, challenging the validity of the election of Mr. Paul Usoro, SAN, as the NBA President. Second, the mere fact that Steve Sun failed or refused to recognize Mr Usoro as the NBA President did not adversely affect the fact that in law and in fact, Paul Usoro became the NBA President on August 30, 2018 and so remains. Refusal or failure by one to accept the truth does not detract from the reality or truthfulness of the truth. As Flannery O’Connor put it, “the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” This notwithstanding, it is interesting that Mr Steve Sun did not wait for the conclusion of the court case he referred to, before deciding to acknowledge the current leadership of the NBA. By writing to criticise a certain action taken by the NBA leadership under Paul Usoro (SAN) on grounds that the said action is “ultra vires,” Mr Steve Sun has accepted that (a) a leadership subsists, (b) the leadership has taken some action, (c) but that the leadership has “exceeded: its authority. Thank you, dear Steve Sun. The 2018 elections have come and gone. It is time to face the present and forget the past. I enjoin you to join hands with Mr. Usoro and his team in order to lift NBA to greater heights.
Meanwhile, I humbly believe Steve Sun, without knowing it, is already one of the strongest supporters of the Paul Usoro leadership. Criticism may sometimes not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to seeming flaws and puts leaders on their toes. Steve Sun, having accepted the current leadership of the NBA, has made himself a strong critic and therefore, in my mind a strong supporter and helper, indirectly. Criticism helps to make leaders better and helps them to achieve more. And, I think, any leader that detests criticism is headed for the Golgotha. However, there is need to respectfully call Steve Sun’s attention to Abraham Lincoln’s counsel: he who feels he has a right to criticize must also feel himself obliged to help and support. Criticisms ought to be constructive and also accompanied by altruistic recommendations and dispassionate suggestions. Besides, says Elvis Presley: “Don’t criticize what you don’t understand, son. You never walked in that man’s shoes.” Diligent background research and honest efforts at discovering the truth (in fact and in law) ought to precede any constructive, well-meant critique. We must refrain from criticizing just for the sake of getting noticed, for the mere fun of it or to massage our ego!
- Is Steve Sun Not a ‘Convenient Activist?’ On 21 October 2018, while reacting to an earlier piece by me, Mr. Steve Sun had declared that he had resigned from activism and therefore would not address the issues raised in my article. Hear him:
“it is a pity that your rejoinder came at a time when i had already retired from activism Assuming I wasn’t retired, i can assure you that i would mount pressure on the General-Secretary and other Bar elders & leaders to follow up on the request for clarifications. And if they turn a blind eye to it, i would’ve proceeded with a Freedom of Information action to compel the CLE-NLS to make a full disclosure of all the facts surrounding the exams and the results…. But like i said, i have retired from activism.”(see https://www.lawyard.ng/steve-sun-replies-sylvester-udemezue-insists-nba-must-seek-clarification-on-nls-law-school-results/, accessed 21 February 2019).
Judging from the above, one would ordinarily have thought that Steve Sun would never write or respond to any article or publication again, especially as he saw ‘activism’ as consisting only in writing and so responding. Alas! Here we are, Steve Sun had continued with “activism” ever since then, at least at the level of NBA and in criticising every action taken by the NBA, however well-meaning. So, I say to Steve Sun, welcome back to activism, Sir. But, you have not told the world what had led to your sudden “resignation” from “activism.” Could it be that you just did not wish to respond to the issues raised in my article then? Or that you actually had no plausible reply to them? Or, simply that you are what I prefer to call a “convenient activist,” playing the ‘activist’ when you think it is convenient for you (or suits your personal interests) and looking the other way when it is not? Anyway, this is by the way. I leave the sleeping do to lie; a hatchet that is no longer useful in the farm ought to be buried and forgotten.
- On Steve Sun’s Admonition that I Should Face My ‘Lecturing Job’ and Leave NBA for Lovers of the NBA — On 4 January 2019, in an article titled, “Why Not Face Your Lecturing Job And Leave The NBA For The True Lovers Of NBA ,” Steve Sun had warned or counselled me thus:
“And by the way sir, since when did you become a lover of NBA? Why not face your lecturing job and allow the NBA for the true lovers of NBA! Which branch of the NBA do you even belong sir, and how many branch MGMs have you ever attended in your life? I think it is high time you channeled your time and energy to your lecturing job sir! After all i don’t think that Law Sch lecturers are part of the ASUU strike. Please be guided sir!.” (See https://themetrolawyer.com/steve-sun-replies-sylvester-udemezue-why-not-face-your-lecturing-job-and-leave-the-nba-for-the-true-lovers-of-nba/, accessed 21 February 2019),
Unfortunately, for either Steven Sun or my humble self or for both of us, I have refused to heed Steve Sun’s advice or warning and this is for the following reasons, namely –
- I am an NBA Member: As a Legal Practitioner, a Barrister & Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, duly admitted to the Nigerian Bar, I am a bona fide member of the NBA; membership of the NBA is automatic upon one being called to the Bar. Steve Sun knows this. Further, I am an active, financial member of the NBA, having paid my Bar Practicing Fees annually and for as long as I have been a lawyer in Nigeria, and having been paying my NBA Branch dues annually. The Christian Bible says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Therefore, whatever affects NBA affects me as an NBA member. Furthermore, charity begins at home. NBA is my home, my primary constituency. I got qualified to become a Lecturer only because I am a Lawyer in Nigeria. If I were not a member of the prestigious Nigerian Bar, I would not have become eligible to be considered for any employment as a Law Lecturer in Nigeria. Meanwhile, while I remain a dyed-in-the-wool Law Teacher, and doing my teaching job with transparent honesty, unswerving diligence, unwavering loyalty and unbridled satisfaction, under the personal motto: “hustle, loyalty and respect,” I nevertheless continue to exercise my interest and rights in NBA concerns and generally on/in legal and law affairs in Nigeria and beyond.
- I am a lover of truth, justice, peace, and due process of law; wherever and whenever these or any of these is threatened, there and then one is sure to see and feel my presence. There are reasons for these. I will indicate some here. As Martin Luther King Jr wrote from the Birmingham Jail, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly” Justice is a necessity for a fair and free society and for growth and preservation of constitutional democracy. Nigeria’s Court of Appeal has declared in the case of GOVERNOR OF EKITI STATE V. FAKIYESI (2009) LPELR-8353 that “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be only one commandment – thou shall not ration justice.” Beside the aforesaid, I love truth and telling it loud and clear, for all to hear, not minding whose ox is gored. I am in this wise guided by Thomas Hardy’s statement in Tess of the D’Urbervilles: “if an offense come out of the truth, then it is better is it that the offense come than that the truth be concealed.”
Having said this, I hope Steve Sun can now appreciate why I am here, again, to reply him on his latest ‘activist’ vituperative bombardment against the NBA on the newly introduced online payment portal for Bar Practicing Fee, to which I now turn my attention.
A breaking news for Nigerian lawyers on February 10, 2019 had it that, in line with the NBA President’s promise to see that lawyers no longer encountered any form of challenges while trying to pay for Bar Practicing Fees, etc., the NBA had launched an online portal for payment processes, including stamp & seal, bar practicing fees, etc. According to the report, published on NigeriaLawyer.com, CourtroomMail.com, Barristerng.com, Themetrolawyer.com, Newswire, Dnllegal, Lawyard.com, LoyalNigeriaLawyer.com, and a host of other online and print news media/platforms in Nigeria, the NBA President (Paul Usoro, SAN) while announcing the birth of the innovative project had stated thus:
“We are pleased to inform you that you can now register and make any and all kinds of payments to the NBA on the new NBA online payments portal. The pilot projects are the Bar Practice and Verification Fees but this would be extended shortly to include other fees. The benefits of the NBA portal include the following: • Increased efficiency and seamless and instant payments (of all kinds) to the NBA including Bar Practice Fees. • Ease of payments to NBA by and from lawyers and other stakeholders. Payments can be made online, both within and outside Nigeria. • Enhanced use of technology for the efficient administration of the Bar and provision of services. The benefits include real-time information and data gathering.” (See https://thenigerialawyer.com/nba-launches-online-portal-for-its-payment-process-stampseal-bar-practice-fees-ors/, accessed 21 February 2019)
However, in a statement titled, “NBA Lacks the Power to Set Up an Online Portal for Payment of Practicing Fees,” published on 20 February 2019 on https://dnllegalandstyle.com/2019/nba-lacks-the-power-to-set-up-an-online-portal-for-payment-of-practicing-fees-steve-sun/, among others, Steve Sun faulted the move by the Paul Usoro-led NBA administration to set up an online portal for payment of bar practicing fee. He argued that it was the duty of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to set up such online payment portal, noting that NBA would be acting ultra vires its powers if they continued in that regard. He then advised that the best that NBA could do in the circumstance was “to lobby the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to set up the online portal. Citing section 102 of the Evidence Act, 2011 and section 8 (2) of the Legal Practitioners Act, he warned the NBA to “review this decision without any delay, before any regrettable and as is often the case, irreparable inconvenience is occasioned the unsuspecting legal practitioner.” There was a swift rebuttal/reaction to Steve Sun’s, by the NBA through its national Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kunle Edun who on the same 20 February 2019 explained as follows:
“The Bar Practice Fees, whether paid online through the innovative NBA Online Payment Portal or in the old tedious manner of visiting the Bank Branches and lining up to make the payments, all get paid into the same Access Bank Account Number 0000976716 whose Account Holder is “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF)”…. What the NBA has done through its online payment portal is to facilitate an efficient, stress-free, technology-driven payment process of the BPF and other NBA related payments, for the benefit and comfort of our members, and this is to the knowledge of the Supreme Court Chief Registrar and the Honorable Attorney-General of the Federation…. There is therefore nothing ultra vires or incompetent howsoever in the innovative online BPF payment method that has been introduced by the NBA… the manual BPF payment method has not been scrapped; it co-exists side-by-side the online payment system.… Both payment methods are legitimate and legally competent.” (See https://dnllegalandstyle.com/2019/online-payment-of-bpf-steve-suns-argument-is-misconceived-nba/, accessed 21 February 2019)
Not satisfied with NBA’s response, Mr. Steve Sun has gone ahead on 21 February 2019 to release a piece titled, “A Non-Statutory Entity like the NBA, Cannot Carry out the Statutory Duties of Another Entity,” The points made by Steve Sun in his latest salvo can be summarized as follows:
- NBA had acted “unprofessionally” in having sent out a rebuttal to Steve Sun’s article without first helping Steve Sun to circulate Steve Sun’s own article to everyone who was expected to receive and read NBA’s own rebuttal. In this wise, Steve Sun advises that “in sending out this nature of emails in future, it might be better, in the interest of fairness, to equally avail the recipients/addressees, a copy of the article under review, or at least, a web link to same, so that you don’t leave them confused/lost.”
- NBA lacks jurisdiction to set up an online portal for collection of bar practicing fees (BPF) and not even the consent of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court can confer such jurisdiction which NBA does not have in the first place.
- BPF (Bar Practicing Fee) is payable to the Supreme Court (SC), and not to the NBA. Hence, NBA has no powers to set up a platform for the SC for collecting the BPF.
- Public records ought to not be kept by private entities. NBA is s private entity and therefore not qualified to keep records for the Supreme Court which is a public body. Says he: “The portal in question is the property of the NBA and not the Supreme Court, hence all data flowing through and/or stored thereon is not under the control/supervision of the Supreme Court but under the control of the NBA, which is an absurdity….if a person were to make an application to the CRSC for the CTC of such e-receipt, would it not be absurd that the public officer who is deemed to be in proper custody of it, would have to fall back to the de-facto owners of the portal for assistance??”
- NBA must swallow its pride and retrace its steps forthwith; things do not always have to be resolved by litigation; especially things that are commonsensical. Further, the NBA should consult its Legal Adviser for his legal advice on this. (See http://www.barristerng.com/a-non-statutory-entity-like-the-nba-cannot-carry-out-the-statutory-duties-of-another-entity-steve-sun-replies-nba/, accessed 21 February 2019).
My Evaluation of Steve Sun’s Submissions
I would address the points chronologically, starting with the first. Steve Sun’s statement was published to the whole world, and therefore was deemed to have been read by all. That is the position of the law. In ALFRED v. PETERSIDE, unreported suit No: PHC/271/2000 (judgment delivered on 19/05/2004), Hon Justice C.I. Uriri of the Rivers State High Court had held that “gazette publication is strictu sensu notice to the world at large…. It is of no moment that the plaintiffs are ignorant of the publication. The plaintiffs are therefore imputed with a knowledge both actual and constructive of the acquisition.” Accordingly, while circulating its rebuttal to Steve Sun’s, NBA was not obliged to also circulate Steve Sun’s article, which was already in the public domain, having earlier been published to the world at large. Therefore, with due respect, it is inappropriate and spiteful for Steve Sun to have referred to NBA as being “unprofessional” in its conduct in this respect.
On Steve Sun’s points number 2 and 3 above (the claim that NBA lacks jurisdiction to set up an online portal for collection of bar practicing fees (BPF) and that BPF is payable to the Supreme Court (SC), and not to the NBA), I believe, with due respect, that Steve Sun got it all wrong. Steve Sun’s claim raises several issues, some of which I now refer to:
- There is no doubt that the Bar Practicing Fees (BPF) are payable to the Registrar of the Supreme Court in line with section 8(2) of the Legal Practitioners Act, Cap L11, LFN, 2004. However, Steve Sun failed to advert his mind to section 8 (3) (c) of the same Act which mandates the same Registrar to pay to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) “as soon as maybe after the end of each year a sum equal to nine-tenths of the aggregate amount of the Bar Practicing Fees received by him in pursuance of this section during the year.” It is therefore clear that NBA is not an outsider to matters relating to BPF because the NBA is the owner of 90 per cent of the entire BPF collected for each year. It is hence very wrong, as Steve Sun has argued, to suggest that NBA has no locus in matters relating to payment of the BPF. The right thing to have said in view of the provisions of extant law on the subject is that the BPF is paid to the NBA, through the Registrar of the Supreme Court. This is apart from the fact that provisions of the Legal Practitioners Act relating to BPF reserve a role for NBA as I have shown below.
- Section 10 (1) (d) of Cap L11 provides that The Body of Benchers shall be responsible for prescribing/fixing the BPF to be paid by Legal Practitioners, “after consultation with the NBA.” Although Cap L11 has transferred to the Body of Benchers (BOB) the power to fix BPF in consultation with the NBA, the current position, under the Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Act No 31, 1999 is that the Hon Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) does fix the BPF still in consultation with the NBA, a clear indication that the NBA is an integral part of the decision-making process as it relates to prescription and imposition of the BPF. How, then, can someone say that NBA has no jurisdiction or has acted “ultra vires” in matters relating to collection of the BPF?
- Creation of an online portal does not alter nor violate the provisions requiring the BPF to be paid to the Registrar of the Supreme Court. As explained by Mr Kunle Edun, NBA’s Publicity Secretary, whether paid through the NBA Online Payment Portal or by visiting the Bank Branches, the BPF still go straight into the same Access Bank Account Number 0000976716 whose Account Holder is “Supreme Court of Nigeria, Abuja (BPF). It would have been a different thing if the NBA had opened or introduced another bank account in its own name, for collection of the BPF. Mr Edun had further explained that the manual payment method of paying BPF had not been scrapped; that it would co-exist (side-by-side) with the online payment system, in order to offer lawyers two alternative options of paying the BPF, into the same account. Both payment methods therefore remain legitimate and legally competent. It is like a person who buys petrol at a petrol station; he has the option of paying in cash or of using the POS to pay for the fuel or of even making an online transfer of the consideration. Either way, he has paid. I therefore do not see how NBA’s online portal has adversely affected the rights or powers of the Registrar of the Supreme Court under Cap L11. Besides, the Supreme Court and the AGF are said to be well aware of the development. Permit me to ask, as Steve Sun is questioning the powers of the NBA to create the online payment portal, why is he not also questioning Access Bank of Nigeria Plc’s powers to be the collecting Bank for this purpose? Or, is the Access Bank a property or branch or section of the office of the Registrar of the Supreme Court? Why is Steve Sun not advocating that all and each Nigerian lawyer should be left to personally travel to the Supreme Court of Nigeria in Abuja and pay the BPF direct, in cash, to the Registrar? This exposes the blandness, unimaginativeness and unrepresentativeness of Steve Sun’s groundless arguments as a convenient ‘activist.’ With due respect to him!
- Steve Sun lacks any locus standi to question the creation of NBA’s online portal – In GOVernor OF EKITI STATE v. FAKIYESI (2009), the term locus standiwas defined as (Latin ‘place of standing’) the right to bring an action or to be heard in a given form. See also ADESANYA v. THE PRESIDENT (1981) 2 NCIR 358; DANIYAN v. IYAGIN (2002) 8 WRN 44 at 61. Steve Sun has no right to complain about the NBA online payment portal, because the setting up of the portal has not taken away Steve Sun’s right to pay his BPF at a Bank’s Branch. Even if it did, Steve Sun still would have no locus. His obligation is to pay his BPF through any medium provided for that purpose. There is no harm Steve Sun would suffer here, and he is in no way adversely affected or prejudiced by the said action of the NBA. Rather than impose any harm on him, introduction of the online portal has only made things easier and more comfortable for Steve Sun. Finally, the present matter is not a constitutional issue; the requirement of locus standi would become unnecessary only in constitutional issues. In FAWEHINMI v. THE PRESIDENT (2007) LPELR-9005(CA), while looking at the issue as to who has the locus standi to sue on behalf of the public, the Court of Appeal (Per ABOKI JCA (Pp. 44-67, para. A) declared as follows:
“The action filed in Court must relate to the determination of any question as to the civil rights and obligations of the litigant. Locus standi does not depend on the success or merit of a case and all that is required of a plaintiff is to plead and prove facts establishing his right, interest and obligation in respect of the subject matter of the suit. The term locus standi cannot be divorced from the provisions of Section 6(6)(b) of the Constitution since it provides that the Constitutional right of a citizen to institute an action in Court can only be exercisable by a person who has complaints touching on his civil rights and obligation. Where a plaintiff fails to raise in his statement of claim or in the affidavit in support of his originating summons, any question as to his civil rights and obligations that have been violated or injured, the statement of claim or the originating summons as the case may be will be struck out. …. In such a situation, the plaintiff needs to show his interest and how it is affected or infringed upon as it relates to the situation at hand, the plaintiff would need to show how he has been or is likely to be affected …. Under public law, an ordinary individual will generally not have locus standi as a plaintiff. This is because such litigations concern public rights and duties which belong to, or are owed to all members of the public, including the plaintiff. It is only where he has suffered special damage over and above the one suffered by the public generally that he can sue personally. See: Gamioba & Others v. Esezi & Others (1961) 2 SCNLR 237, (1961) All NLR 584 at 585, (1961) 2 SCNLR 237; Owodunni v. Registered Trustees of Celestial Church of Christ (supra) page 73. In an action to assert or protect a public right or to enforce the performance of a public duty, it is only the Attorney-General of the Federation, that has the requisite locus standi to sue. A private person can only bring such an action if he is granted a fiat by the Attorney-General to do so in his name. This is referred to as a “relator action…. the requirement of locus standi however becomes unnecessary in constitutional issues.”
- The jus tertii connection: Jus tertii (Latin, “third party rights”) is the legal classification for an argument made by a third party (as opposed to the legal title holder) which attempts to justify entitlement to possessory rights based on the showing of legal title in another person. By showing legitimate title in another person, jus tertii arguments imply that the present possessor’s interest is illegitimate or that the present possessor is a thief (see Wikipedia.com, accessed 21 February 2019). Steve Sun’s deluge of legal inundation, as published on 21 February 2019, is clearly caught up in the midst of jus tertii. The whole gamut of Steve Sun’s argument is that NBA has violated the rights of the Registrar Supreme Court (RSC), that the NBA has usurped the powers of the Registrar of Supreme Court (RSC), and that the NBA has encroached upon the exclusively preserved horizon of the RSC.
The questions arising therefrom include, when did the Registrar Supreme Court appoint Steve Sun to fight the NBA on the Registrar’s behalf? Is the Registrar of the Supreme Court disputing or denying receipt of the BPF payments made through the NBA online portal? What locus, I ask again, does Steve Sun have to fight on behalf of the Supreme Court, a statutory body? Has Steve Sun not read the case of MOBIL v. LASEPA (2002) LPELR-1887 (SC) to see the existent or extent of his locus standi to champion purported rights of a statutory body? One wonders whether Steve Sun has not, in this case, made himself a meddlesome interloper, a busy body, one who leaves his own affairs and goes to meddle or interfere in the affairs of others, having nothing to do with him. In NIGERIA AGIP OIL v. HART (2018) LPELR-44622, the Nigerian Court of Appeal used the term meddlesome interloper to describe an appellant who had no business in the subject matter in respect of which it (the appellant) had approached the court. Also, sometime in 2016, the same Court of Appeal had declared that Dr Alex Otti and the KOWA Party were meddlesome interlopers, busy bodies, aliens and strangers to a dispute then existing between Governor Ikpeazu and Dr. Sampson Ogah, the duo having no interest recognizable in law in the matter. (See https://puoreports.com/2016/08/06/youre-meddlesome-interloper-busy-body/, accessed 21 February 2019). Finally, in the case of TRANS (NIG) ASSURANCE CO LTS v. AG, OYO STATE (2018) LPELR-44739 (CA), the Court held (per IYIZOBA, JCA (pp. 27-35, paras. A-D) thus:
“…. This is not an answer to the question whether the attention of the Court to the illegality can be called by the Respondents who were not parties in the suit …With all due respect to the Respondents, the Rules do not permit such course of action. It is like putting the cart before the horse or jumping the gun. They were mere interlopers and the lower Court ought not to have heard their application. On this ground alone, this appeal succeeds. …. No useful purpose will be achieved in considering the remaining issues in this appeal as the application was in the first instance incompetent, the applicants not being parties in the suit.”
Now, over to Steve Sun’s contention that public records ought to not be kept by private entities. With due respect, his reference to section 102 of the Evidence Act 2011 is incorrect as the section has no relevance at all. The NBA has explained that when a lawyer pays his BPF through NBA’s online portal, an electronic teller/receipt is automatically generated and sent to the lawyer’s email. The same teller may also be printed out anytime the lawyer desires. The teller, I think, like its manual counterpart, has the paying lawyer’s Supreme Court of Nigeria (SCN) enrolment Number embossed on it, simply to identify the lawyer. The teller is printed or generated from the Commercial Bank’s database, as evidence that the lawyer has made the payment to the designated account. Therefore, the teller generated does not form part of the official record or act of Supreme Court as a public or statutory body. The teller is not a public document; it is a document and property of the Commercial Bank, not of the NBA and not of the Supreme Court. The electronic BPF teller/receipt that is generated pursuant to online BPF payment is just as admissible as the BPF payment teller given to the lawyer when he pays at the Bank’s branch, subject to satisfaction of relevant admissibility requirements of the Evidence Act (see section 84). Both are private (not public) documents with equal evidential value
The Evidence Act (2011) in sections 89 (h) and 90 (1) (e) has made copious provisions on procedure for proving banking transactions, and in the event of any dispute those provisions would be the relevant and applicable provisions, and not section 102 of the Evidence Act which merely defines a public and has nothing whatsoever to do with admissibility of or evidential value/weight to be ascribed to a public document. Furthermore, 102 Evidence Act has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with legal validity, competence of the NBA’s online portal for BPF payment. Why then did Steve Sun make a heavy weather out of the said section? Anyway, Steve Sun’s argument is misplaced and therefore irredeemably wrong, being a case of one making a mountain out of a mere molehill! Little wonder then that NBA described his arguments as mere erroneous assumptions having no legal foundations!
One can now find it easy to see that the foundation upon which Steve Sun’s argument rests is faulty, leaving Steve Sun’s claims, contentions and submissions reverberating in concavity and nihility. I therefore respectfully urge all Nigerian lawyers to please disregard Steve Sun’s unjustified and unjustifiable misadventure into meddlesomeness and proceed to make use of the ground-breaking online platform provided for making BPF payment seamless and more stress-free. Introduction of platforms such as the NBA online portal, ought to be applauded by all, especially in view of the prevailing global realities and international best practices which recognize a world that is moving fast away from clumsy papers and hard copies to a paperless society where data is stored and securely stashed away online — a place where no rat or fire or other man-made or natural disasters can affect them.
Further, I humbly encourage my respected learned friend and brother to accept that the old, archaic, manual processes and procedures are fast giving way to innovative Information and Communication Technology (ICT)-driven processes that accord with global best standards. It was Lord Denning (now of the blessed memory) who had warned lawyers on the dangers of not changing with the ever-constant changes of a dynamic society. The law is made for man, not man for the law; lawyers must therefore remain instruments of social change and innovations for the profession’s and society’s comfort and satisfaction. The legal Profession in Nigeria must not be allowed or be seen to lag behind in this respect! If we change the way we look at things, the things we look at would change (Wayne W. Dyer). According to George Bernard Shaw, those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything. The present must change the past in order to create a sustainable future. Writer Katherine Murray in the book, “Microsoft Office 365: Connect and Collaborate Virtually Anywhere, Anytime,” has the following expert advice: “For all users of technology who are willing to take a chance, [I advise you] make a choice, and try a new way of doing things so that we can nurture and enjoy a happy, healthy planet.”
There is no doubt that ICT plays a critical role in taking organizations and professions to the next positive level of digital maturity and security. This basically is because ICT and the internet have created a paradigm shift in role, responsibility, attitude, and aptitude. The Christian Holy book summarizes all in Isaiah 43:18 and 2 Corinthians 5: 17: “Do not call to mind the former things, or dwell on things of the past…. the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Sylvester Udemezue (udems)
(21 February 2019)