Paralegal and Litigation

Suswan Government did not give us Flood Money – BSEMA

Benue State Emergency Managemnet Agency BSEMA today filed its reply in the suit brought against it by Rommy Mom Esq, President of Lawyers Alert.

In the suit Mom is requesting for detailed information on the expenditure of the assistance (money) to flood victims by the federal government of Nigeria and several bodies totaling about N700m. It will be recalled the the North Central State of Nigeria was flooded about 9 months ago.

When the matter came up in Court on last week, Lawyer to BSEMA asks for time to meet with BSEMA towards obtaining information to enable him take an informed position on the issue.

In a Counter affidavit however filed today, BSEMA out rightly stated that the Benue State Government did not give it any of the money and they are only operating as an advisory body regarding flood victims.

In their defense, they asserted they have no knowledge whatsoever on how the Benue State Government is spending the money. They urge the Court to direct Lawyers Alert to look elsewhere for the information since they cannot give what they do not have.

Part of their defense reads thus:
“(a) That the State Emergency Management Agency has not collected any monies from the Federal Government, State Government, Local Government, Private Organisation and Donor Agencies as and to flood victims as result of last year’s flooding in the State.
(b) That the Relief Committee has not operated account for the purpose and is yet to incur direct expenditure.
(c) That the 1st Respondent only makes recommendations to the State Government concerning approval and release of relief to victims of flood and other natural disasters.
(d) That the Respondent is not in custody or control of the information/sought by the Applicant via his letter dated 27th March, 2013, hence their lack of response thereto”

The Freedom of Information Law however in such circumstances takes a different view.

It states that where an application is made for information, even where the body it is directed to has no such information, it should send the application to the necessary government office and inform the Applicant of this within 7 days. This BSEMA obviously did not do, but choose to simply say, the Suswam administration did not pass the money to them.

By the Freedom of the Information Act, BSEMA ought to and should have done more than that.

See Section 5 of the FOI Law 2011
5.(1)Where a public institution receives an application for access to information, and the institution is of the view that another public institution has greater interest in the information, the institution to which the application is made may within 3 days but not later than 7 days after the application is received, transfer the application, and if necessary, the information, to the other public institution, in which case, the institution transferring the application shall give written notice of the transfer to the applicant, which notice shall contain a statement informing the applicant that such decision to transfer the application can be reviewed by the Court.

(2)Where an application is transferred under subsection (1), the application shall be deemed to have been made to the public institution to which it was transferred on the day the public institution received it.

With the posture adopted by BSEMA given its mandate, one is tempted to wonder, is the Government hiding something.

Thankfully our day in Court is 22nd May 2013




Four Nigerian lawyers Debarred

The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) has directed the chief registrar of the Supreme Court to strike off the names of four lawyers from the roll of legal practitioners.

The affected lawyers are Dominic NtieroTimipa OkponipereG.C.Monye, andJ.A.Agwuncha.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Joseph Daudu (SAN), in a directive in Abujayesterday stated that the decision stemmed from the findings of the panel that the respondents were guilty of infamous conduct.

However, OlawoleAjoge-Daniel, another affected legal practitioner was suspended for five years for similar offence bordering professional misconduct.

On allegation against Ntiero, Daudu said the respondent outrightly failed to appear to defend himself.
“We were however satisfied by the committee’s secretary that there was due notice in the Punch Newspaper.

“The respondent’s act violated Rules 47, 50, and 51 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession 2007 and Section 12 of the Legal Practitioners Act as Amended,’’ he said.

The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in its complaint against the respondent alleged that Ntiero issued a dud cheque of N6.3 million to one of his client, Rita Edet, over a failed agreement.

In the case of Okponipere, Daudu said the respondent sometimes in 2007 admitted to have given unsolicited legal services to Mr TimiAlaibe, an ex-managing director of Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC).

Daudu held that Okponipere claimed to have nominated Alaibe for National Merit Award and therefore made demands for the sum of N40 million.

The chairman said that Okponipere failed to maintain the high standard of professional conduct expected of a legal practitioner.




The matter between Rommy Mom Esq and the Benue State Emergency Agency came up today the 9th May 2013 before the Hon. Justice Ada Onum of the Benue State High Court.

Kizito Agbainjo Esq represented Rommy Mom and informed the Court he was ready to proceed with the Application against BSEMA for information on the status of the flood victims’ assistance (money) in the custody of the Benue State Government. This is the basis of Mr. Mom’ case brought under the Freedom of Information Action 2011.

Mr. Asue representing the State was however not ready to proceed, owing to the fact that he supposedly wrote BSEMA for the required information and other details. According to him, his letter was served on BSEMA on the 7th of May 2013. He pleaded for time to enable him get the information so as to take an informed position on the matter.

The Court opined that given the summary nature of  proceedings under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and the public interest therein it will adjourn to 22nd of May 2013 for the matter to be determined on the merits.

It should be noted that the Freedom of Information Act 2011 anticipates quick dispensation of proceedings. This informs the time spans allotted to the supply of information and the time for Applicants to approach the Court to compel the supply of such information when refused.

We are hopeful this matter will be expeditiously determined



We all are aware of the flooding that ravaged people and communities in Benue.

As a result, the FG,  Philanthropists, State Governments and other Bodies made significant donations as relief to our people.

Months thereafter, the affected are still making lone and individuals efforts to get back to their feet while the relief/assistance made to them remains with Government.
No reason has been given for this.

Several stories have been bandied around from corruption and misapplication of the funds.
These maybe true or false.

One thing is however clear: in a natural disaster of this nature, social justice and social rights places an obligation upon government to provide for them and assist. Its an obligation!
We too in our little ways ought to contribute.

It is with the above in mind that the President of lawyers Alert, Rommy Mom Esq  sued under the Freedom of Information Law to  KNOW what exactly is the issue and why the affected are waiting almost a year after monies was collected by the Benue State Government.

Hopefully this act will also ginger Govt to release these monies to the affected and tell the Benue people in what measure.

Its also an opportunity for Govt to put a lie to the stories of corruption making rounds. Its an opportunity for Govt to show how transparent it is, at least in this regard.

The matter which has been assigned to Justice Ada Onum of the Makurdi High Court  of Benue State is slated for the 9th day of May 2013 at nine o” clock in the forenoon.

We will post an update.



No doubt the need for resources exists to enable governments, including the government of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT Abuja to develop infrastructures, maintain  clean and healthy environment and provide security for the residents. These are legitimate aspirations of any government.

Given that Abuja is the CapitalCity of Nigeria, there is the additional need to showcase an international city worthy of the status of Nigeria as a regional power. This perhaps accounts for the huge allocations to the FCT though smaller in land mass and population to States like Benue, Niger, Kwara etc, which in comparison are allocated much smaller funds.

The FCT on its own too, tries to generate internal revenue which probably accounts for all manner of taxes (some justified, others not)  in the city.

One of the most controversial taxes by the FCT now is the Parking Tolls or Rates where when a motorist parks, he or she pays for time for parking on the street designated as restricted areas.

These taxes are usually paid in overcrowded areas in some Countries so as to discourage indiscriminate parking and the sort. Well, in Abuja, that does not matter. When you park, you pay, simple.

Yet again in Countries where this operates, there are normally toll ports or vending machines on these streets, where motorists drop in their notes (money) and the vending machine issues a receipt which is placed on the windscreen.

In Abuja, no such Machine exists. A person or two are posted on streets of sometimes a kilometer or two, to attend to all motorists who pay and are issued receipts by these persons or Staff.

Needless to state that this is grossly ineffective as it is inefficient. Often times, when motorists park, no staff is in sight to pay to, and motorist are stranded. Mind numbing is the fact, that if a motorist leaves for want of sighting a staff to pay to, they appear from God knows where, clamp the car tyres for the motorist to part with N5000 before release of the vehicle.

In traditional bid to extort money from motorists, these staff sometimes deliberately make themselves unseen hiding behind trees and gates, only to appear and clamp tyres once a motorist moves away so as to make fast money for the company that manages these parking taxes regime for the FCT.

The above was the fate of Rommy Mom, the President of Lawyers Alert on the 15th day of April, 2013. He parked at the entrance of the National Human Rights Commission, with no staff to pay to, made his way into the premises of the Commission and twenty minutes later when he exited, his car was clamped.

In reaching the Authorities, he was informed it was HIS DUTY to look for and locate the Staff and pay parking fees to them.

This Mr. Mom views as gross abuse of his Rights, as he was stranded, demobilized and could do nothing for the three hours the whole episode lasted.

The question is; is it the duty of the Motorist to seek for a Staff to pay the parking fee to or are they supposed to make themselves available and demand payment?

Is the FCT not under an obligation to provide vending machines to make payment more effective and efficient?

Mr. Mom is in Court to have these issues determine in the spirit of good governance.

Below the Court processes.



                                                                                            SUIT NO:






ROMMY  MOM …..……………………….……………… PLAINTIFF









  1. The Plaintiff is a Legal Practitioner with office in Abuja
  2. The 1st Defendant parades itself as the Manager of restricted parking Zones in Makurdi on a Contractual basis in Abuja where the 2nd Defendant is the Development Authority.
  3. On the 15th day of April 2013, the Plaintiff in the normal course of business drove to the National Human Rights Commission Office in Abuja on an official visit.
  4. Hitherto whenever Plaintiff was at the National Human Rights Commission, a Staff of the 1st Defendant normally approaches the Plaintiff for the payment of parking fees which the Plaintiff normally obliges.
  5. Paragraph (4) above has always been the norm wherein Plaintiff always pays whenever at the Human Rights Commission or any other restricted parking zone in Abuja.
  6. On the said 15th day of April as referred to in paragraph (3), Plaintiff parked his car and no Agent came forward to demand a fee, Plaintiff looked around and made efforts to locate an Agent but none was in sight.
  7. At about 11:10 am Plaintiff walked into the premises of the Commission but was informed the Executive Secretary whom he was on an appointment to see, was in a meeting.
  8. Plaintiff left a note and made out of the Commission at exactly 11: 27am only to see Agents of the 1st Defendant had clamped and demobilized his Car.
  9. That he placed a call to the office of the 1st Defendant based on a note left on his car complaining of the action wherein he was directed on phone to remove Note (herein pleaded)  behind the sticker and read.
  10.  Upon reading Plaintiff was shocked to notice he was directed to pay five (N5000:00) thousand Naira for parking without payment.
  11.  Plaintiff called back and explained the situation as stated in the above paragraphs, principally that there was no one to pay to and no one made any demand whilst he parked. Plaintiff further offered to pay the fee of N50 for time spent under 30 minutes.
  12.  1st Defendant however ignored Plaintiff explanations insisting it is the duty of the Plaintiff to search for Officers wherever they were and make the payment, insisting Plaintiff had to go a Bank and make the payment.
  13.  Plaintiff was forced to take a taxi home, some 10 kilometers away, obtain his ATM card, make withdrawal, then proceed to the designated Bank (First Bank) to make the payment.
  14.  Thereafter at about 1pm Plaintiff called the 1st Defendant to demobilize the car, wherein he was told to go wait by the car. 1st Defendant’s Agent arrived at about 3.15pm to demobilize the car, after a period of over 2hours.
  15.  Plaintiff in the interim waited and from 11: 27 to almost 3:30pm was forced to attend the sudden issue, leaving every other engagement in the office, inclusive of the trauma, stress,  inconvenience and psychological pain he endured all through the period.
  16. Plaintiff contends he was not approach to make any payment, there was no machine to make payments to as it obtains in countries where restricted parking spaces is practiced, neither was there anyone to make payment to when he parked his vehicle.
  17. Wherein plaintiff clams he suffered injury owing to stress, trauma, psychological pain, time wasted and false imprisonment.
  18. Wherein Plaintiff claims as follows:

a)     Special Damages of N5000

b)    General Damages of N1m.

Dated this…………day of…………………………………….2013


Para legals and the Nigeria Justice system

Paralegal services are legal services offered by non lawyers in situations where lawyers are not readily available or pending the availability of trained lawyers. Sometimes and in some jurisdictions, paralegal services are actually offered by staff of law firms who work in partnership with lawyers.

Their services in all cases range from legal advice, drafting of rudimentary legal documents, reporting of human rights abuses to constituted authorities etc. In all cases however, this is a legal field handled by non lawyers and is increasingly gaining popularity across the world.

A lot of Non Governmental Organizations, NGOs, are currently training and providing paralegal services in Nigeria notably WARDC, CIRDDOC, Global Rights and Lawyers Alert. In Nigeria Paralegal services are principally community based, i.e. where residents offer first aid legal services to persons who cannot afford lawyers in rural areas or where lawyers are hard to come by. Beneficiaries of paralegal services, account for about 70% of people that interface with the justice sector in Nigeria in rural areas.

While paralegal work in Nigeria is especially important and necessary given the challenges in the rural areas occasioned by lack of knowledge of basic rights, to meet its objectives, there exists a need to examine how it’s carried out.

Training of Paralegals in Nigeria usually lasts 2-5 days and they are thereafter presumed to be equipped or “Expert” enough to advise on legal matters. Needless to say, this sometimes results in more injustice than justice.

The situation is exacerbated by the fact that the Government of Nigeria is completely oblivious of the situation and there exists no official framework on the work or existence of paralegals.

Paralegal work however, is gaining a lot of ground in Nigeria and currently there are about 10,000 paralegals, presumably trained by both local and international NGOs, using their own syllabus. 

These over 10,000 “trained” paralegals in Nigeria are out there delivering services to needy citizens. In practice however, while the intention might be noble, in most cases, citizens are ill- advised, thereby further complicating issues and denying justice. These needy citizens are mostly women, the poor and disadvantaged, persons living with HIV and AIDS, and other vulnerable groups.

This has led to a loss of confidence in the justice system in the country, poverty, and in some instances violence, as citizens’ resort to extra- judicial measures when they get frustrated by the system even where “experts” are involved.

Stakeholders in the Nigeria Justice System, Government inclusive, have the responsibility, not only to protect and promote human rights but to provide and enhance access to justice thereby ensuring the provision of an enabling environment for citizens in the pursuit of it.

Grassroots and community-based paralegal services are critical to widening access to justice, given this is where most Nigerians live, yet this ought to be provided in a manner where citizens rights to justice is protected.

Stakeholders in this sector should facilitate the creation of framework, standardization, regulation and coordination for paralegal services in Nigeria. Current service providers including the Nigerian Bar Association, the Council of Legal Education, National Human Rights Commission, amongst other stakeholders must be involved in meeting the desired objectives. 

Stakeholders will need to carry out preliminary studies (Assessment) of the extent of paralegal work in Nigeria, the organizations involved, types of services offered, syllabus and course contents, the beneficiaries of these services, challenges, etc. This will bring about an informed position to effectively, and in an informed manner, address the issues raised.

The Assessments should involve the representatives of all interest groups in the sector, based on specific terms of reference, must be country wide towards extensive and intensive engagement and consultations

The ensuing report should exhibit in detail, all the issues, concerns, and parties involved in paralegal work in Nigeria and the institutional and practical challenges involved.

Thereafter a National Consultative Forum should be held to discuss and consider the committee’s report. This forum will intensively discuss the report and collectively fashion a way to enhance paralegal work in Nigeria towards qualitative service delivery.

At the end  it is expected that Nigeria would have joined the League of Nations where paralegal services enhance, deepen, and expand access to justice and respect for Human Rights.


Lately the Nigeria Police and the Authorities in Abuja the Federal Capital territory have resorted to the practice of arresting women seen outside of their homes at night and prosecuting them on the obsolete law of wandering (read prostitution). The prosecution under the law of wandering, which itself is obsolete, because no law prohibits sex workers. The intention is however to intimidate perceived sex workers, but in the process, hundreds of women are affected and traumatized by arbitrary and dragnet arrests.

Commercial sex even though very high in major cities like Lagos and Abuja is highly frowned at by the Authorities.

Seeking to gain political mileage and also wanting to appear to fight crimes, the Politicians and the Police have lately resorted to intense harassment of commercial sex workers in Abuja. The practice is for the Police officers to swoop on them at nights and arrests dozens. A lot of women who are on other ventures have suffered a lot from this, as the mere appearance of a woman without a male escort at night can lead to arrest without questions. Several women have suffered this indignation. A female Banker was recently arrested when she parked her car and strolled across the street for Toiletries. It took the intervention of her employers next day for her to regain freedom.

As earlier espoused because the Police have no law to charge these women, they are charged under the obsolete law of wandering at night. Women are now being detained and imprisoned on this account. Curiously men “wandering” at night are not arrested.

Women arrested are sometimes raped by the arresting officers and let to go home. Their only offence, at least by the constitution of Nigeria is that they are females who dare to come out at night. Prostitution is stritu sensu not an offence in Nigeria.

The practice of arrest, detention and imprisonment of women on this account is now gaining popularity as women are increasingly coming under some sort of siege in cities like Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Ibadan. Women rights to freedom and liberty is now gradually being eroded and marginalized on account of suspicion of sex hawking. Recently an Abuja court sentenced to jail several women on this account. Daily Trust of Friday, June 3, 2011 page 63,

As earlier stated, these actions are as illegal as they contravene the constitution. The need is now urgent to legally challenge the constitutionality or otherwise of these actions to put an end to it.

The Police normally charge these women in the lower courts and not the High Courts where their actions cannot be legally closely scrutinized. The lower courts are courts of summary trials.

Lawyers Alert has now approached the Abuja High Court to have the court make a declaration that this is constitutionally illegal.  Thousands of women will be the beneficiaries and the court decision will no doubt be an Authority orLocus Classicus on women rights in Nigeria and other parts of Africa. A favorable decision of Court will be a reference for lower courts and also the police to desist forthwith from these acts.

This proposed Action is urgent, because women are continually been sent to prison on almost weekly basis. Freedom and liberty is by far one of the most precious rights and the continuous illegal denial and abuse of this makes this matter very urgent in being addressed. Left to the authorities and time to rectify this situation might take years alongside the spillover effect in its spread across other regions in Nigeria.

Law and Advocacy are two key strategies presently being put to use by Lawyers Alert in advancing women rights in several spheres be it political, economic or social.

The present case fits into Lawyers Alert broader strategy in terms of advancing the rights of women to move freely and not be subject to any restraint, abuse or harassment so long as they are within the laws of the land.

Find below our Argument in Abuja High Court



SUIT NO ……………………………          


















Following the pronouncement of the 1st Defendant to rid Abuja of prostitutes, the 2nd and 3rd Defendants, through members of the Nigeria Police Force commenced the mass arrests and harassment of women seen at nights in Abuja. The sole reason for these arrests is that these women are seen at night as the arrests do not occur in the afternoons.

Men are however not arrested.  The practice has continued throwing fear into women of going out at nights for fear of arrest and molestation by the police.


Whether the incessant harassment, intimidation, and arrest of women in Abuja at nights on suspicion of prostitution is  not only unconstitutional but also  a violation of women’s human rights.


Every Citizen is guaranteed the right of movement without restrictions at ALL times of the day by the Constitution of the Federal Republic. This is especially stated in 35(1) of the Constitution  which expressly provides thus

“Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law.”

The exceptions as provided by the Constitution for the denial of these rights are limited to instances of compliance with a sentence of a court, failure to comply with order of Court, or at other instances which certainly do not extend to arrest of women to rid a town of prostitution or arrest of women when seen at nights.

Furthermore, Section 41 (1) of Constitution provides that:

“Every Citizen of Nigeria is entitled to move freely throughout Nigeria and to reside in any part thereof, and no citizen shall be expelled from Nigeria or refused entry thereto or exit therefrom.” Emphasis provided.

It is submitted that movement here is closely tied to right of liberty as women can constitutionally move freely in Nigeria whether in the daytime or nighttime. Nothing differentiates the day and night for a particular sect of citizens to be targeted at nights for arrest on being sighted. This is discriminatory and violates Section 42(1) of the Constitution which provides

“A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason only that he is such a person –

(a)   Be subjected either expressly by, or in the application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of the government , to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of religion, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject, or

The above section clearly prohibits any restriction or enjoyment of any rights ordinarily accorded to citizens like liberty, movement etc in the implementation of any law, executive or administrative act based on grounds like sex .i.e. gender.

For women in Abuja to be subjected to arrest, purely on the ground of their sex at nights in Abuja we submit is discriminatory as men can and do move about without any molestation or  harassment. We implore the court to note that these restrictions are pursuant to the executive orders of the 1st Defendant.

The Courts have been enjoined by the Preamble of the Fundamental Rights( Enforcement Procedure) Rules , 2009   under 3 as Follows:

“3.The overriding objectives of these rules as follows:

(a)   The constitution, especially Chapter IV, as well as the African charter, shall be expansively and purposely interpreted and applied, with a view to advancing and realizing the rights and freedoms contained in them and affording the protection intended by them.”

We therefore implore the Court to expansively interpret the above sections of the law in advancing the rights of women in Nigeria and protect women from abuses and discrimination owing solely to the fact that they are women.

The relevant sections of the constitution as quoted finds amplification in Articles 2 and 19 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights which adumbrates the sanctity of  equality and equal treatment without discrimination where it is stated thereof:

Article 2

“Every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without discrimination of any kind such as race, ethnic group, colour, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status”

Article 19

“All peoples shall be equal; they shall enjoy the same respect and shall have the same rights. Nothing shall justify the domination of a people by another”

The rights and freedoms as provided for in the African Charter falls on same grounds with the relevant ones as guaranteed by the Constitution, only in this instance its amplified.

It is clearly therefore without any basis for the directive of the 1st Defendant , a male, to subject women to domination by men, where men can conduct their businesses and other chores at nights without fear of molestation, but women cannot, owing to fears of arrests and intimidation by Agents of the 2nd and 3rdDefendants.

For women to be indiscriminately harassed and arrested in Abuja because they are seen exercising their rights of movement is therefore a breach of the Constitution and the African Charter.

We concede the Constitution does not make these rights absolute, but it expressly provides the instances and circumstances where these rights can be restricted as quoted under the exceptions under Section 35 of the constitution.

Where therefore the Defendants are contravening these rights outside these accepted instances it is submitted this amounts to violation of women rights in Abuja.

The Defendants may make the arguments that the women arrested at the directives of the 1st Defendant are premised on his war against prostitution in Abuja. However nowhere are women going out or seen at night is interpreted as prostitution. Prostitution involves very direct act of soliciting, in this instance all that is required for an arrest is for the women to be seen at nights.

It is therefore submitted that the actions of the Defendants is simpliciter  to harass women by denying them freedom of movement, liberty and discriminatory solely on ground that they are women  thereby occasioning inequality before the law and subjecting women to men.


Over the years women have suffered several cultural and social violation and inequality which has hampered the development of our women, sisters and mothers in especially Africa. We urge the court to send a very clear signal that men in Authority should not further reason l to institutionalize this by the passage of arbitrary orders and laws that will continue this practice.

We urge the court be swayed by the preamble of the Fundamental Rights( Enforcement Procedure) Rules , 2009   which enjoins the courts to expansively and purposely interpret and apply Chapter IV of the Constitution with a view to advancing and realizing the rights and freedoms contained in them and affording the protection intended by them.

Women need this protection and they should be treated in like and equal manner as their male counterparts for after all we are all Human beings.

Dated  this 18th day of  June 2012


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