Tag Archives: lawyer


Mutiny: Military fires GOC attacked by convicted soldiers

by Akan Ido

Major General Ahmed Mohammed, the former General Officer Commanding the 7 Division of the Nigerian Army, Maiduguri has been retired.

Mohammed was at the receiving end of the mutiny which took place months ago at the Maimalari Barracks in Borno following a violent protest by soldiers. The military men were said to have complained about non-payments of entitlements and inadequate weapons to effectively combat the Boko Haram menace.

The retired GOC’s vehicle was reportedly shot at during the mutiny but he was lucky to escape unscathed.

Reports, however, indicate that Mohammed was immediately recalled to the military headquarters in Abuja to await posting but was eventually retired about a month ago.

Sources say, “The Maj. Gen. has been retired; you don’t expect that to be made public; issues of retirement especially in the military are confidential. The man was at the Army headquarters for some time. He was awaiting posting then but he was eventually retired about a month ago.”

Meanwhile, the NLC, TUC and human rights lawyers have urged the Presidency and the Army Council chaired by the Minister of Defence to prevail on the military authorities to spare the lives of the 12 soldiers who were recently sentenced to die by firing squared for taking part in the mutiny.

Human Rights lawyer, Femi Falana has, however, argued that the offence committed by the affected soldiers does not attract the death penalty.

“The soldiers were charged with attempted murder which does not attract death penalty. In the circumstance, the 12 convicts should have been charged under Section 52(2) of the Armed Forces Act which provides for life imprisonment,” he said.

The human rights lawyer called on the Army Council not to confirm the verdict but to commute it to imprisonment.

Falana continued saying, “Before the incident, the soldiers at the Maimalari Cantonment had complained of insufficient ammunition, food and allowances. The visit of the GOC was said to have coincided with the arrival of the corpses of soldiers killed in an ambush in Chibok, Borno State on the night of May 13, 2014.

“It was the tragic situation which reportedly infuriated the soldiers. Having investigated and confirmed the circumstances which led to the mutiny in question, the military authorities removed the GOC.

“In the light of the foregoing, I urge the Army Council not to confirm the death sentences passed on the 12 soldiers but commute same to imprisonment in the interest of Justice. The facts and circumstance of the mutinous act of the convicted soldiers should be taken into consideration.

“However, if the death sentence of the Maiduguri 12 is confirmed by the Army Council, the convicted soldiers are advised to take the case to the Court of Appeal which is likely to follow its decision in the case of Yussuf & 21 Ors v Nigerian Army (2003) 36 WRN 68 wherein the sentence of life imprisonment passed on the appellants who had rioted at the Cairo Airport in Egypt was quashed.”

A military source, however, spoke to YNaija saying acts of insubordination by military personnel must be punished to deter others from taking that route.

According to the source, “Soldiers cannot just go around shooting their GOCs. Is that the kind of Nigerian Army you want? If such things happen Nigerians should be afraid for their existence because it means even they are not safe.”

The final decision on the fate of the convicted officers are still being awaited.


Poor people must be allowed to borrow from national cake || Federal High court orders FG

by Jewel Stephen

Poor Nigerians have a reason to be merry, especially the entreprenuerial ones, going by the ruling of a Federal High court, which stated that the Federal government must make available, loans for the middle and lower-class Nigerians.

The Federal Government has been instructed by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, to give loans to less privileged Nigerians through the Peoples Bank of Nigeria.

The case was championed by seasoned lawyer and human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, who asked the court to determine, whether the continuous refusal to give effect to the provisions of the Peoples Bank Act, Cap P7 LFN 2004 by the Federal Government was not illegal, null and void, having regard to section 1 of Peoples Bank Act, Cap P7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

The trial judge, Justice M Idris, while delivering his judgement held that the Peoples Bank Act, Cap P7 2004, had not been repealed by the National Assembly.

The court thereby directed the Federal Government to continue to give effect to the provisions of the Peoples Bank Act, Cap P7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Sanmi Abiodun: Love me, I am a Lawyer (Y! PolicyHub)

by Sanmi Abiodun


With that said, it is important to state that If lawyers have simply complied with all these Rules and carry out our legal duties based on the laws of Nigeria, at least to the extent that we are not yet disbarred or prosecuted, then I dare say this to all laymen, “don’t hate the player, hate the game”!

I was sure that my Monday could not get any worse after losing the matter for Chief Fioladabira at the Lagos State High Court, and losing my voice in the same process. I WAS WRONG!

Fries Afrique, a notable hangout joint in Lagos Island usually attracts Junior Associates from my Firm with its orgasmic cat-fish pepper soup; a ritual which has earned a position either as item 4 or 5 on our monthly budgets. June 2014 was no different. Four of us drove down in Seye’s Toyota Camry “tiny light” from Court and had barely finished rolling our sleeves when a decently dressed man of about 35 years of age walked in holding two evidently hungry Rottweiler dogs. He asked the barman “do you serve lawyers here”? And just before I got up to ask if he was blind, the Barman nodded in affirmation. The customer seemed relieved when he said, “Give me two bottles of Big Stout for myself and give me two lawyers for my Rottweilers”.

We fled so fast, the Camry was left behind.


The practice of law under English Common Law as well as in contemporary Africa has remained reputable for its nobility, distinction and immense significance to national development, economic and otherwise. The importance of lawyers cannot be divorced from the spine of any progressive community. From education to commerce, governance to inter-personal relationships, lawyers continue to be a constant denominator, serving as lamplights to individuals and corporate entities. From a corporate perspective, commercial transactions of mergers, acquisitions or joint-ventures between corporate entities cannot successfully be completed without a lawyer; on the other hand, individuals also cannot obtain divorce from their spouses without a lawyer; property cannot be purchased; cheats cannot be punished; artistes cannot be protected; knowledge cannot be personalized; human life cannot be safeguarded; fraud cannot be prosecuted; even idiots cannot be quarantined without establishing it in a law court! Yet, lawyers remain detested.

In Nigeria as well as across the globe, legal practice is governed by a multiplicity of codifications, and not the discretion, whims and caprices of individual lawyers, as believed by the layman. In clearer perspective, the grundnorm in Nigeria is the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria while various other enactments govern specific aspects of law (e.g. The Criminal Code and The Criminal Procedure Act, the Penal Code and The Criminal Procedure Code, The Companies and Allied Matters Act and the various High Court Civil Procedure Rules). There are also formal structures such as the Supreme Court, Federal High Court and other Courts, the Bar Associations, the Legal practitioners Disciplinary Committee, the Law Firms, and various committees that regulate the practice and business of law in Nigeria.

As part of my contribution to fostering love for lawyers, I have prepared a short speech;

“Dear Laymen,

Please be informed that there are actually guidelines which lawyers follow in their activities. We do not just choose to sound so verbose or Shakespearean when talking to you or insist on our perspective during an argument – most times, we are actually quoting the provision of a Section in an Act of the National Assembly or State Houses of Assembly. Also, it is not because our car brakes were faulty that we drove away when the Policeman complained about the crack on our rearview mirror – We actually knew it was not his duty to ask. Again, we did not just refuse to vacate your house before our rent expired even after you brought thugs – We just expected you to bring a Quit Notice! In a similar vein, the plan was not to intimidate you when the Shareholders Agreement we prepared was 48 pages after you said you wanted a one-pager – We are simply being conscious that the fact that both shareholders have been best friends from “days-in-diapers” is not enough reason to omit all relevant clauses from the Agreement, especially the Termination and Governing Law clauses. And it is definitely not because we do not trust your Pastor’s ability to settle your fight that we threw the Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Clause in as well. Similarly, please do not be upset when we lend you money and demand that you sign on a piece of paper – Just save yourself a possible jail term and loss of a pound of flesh by at least reading through it. Also kindly forgive us for going into contract with you using our company’s name and not our first name and surname – we know we may default and know that the company can be sued while we are on holiday in the Caribbeans. Please note also, that while we may spray perfume and wear our finest socks and expensive wrist watches just to use the toilet, we are simply conscious of our dignified profession and we must always look the part. Even the toilet cleaners are potential clients.

Thank you for your understanding

Yours sincerely,


With at least 52 interesting postulations, the Rules of Professional Conduct is a guiding document to which legal practitioners in Nigeria are expected to be bound. The first and fifth rules mandate us to be punctual, regular, thorough, pay attention to detail, prompt, and respect constituted authority. The second rule is the reason we never take bribes or even offer them. Also, while the third rule is the basis on which we argue so much and sometimes choose to be reasonable even when we can cheat you lawfully, the fourth rule is the reason we do not do so. It compels us to be honorable. Rule 6 is the reason we are always on our toes, dress smart and keep our ties in place until we return to where we wore them. Interestingly, Rule 7 and 9 are directly linked to Section 36 (4) and (6)(c) which protect an accused person, however sure we are of his/her guilt. Lawyers have a legal obligation, if paid, to defend to the best of their ability, any “criminal” brought before the law, so we appeal to the general public to understand why we do not abandon them or even set them up. Personal opinions of the lawyer are immaterial to the case, and even where the accused person admits guilt to the lawyer in confidence, the admission is not enough reason for the lawyer to sell the accused person out for punishment. In like manner, lawyers are compelled by Rule 8 to defend or fight for prisoners, however poor they may be. The tenth Rule is the basis on which we do not accept all briefs, just because the potential clients are family or friends, once we already have an interest or are committed to the other party. The exception, of course is where the lawyer discloses his relationship or interest to both parties, who in turn approve his representation for both of them. For the members of the public who are usually amazed to hear that a prominent politician has engaged 14 Senior Advocates of Nigeria to handle the same case on his behalf, please refer to Rule 11. It is done because it is permitted. Rule 12 on another hand, explains why it seems as if a client storms into the lawyers office crying or panicking, yet the lawyer sits calmly smoking a cigar or sipping hot coffee until the frantic client is able to express himself clearly and fully. Similarly, while some highly intelligent clients with PHD in Metallurgical Engineering come to the Law Firm to dictate to the lawyer the legal process to be followed, Rule 13, 15, 18 and 20 prevent the lawyer from dogged obedience. It is a lawyer’s duty to ensure that the client is not misguided from the law and restrain the client, where possible from adding to the crimes committed. It is also important that we beg you to forgive your lawyer if he does not insist to the court that he trusts you or believes you never could have committed the offence levied against you. He may also not offer to be a witness for you in court. He is simply scared of contravening Rule 14 and 19. Kindly understand. On a similar matter, please forgive the lawyer for hugging your opponent’s lawyer after the heated argument in court. Remember that the case was between you and the other party, not your lawyer and the other party’s lawyer.  Rule 16 says so, not me. I agree that you may believe that lawyers try to win cases based on technicalities, but I dare say that lawyers never do so; at least I know Rule 17 discourages it.

Boredom may begin to creep in if I continue to enlighten the public on the different rules governing the practice of law by lawyers. But while I again appeal to the public to love us as lawyers, this is the part where I confess that with this piece, I have simply done my part in upholding the provisions of Rule 1, 11, 21, 24 and 38 by reminding all lawyers of their responsibilities and liabilities. I have also successfully done my part as my brother’s keeper, lest the wrath of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee be invoked upon us all.

With that said, it is important to state that If lawyers have simply complied with all these Rules and carry out our legal duties based on the laws of Nigeria, at least to the extent that we are not yet disbarred or prosecuted, then I dare say this to all laymen, “don’t hate the player, hate the game”!



Sanmi Abiodun is the founder of The Dinamica Public Speakers Club. He is a lawyer by profession, a writer with precision, an administrator by decision and a speaker at occasions.

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


Twilight at Terracotta Indigo unveils at Swe Bar

by Akintomiwa Agbaje

twilight at tcotta indigo 3

For lovers of literature and fans of Umari Ayim, lawyer, author and poet who has successfully carved a niche in the world of online series blogging, the news that the city of Lagos will be hosting the writer could not have come at a better time.

On Saturday, the 26th of July, the second edition of Twilight at Terracotta Indigo recently released by a new publishing outfit, ThymbleWeed Publishers will be unveiled at Swe Bar and Lounge, a popular hot spot on the second floor of City Mall, Onikan, Lagos.


Umari's pic


The two hour event which will hold from 1 p.m to 3 p.m will feature a book chat with the author, brief selected readings from the novel, book signings, as well as a question and answer session between the author and attendees.

It promises to be a fun filled event.


- To place an advertorial, email [email protected]

Death should have taken us, not him – Bamidele Aturu’s parents lament

by S’ola Filani

Bamidele parents

Mr. and Mrs. Felix Aturu, Felix (80) and Felicia (70),  parents of the Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist, Bamidele Aturu, who died last week, said on Wednesday that they wished death had taken them away instead of their son.

Bamidele died on Wednesday, July 9 at the age of 49.

A source close to him said the vibrant legal mind died of high blood pressure.

He was reportedly rushed to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, where he was confirmed dead by medical personnel.

In an interview with Punch, Felix who is battling with a stroke disclosed how Bamidele visited him every month and ensured his medical care was going on smoothly, adding that the lawyer’s death was a shock to him.

See excerpts below:

“He never told me he was going away so soon. He never showed any sign that he would depart from the earth. I should have been the one to die, not him. I should be the one to die,” he lamented.

Felix, who is a retired Customary Court Judge, said it was his wish that Bamidele be buried in his hometown in Ogbagi-Akoko, Ondo State.

Bamidele’s mother, Felicia, who was still sorrowing over the death of her son, said his departure was not only sudden, but shocking and had left her wondering what might have happened.

Felicia, who spoke in Yoruba, said, “He loved the two of us (father and mother). We were supposed to die before him, but he is gone. Only God knows why this has happened.

“I never heard him speak of any ailment. He never gave any indication that he would die. And I did not have any premonition that Bamidele was going to pass on.

“We were very close. I only pray that God will allow us to meet again,” she said.

She corroborated her husband’s claim, saying all the family members were in agreement that his corpse be brought down to Ogbagi-Akoko for burial.

“There is no controversy over Bamidele’s burial arrangements,” she added.

The burial has been fixed for July 25.

Elnathan John: Of silence and other great answers for fools

by Elnathan John


I just saw this tweeted by Pastor E. A Adeboye: “If the one blocking your marriage is an insider and they refuse to let you go, they’ll be buried this year.” In my mind, there is hardly any difference between this kind of violent, unkind, and not to add superstitious speech and the violence of those who kill in God’s name. 

If anything ever convinced me that Ebele Jonathan is afraid of my presidential candidacy it is the fact that he has suddenly decided to become a writer. He wrote in the Washington Post:

My silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness. My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation.”

I don’t blame him. I blame people like Leonardo Da Vinci who said silly things like:“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” That is why my soon-to-be predecessor has refused to respond to any of my messages. In fact you recall, even when I went to the villa, he refused to come out of his room, sending the equally silent Namadi Sambo to represent him at the event.

All of this reminds me of an urban tale in Kogi politics, where during the 2003 election campaigns, to spite Ibrahim Idris, owner of Ibro Hotel, Prince Abubakar Audu who was seeking re-election said that those who know how to sell food should stick to selling food. My reaction to Jonathan will not be out of spite. But I will say that those who know how to be silent should continue to remain silent. Let those of us who are writers be writers. He should not drag it with me. It takes years to learn how to be a doctor or lawyer, but everyone thinks they can jump and become a writer. And perhaps I should just remind Jonathan that Yevgeny Yevtushenko said that when truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.

The 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup is the first time I have followed football closely. I have always found fanatical following of football both weird and energy consuming. However, the quality of the football and the drama have more than compensated for my time. Also, as president come 2015, I should start watching what most Nigerian men watch, if only to feel what they feel. I will resume my football atheism after the World Cup.

If I was president, I would have given the Nigerian Football Team an award in spite of their crashing out of the round of 16. Our team was undoubtedly the most contented loser in the round of 16. Whereas most losing teams broke down, holding their heads in pain or crying their eyes out, ours only stopped short of celebrating. Commendable. Joseph Yobo, the captain of the team, led by example in this regard. Even though he got on the score sheet as a French scorer, he was enthusiastically saying hello to other players right after the game, as if losing was the most normal thing in the world. God bless the Super Eagles.

When I heard that Dino Melaye had a new light-complexioned woman in his life after the old dark one left, I congratulated him for moving up in the world. As a lawyer I am trained not to draw conclusions after listening to one side of a story. So the fact that photos of his old wife after being allegedly battered by him are all over the internet didn’t deter me from wishing him well in his new upgraded hustle. I only warned that hitting the new light-skinned woman could produce disastrous evidence in a court of law. The previous dark woman claimed to have been hit with a wooden plank. She is quite dark in complexion and it was hard to tell by just looking that she was ‘planked’.

Sadly only six months after, news reaching my campaign office is that Alero, the light-skinned woman who is allegedly pregnant with Dino’s child, has moved out of the house after claims of beatings and false imprisonment. Life is cruel sha. Dino should travel home to Kogi and kneel down in the village square and beg his enemies to forgive him. This is surely home trouble. And I know that he hangs out with Jesus and all every Sunday on Twitter, but this matter is beyond that. Some spirits you have to confront yourself. I wish Dino all the best in this hustle. Perhaps I should just add that Dino has denied hitting Alero “or any other woman”.

Ps. After allegedly spending 470 million dollars on CCTV cameras in the FCT, the Nigerian government, following the most recent bombing in Abuja, advised residents to install CCTV cameras in their homes and business premises. That the Nigerian government has the effrontery to say this, without fear or shame, says something not about the government, but about us as Nigerians. Maybe we do not feel enough ownership of the money that comes from crude oil. Maybe if the money spent by government was taxpayer’s money in the real sense of the term, people might be more proactive in demanding accountability.


Ps. 2. This week in Lagos, the Nigerian army allowed its men sink to a new low. Like outlaws in an ungoverned countryside, the men and women who took oaths to protect Nigeria and Nigerians from internal and external aggressors, became arsonists and attackers in retaliation for an accident involving one of their own. It is too much to ask citizens already living in fear of insurgents under the worst of third world conditions to also live in fear of the people who should protect them. It is too damn much.
Ps. 3. I just saw this tweeted by Pastor E. A Adeboye: “If the one blocking your marriage is an insider and they refuse to let you go, they’ll be buried this year.” In my mind, there is hardly any difference between this kind of violent, unkind, and not to add superstitious speech and the violence of those who kill in God’s name.





Elnathan John blogs at www.elnathanjohn.blogspot.com


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.



Opinion: Dear APC, allow me to introduce the man for the job in 2015

by Tunde Samuel


Like every human being, Fashola is NOT a saint, he has his flaws. In politics there are no saints, but it is the duty of every political party to put their best foot forward at all times. Can we just pause for a bit, and imagine a political debate between Governor Fashola and President Goodluck Jonathan? It will be EPIC!

As 2015 approaches, talks about the elections have been rife. While President Goodluck Jonathan has not officially declared his intention to seek re-election, the general public seems to have concluded from his body language that he will be giving the Presidency a second shot. He is expected to run on the PDP platform. A party that has been in power since Nigeria regained her democracy in 1999.

Since the formation of APC – the largest coalition of political parties in the history of Nigeria, everyone has impatiently been waiting for their Presidential candidate to be revealed. There have been all kinds of rumours and permutations by journalists, inebriated men at beer parlours, and self-appointed political pundits in the social media.

Most popular of all these rumours is the Buhari-Tinubu combo. While Buhari is respected as an upright and moral leader, his presence on the ticket has every tendency to induce some sort of voter fatigue amongst young electorates. Buhari has tried 3 times and lost in all. You cannot do things the same way and expect different results. Age is also not on his side. He is 71years old, and will be 72 by the time the election starts. President Jonathan is 56years old.

While I don’t believe age is the most important factor to consider when electing a president, APC must take into cognizance the present youth demographic in Nigeria. With 70% of Nigerians less than 35years old, how well do you want to sell a 72 year old president and a 62 year old vice-president to them?

One thing we can never discount is the influence Buhari has up north. He is the ONLY politician that can get 12 million votes in the north, without coercing, bribing or intimidating anyone. He has a cult-following. He is seen as the Messiah. This comes with good reason because he is the most upright politician in the North. No one comes close, and people love him to bits. Unfortunately, his influence is regional.

How Nigerians voted in 2011

It is the humble opinion of this writer that for APC to win at the first ballot in 2015, they must look away from Buhari/Tinubu in 2015. The question APC should be asking is: Which current opposition candidate is MARKETABLE to different parts of the country with at least 65% success rate? Dear readers, that candidate is Babatunde Raji Fashola, the current Governor of Lagos state.

Fashola’s candidacy comes with tons of benefits for APC. Fashola is the main reason the defunct ACN was able to clear other south west states in 2011. ACN brilliantly sold the “Fashola dream” to other states in the South West and they were able to reclaim the entire South west, safe for Ondo state which is in the firm hands of the progressive Olusegun Mimiko of Labour Party.

Governor Fashola is 50years old. He is even younger than the President. If and only if Buhari and Tinubu can drop their ambitions and support this man, then APC will win the presidential election at the first ballot. All it takes is for Daddy Buhari to campaign with Fashola around the North.  Evidently, President Jonathan is not so popular in the North, and they will most likely vote for any candidate apart from the President in 2015.

APC won’t have a hard time selling him to Nigerians. He is undoubtedly the most popular governor in the country today. He is the Governor of the most diverse state in the country. Lagos is home to all. Every ethnic and tribal unit is present in Lagos state. Lagos is the ONLY state that has successfully halved its poverty rate in the last decade. Fashola takes credit for 8years out of this. Furthermore, Lagos already controls 60% of the Nigerian economy.

During my NYSC camp in Jigawa state, my Northern friends use to call me Babatunde “P”ashola. Just because I shared the same first name as Fashola. I was so shocked that he was known there. Then it occurred to me that indigenes of other states reside in Lagos and they all go back home to tell tales of developments in Lagos.

Like every human being, Fashola is NOT a saint, he has his flaws. In politics there are no saints, but it is the duty of every political party to put their best foot forward at all times. Can we just pause for a bit, and imagine a political debate between Governor Fashola and President Goodluck Jonathan? It will be epic!

According to the Nigerian constitution,

To become the President of Nigeria, a candidate MUST have the majority of votes cast, AND win at least 25% of votes in two-thirds of the states (approximately 25 states)

Governor Fashola is a moderate politician in the Nigerian context. He is not seen as a bigot. Even though he is a Muslim, his wife and mother are Christians. He is capable of uniting the entire nation. He will pull numbers required to hit two-thirds of the country. He is an excellent administrator. He is very smart and eloquent enough to represent the country at the world stage. APC needs to dump every form of zoning sentiments and pick the best man for the job. Millions of Nigerian youths will rally around Fashola.

Buhari/Tinubu might not win the elections at the first ballot, and this is not really because they are both Muslims. It is because youths can’t relate with them. The Nigerian youths want REAL CHANGE, and unfortunately the likes of Buhari and Tinubu are not the change agents the youths seek. It is dangerous going into run-offs against an incumbent president that invariably controls the Judiciary. Remember the Shagari-Awolowo Supreme Court battle in 1979? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

It is time for Buhari and Tinubu to step back and be fathers of the party. These two overlords should shelve their ambitions for the success of the party. Tinubu is a very savvy politician. He has a special nose for talents, and he is one political godfather that will NOT endorse an incompetent candidate, and you can take that to the bank.  Buhari is an Enigma up North. They should join hands to support Fashola, and let history remember them as the leaders that engineered Nigeria’s Renaissance.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Ikenna Azuike

#TheYNaijaInterview: “My dad is still shattered that I’m not a lawyer” – What’s Up Africa’s Ikenna Azuike

by Wilfred Okiche

Ikenna Azuike

Ikenna Azuike is a London based, Nigerian born entertainer and founder of the video blog What’s Up Africa. A trained lawyer, he abandoned his wig and gown after practicing for about 10 years to pursue his creative instincts. Recently in Lagos for the Social Media Week, we grilled him on the runaway success of his video blog, memories of his life in Nigeria, thoughts on the anti-gay law and his father’s lingering disappointment at his career choices.

Enjoy excerpts from the conversation.

How often are you in Nigeria?

After leaving the country when I was 8 years old I used to come back regularly until I was 18 and then there was a break of 12 years and then I came back and in the  last 2 years I have only been back twice but I plan on coming back more.

Tell us about your background?

My dad is Nigerian and my mum is English. I was born in Nigeria but moved from Nigeria to the UK.

Do you recall  your life here in Nigeria before you moved abroad?

I do, I have snapshots of what my life was like here. Of course I was still very young but I remember playing in the streets and in our compound. I have memories of my school, of Ikoyi club.

Are they fond memories?

Absolutely. I remember visiting my dad’s village in Imo state, growing up. My dad always reminds me of me crying that I didn’t want to leave my country on the day that we were leaving for the UK.

How was life in the UK. You were a kid but there had to have been an adjustment phase, no?

Yes there was a bit of adjustment but the most important thing at that age is to have two loving, supportive parents who provide you with everything that you need. When you have that you can adapt fairly easily to new surroundings. For me I kept visiting Nigerian family and friends so there was still some continuity in my roots.

Lets talk about Whats Up Africa. How does an idea like that develop?

It develops from both positive and negative energy. The negative energy was frustration from what Chimamanda has eloquently captured as the single story. The representation of an entire continent of 1 billion people in the media in a very cliched and one-dimensional way. But it also developed from a positive energy which takes into account the power of satire and comedy to engage a generation of young digital Africans. I was inspired by this US television show called The Daily Show and that is how I came up with Whats Up Africa.

Did you always know you had comic instincts and how did you develop them?

I guess from an early age right from primary school I enjoyed drama and making people laugh. But then the typical Nigerian father that I had insisted I focus on education and generally speaking, lawyers are not necessarily the funniest people and so that side of me sort of got lost while I was studying Law. But when I started my video blog I got a lot more comfortable. Of course I learn along the way but I get more comfortable and better with each episode.

Is Whats Up Africa a full time job for you now?

Yes it is

So there is no side hustle?

You know I am a Nigerian so there is always a bit of a side hustle. Sometimes I do commercial voice over work.

What is your primary audience?

It is for Africans in Africa and in the diaspora. Young, social and politically engaged who care about making a difference and also for people with an interest in Africa.

How long have you been doing this?

3 years.

Before this 3 years, you used to work as a lawyer. How long did you practice law?

Four and a half years. In total the whole law thing was like 10 years, it was crazy. 4 years of studying to qualify, 1 year of law school, 2 years of articles then I was with a firm for 3 and a half years.

Why did it take you so long to step away from it all, if you had known all along your heart wasn’t in it?

You know how powerful Nigerian fathers can be. I am surprised it didn’t take me 20 years.

True but you have been adult from the period you graduated…

Correct but you have to understand that my parents sacrificed a lot for me, to get me into good schools, to give me opportunities they didn’t necessarily have. So that has a certain weight that stays with you for a long long while and I wanted to continue making them proud. I knew that it would be very disappointing for my dad if I gave up law so I kept postponing it, rationalizing that it would get better with each next step; when I qualify, when I am in the department that I prefer, when I get to senior management but it came to a stage where I had to decide if I wanted to be at the bottom of a ladder that I would rather climb or half way up one that I would rather not. Better late than never so I decided to give it a try. I am still ambitious though and determined to succeed.

So the law thing was for your parents and not for yourself?

Correct. I mean I cannot give them all the blame. When I chose to study law in the university it wasn’t like there was something else that I was passionate about doing. I was kind of indifferent then so maybe I should have been more active in determining the course of my life.

What was the very first idea that birthed Whats Up Africa. How did you start?

Whats Up Africa has always been the name but the format has changed. It is political satire and like I said, it was modelled after The Daily Show and its American presenter John Stewart who is very funny, erudite, socially and politically engaged. He cares about the subject he is talking about and it was  very engaging for people who did not necessarily care about hard news or politics. On the internet, there are other video blogs doing pure comedy but I wanted to make a difference and be relevant in terms of politics and news.

When you do politics, is it news from the United Kingdom or Nigeria and Africa?

It is a mixture. Sometimes I could talk about a particular bill or law that has been enacted in Sub-Saharan Africa. I have done an episode on the anti-pornography bill in Uganda which also means that girls will be restricted from wearing short skirts which I think is absurd. I also made an episode about same sex marriage and the #ChildNotBride campaign in Nigeria. These are issues that I have strong feelings about but equally I have made episodes about inappropriate comments by UK politicians as regarding Africa.

Which of your episodes are huge, in the way that people respond to them?

The Yerima episode was big and got picked up by different blogs and television stations here in Nigeria. An episode on the media restriction bill in Kenya was quite popular and I once made a fun episode about Patrick Obahiagbon…

Who also happens to be a lawyer…

Yes but I would not want him working for me because I wouldn’t understand him.

What is your take on the anti-gay law recently enacted?

From the episode on What’s Up Africa, I think that my view is pretty clear. I tried to make a mockery of the bill and show how absurd it is.

Uganda has also joined the anti-gay bandwagon bringing the number of African countries that criminalise homosexuality to 38. Do you think it is a case of the continent regressing while others are progressing?

Politicians do things at certain times because their popularity is waning. They enact laws that they think will enact their popularity and this usually works for a while. But I think that Nigerians care less about this law and more about power, better education, good healthcare.

How did your parents take your jumping ship? What do they make of you now?

They now absolutely accept it and they would always tell me that they love me and how much they are proud of me but till this day despite the appearances on CNN and BBC, my dad is still shattered that I am not a lawyer.

But you are a lawyer, you just do not practice…

Technically. But I don’t even have my practicing certificate so you can say that I have a law degree. The most important thing is that they love me and are proud of me.

Do you think your dad will ever come around completely?

I don’t think that is going to happen and I think that I am the one who needs to accept that and live with that. My dad is 72, there is a 10 year age difference between he and my mum so you can teach an old dog new tricks only to a certain extent. I think he is pretty much set in his ways now.

But you are happy now?

I have not fulfilled my dreams but I am certainly happy.