BOOK REVIEW: DYNAMISM OF LAW & PRACTICE IN NIGERIA by Mike Igbokwe




BOOK REVIEW:  DYNAMISM OF LAW & PRACTICE IN NIGERIA
AUTHOR: MIKE IGBOKWE SAN, FCIARB, FBR
REVIEWER: 'KEMI PINHEIRO SAN, FCIArb., FIoD.
THE FORMAL PRESENTATION OF THE BOOK IN COMMEMORATION OF THE 60TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION OF MIKE IGBOKWE, SAN
ON TUESDAY 3 RD DECEMBER, 2019
AT THE BALL ROOM, ORIENTAL HOTEL, VICTORIA ISLAND, LAGOS.

1.0 COURTESIES:
1.1 Your Excellencies; my Lords, spiritual and judicial; distinguished learned gentlemen; very distinguished, educated yet unlearned ladies and gentlemen; all other protocols observed.

2.0 INTRODUCTION:

2.1 Permit me to start this review on a note of commendation to the 15 (fifteen) contributors of the seventeen chapters contained in this book. By the depth of knowledge, vast experience and well-reasoned arguments offered in the papers published, the reader will certainly become more knowledgeable and intellectually stimulated to cause required positive change in the nation and in the development of law and legal practice in Nigeria. As Shumpa Lahiri once described “...that's the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”

2.2 Ladies and gentlemen, considering the eminence and highbrow profile of the contributors of the chapters in this book, I was deeply humbled when Mr. Mike Igbokwe, SAN informed me of his desire for me to review the book. I must say that my task in the review of this book was rather herculean however the manner in which the erudite and cerebral contributors articulated their ideas and thoughts made the task rather easy.

2.3 On a lighter note, it is interesting that some people consider lawyers to be very materialistic and less generous to the extent that someone once joked about his lawyer as follows:

My lawyer is very generous; he makes large donations to every possible charity. And prove that he doesn't do it for the glory, he makes the gifts anonymously--he won't even sign the cheques!”

2.4 But that is not the case with the egghead and bluestocking contributors of the chapters of this book who have not held back their knowledge and wealth of experience but have lavishly and passionately articulated their thoughts for the development of law and legal practice in general. I salute them.

2.5 A book review has been variously held to be adequate if it consists of at least 50 to 100 words which I believe I have already exceeded. I am in the circumstance tempted to stop at this juncture but as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria the need to extend oneself and do the utmost at all times I shall instead proceed to the nitty-gritty of my task.

3.0 REVIEW

3.01 This book is no doubt a product of the knowledge and wealth of experience gathered by the contributors most of whom are learned silks for more than a decade. The topics considered by the different contributors in the seventeen chapters of the book further highlights its uniqueness. Topics bordering on Finance and Business (Chapters 1 and 9), Legal Practice/Dispute Resolution (Chapters 2, 4, 5 and 17), Electoral Law and Practice (Chapters 3 and 7), Criminal Law (Chapter 6), Maritime Law and Practice (Chapters 11 to 16) and Legal Education (Chapter 10) were all considered in the book. It is therefore not surprising that the book is called Dynamism of Law and Practice in Nigeria.

3.02 In the preface, Mr. Mike Igbokwe, SAN prepares the mind of the reader for what to expect when in stating that the book was a product of divine coincidence enthused further that “...when read, these papers were not only instructive but were found to be such that would be useful to the courts, lawyers, law students and non-lawyers alike”.

3.03 Taking off on the intellectual journey in the book, my learned brother, Osaro Eghobamien, SAN proffered a solution to the problem of infrastructural deficit in the country in his insightful paper titled “The Interface between Law and Finance and its Impact on Infrastructure Development”. After extensively identifying the nature and level of infrastructural deficit in the country, he opined that the problem could be solved through the mechanism of securitization which entails raising funds for infrastructural projects through the capital market and private investors. 

Using Nigeria's 2017 budget as a case study, he exposed the problems associated with the current traditional method of funding the country's budget which creates a funding gap and hinders the ability of the government to solve the problem of infrastructural deficit. In his view, the funding gap created by the traditional way of budget funding can be closed by securitization. I think government officials and policy makers should deeply consider this chapter and the option of securitization suggested in same. 

3.04 The wealth of knowledge made available in this book continues with the inspiring paper by another learned silk, Dorothy Udeme Ufot, SAN, FCIArb(UK) in Chapter Two titled “How to Become An Arbitrator: Tips for the Aspiring Young Arbitrator“. In the chapter, the whole process of arbitration is broken down with a view to stimulate interest in building/making a career in arbitration. Useful tips for anyone seeking to pursue a career in arbitration were also offered in the well-researched paper by the distinguished Fellow of the Institute of Arbitrators.

3.05 In Chapter Three, my brother Chris Uche, SAN brought his experience in electoral law and practice to bear in the chapter dedicated to “Electoral Litigation in the Sustenance of Constitutional Democracy”. He identified the various laws governing election petitions generally in Nigeria and proceeded to consider whether a level playing field is available to all parties in an election petition. He demonstrated that by the timelines prescribed in the adjudication process of election petitions, constitution of the necessary parties to the petition, the presumption of regularity accorded to the results declared by INEC and the doctrine of substantial compliance, the petitioner has not been afforded a level playing field. 

He made vital suggestions on how a level playing field can be afforded to all parties in an election petition notable amongst which is that the burden of proof should be placed on INEC to prove the correctness of the result of an election challenged by a petition. I think that particular suggestion may need to be reconsidered by the learned silk as casting the burden of proof on INEC will lead to a situation whereby rather than restrict itself to the position of an electoral umpire, INEC will descend into the arena of conflict and fight to defend the declared result at all cost. This will in fact defeat the purpose of the learned silk's further suggestion that INEC should not ordinarily be a party to the election petition proceedings. I would however commend the chapter to my audience for consideration in great detail.

3.06 The amiable and eminent learned silk, Yusuf Ali, SAN in Chapter Four of the book shared his knowledge and over a decade experience on “the Business of Managing Law Firm to meet Current Political and Economic World Orders”. He emphasized the importance of effective management of a law firm to its sustenance and productiveness and shared his thoughts on how to manage law firms to meet current political and economic world orders. He concluded with an incisive statement that every law firm should aspire to be the best in substance, worth and service delivery.

3.07 In chapter five, the learned silk and distinguished fellow of the Institute of Arbitrators, Funke Adekoya, SAN, FCIArb extrapolates the ICC perspective on dealing with the issue of conflict of interest by arbitrators. She examined the provisions made under the ICSID and the IBA Guidelines on the issue of conflict of interest by arbitrators and then proceeded to consider the ICC Guidance Note on Conflict of Interest by Arbitrators issued by the ICC International Court of Arbitration on the 12th of February, 2016 which she opined is the first arbitral institution to issue a Guidance Note on disclosure of conflict of interest by Arbitrators. She concludes by opining that as African law firms become larger and practice expands into other parts of the continent, conflicts of interest issues will become a front burner issue for African arbitrators.

3.08 The distinguished learned silk, Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, SAN in his thought provoking paper contained in chapter six queried the jurisprudence behind section 396 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 (ACJA) which prescribes inter alia number of adjournments to be granted at the instance of any party in a criminal trial and contended that the said section infringes the provisions of the constitution and constitutes a legislative judgment. 

He further highlighted the impracticability of the provisions of the said section and contended that confusion has been created by the section. He concludes by contending that section 396 of the ACJA “...is a knee-jerk legislation which is not working and cannot work”. I must say that I agree with the learned silk on this point as the said provisions of the ACJA tacitly fetters the discretion of the Court in the exercise of its inherent powers to regulate its own proceedings vide section 6(6) (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as Amended). I think the National Assembly should reconsider and amend those provisions of the ACJA failing which the courts should employ judicial activism in declaring those provisions unconstitutional.

3.09 In chapter seven, Onyechi Ikpeazu, OON, SAN, FCIArb shares his robust experience in electoral litigation in comprehensively discussing the concept of electronic voting and how same can help ensure that elections reflects the will of the people. In doing this, he x-rays the current position of the law in Nigeria in respect of electronic voting and the proposed amendments to the Electoral Act. He then proceeds to highlight the benefits of e-voting and the associated challenges. 

In his conclusion, he expressed the view that that commencement of electronic voting will accommodate and give way to further reforms which will ensure the credibility of elections to reflect the will of the people. We will all agree, that the current expensive non-electronic manner of voting employed in the country has not helped us in any way. I agree with the learned silk that we should adopt e-voting for our general elections it will as opined by the learned silk save cost and allow for a more transparent process which reflects the will of the people.

3.10 In Chapter Eight, the learned silk, P.O Jimoh-Lasisi, SAN exhibited his mastery of the law in respect of claims for recovery of land by examining the issue of title and possession in relation to a claim for recovery of land. He explained the concept of relativity of title in respect of a claim for recovery of land and highlighted the provision of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law which prescribes that once an entry of title is made in favour of a person in the register of title, that entry in the register constitutes conclusive proof that the person is the owner of the land.

 He explained what constitutes adverse possession as distinct from permissive possession and contended that knowledge of adverse possession is not a condition precedent to the activation of the limitation law to an action for recovery of land.

3.11 Chapter Nine is a case review of the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of A.G Federation v A.G of Lagos by Francis Chuka Agbu, SAN, FCIArb (UK). In his exposition of the case, the learned silk started by stating the facts and decision of the Supreme Court to wit; that the power to regulate tourist traffic as contained in item 60(d) of the exclusive legislative list does not extend to regulation of the hospitality industry and that the provisions of section 4(2) (c) & (d) of the NTDC Act is unconstitutional and unlawful. He highlighted the implications of the decision to include poor funding due to the absence of the involvement of the Federal Government in that industry. He concludes by making recommendations for a thriving tourism sector in the country.

3.12 In chapter Ten, the need for Legal education in Nigeria to conform with recent technological developments, economic realities and be more practical than theoretical was advocated and considered by esteemed Professor Fabian Ajogwu, SAN. He highlighted the declining nature of the Nigerian Legal System which he opined is largely premised on theoretical aspects of law and not good enough for the 21 st century lawyer. He proffered possible solutions to solve the issue of declining standards which includes increased emphasis on research and concludes by emphasizing the impact of legal education to the legal profession.

3.13 In chapter eleven, Sir Adolphus Nwachukwu in his inspiring paper titled “The Maritime Perspective of the Africa Continental Free Trade (AfCFTA)” explained the relationship and the benefit to be derived by the Nigerian maritime sector of the economy from the AfCFTA being one of the largest single trade blocs in the world as it relates to reduction of trade barriers, import quotas and tariffs. It highlighted further the importance of the free trade agreement which doesn't just remove and eliminate tariff and quotas, but addresses behind the border barriers that impedes the flow of goods and services between nations. 

In addressing the fears as regards infant industries, he opined that the AfCFTA has provided some measures of protectionism in respect infant industries and against making Nigeria a dumping ground for unwanted goods. This he explained by examining the provisions of Article 19 and 24 of the AfCFTA. He concluded by recommending the rectification of the AfCFTA by the National Assembly so that it can have the force of law. He further advocated the need for the private sector to take central role in driving the AfCFTA project.

3.14 In his brilliant and well-articulated paper in chapter twelve, Mr. Mike Igbokwe, SAN, FCIArb, FBR brings his wealth of experience and knowledge in maritime law to bear on the controversy as to which Court between the National Industrial Court and the Federal High Court is invested with exclusive jurisdiction over maritime labour, wages and other incidental matter. 

He starts by first x-raying the provisions of the Constitution in relation to the exclusive jurisdiction of both Courts in respect of maritime labour an seaman wages and proceeded to consider the divergent views previously offered by Babajide Koku, SAN and Mr Loius Mbanefo SAN and submits that the seeming controversy can be resolved through application of the canons of interpretation of statutes which is to give effect to the intention of the law makers. 

He then posits that one section of the Constitution cannot derogate from or override that of another section and if that be the case, the Federal High Court to which the Constitution has conferred exclusive jurisdiction over seamen wages and admiralty matters will have jurisdiction over same to the exclusion of the NIC. He suggests that though an amendment is desirable to clear the grey areas on the issue but by a proper interpretation by the Courts, an amendment of the Constitution may not be necessary.

3.15 In the paper titled “the Liability of Air Carrier in Carriage by Air” contained in Chapter Thirteen of the book, Allen Ikumawonyi examined the liabilities of air carriers for injury and death of passengers; delay of passengers and baggage; loss, destruction, damage of cargo and baggage. 

Using the Montreal Convention as domesticated in Nigeria as well as the Modification to the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to International Carriage by Air (MUCRICA) as a guide, the extent of the liability of air carriers and compensation to be paid as well as the negligence of passengers as a means of exonerating the carrier was considered in the paper. He concludes by highlighting the doctrine of exclusivity in opining that the liability of an air carrier being limited, a plaintiff has the duty of proving that his case falls within the exceptions created by the Convention to entitle him to damages.

3.16 In chapter fourteen, Kamal-Deen Ali, Phd, explores the subject of Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea in his paper titled “Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea: Issues of Legal Interpretation and Judicial Application”. He examined the complex issues of legal interpretation and judicial application of the law of piracy and armed robbery at sea. The legal definition of piracy as contained in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea was then examined with the associated problems highlighted. 

He considered the general issues and challenges surrounding the prosecution and incarceration of pirates which include inadequate domestic laws, lack of funds to prosecute pirates and difficulty in collecting and preservation of evidence vis-a-vis procuring witnesses. He also considered the legal complexities in the setting of the gulf of guinea which affects the prosecution of pirates. He concludes by submitting that addressing the loopholes and shortcomings of legal definition of piracy and other identified issues will help to combat the crime.

3.17 Chapter fifteen is a commentary by Mr Mike Igbokwe, SAN on the paper of Kamal-Deen Ali, Phd on Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea. Whilst agreeing with most of the submissions of Kamal-Deen Ali, Mike Igbokwe SAN in his commentary differed on the issue of including assault, injury or damage to property as acts of piracy. He further comments on the issue of cooperation amongst States in prosecuting pirates that cooperation can be easily facilitated by the regional and international treaties and arrangements on cooperation between these States on arrest, detention and extradition of offenders. He concludes by making a case for the adoption of international treaties on piracy by countries in the Gulf of Guinea in order to effectively combat piracy.

3.18 The learned silk, Mike Igbokwe, SAN further displays his depth of knowledge and expansive experience in maritime law by examining the Suppression of Piracy and Other Maritime Offences Act, 2019 which he originally prepared in chapter sixteen of this book. He explained salient provisions of the said Act and its implications.

3.19 In Chapter Seventeen, I offered my thoughts and wealth of experience on how to be become a Courtroom General in the paper titled “Litigation; Becoming A Court Room General”. In the paper I examined every aspect of litigation and how a lawyer should conduct himself through the process to achieve the objectives of his client's instructions. Today, in my capacity as the book reviewer, the notable point from the paper which I will highlight here and which has been my guiding mantra is that “lawyers should take every day in court as a date with destiny.”

3.20 No doubt, this book is not only intellectually stimulating but thought provoking and solution oriented. The reader is encouraged to not just glance through the book but deeply study its contents which will be indeed rewarding.

4.0 CONCLUSION:
4.1 David Bailey, a famous and renowned British photographer once said of himself that:

 “The best advice I ever got was that knowledge is power and to keep reading” 4.2 My best advice to my audience today is to get a copy of this book and not just read but study its content. In this regard, permit me to adopt the words of my learned brother silk, Okey Wali, SAN, DSSRS, Life Bencher in his captivating foreword where he stated thus;

“I commend my friend and brother Mike Igbokwe, for conceiving the idea of publishing a book like this, that will enhance the legal profession, the practitioners as well as contribute to the development of the country, I urge all; lawyers and non-lawyers, to please get a copy of this enriching and enlightening book, and read same.”

4.2 It has been my pleasure and privilege to review the well-researched combustion of scholarly papers contained in this book and I thank you all for your kind attention.
'KEMI PINHEIRO SAN, FCIArb.