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NBA confab: Point of Correction, Mr. Attorney-General !

By Wahab Abdulah

The lawyer in Mr Raji Fasola, SAN, the governor of Lagos state was alive at the just concluded week long national conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos.

Specifically, Governor Fasola who was at his best on the first day of the lawyers’ conference reacted surprisingly to the statement made by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Chief Michael Andoakaa (SAN) when he was speaking on the issue bothering on the on-going disagreement between the Federal Government and the state over the creation and conduct of election into the new 37 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).

The AGF in his remark rendered some jokes that Fasola and himself are in good term “although I have a little coma with him. We are very close especially at the federal executive council.”

To make the crowd of lawyers who were listening with rapt attention believe that all is well between him and the Governor, he said that they were mates in their call to the Bar and their elevation to the prestigious rank of the Senior Advocates.

However, when the Governor was making his speech, he succinctly replied, “Let me say here that the honourable Attorney-General of the Federaton and I have no coma.” Not done with that, the Governor further retorted “ In the law profession, the issue of seniority is very important.

I want to clarify  that we are not mate as said by the Attorney-General. We were not called to the Bar same time, also we did not don the silk the same time.” The Governor emphasized that he was honoured with the rank of the senior advocate in 2004 while the Andoakaa was admitted into the rank in 2006.

Struggle for conference materials, the beginning of wisdom
As was the custom for most Nigerians when contesting for an item or post, it is always accompanied with so much struggles and agitation. This was so prominent during the last NBA conference in Lagos . Some lawyers threw decency to the winds and engaged in a show of shame when they were struggling and even fought over pamphlets and other gift items given freely at the conference. Some female ushers among participants who were sharing some CDs and souvenirs were not spared, as they were pushed by the lawyers who apparently believed that the materials would not go round. The struggle was least imagined.

Gentlemen no ‘free lunch’ here
The frenzy that characterized the last lawyers’ conference did not go without some funny acts from the men and lady of the wig. The first day of the conference went smoothly as the lawyers enjoyed themselves with good speeches from eminent lawyers and Nigerians who graced the occasion.  It was also interesting that after the first session, lawyers and their friends were treated to sumptuous free lunch within and outside the Expo centre, venue of the conference, courtesy of the organizing committee.

However, the second day went without the usual, as multitude of lawyers who savored the free meals served on them the first day were disappointed. What happened ? Yes, there were varieties for them to eat, but they had to pay.  Some of the lawyers who were on queue salivating on sighting the foods on the table were surprised when after receiving the plates of their favourites were also served with their bill. Some of them who openly expressed their anger over the development were forced to cough out N1000 that they did not prepare for. Hnmm! Indeed, no free launch again, as some of the lawyers who got wind of what was happening left the queue to nearby ‘mama put’ for rescue mission.

When Industrial Court President left without his message
There was a mild drama two days into the well organised NBA conference, when the National Industrial Court (NIC) President, Justice Babatunde Adejumo left the hall with his entourage in anger without delivering the paper. Justice Adejumo, the apostle of justice in labour matters was expected to speak on the “Role and Place of National Industrial Court in the Development of the Nigerian Economy: A Peep at the Workings of the National Industrial Court” He however left without presenting his paper as reflected in the day’s programme.

Although, some of his senior officials were on ground as early as 9.00 am, but they  were surprised as their boss could not present his well researched paper on the occasion. Why?  Actually, Gist Corner gathered that already, a space had been provided for Justice Adejumo, but when his name was called, he was no where to be found. Trust the lawyers, they skipped the session and moved up to other programmes. Few minutes later the man who the lovers of labour matter have been waiting for arrived. It was gathered however, that he was not attended to.

The judge, accompanied by some lawyers from his office waited for hours to present his paper. Rather, another speaker was invited to the podium. No reasons were given but it was gathered that the paper and session were not reflected on the announcer’s information sheet.  Not bothered about what happened, the Hon. Judge of the NIC left with his entourage unannounced. How can we describe what happened ?

A venue for networking
One great benefit of this year annual general conference of the NBA for the over 8,000 participants who attended is the opportunity to network. Many lawyers who are always in a hurry preparing for court were seen in relaxed mood and sharing old university or law school tales. They completely forgot the gown and wig and took to razmataz of the old days. There  were backslap, swap stories and exchange of contacts for business. A refreshing time indeed for lawyers.

Even there were tales of stealing
The huge crowd which the conference attracted also provided a cover for a few others to make away with other people’s property. Tales of stolen handsets were rampant. NTA’s Editor, Vera Chinwuba lost her phone mysteriously guarding it jealouslys, an indication that perhaps some fingers were faster than others.

Shopping Galore
Another benefit for the delegates who attended the bar conference, was the opportunity to shop for their favorite legal books at a discount. Various publishers set up stalls at strategic locations within and outside the conference grounds to showcase old, revised and new legal books and materials, all aimed at easing work related stress especially in the area of research.

There was a preponderance of online websites, offering practical demonstration of their services designed to lure the lawyers to embrace technology and achieve more work for less man hours. It got the desire impact as most lawyers flocked to the stalls to shop and subscribe.

The items on display were however not limited to books, CDs and the traditional wigs and gowns, it also extended to the ridiculous as lawyers were invited to buy candles , olive oil and other religious materials. Maybe the intention is to get them pray for the benevolence of clients.


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