For lack of diligent prosecution and clogging the dockets of courts in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), a civil society organization Lex Initiative For Rights Advocacy And Development (LIRAD), has petitioned the Bwari Area Council Chairman, demanding a record of all funds paid to its external solicitors.
LIRAD in the petition signed by its Executive Director which was copied the FCT Minister, Area Service Commission, House Committee on Area Council and Ancillary Matters, and House Committee on Public Petition, accused the Bwari Area Council Chairman of abandoning the cases filed against the Area Council in the past six years.
The petition titled: “Petition Against the Bwari Area Council for the Lack Lustre Attitude of its Legal Unit in the Abandonment of Cases in Court” reads:
“We write as a concerned Nigerian within the Federal Capital Territory.
“In the last six years, The FCT judiciary has been inundated with a plethora of cases involving Bwari and various individuals, businesses, and agencies. However, these cases are without representation from the Area Council which was hitherto popular for her astute lawyers that set the judiciary ablaze at a time with their precedents and judicial activisms.
“It has become somewhat of an embarrassing situation to see cases called up regularly in court and the area council lawyers are nowhere to be found. Upon our preliminary investigations report of which would be gladly presented to the House committee hearing if ever set up in partnership with the British Council and the American Embassy for transparency purposes, it was discovered that rather than pay legal officers the meagre allowances for cases being handled, an external solicitor was briefed and paid in millions for years yet no reasonable case was concluded by the said external solicitor. This negates the Principles of prudence and the values of His Excellency President Mohammed Buhari in his bid to stomp out corruption.
“While we further research the alleged manipulation by political office holders within the Area Council in thwarting rules of service whereby junior officers head positions over their seniors to enable kickbacks and unprofessional dealings, the questions begging for answers at the moment are:
1. What is the essence of legal officers if cases will be outsourced to external solicitors?
2. Why pay external solicitors in millions when the excuse for not paying staff was paucity of funds?
3. What is the competence of the legal officers of the council as against the external solicitors?
4. Is the allure of the external solicitor a result of graft and kickbacks to the council management?
5. What is the means of evaluating the competence of the legal officers of the council by way of Bar practice fees, NBA collaboration like AGC, and other trainings for legal officers Mandatory continuing legal education?
Many questions come to mind but the question of paucity of funds, yet some members of the council seem to move funds while the majority are left in squalor.
It is on this note that we demand and request for a record of:
1. All cases handled and concluded by each legal officer since 2015.
2. Records of all funds/allowances paid for those cases.
3. Record of all concluded cases by the external solicitors.
4. Record of all funds paid to the external solicitors.
5. Record of all pending cases involving the Council.
6. Record of all out of court settlements done by the council.
7. Record of all legal opinions by the legal officers of the council on such out of court settlements
We anticipate your immediate cooperation within the next two weeks.