Dear Nigerian Lawyers, Here’s How to Market Your Law Practice Without “Advertising”

The 2007 Nigeria Rules of Professional Conduct for Nigerian Lawyers prohibit certain types of advertising by Nigerian lawyers. For example, a lawyer is not allowed to distribute circulars and bills, or advertise on TV and newspapers.

However, the Rules also provides that a lawyer may write articles for publications, or participate in radio and television programmes in which he gives information on the law.

Interpreting the above, a lawyer may write informative blog posts, newspaper articles, etc. educating people on their rights, which is a form of content marketing.

Content marketing is defined by Content Marketing Institute as a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.

It is non-interruption marketing. Instead of pitching products or services, a business delivers information that makes a buyer more intelligent. The essence of this content strategy is the belief that if businesses deliver consistent, ongoing valuable information to buyers, buyers ultimately reward the organizations with their business and loyalty.

Forbes reports that 88% of B2B marketers use content marketing. Content marketing is used by some of the greatest marketing organizations in the world, including P&G, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, and John Deere.

When I was growing up in Nigeria in early 2000’s, for example, there was a campaign by a leading toothpaste manufacturing company which advised people to brush morning and night. Instead of pitching how good their product was, the company took used TV and billboard ads to show monstrous creatures emerging from foul-smelling mouths at night. Without directly telling people to buy their products, the company taught people the importance of good oral hygiene and the need to brush also at night, not just in the morning.

The campaign influenced me to start brushing my teeth at night. Using this strategy, the company perhaps doubled its sales without directly telling their audience to buy their products. Content marketing works because people do not see it as a sales pitch and so are more likely to let down their guard when exposed to it.

Also, this August, Intel Nigeria launched a new campaign: “With a Computer, You are Powerful.” Rather than focus on their products, the campaign enlightens audience on the the many uses of a computer and showcases the new generation of successful Nigerians You-tubers and bloggers who are using computers to make millions of naira, thereby educating consumers.

With the advent of internet, content marketing has become even more effective because people research online to find answers to various problems including legal, medical and financial issues. For example, if someone wants to incorporate their company in Nigeria, it’s likely they will google “How to incorporate a company in Nigeria” and not “Law firms that incorporate companies in Nigeria.”

From the above example, if there are two law firms that render company incorporation services in Nigeria, SEO will favor the lawyer whose website contains step-by-step procedure for incorporating a company in Nigeria rather than the lawyer’s who simple states somewhere in his website that he has a “Corporate practice.”

Given an opportunity to choose between the two law firms, a potential client is more likely to patronize the lawyer who already shows, through his blog posts, that he knows what is required to incorporate a company. By writing detailed posts on services they provide, lawyers are likely to attract clients who are researching on the types of services the lawyers render.

In Nigeria where laws are rarely enforced because people are unaware of laws that protect their rights, lawyers who embrace content marketing will, besides promoting their practice, also be providing a much needed service of educating Nigerians of their rights.

For example, Lagos State Tenancy Law 2011 makes it a crime for landlords (in certain parts of Lagos) to collect more than one year rent in advance. The law also provides that a tenant who feels his rent has been unreasonably increased can petition the court. I wager that 90% of Lagos residents are unaware of this law. A lawyer who writes about this can generate traffic to his website and engage readers who will turn into potential clients.

Also, for the past two years, following the oil bust, oil companies in Nigeria have been terminating their employees’ contracts in large numbers. I never knew this could be illegal until I read a BellaNaija post by Ivie Omoregie on the due process these oil companies must follow before firing an employee. From the post, I learned that before letting an employee go, an oil company must seek consent from the Minister of Petroleum. One wonders how many oil workers didn’t fight back and lost their jobs because they were unaware of this law.

Moreover, a business that engages in content marketing establishes itself as a leader in the industry. Festus Keyamo and Femi Falana are among the most visible Nigerian lawyers because they talk about human rights on TV and newspapers. They have established themselves as authorities in the industry and anyone who has a human rights case naturally thinks of them because of their perceived expertise.

Content marketing is already popular among U.S. firms and is used by 90% of law firms. However, I researched most of the leading law firms in Nigeria and did not find one that provided the type of quality and consistent blogging needed to get a Return on Investment from content marketing.

For a high ROI through content marketing, a law firm should

1. Create quality blog posts using examples and scenarios.
2. Write articles commenting on important decisions by the Supreme court.
3. Hijack news by providing legal opinion on the latest celebrity gossip.
4. Prepare a time-table scheduling consistent blog posts, for example, weekly etc.
5. Guest post educative legal blogs on popular Nigerian blogs.

Besides generating new clients, content marketing also opens up opportunities. I got my present day job through someone who read one of my blog posts. I wrote about other importance of blogging here.

Although this post is targeted at Nigerian lawyers, I hope this post inspires all small businesses to consider content marketing as an advertising strategy as it has proven more effective than traditional marketing.

These Nigerian Celebrities Prove that Unrelaxed Black Hair is “New School”

chioma akpotha

Before the dawn of 21st century, afro-textured hair was unpopular. In Nigeria, it was associated, in a derogatory manner, with Deeper Life Christians. But in recent time, the trend which was once seen as unsophisticated is now popular among elites. A hair type which once characterized women deemed not well-versed in the ways of the world is now worn by the most knowledgeable.

According to Wikipedia, “going natural,” is now so popular that hair care suppliers have seen a rapid decrease in the purchase of relaxers, the chemical hair straightener. An industry that was once worth an estimated $774 million in relaxer sales have gone down 26% over the last five years, says a 2013 numbers report. Sales are estimated to decrease to 45% by 2019. Brands are lowering their production of relaxers and instead are producing more natural-friendly products.

Bringing it close to home, I present to you ten (or twelve, depending on how you count it) influential Nigerians who are leading the Natural hair movement.

1. Chimamanda Adichie
adichie

I her 2013 novel, Americanah, Chimamanda made a case for accepting black women’s hair the way it grows from their scalp. Walking her talk, Chimamanda now rocks her hair in stylish natural ways.

Here’s what Adichie has to say about natural hair:

“Many of us say our natural hair is too hard, too difficult. But that’s because we weren’t taught how to care for our hair. I have discovered the wonders of coconut, castor, shea, even honey for softening hair. Trick is add it when your hair is wet! You get wonderful softness!

Relaxers are not about softness. They are really about texture. Otherwise there are ways to soften hair without permanently changing the texture of hair.”

2. Genevieve Nnaji
Genevieve-Nnaji-London-Natural-Hair-November-2014-BN

Genevieve Nnaji is perhaps Nigeria’s most influential actress. With over two million Instagram followers, her influence is widely felt when she sets or associates with a trend. While I didn’t find any statement regarding natural her attributed to the the rather reticent actress, popular Nigeria blogs, including Bellanaija have carried numerous headlines of Nnajis’ transition to natural hair.

3. Kate Henshaw
kate

If you consider that it’s been twenty-three years since When the Sun Set, Kate’s first movie, you will realize that this Nollywood beauty is aging gracefully, not that she’s too old at 45.

Besides sharing her fitness routine with her Instagram followers, the beauty also discusses her natural hair journey on her page. In a recent post she wrote: “We are all different. Genes and all. We all will not have thick, long hair.. some are soft and curly, some are wiry and coarse. The important thing is to maintain good hair routines that will keep your hair healthy.”

4. Dakore Egbuson
dakore

Long before her colleagues joined the natural hair trend, Dakore Egbuson wore dreadlocks– a hair style that made her unusually visible in the industry. Although the gorgeous mother of two cut her dreadlocks a few years ago, she still wears her natural hair.

She had this to say about cutting her locks: “I made up my mind that I wanted to wear dreadlocks, and when I was tired of it, I decided to cut it. My husband did not want me to cut my hair; he wanted our children to meet me with the hair. I dance to the beat of my own drum and my path is different from every other person’s. I have my own mind; if I let people shape my opinions of myself, I will not be authentic to myself.”

She deserves credit for seeing the beauty in natural hair long before the rest of us started appreciating it.

5. Chioma Chukwuka Akpotha
chioma akpotha

Chioma Chukwuka Akpotha, the Nigerian actress with the girl-next-door disposition, started her natural hair journey in 2014.

Pictured above (middle) with her Wives on Strike colleagues (Uche Jombo, left and Omoni Oboli, right, who also happen to be naturalistas), the actress wrote about her natural hair journey in her Instagram page some days ago thus:

“@YellowSisi got me gushing all over my hair yesterday , all day! Her “special” touch makes you wonder how she really does it! For anything that has to do natural hair @yellowsisi is there for you. Follow her and you’d be glad you did. For my not so secret to my healthy hair, stay tuned for a post on the products I have used from when I transitioned till this point!. #naturalhair #TeamNatural”

In another post a week earlier, the Early Marriage actress wrote about how she almost gave up midway into the journey: “I’ve been feeling good about my hair all day. It’s been quite some journey from Dec’14 . I did a not so big chop in December 2014 and started the perm to natural transition. It was hard and quite tiresome. I almost gave up especially when it was difficult to comb when the new growth started coming in March 2015.

Now when I look back I’m so glad I didn’t give up! I absolutely love my hair. So with 1 year and 4months on, I believe I can fly.Once you set your mind on something and don’t give up, with time you’d get there gradually.” #NaturalHair #Naturalista”

@YellowSisi, The Instagram user she gave a shout out to also has Kate Henshaw as a client. No doubt, she seems to know her onions.

6. Nse Ikpe Etim

nse ikep etim

I fell in love with Nse Ikpe Etim the first time I saw her on screen. The banker-turned-actress in one of the most influential Nigerian natural hair promoters. She had this to say about her natural hair:

“I don’t wear dreadlocks, it is just my natural hair that you are seeing. I twist it and loose it when I choose to. I do not fix a weave-on because it is artificial. I carry my hair most of the time, except when I have to attach something else to it. If I am playing a role in a home video film, I wear another hairstyle.”

As I can’t miss an opportunity to emphasize the need to follow one’s passion, here’s what Nse said about quitting her banking job for acting:

“I don’t think I remember the year I quit banking. But when I decided it was not longer what I wanted to do I had to leave. I was doing the same thing everyday. I was not passionate about it and I think if you want to earn a living, you should be passionate about what you do.”

She is inspiring in so many ways.

7. Sisiyemmie

Sisi-Yemmie-Bn-Fro-Friday-July-2016-BellaNaija0025

By now, you know how much I love Sisiyemmie. I listed her in my favorite people on the web here.

In an interview with Bellanaija the beautiful blogger who wore her natural her even for her wedding said she will never go back to relaxing her hair.

When asked what she loved most about natural hair, she said: “I love how versatile natural hair can be, I can have it straight today if I want and get it kinky tomorrow. I also love how thick it has become, well, thicker than when I was relaxed. There is a certain look you have when you’re rocking well styled natural hair-you look healthy!”

If you haven’t checked her out, please check her website here. I haven’t missed an episode of her more than now 50 weekly vlogs!

8. Yagazie Emezi

yagazie

Yagazie was also among the people I listed as one of my favorite people in the web. The young Nigeria who combines photography with art has an unusually long natural hair because of her Malaysian gene which she inherited from her mother.

Speaking on natural hair, Yagazie said in this clip : “Good hair all has to do with hair care, good hair has to do with how you take care of your hair regardless of whatever hairstyle you have on or what length your hair is…It doesn’t always mean that because you have long hair that you have healthy hair.”

Given how gorgeous Yagazie’s hair is, she’s definitely one to take hair advice from.

9. Eki Ogunbor

eku

Eki joined BellaNaija team this year and she has become a favorite of many even landing an endorsement with a luxury homeware company.

About her natural hair journey she said, “I transitioned for 6 months but I did the big chop after. I did this because I wanted to get a feel of my hair texture before committing to the journey and I did the big chop because I really wanted to see what I’d look like with really short hair. My family was really shocked when I cut off all my hair, others were really angry because I had long relaxed hair.”

About her hair routine she wrote, “I always have one protective style or the other which I get done at O’Naturals natural hair salon and they take good care of my hair there because I don’t always have time to do it myself. They also advice on the hair care routine that’s best for the style I have on and how to prolong it’s neatness till my next visit. Between protective styles, I wash and deep condition with different products like the Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla range, the Cantu Shea Butter range especially the co-wash shampoo and Herbal Essences Hello Hydration range. I also use a lot of Coconut Oil (hair and scalp), Castor Oil (mostly scalp) and Shea Butter (hair, to seal in moisture).”

Eki is definitely one to look out for.

10. Adanna Ohakim

Adanna o

I saved the best for last. Adanna doesn’t just rock natural hair, she teaches others how to take care of it. I’m wearing a kinky twist I braided myself. Thanks to Adanna and her many tips.

Seeing these pictures may inspire you to consider transitioning. When you decide. here’s a list that contains natural hair salons and beauty shops in several cities in Nigeria.

If you are in Lagos, I think O’Naturals is a good place to go. People recommend it.

So what are your thoughts?

P.S If you are a hair dresser who works with natural hair, please write your contact in the comments section so people will find you. Black hair rocks!

When Judges Google Evidence, Do Inadmissible Evidence Remain “Unadmitted”?

Yesterday, I was working on a jury instruction, a portion of it read:
“You must decide the facts based on the evidence admitted in this trial. Do not do any research on your own or as a group. Do not use dictionaries, the Internet, or other reference materials. Do not investigate the case or conduct any experiments. Do not contact anyone to assist you, such as a family accountant, doctor, or lawyer. Do not visit or view the scene of any event involved in this case. If you happen to pass by the scene, do not stop or investigate. All jurors must see or hear the same evidence at the same time. You must not let bias, sympathy, prejudice, or public opinion influence your decision”
–the same standard expected of Judges.

A Hard Call
But do Judges and Jurors follow this age-old tenet of the adversarial legal system in reaching decisions? What factors, besides the evidence presented at trial, influence Judges’ decisions? Their upbringing? Religious Beliefs? Political ideology? Why did the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia vote against gay marriage, predictably, and Sonia Sotomayor in its favor, naturally?

The scholarly analysis of judging has historically revolved around this central question: How much of judicial decision-making depends on legal reasoning? Do Judges, after finding the relevant facts of the case, consult legal rules and then arrive at their decision? What if instead of using legal rules to decide their cases, Judges rather use those rules to justify their decisions and not to arrive at them? What if instead of using only statutory legal rules, Judges often rely on policy principles not found in law books?

And a question peculiar to twenty-first century: What if Judges reach decisions based on evidence they found on the internet?

“Unhearing” Evidence
As instituted, the adversarial legal system expects a Judge, in ruling on a case, to ignore everything he knows and rule solely on evidence presented before it. So, for example, a Judge whose wife’s Ph.D research two years prior found with 99% certainty that talcum powder does not cause ovarian cancer, is expected to ignore his wife’s doctoral thesis (which he’d have heard tens of times over dinner) when sitting on a case between Johnson & Johnson and women alleging talcum powder caused them cancer. Except the defense does its home work, the Judge may be impelled to give judgment to Plaintiffs, contrary to his belief, and possibly, the truth.

But can a Judge, in fact, will himself to ignore the truth he knows and give evidence against it? Consider another part of the jury instructions:
“The attorneys’ questions are not evidence. Only the witnesses’ answers are evidence. You should not think that something is true just because an attorney’s question suggested that it was true.
Each side had the right to object to evidence offered by the other side. If I sustained an objection to a question, you must ignore the question. If the witness did not answer, you must not guess what he or she might have said or why I sustained the objection. If the witness already answered, you must ignore the answer.”

By the letters in bold, the Judge is in fact telling the jury to “unhear” an answer given to a question an objection to which he sustained. Can a jury really disregard such evidence if they found it compelling?

Here’s a scenario: In a trial in which a man is facing trial for murder for stabbing the deceased to death with a knife, the defense counsel has information that the Prosecution’s “eye witness” was not in fact at the scene of the incidence at the exact moment the incident allegedly occurred. During a cross-examination the Defense counsel asks the Prosection Witness:
Counsel: “So where were you at 4:40pm on Sunday, June 28, 2015?” The time the incident occurred.
Witness: “I was in my car outside the deceased’s house”
Counsel: “Where in the deceased’s house did the incident take place?”
Witness: “In his living room.”
Counsel: “At 4:40pm on Sunday, June 28, 2015, when you were in your car, could you see the victim’s living room?”
Witness: “No.”
Counsel: “You know the alleged incident took place at 4:40pm on June 28, 2015?”
Witness: “Yes.”
Counsel: “Please answer “yes” or “No” to the next question. If you were in your car at 4:40pm on June 28, 2015 and the victim’s living room was not visible to you, it is safe to say that you did not witness the incident which allegedly took place in the victim’s living room?”
Witness: “I will say I witnessed the incident because…”
Counsel: “Answer Yes or No!”
Witness: “While sitting in the car, I saw the accused run out from the victim’s house with a bloodied knife.”
Counsel: “Objection, Your Honour! Strike the answer, the answer is not responsive to the question.”
Court: “Objection sustained. Court Reporter, strike the answer. Jury disregard the last testimony from the witness.”

Meanwhile the damage had been done.

Not Every Relevant Evidence is Admissible
Before a court can admit an evidence, it must not only be relevant; it must also be admissible. So an evidence may be relevant but nonetheless inadmissible. Consider the so-called fruit of the poisonous tree in criminal cases. Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally.The logic of the terminology is that if the source (the “tree”) of the evidence or evidence itself is tainted, then anything gained (the “fruit”) from it is tainted as well. Such evidence is not generally admissible in court. So if, for example, police enters a suspect’s home without a search warrant and finds a murder weapon, except the circumstances under which the police entered the house fall under certain exceptions, as compelling an evidence as the murder weapon is, the court will not admit the evidence when the suspect stands trial.

In theory, in the adversarial legal system, however relevant an evidence a Judge found outside the judicial process is, he must ignore the evidence and make a decision based on the evidence and argument presented before him in court. A Judge should never descend into the arena. This rule is necessary to ensure the impartiality of Judges. It also helps appellate courts who must hear appeals based only on arguments made in the lower court.

Going the Extra Mile
While the law has since been laid down that Judges must rely on evidence presented in court, and not on their own investigations, the prevalence of internet makes it hard to draw the line. Can a Judge, for example, google a medical terminology to better understand a medical malpractice case? If the basis of the action is that the doctor did not promptly respond to a “Code Blue” call, can a Judge sitting on the case research on the meaning of the term and the average respond time to determine if the particular doctor is liable?

Without doubt, evidence got off google can sometimes give Judges a better picture than the evidence presented at trial. Here’s an example from a case I came across sometime ago. A man was sued by his Homeowners Association for dues. The man thought his house didn’t have a lot in common with the other homeowners to warrant their insistence that he paid dues for the maintenance of the neighborhood. A Declarations of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R). CC&R’s usually provide for how much dues the homeowners in the association will pay, what they can or cannot keep on their front lawns, etc. The goal of the CC&R in the case, which the homeowner argued he wasn’t bound to comply with, was to maintain the general aesthetics of the neighborhood which translates into good value for the homes.

For that case, after I’d heard the facts, I used Google earth to look at the neighborhood virtually. Viewing the neighborhood, I could see how a Judge’s opinion, if he viewed the neighborhood virtually like I did, could depend on the images captured by Google: If the neighborhood looked well maintained and had common walls, a Judge would be more inclined to rule that the homeowner pays his dues so that others don’t get discouraged and leave the neighborhood to go to ruins. If on the other hand Google Earth shows the neighborhood to be a slum in an inner city, a Judge could care less about the residential subdivision seeing there is nothing left to preserve.

The possibility that an extraneous evidence may sway a Judge is the reason judges are discouraged from investigating cases on their own. That is, a Judge t check the Facebook page of a Plaintiff in a sexual harassment case to see if she partied a lot and had it coming.

However, some Judges give in to the temptation. While researching for this post, I saw this comment left by someone who had read on a post on the subject: “There’s an Administrative Law Judge in my area who does driver license appeals. i.e., people are attempting to get their driver licenses back after a drunk driving conviction. Anyway, at the hearing on the record this Judge looks up the appellant’s Facebook and MySpace accounts. He’ll find pictures of them drinking, hanging out with people drinking, and make comments about how they were so shit faced drunk last Saturday.”

A Lawyer’s Duty
A lawyer has a duty to represent his client competently. Social media has become a way of life. So a lawyer has an obligation to research and make online investigations, both of his client and opposing party. Just as a lawyer advises his client to cover up tattoos, wear shirt and tie and maintain a decent appearance in court, he should also advise his client to not leave incriminating evidence on Facebook and have a ready explanation for ones not within his power to control. If a Judge gives a decision based on what the Judge found on Google, this may also be a ground for a lawyer to appeal a decision that is adverse to his client’s interest.

Not only do lawyers have to worry about an opposing counsel stumbling upon adverse evidence on social media, lawyers should consider that the ultimate arbiter may well believe that Judges do make laws– even if with the help of Google.

P.S: So what’s your opinion? Should Judges be allowed to google evidence?

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Twenty of My Favorite People/Sites on the Web

In other words, people and sites that distract me from blogging when I pick up the laptop to write. In no particular order, I present:

1. BellaNaija.com
uche pedro
Except I make a mental note to discipline myself, I refresh Bellanaija.com several times a day to see what new entry they have posted. The site is Nigeria’s leading blog on entertainment, weddings, career, politics, entrepreneurship etc. Because the site is run by the very decent Uche Perdo, it doesn’t malign celebrities. The comments on the site are always well-thought out. The site won an award in Los Angeles this year as Africa’s best blog. Uche has been featured in both CNN and Oprah Winfrey show because of the blog. Here’s an inspirational post Uche Pedro posted on the blog at the beginning of the year. It will give you an insight into the brain behind the site.

2.Goodreads.com


Goodreads.com is the world’s largest community of book lovers. With so many books around, I visit the site often for recommendations, and ratings for books I am interested in reading.

3. Sisiyemmie.com
Sisiyemie
I have watched all of Sisiyemmie’s more than fifty weekly vlogs. Last month, Sisiyemmie joined Tiwa Savage, AY, Juliet Ibrahim etc., for a sponsored trip to South Africa, and boy did she document the experience for her fans. Vintage Sisiyemmie! Her vlogs and blogs which document her life primarily in Lagos reminds me of why there is just no place like home. By watching her blogs, I know we now have Uber and GPS in Nigeria. She keeps me posted!

4. AbAjournal.com


ABA stands for the American Bar Association. The magazine keeps me up to date on what’s going on in the legal field. From it, I also get tips for law practice. I recommend it to all lawyers , practicing in the U.S. or elsewhere.

5.Smallstarter.com


Smallstarter.com is a website dedicated to small entrepreneurs in Africa. If you consider that the founder is an African entrepreneur himself, you will see why he is in a position to give valuable insight and advice on starting a business in Nigeria. I also follow the site on Facebook. You will be amazed at how many business opportunities await entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in Africa.

6. Writersincharge.com


Writersincharge is run by a young Nigeria who has made millions from freelance writing. I get valuable insight from Bamidele’s tips and nuggets of information.

7. Yagazie Emezi
Yagazie
I am not on Instagram but a day hardly passes that I don’t join Yagazie’s over 86,000 Instagram followers to see what she captured on the street for the day. While others put up beauty and luxury on Insatgram, Yagazie captures every day people through her lenses transforming the mundane into an amazing work of art. You can see this photo of her father’s old kitchen in Aba which she captioned “Stove on stove on stove – Remnants of Home, Aba 2016.”

8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nigeria
The most prominent online encyclopedia, I use Wikipedia to find reliable information on subjects I’m researching. Anything not on Wikipedia is not notbale. On Wikipedia, you can learn about the 1917 apparition of the Virgin Mary in Fatima, or pokemon go. You choose.

9. AdannaDavid
adannatwin
Adanna Ohakim is a medical doctor, has an identical twin, is married to a German, is a naturalista, lives in Ireland, is daughter of a former Imo State governor, and her mum and all her sisters are lawyers. I can’t help but be enthralled when I’m watching a life as interesting as hers through her weekly vlogs, with her more than 150,000 Youtube subscribers. Click the link above to watch her and her twin, Adanma.

10. Bryan Garner


Bryan Garner is the editor of Black’s Law Dictionary. If you want to know the difference between every day and everyday, tweet him and he will tell you. Seriously, he answers questions on twitter and also gives writing tips on his handle. It was from him I took note of the difference between every day and every day, the former being each day and the later, common or normal.

11. AllNigerianrecipes.
abacha
The site has both video and written how-tos on most Nigerian recipes. It has been very useful for me.

12. wau.org.
The Word Among Us is a Catholic magazine. It features daily mass readings and contemporary stories for spiritual growth. I will love to visit it more than I do.

13. The Due Process Advocates.


DPA is a Nigerian Facebook group with over 100,000 members. Although one may question some of the founder’s choices, I’m happy the group is helping secure justice for people who otherwise would have no one to speak for them.

Although I’m not on Instagram, I often visit the following Actors to see what they are up to

14. Genevieve Nnaji
genevieve

15. Eva Longoria
eva longoria

16. Kate Henshaw
kate

I follow Authors 17. Chimamanda Adichie, 18. Chika Unaigwe, 19. Obioma Chigozie, and 20. Akaweke Emezie, on Facebook.

A post like this, written in less than two hours, may not have accurately captured all my interests. I do hope, however, that a site or person listed may become helpful to you in some of your pursuits.

Interests change over time and I imagine that if I do this list in next six months, some people/sites on the list would have been replaced by another. So tell me, what are your favorite people/things on the web?

WANT TO GIVE SPEECHES AS POWERFUL AS MICHELLE OBAMA’S? HERE ARE FIVE TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED

On Monday night, First Lady Michelle Obama gave a rousing speech that is still making headlines today. Compare this with the reaction last week when Melania Trump gave hers. Even before the crowd at the convention center learned that Melania plagiarized Ms. Obama’s speech, half of them were so uninspired by her speech that they left the arena shortly after her speech, midway into the Republican National Convention.

I too was uninspired. I thought that Melania’s speech was not as captivating as Michelle Obama’s was in 2012. So minutes after listening to her speech, I went on social media to see who else shared my sentiments. It didn’t take long to find one. A Facebook friend, a colleague, pointed out how Melania’s speech paled in comparison to Michelle’s. I argued that Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama make eloquent speakers probably because of their profession as lawyers. My friend responded that lawyers are only trained in the act of advocacy, not oratory. Later, in a private moment, I googled Websters–To advocate:to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly. My friend and I had this discussion last week. Since then, Bill Clinton, and Barack and Michelle Obama have given speeches this week that finished to resounding applause.

What makes a good speech? Instead of using her Monday or even 2012 convention speech, I looked online for Michelle’s 2008 Convention speech, her first as an aspiring first lady, just like Melania. I compared the first nine paragraph of Ms. Obama’s 2008 speech with Melania’s. What I found confirmed what I’ve always known: that techniques for effective advocacy can be learned. Here are five tips to help you in making your case–tips that have helped me in my job as an advocate.

1. Start with a story, a quote or a proposition
Your audience decides if you are worth listening to within few minutes of your speech. Captivate them with a story, a quote, a question or a proposition before you lose them. If you look back to memorable sermons from your childhood, you will find that you remember the sermon because of a story, a quote or something new you learned. Each of these makes a promise of something more to come thus making an audience eager to hear more.

Quotes are memorable because they capture in few words an idea that can take pages to convey. For example, a cousin lost her husband recently. I have been struggling with that loss for weeks. Last week, someone posted a picture of the widow and her children in mourning clothes and captioned it: “What cannot be avoided has to be endured.” That quote is one I’m not likely to forget.

A proposition states a theory to be analyzed. So if you start a speech by saying, for instance, “Diabetes is now an epidemic.” You are likely to engage an audience eager to find out what statistics, studies, etc. you are relying on to make that assertion.

When you start a speech by asking a question calling for your audience’s responses, you get the audience involved right away as they will naturally get busy figuring the answer to the question. Once you get them in, it will be harder to lose them.

Stories are my favorite for starting a speech. Here are the first three paragraphs from Michelle’s 2008 and Melania’s 2016 speech.

Michelle’s:
“As you might imagine, for Barack, running for president is nothing compared to that first game of basketball with my brother, Craig.

I can’t tell you how much it means to have Craig and my mom here tonight. Like Craig, I can feel my dad looking down on us, just as I’ve felt his presence in every grace-filled moment of my life.

At 6-foot-6, I’ve often felt like Craig was looking down on me too … literally. But the truth is, both when we were kids and today, he wasn’t looking down on me. He was watching over me.”

Melania’s:
“It’s a very nice welcome and we’re excited to be with you at this historic convention.

I am so proud of your choice for President of the United States, my husband, Donald J. Trump.

And I can assure you, he is moved by this great honor.”

You can tell which of the two is more compelling. With Michelle’s, you are eager to hear more, wondering what Craig has to got to do with Obama winning the presidency. With Melanie’s, you will readily notice that she is stating the obvious, nothing exciting to make you eager to hear more.

2. Show Don’t Tell
Creative writers know that showing and telling is the difference between a good read and an uninteresting one. If you are writing a tribute for a parent for example, telling us that he was the best father and husband anybody could have prayed for is telling us nothing. Every grieving child says that. How about if you tell us that when you were a child, the day your mother went into labor to give birth to your (now) youngest sibling, your father took your mum to the hospital, came home, fed and tucked you and your younger sibling in bed all the while fingering his rosary, praying for your mother whom he couldn’t be with because your parents couldn’t afford a babysitter at the time.

While Melania generally talked about Trump’s love for America without telling us why she came to that conclusion, Michelle, in her 2008 speech, gave concrete examples of Obama’s love for America thus:

“It’s what he did all those years ago, on the streets of Chicago, setting up job training to get people back to work and after-school programs to keep kids safe — working block by block to help people lift up their families.

It’s what he did in the Illinois Senate, moving people from welfare to jobs, passing tax cuts for hard-working families, and making sure women get equal pay for equal work.

It’s what he’s done in the United States Senate, fighting to ensure the men and women who serve this country are welcomed home not just with medals and parades but with good jobs and benefits and health care — including mental health care.”

3. Concede Points to Your Opponent
An audience can tell when one is making an objective argument and when arguments are based on sentiments. When you want to make a case, being objective and presenting arguments in favor of the other side shows you have done your research. It shows yes, you get the other position, but having considered it, you feel your position is a better one.

Once, in a case we tried, an opposing counsel filed a motion with the court requesting attorney fees for over$80,000. This, when the case hadn’t ended as to all parties. Among other arguments we made opposing the motion, we admitted that the dismissed party was in fact entitled to attorney fees, but for less than $3,000. We however requested the court to deny the attorney fees entirely on account of the attorney’s greed in requesting so much when he was entitled to so little. The court ruled the motion in our favor based on this argument. Our conceding that the attorney is entitled to something made us sound fair and it was easy for the judge to agree with us.

Let’s also take Nigerian elections, for example. During the campaigns, Buhari’s supporters that argued that Jonathan may be a decent man but that he was too gentle for Nigeria etc. scored more points in my book than people who simply dismissed Jonathan as corrupt. With his personality, anybody can buy the first argument about the former president but not necessarily the latter argument.

4. Don’t Call Names
Similar to the previous argument, making condescending arguments against your opponent reflects poorly on you than it does on them. In Michelle’s Monday speech, he subtly discredited Trump without once mentioning his name. She merely argued the issues. Her proposition that America needs “someone who understands that the issues a president faces are not black and white and cannot be boiled down to 140 characters” was a subtle reference to Trump’s penchant for tweeting. Also her saying “So don’t let anyone ever tell you that this country isn’t great, that somehow we need to make it great again” was in obvious reference to Trump whose campaign slogan is “Make America great again.” Yet when Trump was asked about Michelle’s speech, he said that Ms. Obama did an excellent job. Yes, Trump said so. So argue the issues. Don’t attack people.

I learned how important it is to avoid name-calling in law school when we were thought never to commit Fallacy Ad Hominem, i.e, attacking your opponent’s character or personal traits in an attempt to undermine their argument. Yet, in my practice as a lawyer, I made that mistake once and I lost a motion. In other two cases where opposing counsels said not so nice things about me or my firm, they lost the motions too.

When one takes such cheap shot, the arbiter may conclude that the maker have no better argument to make or punish them for being so contemptuous. Anybody can call names; people are convinced more when you back up your arguments with facts. So instead of, for example, calling Buhari a dictator, go straight to the argument and give an example of how he made an executive order without consulting the National Assembly. That will make you sound intelligent and informed, giving you credibility.

5. Get a Law Degree
To advocate means to speak, plead, or argue in favor of. That is what you do each time you try to sell an idea. Lawyers are trained to be advocates. 25 of the 44 U.S. presidents have been attorneys. Need I say more?

Anne Mmeje is a lawyer licensed in Nigeria and California. She is also a freelance writer. To contact her email annemmeje@yahoo.com

A Natural Way to Reverse Diabetes

Pricking fingers to check blood glucose, downing pills every morning and evening, and injecting insulin–these are daily routines for over 350 million people who suffer from diabetes worldwide. Many more are prediabetic.

Before now, it was generally believed that diabetes cannot be cured; that once diagnosed with diabetes, one can only manage it to prevent the complications that arise from poorly managed diabetes including blindness, kidney failure, leg ulcer leading to amputation and increased risk for stroke, etc. I too subscribed to the belief that diabetes could not be cured until a few months ago when my sister, A, added me to a closed Facebook group that promotes a diet high in fat and low in carb as, among other things, a remedy for diabetes.

At first, I was skeptical of the group which markets itself primarily as a weight loss group. For months, I watched from the sidelines, questioning, analyzing, and trying to poke hole in their theory that consumption of food low in carbohydrate and high in fat (hence LCHF) will help one lose weight. At the same time I was a skeptic, I watched the testimonies pour in: people losing 10kg in the first month, infertile women conceiving, and even better, people with diabetes reporting that LCHF lifestyle was helping them control their blood sugar. One testimony stood out: an Igbo man whose blood sugar reading was in the 400s and who was taking three different diabetic medications reported that his blood sugar had normalized since he resisted the temptation to eat rice, pasta and beans, essentially, all food high in carbohydrate. Of all the good news reported as LCHF successes, the part about LCHF reversing diabetes got me interested the most because of my family’s medical history.

So I started digging and researching on other websites and forums. I read countless testimonies from people in U.S., U.K., Sweden, etc testifying that they got off their diabetic medications simply by eating a diet rich in fat and low in carbohydrates. Did I mention that my sister lost weight on the lifestyle that even my rather reticent father commented on her weight loss and how well she looked? I also listened to and read testimonies from at least five doctors who testified to how LCHF had either helped them stabilize their blood sugar or helped their patients stabilize theirs. I became a believer. After some research, I realized that it makes sense that LCHF helps normalize blood sugar.

The Science Behind It


A blog entry cannot do justice to this topic. This is just an attempt to get everybody who might benefit from it to pick interest and read up further to see how it works. But here is a simple explanation for it as written in Dietdoctor.com the leading online resource for those who want to reverse diabetes naturally without relying on medications to manage it. The website is founded by a Swedish medical doctor, Andreas Enfeldt who is an LCHF advocate.


“The problem for diabetics is that the body has difficulty keeping blood sugar levels down. The blood turns too sweet. So where does sugar in the blood come from?

Sugar in the blood comes from the food that we eat. The foods that turn into different types of sugar as soon as they reach the stomach are called carbohydrates. This means sugar (as in soda, fruit juice, candy) and starch (as in bread, pasta, rice and potatoes).The starch, in for example bread, is broken down to glucose in the stomach. When glucose enters the blood stream it’s called blood sugar.

The more carbohydrates we eat in a meal, the more sugar is absorbed into the blood stream. The more sugar that’s absorbed into the blood stream, the higher the blood sugar will be.”

The explanation makes common sense; if you don’t take sugar or food that gets converted to sugar in the body, you won’t have too much sugar in your blood.

But if one dispenses with carbohydrate which we learned from primary school is the class of food responsible for giving energy, how can the body function without fuel? That is where high fat comes in. The body can use fat as a source of energy in the absence of carbohydrate, a state I understand is called ketosis. So when we eat a lot of fat to compensate for the absence of carbohydrate, the body adjusts by using up fat to produce energy. Just as a car can function using petrol or electricity as a source of energy, so can the body function using either carbohydrate or fat as a source of energy.

What to Avoid Under an LCHF Diet

This website and other resources sum it up as follows:

Sugar including those in soda, ice cream, etc.
Sugar substitutes including those in diet and zero soda
Flour, pasta, rice, juice, crisp bread, cereals, beans, potato, spaghetti, macroni, wheat, oatmeal,popcorn, noodles or grain foods
Fruits
Cookies, cakes or crackers
Carrots
and other veggies that grow beneath the ground
As a rule of the thumb, always read the contents of ingredients on all products. If the carbs are more than 5g then don’t eat them!

What to Eat Under an LCHF Diet

Eat eggs. (Eggs are great in all ways! It fills you up and you can vary how you eat your eggs in many ways. You can always have a boiled egg with you in you bag if a feeling of hunger should come about.)
Water
Vegetables including Cabbage, eggplant, cucumber, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, etc
Fish and other sea foods
Remember to eat fat!!! This is very important. Add at least 30-50g fat to each meal!
It’s all about natural fats. Organic Coconut oil is the absolute best
Cream, butter, fish, meat, avocado, nuts.
Vegetables that grow above the ground.

This website has the most detailed list I have seen on what to eat. You may want to check it out.

A Word on Fat


Choose your fats and oils carefully. One of my initial concerns about LCHF was the effect over-consumption of fats may have on one’s cholesterol levels. However, from the testimonies I have read, people who have been on LCHF diet say that it doesn’t affect cholesterol negatively, if anything, it improves it. But this may be because they choose their fats carefully. When embarking on this journey, follow these guidelines as written in this website

Good Fat
Fish (preferrably wild-caught)
Coconut oil (unrefined, extra-virgin)
Olive oil (unrefined, extra-virgin)
Butter
Ghee
Beef tallow
Duck fat
Lard
Animal fats (preferrably from pasture-raised/grass-fed animals)
Avocado oil
Macadamia nut oil

Bad Fat
Canola oil
Soybean oil
Corn oil
Sesame oil
Grapeseed oil
Peanut oil
Cottonseed oil
Sunflower oils
Hydrogenated oils
Trans-fats (not naturally occuring)

Caveat
If you choose to start an LCHF diet, please consult your doctor first if you are already taking diabetes medication because starting the diet while taking the same dose of medication may lead to your blood sugar taking an unsafe dip.

Don’t take excess protein as this, I understand, may lead to a rise in blood sugar anyway because excess protein converts to glucose. Over consumption of protein may also lead to kidney damage. Compensate for the absence of carbohydrate with more fat, not protein. Dr. Sarah’s talk in the link below has a visual graph that drives home this point more than a thousand words can.

Once your blood sugar normalizes by following this lifestyle, you may need to continue with it as going back to the old ways may lead to a relapse and an onset of diabetes. And that is why I’ve used reverse, not cure, in this post.

You may be diabetic without knowing. If you have a family history of diabetes, are overweight, or notice symptoms of diabetes including frequent thirst or urination, please visit a doctor to check your blood sugar levels; a stitch in time saves nine.

My Take
I am not a physician and this post is based on my research from reading countless articles and watching videos on the subject. Why isn’t the scientific community adopting LCHF as a panacea for diabetes if it is truly effective, you may wonder? The answer is that researches are still ongoing on the subject and some countries have given LCHF a nod as a viable tool for fighting diabetes. Swedish government has certified that LCHF is indeed an effective way of losing weight, and weight loss is a universally accepted strategy for managing diabetes. American Diabetes Association allows this thread that discusses LCHF on its website. Indeed ADA itself recommends to do away with refined sugar and certain carbohydrates, and advises that only 1/4 of the food of one’s plate should come from the types of carbohydrate it approves.

In a way, LCHF merely reinforces what we have always known about eating healthy– vegetables are good, sugar is bad. The only concern will be LCHF recommending high fat when we have always been advised to avoid fat to reduce risk of heart disease. However, if one chooses good fat, which the body will readily use up as fuel anyway, the likelihood of suffering from the effects of over-consumption of fats become minimal.

Here’s another way I see it, even if the fat consumed in a LCHF eventually proves to be bad, should one ignore a proven remedy for what ails them over fear of what isn’t ailing them yet? In other words, if you are driving on the highway and you have a flat tire, do you continue to manage it and not use your spare tire over fear of the spare tire getting bad too. In my opinion, if the body is unable to process carbohydrates leading to high blood sugar, then it seems wise to tap into another source of energy. So while the scientific community continues to conduct a long-term research on the subject, you may want to consider LCHF to treat your diabetes. I read of a man whose leg was going to be amputated because of astronomical blood sugar level but who within months of adopting LCHF normalized his blood sugar levels and got off medications entirely. LCHF doesn’t get any better than that.

For further resources including those from doctors who have testified to the effectiveness of using LCHF to fight diabetes, please see

Dietdoctor.com which in my opinion is the most useful resource online
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=da1vvigy5tQ a Tedtalk by Dr. Sarah Halberg who has incredible results using LCHF on her diabetic patients
Tedtalk by Peter Attia, a medical doctor who successfully used LCHF to normalize his own blood sugar and is now an advocate and one of the leading researchers on the subject
Ditchthecarb a website which has testimonials and recipes.
LCHF Nigeria a Nigerian resource which offers guidance and recipes

Obviously, this blog entry is only a summary on the subject. I encourage you to read the above resources yourself and read the comments made on them and you will be encouraged when you see how thousands of people have taken simple steps towards combating a deadly disease.

Disclaimer: The above blog post is not written by a healthcare professional and is written for information purposes only. Please consult a doctor and do your own research before deciding to embark on an LCHF diet or any diet for that matter.

Update: 11/20/2016

Since writing this post four months ago, I noticed several of the people who read it got here by googling “LCHF Nigeria recipe” or something similar. So I though to give readers the contacts of a Nigerian who is an expert in LCHF; She is a living proof of the benefits of LCHF (both for weight loss and health). Here’s her message:

“CUSTOMIZED/SPECIALIZED MEAL PLAN AVAILABLE.

Are you too busy to plan your meals and be faithful to it?
Are you new to keto lifestyle?
Do you want to begin but clueless on how to begin?
Are you tired of being called fat and ready for a lifestyle change?
Are you over weight or obese ?
Do you have high cholesterol, high BP ,diabetes or high blood sugar and need special attention to succeed on keto?
Do you want to a sexier you come this Christmas?
Do you think you have stubborn fats and wish to get to your promised land soon ?

We have got your back and can help you achieve your set target soonest. Get our customized/specialized meal plan and coaching for a token.

We also sell LCHF complaint food stuffs.

Contact us on :
Whatsapp only: 08034714137
Email:ketolchfnigeria@gmail.com
or chat us up on Facebook.

Eat healthy….live that dream.

You can also join the facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/1619732974992907/”

 

Meet Chika Ugonwa, Lagos Immigration Lawyer and Entrepreneur

Chiks pic
Chika

Editor’s Note:In Nigeria, it is not often that you hear of a young lawyer whose clients don’t mind having her flight tickets included in their bills. Such privileges are accorded only Senior Advocates and highly experienced attorneys. But because of her specialized area of practice and her dedication to her clients, Chika Ugonwa, a young lawyer in her early thirties, is so sought-after that her practice takes her around the country. Chika (whose vision includes to establish a firm that will serve as a one stop shop for everything Travelling/Immigration inquiry and assistance in Nigeria; to establish bilateral relation with immigration firms all over the world, Embassies and High Commissions; and to build a strong brand on the foundation of Trust and Integrity) granted us this interview discussing her work as an Immigration Lawyer, the epidemic of human trafficking in Nigeria, and why she think laws protecting only women are unnecessary. She also expressed her desire to help women who are marginalized, pro bono. In her down time, Chika writes poems with such great rhymes you will want to give her some dimes. I hope Chika’s extraordinary courage and hard work inspires you, like it inspired me.

We are excited to do this interview with you. Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for having me. My name is Chika Ugonwa. I am a Lawyer, a Graduate Manager, an Immigration Consultant and an Entrepreneur. In the past I worked with Abubakar Mustapha & Co. (Kaduna) and Threshold Barrister & Solicitors (Lagos). Presently, I am running my own firm Tnencucc Consulting in partnership with Reality Education Ltd (Port Harcourt), Rexcue Barrister and Solicitors (Lagos), and New Dimension Konsult (Kaduna).

Okay, now that sounds interesting. You are affiliated with three firms. What’s the arrangement like?
I started my Immigration Law practice in Lagos with Threshold Immigration Consult which is a subsidiary of Threshold Barristers & Solicitors. As you know, Legal practice is built on trust and in the course of the attorney-client relationship, one has access to client’s sensitive private and financial information. So when I moved to Abuja, a lot of my Lagos clients still sought me. My efforts to get them to work with other lawyers failed. That was where the partnership idea came from. After some attempts at trying to work with my clients in Lagos from Abuja, I realized that I could successfully serve clients anywhere.

For my clients who are based in Lagos for instance, they consult me through the phone or email. Then I do their work and send the finished work to my colleague (Rexcue Barrister and Solicitors Lagos), who ensures my clients properly endorse their documents. For some VIP clients who can afford to fly me to their location, I also go to them to finalize and prep them for Interview.

Overtime, through referrals, my clientèle grew; some clients trust whoever referred them enough to release personal information and pay professional fees without seeing me. Others don’t mind the cost to get a one-on-one meeting with me. When they can afford it, they come to me or if the fee is right I go to them using any of my partners’ office as a meeting point.

Congratulations on your achievements so far. Has law practice been what you expected? Many people go into law school with great ideas. Did the reality of law practice match your earlier expectations of what to expect from the practice of Law?
I don’t know about ‘many people.’ For me, I did not really go into the law program with great expectations or any expectations. The decision to study law was suggested by someone I could never say No to. In secondary school I was good in social sciences and art, my parents wanted me to be an accountant; my grandfather wanted Law. I chose Law. In University my goal was not to fail my grandfather, my parents who were paying for my education and myself. (In my family, my siblings and I are a bit competitive). Long story short: I did not have ‘earlier expectations.’ But having practiced for a while I expect so much more from colleagues, the Bar, the bench, and our legislators (our legislators are surrounded by lawyers, bills are drafted by lawyers so lawyers should be blamed for ALL the faults in our laws). The socio-economic fate of this country to a large extent lies with the legal profession and so it suffices to say we are to a large extent part of the problem of the country. We need strict ethics and conduct regulations.

What has been your greatest challenge practicing law in Nigeria?
Law practice is a very broad concept. The challenges a lawyer encounters are unique to his/her area of practice. My areas are Maritime, Civil, Family, Company and Immigration law practice. I can write a book on the challenges for each but for this interview I will only mention one challenge in Maritime practice which is ‘stagnancy’.

My former firm (Threshold barristers & Solicitors) had over 30 cases on different maritime matters. Apart from one of the matters that I got a default Judgement on, others ended up in settlement before I got the chance to taste my skills in trial. In court one day while I was moving yet another motion for discontinuance and adoption of parties’ terms of settlement, the Judge said (jokingly) that in his 20 years in the bench he was yet to deliver a final Judgement on a Maritime case.

In Maritime, litigation is instituted just to get the shippers/and or the insurance company to settle. Hence in rare cases where the matter goes all the way to trial, there are hardly sufficient judicial precedents to rely on.

But one may consider the cases settling a good thing, seeing how we are now advocating for alternative means of resolving disputes which reduces the stress and hostility associated with litigation. However, I can see how lack of precedence in case law is a disadvantage for the Maritime cases that do make it to trial. Of all the areas of law you mentioned you practice, which do you practice more?
I practice Immigration Law more. Thanks to Nigeria legal system, a lawyer in Nigeria can practice in any part of Nigeria. My Job takes me around the Country (and I hope someday beyond) and we attend to clients at any location within Nigeria.


Are you surprised at how little or much your clients know about Immigration law?

Not at all; Immigration law practice is still a grey area of practice. I was fortunate to stumble into it myself. Its sounds alien when I discuss it with my colleagues. Apart from a few firms in Lagos I am not sure there are firms in other jurisdictions who engage in it. Imagine how many countries there are and the entry demands for those countries. Through this job, I have learned a lot and I am still learning.

Most people are not even aware of the need to consult a lawyer until it’s a bit late. Some clients come to us with terrible immigration record. There are cases of applicants with over ten refusal stamps in their passports. These are eligible applicants seeking entry for genuine purposes (e.g business, study, medical etc). Their applications are refused repeatedly because of poor or improper documentation. It’s sad considering that application fees are non refundable. A particular client who came to us after he had been refused over and over again only found out after he consulted us that he was serving a ten-year ban as a result of some forged documents an ‘agent’ used in his first application. His refusal letter always stated “refused under para.360H.” I had to explain to him that any refusal under S.360 attracts a ten-year ban. While we do our best to fix some, there are some cases, like the applicant serving a ten-year ban, we can’t fix.

Years ago, anyone in Nigeria could have multiple passports with different identities on each although it is illegal. However, that is no longer practicable in this era of E-passport and bio-metrics. It has now become imperative for people to consult an immigration lawyer first before applying for any visa.

Many Nigerians do not know that some lawyers specialize in Immigration Law practice. For their benefit, please what does a Nigerian Immigration Lawyer do?
You are right. And not a lot of people know that traveling across border is actually a right not a privilege. Let me not bore your readers with sections of UN Treaties and African Charters on Human right and other citations that uphold these rights.

In summary; A country cannot close its borders from entry to members of other territories. There are exceptions though.

We attend to Immigration issues bothering on;
Permanent migrants i.e spouses, children, parents etc. who seeks to join families overseas across border or regularize foreigners already in the country. Temporary Migrants which includes International Students, Work permits (eg. Canada Federal Skill migrant scheme, for professional migrants) etc. My firm is also an International Education facilitator. We work with schools in Europe, United States, Canada, Australia, Malaysia etc. Then we have our cluster clientele: the short time Visitors. Tourist, family visitors, Medicals Visitors etc.

It is quite an interesting job. You will be amazed at the volume of immigration cases there are out there.

In addition to the above, we also organize trainings and seminars. News are often reported about mangled dead bodies found in international flights tyre compartments, like the stories here: http://www.nairaland.com/432392/desperate-man-sneaks-into-delta, http://old.nationaldailyng.com/news/crime/5988-arik-dead-body-uk-authorities-may-join-investigation. Some lose their lives at Sahara Desert or at sea, in desperate attempt to illegally migrate in quest for greener pastures. In the later instance, loved ones are saddled with the agony of not knowing for sure what happened to their wards–pain they will be forced to endure to their graves. Those who promote these inhuman practices for profit will never inform their clients of the risks involved. Through these seminars we educate the youths on the dangers of illegal migration, we warn them against patronising fraudsters who will promise them 1st world countries Visas just to reap them and they families off huge sums of money. We also create awareness on human trafficking.

I am truly amazed at your accomplishments. Chika Unaigwe’s novel On Black Sisters’ Street is an eye-opener on human trafficking in Nigeria and prostitution by Nigerians abroad. I am happy you are part of the group making efforts to stop this inhuman act. So in concrete terms, what type of services do you render to your clients?

1. We offer professional advisory services. Information is very important, especially since countries keep reviewing their immigration rules and regulations to protect their borders against economic migrants and terrorists. It is our duty to advise based on the prevailing rules and regulations. We also advise clients on their eligibility status.
2. We give packaging assistance; a lot of immigration process / application is done online and not many people know their way around the internet nor have the patience to be bothered with it, and the question may be a bit technical, so we do the actual application for clients who retain us to do so.
3. We also represent clients on appeals (via paper litigation) for clients who have been wrongfully refused. We prepare ground of appeal, witness statement(s) etc.
4. Further, we offer International Investors legal assistance through our partnership with other law firms abroad. We can help a client secure an investment abroad, or a foreigner secure investments here (Nigeria).

What is the most fulfilling case you have ever handled?
As a rule, I do not take on any case I am not passionate about. It is my passion that propels me to give my best. In my immigration practice however, one particular case comes to mind though. Client was a 17-year old boy at that time. He lost his mother at a young age. His mother was never married to his father. He was raised by his maternal grandmother who also later became deceased. His father was a Nigerian / Belgian permanently resident in Belgium. He wanted the client to join him. There were a lot of documentary challenges. Initially it looked like a hopeless case. The client, young and without assistance (other than professional fee his father paid to the firm), did all his best to assemble necessary documentation. He made several trips from Edo (where he was living at the time) to our firm in Lagos. The package took about 6 months to tidy up and another 6 months in the embassy. I was gearing up for appeals when the documents came out and his application was granted. This case was fulfilling for me because in the course of packaging the client’s application, I got to learn of his life story. He’d had a difficult life and I felt that he deserved a break. I was very happy he got his visa. He is doing very well in Belgium now.

I share your joy. I do find too that the cases we tend to love the most are not the ones we made most money from but the ones we helped our clients get life-changing results. Given your diverse practice, have you noticed any dissimilarity between Immigration Law and other areas of law practice?
Yes there are, for instance, one of the popular principles in law is that a person is ‘innocent until proven guilty’. In Immigration law the reverse is the case. In Immigration Law, it is an applicant’s duty to prove that his/her purpose is genuine before his/her request is granted. In other words, you are considered an Economic Migrant (especially if you are applying from an undeveloped country to a developed country) until evidence proves otherwise.

Another difference is that Immigration law is not guided by Precedence. Even where two clients have the same immigration challenges, solutions are rarely the same. Every application is unique to the applicant’s personal and economic circumstances.

Lagos State government recently uploaded the State Laws on the internet but requires people to make a certain payment before accessing them. What is your take on this? Shouldn’t people know, say the Criminal Code, without having to buy them, in order not to break the law.
I have always been of the opinion that basic laws (criminal law and fundamental human rights) should be introduced as subjects is senior secondary schools and that such laws be also made available to the masses especially since ignorance of the law is not a defence in law. Take this yahoo yahoo thing for example, a lot of youths who engage in it do it for the fun of it as much as for the money. They are ignorant of the fact that they are committing a felony nor the penalty it attracts. But the Government as usual is focused on generating revenue at the expense of the masses’ welfare.

The National Assembly did not pass the gender equality bill that was presented before it earlier this year. What effect do you think passing this law would have had on women’s right?
I have not read the bill though but I do not think it will have any substantive effect on women’s right. I am not aware of any law(in my jurisdiction) that is specifically discriminatory against women. The constitution provided for Fundamental HUMAN rights. The Criminal Code did not segregate crimes or penalties on gender. I am indifferent to the bill just like I am indifferent to the bill on domestic violence (when the criminal code has amply provided laws against physical and non-physical violence). I am indifferent to these laws and bills focusing on women simply because I think they amount to proliferation of laws. If we women are serious about our rights, we should stop expecting special treatment. It is our constitutionally giving right to challenge any law or practice that we feel is discriminatory towards us on basis of gender. Any woman who seeks to challenge such laws or practice will have my support pro bono.

So if someone wants to apply for visitors’ visa to U.S. are you able to do that?
Yes. Like I said the bulk of our clients falls in the Visitors (short term travellers) category. We also serve clients who wish to travel to Canada, Australia, Europe etc .

Where can people get information and resources about Maritime Laws and Immigration Laws in Nigeria?
There are plethora of books and legislations on Maritime: NIMASA ACT 2007, Sabotage Act etc. For Immigration law, there is the Immigration Act but general rule , it is the Immigration rules and regulation of the country a client is seeking entry to that is relied on.

You practice Maritime law. What is the relationship between depreciation of the Naira and Importation?
The Naira depreciation is as a result of Nigeria’s heavy reliance on importation. Nigeria imports almost everything. If importation reduces, the Naira will appreciate.

Thank you, Chika. I enjoyed this interview and I learned quite a lot, and I’m sure our readers will too.
You are most welcome, Anne, and thanks again for having me. It is an Amazing job you are doing with the blog.

P.S: If you enjoyed reading this post and will love others to learn from it, please share on Facebook. Want to be notified any time I post a new blog? Click the follow button on this blog or follow me on twitter @annemmeje. Thank you, as always, for your support.

MEET ADA OPUROZOR: A PIONEER OF E-COMMERCE IN NIGERIA AND CEO OF TWO MAJOR ONLINE STORES

Ada 1
Ada Opurozor

Editor’s Note:
When I learned I would be interviewing Ada, I was pleasantly surprised because I had thought that with the level of success she has attained, she should be interviewed by Forbes, not me. CEO of Da-Funshop and Wholesaleng, Ada started offering goods for sale online when many Nigerians still thought Facebook was all there was to the internet. E-commere wasn’t Ada’s first venture into entrepreneurship. As a child, Ada displayed steamed groundnuts for sale in front of her parents’ home, to make her “own” money, much to the embarrassment of her blue-blooded father who graduated with a first class in Statistics.

After graduating from university, Ada worked with her father’s advertising company. Not one to be complacent because of her father’s success, Ada opened a brick-and-mortar kids’ store. Thereafter, seeing the need to serve customers outside Lagos, Ada ventured into e-commerce. Today, drawing from her experience in running Nigeria’s favorite online kids’store and Nigeria’s No.1 wholesale mart, Ada now also runs a company that offers digital marketing and website designing. In this interview, Ada gives us an insight into how she came to be a serial entrepreneur.

Let’s Get to Know You.
A: My name is Princess Ada Opurozor, a serial entrepreneur and CEO of three Companies: www.dafunshop.com-Nigeria’s favourite online kids store and www.wholesaleng.com- Nigeria’s number 1 online wholesale mart and Big Ideas Communications Limited- A web design/digital marketing Communications Company.
I do not believe in Impossibility, everything is possible.

You are one of the pioneers of e-commerce in Nigeria, an exceptional feat. Do you have a background in technology?
A: I have no background in Technology. I had my first degree in Mass Communication and started my work career in the Advertising/marketing Communications Industry as a Client Service Executive. I had always loved business so I started a Kids Store even while I was still working. I had to resign my job after 6 years to run the kids store as I needed it to succeed.

What motivated you to transition from a brick-and-mortar store to online business? Do you still have physical stores?
A: The Motivation was the desire to succeed. The business wasn’t doing as well as I had hoped and I was thinking of ways to reach more people than those within my store location. Going the e-commerce route was me being innovative. At that time, online stores weren’t so popular in Nigeria but I had shopped online from stores abroad and one day I said to myself, if I, being I Nigeria, can buy from stores in UK and China, without even meeting these people or stepping my foot in these countries, then people from far and near can also buy from me if I take my business to the world-wide web. That gave birth to http://www.dafunshop.com (Nigeria’s favourite online kids store).

Going Online really helped grow the business beyond my expectations. We still have a walk-in Store where customers can walk in to buy if they do not want to shop online.

How have you succeeded in ensuring goods are delivered to your customers without getting lost in transit? Are the goods insured?
A: We work in partnership with some reputable Courier and logistics company who ensure delivery of orders to our customers nationwide. The Courier Companies insure these items so they get to replace any item lost in transit although this has never happened in our years of doing business. The worst that has happened is that an item got damaged in transit and in such cases, we replace the item and charge the courier company for it.

What’s your return policy?
A: We have a three-day return policy within Lagos and a seven-day return policy for outside Lagos orders. However, items on SALE/Clearance are not eligible for returns.

How do you ensure customer satisfaction?
A : We encourage customer feedback as that is the only way we can improve. Customers drop feedback on our website, Facebook page or in –store and we are always ready to look into areas of concern.

Many Nigerian entrepreneurs complain that though there are many unemployed graduates in Nigeria, it is difficult to find skilled employees with good work ethic. What has been your experience with finding skilled employees with integrity for your business?
A: This is a problem that we face regularly. Getting the right people with the right attitude is like looking for a needle in a haystack really. I always say, there are lots of people looking for jobs but very few willing to work. I have had dedicated serious staff as well so all hope isn’t lost, we are always on the lookout for such people who can bring something to the table.

Nigeria has a reputation for fraud. Your success shows one can achieve any goal the put their mind to. How have you been able to ensure your customers’ financial information do not get into wrong hands? I understand your sites are 100% secure.
A: I always tell people that Nigerians are not the only fraudulent people in the world. There are fraudulent people everywhere. A friend of mine got duped trying to do business with some Chinese guys so this fear applies everywhere. We have been successful because we do our best to fulfill customers’ orders as timely as possible. My happiness and satisfaction comes when I read messages from customers on how happy they are with goods purchased or our services etc.

Let me say something here, we are currently the only online store now in Nigeria that doesn’t offer pay-on-delivery service anymore. Initially when we started, we did pay-on-delivery for the first two years, it wasn’t an easy ride. Some customers are not really serious and just want to play on the website, when you go to deliver, they switch off their phones on you or blatantly reject the item for flimsy reasons. They even refuse to pay the delivery fee for bringing the item to them so who bears that cost? We decided to only process prepaid orders and I tell you, business has not slowed down at all, we are still very busy. We have made a reputation for been a serious business and our customers do not doubt our reliability at all. Also for new customers who are skeptical, they can choose to walk into our physical store in Festac Town, Lagos to buy. Those who are outside Lagos and can’t visit themselves, may send their friends or relations to the store to shop for them.
On Site Security, we use a reputable and secured hosting company. Also paying online on our site is very secure as we also deploy a reputable payment process for this purpose.

Who are your major competitors? What sets you apart from them?
A: Many Online Stores are springing up every day so competition is stiff. However, for instance the wholesaleng.com, we are really the only ones doing what we do the way we do it for now. We sell items in bulk online in Nigeria from various categories ranging from baby to kids to beauty to appliances, etc., at low wholesale prices. Our main focus are resellers who own kids stores, supermarkets, gift shops, bookshops, beauty shops etc. For dafunshop.com, what sets us apart from other kids’ online stores is that we have a walk-in-store and an address. Most online stores just have telephone numbers on their contact us page.

I notice your stores seem to offer high-end products; my friends who patronize you are from upper middle class families. I see some kids’ cars that go for over a N100,000 on your site. Obviously not many Nigerians can afford that. Do you have products for the average Joe (or is it Emeka since we are talking about a Nigerian market)?
Yes of course. Our Customers cut across all classes. You will also find products for as low as N50 on our website or In-store. We stock items for people of different pocket sizes. If you are looking for high-end or low-end, you will find them at our store.

What do you like most about being an entrepreneur?
The fact that I own me and own my time. I can decide to take a vacation anytime and not answer to anyone. The fact that I love what I do and I am happy. The fact that every sweat, every effort I put into the business translate into my own pocket. I love that.

What is the difference between Da-Funshop and Wholesaleng?
Da Fun-Shop is a Kids Retail Business with a Walk-in and online store. Our Customers are mostly parents who wish to purchase unique, quality items for their kids. While Wholesaleng is a strictly Online wholesale business with a physical office. Wholesaleng customers are mainly resellers who own their own shops.

Ada 2

You were in South Africa recently as a guest speaker at an e-commerce conference; how was the experience?
It was a wonderful experience for me as I got to meet different people taking advantage of the online hemisphere from other parts of the world. I got to rub minds with intelligent driven young people like myself. I was motivated and inspired to do more.

Has the depreciation of the naira affected your business?
Yes, it has affected us greatly. Prices of goods have doubled and the purchasing power of the average Nigerian has decreased so this has caused a huge problem as many people are not buying or shopping as much anymore. Some of our customers who used to buy wholesale on a regular basis to stock up their shops have not placed an order in a long time.

Do you miss being a paid employee?
Not at all, I DO NOT miss being a paid employee at all. I make more than I could ever dream of working for someone and I have full control of my time as well.

Do you have any challenges peculiar to your business as an online business?
The Challenges we face are two-dimensional as we are both an online and physical store so we face common problems associated with these industries. Problems such as Server- down time, Power(electricity) remain a major challenge. We have to have steady power, computers have to be on 24/7 as orders are processed each second.

You deliver in all 36 states. What is the average time it takes from the time a customer places an order to the time the goods are delivered to them? Have you ever delivered to Zamfara (I assume it is one of the most obscure states in Nigeria)?
Yes, we deliver to all states in Nigeria. As long as there is a bus going to that state, we can deliver there. The average delivery time is one day in Lagos and 3-5 days outside Lagos. And yes, we have processed orders from Zamfara.

Where do you see your two online stores in the next seven years?
In the next seven years, we see Da Fun-shop having more Walk-in-stores in other states in Nigeria. We see ourselves being a household name. For Wholesaleng, we intend to increase our product categories/lines and start delivering products outside the shores of this country.

Fittingly, drawing from you experience in successfully running two online stores, you now design websites and run digital advertising campaigns for clients. Please tell us the importance of a good web design.
I have always been very artistic and picked up graphic designing when I was working in the advertising industry. By the time I left, I was writing advertising copy and doing graphic jobs as well.

Moving into the Online industry, I realized a lot of people were unreliable and leaving the fate of my business to some unreliable web designer wasn’t the way I wanted to do things so I decided to learn web-design in order to manage my online store myself. By the time I decided to set up wholesaleng.com, I was able to design the site on my own. Since then I have built websites for some other clients. Most web design jobs I have done are based on referrals from people I have worked for in the past. I also run digital advertising campaigns, social media campaigns for my online stores and other clients as well.

A good website is very important as this is a major factor in ensuring that interest becomes a Sale. Customers should be to navigate the website easily, find products and place their orders easily otherwise they can give up along the way and the store loses.

You previously worked in an advertising firm before digital marketing became prevalent. What skills from your previous experience have you transferred into your services as a digital marketing consultant?
Advertising principles whether traditional advertising or Digital advertising are basically the same. I learnt Copy writing, graphic designing, client management and lots more from my previous employment and this has contributed greatly to my success in my own businesses.

How effective are digital marketing?
Digital Marketing is where is the world is now. The Internet has made the world a truly small village; communication is a lot easier with all the social media sites, apps etc. Tapping into this benefit has helped most businesses since it is easier to target specific audiences and also easier to measure effectiveness of your advertising online.

Can you give us a price range for designing a website?
Depending on the features needed on the website, prices may vary from N50,000 to N500,000. An e-commerce site costs more than a corporate website due to certain plugins and features that have to be integrated like payment, shipping etc.

What is the minimum budget one should have before they can consider digital advertising?
There is no minimum or maximum budget. We can work with what the Client has available. No matter how small, every kobo expended will bring in a result.

You are proof one can do it all and a breath of fresh air in a country where the media tend to publish mostly depressing tales. You are an inspiration to young women.
Thank you very much for granting this interview.

You are welcome.

Meet David Ifedilinwoke, Aba Real Estate Lawyer Who Played a Pivotal Role in My Most Fulfilling Case

david 2-1
David Ifedilinwoke

Editor’s Note: It was 2010. I was in my mid-twenties practicing law in a private law firm in Aba, Nigeria. On this day, I had just finished a hearing in court and was getting my gown and wig ready to head towards the door when some young men approached me. I recognized them as prison inmates who had been granted freedom from the day’s proceedings; the Judge had dismissed the case against them after their attorney’s request for same on ground of lack of diligent prosecution. The young men who looked rather benign for armed robbery–the crime they were charged with– told me they had a friend in prison who needed an attorney. I wrote down their friend’s details and promised to pay him a visit in prison.

In the days that followed, I visited Aba prison and interviewed the inmate. I also obtained some records from the court which showed he didn’t commit a violent crime. A judge did grant him bail the day he was arraigned months before but he did not have a way to contact his family to furnish bail. The police who arrested him took away his cell phone thus preventing him from having access to the contacts on his phone.

David came into the case when I was brainstorming the best way to secure the client’s release. Because the inmate did not have family to pay his legal fees, David and I took the case pro bono. We were first and second year associates who though we’d read a lot of law books in law school, knew little about the practice of law. Dave offered to use his own money to get the services of a bondsman to secure our client’s freedom even though there was no guarantee he would get his money back. After further research, however, we realized that since the police had literally abandoned the case, we could ask the court to dismiss the case against our client entirely for want of diligent prosecution, thus rendering the issue of bail moot.

We made the request to the court and the case against our client was dismissed. Dave and I, two young lawyers who knew next to nothing about the law, got a man who had been behind bars for months (or even one year, I don’t remember now) his freedom. I still remember the scene at our office the day he was released. The newly-released inmate clutched plastic bags that contained his clothes tightly to his chest while our boss, the amazing Bertram Faotu, congratulated us on our success. I think it was David who also gave the young man transport fare to go back to his home, Calabar, a City in one of the South-South States of Nigeria.

It’s been about six years since this case and I have since worked in a law firm where we win hundreds of thousands of dollars for our clients. But no case has ever provided the same joy as that of using my training as a lawyer and privilege as a Christian (the Christian part requires an entire post to do it justice; Christ did play a role in that case) to set a prisoner free.

As part of my series to showcase young entrepreneurs and professionals, I interviewed David to catch up on his current work as a property consultant lawyer in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria, hoping to enlighten Aba residents of what they should know about landlord and tenant laws in Abia State

Please tell us about your professional background.
I graduated from University of Calabar with a Law degree in 2004 and thereafter proceeded to Nigerian Law School. I was admitted to Nigerian Bar in 2009 and have been in active practice since then with Eleuthera Chambers, Aba, a law firm that was founded by a former Deputy Director-General of Nigerian Law School, Ernest Ojukwu. Eleuthera Chambers specializes in Election Petitions, Oil and Gas Law, Environmental Pollution, Commercial Litigation, Property Management, Civil Litigation, Arbitration, Human Rights cases, Incorporation of Companies with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and Registering of Titles Deed at the Land Registry. The firm provides a full array of legal services.

You, in particular, specialize in real estate law and property management. What type of services does your law firm provide to landlords when hired as a property manager?
When hired as a property manager/consultant, we help a prospective landlord with purchasing of a property. If a landlord wants to sell a property, we can help find buyers, all the while ensuring the transaction is done in accordance with the law. When a landlord hires our firm to manage his rental property, depending on the extent of the services the landlord desires we provide for him, we can draft rental agreements, issue notices to tenants, collect rents and remit same to landlord, evict non-paying tenants or tenants violating the terms of the lease etc.

About what percentage of the rents generated from a property can a landlord expect to pay as fees to a property management attorney?
A Landlord may choose to pay his property management attorney 10% of the rent generated from the property or the attorney may, on the instruction of the landlord, have the tenants pay the attorney 10% of the rent in addition to the rent. In the second scenario, the landlord has nothing to lose as he gets his entire rent while the tenant bears the burden of paying for the professional management of the property. So the landlord dictates how a property management attorney in Aba gets paid.

So with the wide range of services you provide, an out-of-state landlord need not worry about the maintenance of his property once he puts you in charge?
Yes, because we basically do everything he would do if he were present. If a landlord is not resident in Aba, he can direct the tenants to contact us directly when there is an emergency. Regardless of whether the landlord is resident in Aba or not, once we take up management of a property, we direct tenants to communicate directly with us and not with our clients in all matters relating to their tenancy at the property. We undertake the maintenance of the property subject to the authority to manage given to us by the Landlord.

Why should landlords have rental agreements with their tenants?
Landlord tenancy agreement is vital in management of a property because it determines the nature of the tenancy, for example, whether it is a yearly tenancy or a month-to-month tenancy. When such terms are not expressly provided, it makes it is hard to define the nature of the relationship between the parties and this because a problem when time comes to evict a non-paying tenant. In essence, tenancy agreement governs the landlord-tenant relationship, stipulating their rights and obligations.

Do the terms of a rental agreement trump the provisions of the law where there is a conflict?
No. A tenancy agreement does not trump the provision of the law where the law is established to protect a tenant, like the requirement for mandatory statutory notices before evicting a tenant. As to those matters the law does not cover or covers but allows parties to make agreements contradicting the law, then the rental agreement is applicable in such cases. Law allows Landlord and tenant to agree on the period of Quit Notice in the event of eviction.

Some landlords resort to self-help to remove tenants who are not paying rent. Is there a remedy for a tenant who is evicted by his landlord without following due process?
Any tenant removed through self-help is advised to approach court for redress. The Law requires a landlord to follow due process before evicting a tenant. The court will award him damages accordingly.

In California where I practice now, the law requires a landlord to make repairs even when a tenant is in occupation. In other words, a landlord has an obligation to provide a habitable dwelling throughout the life of the tenancy. Does a landlord have a duty to repair under Abia State laws?
Yes. Landlords under the Abia State Recovery of Premises And Rent Control Law have a duty to repair their building and such is usually included in tenancy agreements.

What are the grounds for evicting a tenant in Abia State?
A tenant can be lawfully evicted in Abia State for breaching any of the covenants of the tenancy agreement; for non-payment of rent; if a landlord wants to make use of the premises; or if the landlord wants to make a major repair that will affect the building.

Evicting a tenant is quite technical. I remember a supreme court case where a landlord could not legally evict a tenant after five attempts. What are the steps a landlord must take before he can lawfully evict a tenant?
The procedure involves service of Statutory Notices on the tenant–the length of the notice depends on the nature of the tenancy; Service of Summons to the tenant; Presenting the case in court including fielding in witnesses to prove the case. After obtaining judgment in favour of the Landlord, then the bailiffs will be contacted to levy execution.

If a landlord appoints you as a property consultant, do you still charge him for legal services if you have to evict a tenant?
If we are to evict tenant from a property we are managing, we do not charge professional fees.The landlord only has to foot the bill for expenses incurred like filing fees, cost of execution, etc.

What defenses may a tenant have to an eviction proceeding?
Because a tenant is usually clearly in default before a landlord start eviction proceedings and a tenant cannot lie about such obvious fact, a tenant’s lawyer will usually only capitalize on irregularities, defects or mistakes on the face of the notices and the suit filed by the landlords lawyer to get the suit struck out.

Some landlords get suspicious notices from people claiming to be government agents asking for property taxes. How can a landlord know genuine tax demands from the fake ones?
Every landlord should send such notices to a lawyer who upon due inquiry will instruct the landlord whether to make a payment or not, and obtain clearance from the government upon such payment as proof of payment.

Your practice also extends to perfecting titles for land sale transactions. Please can you walk us though the legal process of buying a land to make sure good title is passed?
When a client consults us to acquire a property for him, we first conduct local search at the Land Registry in Umuahia to ensure the land is unencumbered, that is, that there is no other person or entity laying claim to the land. We also visit the property physically and look at the beacon numbers to compare it with the one at the Title Deed. We also make word of mouth inquiries regarding ownership of the property from people living close to the property.

If the land is a communal land, we make sure that the head of the community and principal members of the community consent to the sale. If title is clear, then we draw up the deed, have the parties and witnesses sign it, and then register the property in our client’s name.

How much can a client buying a land in Abia State expect to pay his lawyer for helping him comply with all the legal requirements for buying land?
Lawyers in Aba charge various rates, 5% on the average. Besides the lawyer’s fees, the buyer also has to pay the government for the registration and perfection of the title. In Abia State, Nigeria, how much the buyer pays for registration is dependent on the location and worth of the property.

Aba residents complain of poor infrastructure; what has the NBA Aba Branch done to ensure the executive arm of the government is accountable to the people of Abia State?
NBA Aba is trying its best and the present Government is now improving in terms of roads construction and payment of salaries to civil servants etc.

Recently, a friend in Lagos told me that the landlord of a real commercial property she was leasing wanted to evict her just after two years of her establishing a business on the property and after she has built an impressive client base. Meanwhile, the landlord collected two years rent from her upfront when she moved in. When I researched, I discovered it was actually a crime in most part of Lagos for a landlord to collect two years rent in advance. Does Abia State have rent control laws?
Yes, Abia State has Recovery of Premises and Rent Control Law but does not make two years advance payment a crime.

In 2014, You petitioned Abia Sate Governor about two undergraduates who were arrested by a Vigilante Group but whose whereabouts could not be accounted for neither by the police, the vigilante group, nor the army whom the vigilante first claimed they transferred the boys to. How did that case end?
Unfortunately, the boys were never found after investigation so the case was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions. The perpetrators are now facing charges for kidnapping and murder.

Thank you for enlightening us on these issues. Some people may have further questions for you after reading this. Please, how may they contact you?
Our office is located at Hospital Road. My phone number is +234 803 596 3898. Our website is http://www.ofy-lawyers.com/. And we get emails through eleutherachambers@yahoo.com

Thank you very much for granting this interview, Dave. I know how busy you are.
You are welcome.

Disclaimer: The Above is given for general information only and does not constitute a legal advice. Please consult your lawyer if you have any legal problem as no two cases are the same. Moreover, laws change constantly and only your lawyer can advise you of the current law at any given time.

Five Things to Learn From Author Elechi Amadi’s Life as Nigerians Mourn Him

It’s probably more than twenty years since I read The Concubine but the memorable characters (Ihuoma, Ekwueme, Emenike, Wodu Wakiri, Agwoturumbe etc.) Elechi Amadi created in his first novel remain vivid in my memory. I also remember the last sentence in the novel which read something along the lines of: “Evil Spirits are known to take away humans shortly after the moonlight games–that was when Ekwueme died.”

That I remember his characters and lines two decades after reading his work is proof that Amadi was a master of the art. That the Concubine has 4.02 rating on Goodreads –an impressive rating to have on the site considering that its members are mostly authors and sophisticated readers–is proof that Amadi was respected by his peers.

Amadi wrote most of his works before the internet became popular, so little is known of him. Apart from an occasion when I watched one of his interviews on TV, prior to his death, I don’t remember seeing news about him in the media. I do remember that in the past, I’d looked him up on Wikipedia to see what life experiences formed the man I’d come to respect.

With Elechi Amadi’s death yesterday, I thought it fit to share with you lessons from his life.

1. Amadi Was a Man of Many Parts; You Too Can Be
When I was much younger, I used to believe that one could be good at only one thing; that if one attempted to do more than one thing at a time, they would be Jack, mastering none of the trades. I used to believe that if one was intelligent, they wouldn’t be physically attractive, and vice versa. But as I got older, I learned that people who do so many things actually tend to be better at each of them than those who do only one thing.

Elechi Amadi died at 82. In his career that spanned about half of a century, Amadi was at one time or another a teacher, a captain in the military, a Land Surveyor, a Commissioner for Lands and Housing, a Commissioner for Education, a Commissioner for Information, and a Permanent Secretary, all while writing more than twelve books, including his autobiographical book Sunset in Biafra which chronicled his experience during the Nigerian Civil War. He used one of his enterprise as an inspiration for another.

2. You Don’t Have to Join the Bandwagon.
In Nigeria, we establish political affiliations based on tribal sentiments. For example, every Igbo seems to believe that Buhari is not delivering the change he promised while every Northerner is convinced that Buhari is not performing because of the burden he has of rectifying wrongs done by Jonathan’s administration. So if you are Igbo, you are expected to love Nnamdi Kalu and his Pro-Biafra movement; if you are from the Niger-Delta, you must share posts from the Avengers on your Facebook. All these without questioning the particular ideology you are expected to support.

But in his time, Elechi Amadi, being an intellectual that he was, thought for himself, never allowing what his people thought to affect his own beliefs, his conscience. During the civil way of 1967-1970, though he was from Ikwerre in Rivers State, a region that was on the Biafra side, Elechi joined the Federal side where he helped re-establish Federal authority in the Niger Delta. He didn’t mind that his people considered him a traitor.

From Elechi’s life, we can learn to stand up to support what we believe in and follow our conscience regardless of people’s opinion.

3. You Can Achieve Anything You Put Your Mind to.
Amadi studied Physics and Mathematics in the University but subsequently went on to write one of the best novels ever written by a Nigerian. With a background in science, one can assume that like most scientists, Amadi preferred Math to English–those two subjects that seem to be opposites to each other. One can infer that Amadi went out of his comfort zone when he ventured into writing. In the TV interview I mentioned earlier, I remember him saying that he first started writing the Concubine as a short story but it took a life of its own and developed into a novel.

Amadi wrote The Concubine without having a degree in English, History,Law, Literary Studies or even Communication, nor an MFA in Creative Writing–majors that would have equipped him with the skills necessary to become a writer. Yet he turned out to be one of the greatest novelists Nigeria ever produced. So if there’s any venture you have been considering undertaking but are discouraged to take on because of your perceived lack of adequate skills, give it a try as it may become your concubine.

4. Fame Can Come From the Unlikeliest Source
Similar to the above, while it is intuitive to follow a career path that is similar to our educational background, it doesn’t hurt to work on other interests that are unrelated to our course of sudy. Though Amadi did pursue careers that aligned with his majors in Physics and Mathematics (as a land surveyor and Commissioner of Lands sand Survey), what ultimately brought him fame was his passion for writing.

So you mustn’t practice Law merely because you have a Law degree. Even if you choose to practice law, find Something you love doing and do it as a side hustle. Besides the fulfillment it will bring you, it may also turn out to be a major source of income for you.

5. Success Comes With Rewards and Challenges
In his lifetime, Elechi Amadi was internationally recognized for his works. He also won numerous awards including one in 2003 as a Member of the Order of the Federal Republic. Because of his fame,however, he was also kidnapped in 2009 from his home in Rivers State. In an interview he gave after his release Amadi said, “Although I came close to death several times during the war, when I was kidnapped I found myself in a position where I was completely helpless. They made me to lie on a wet ground. The dangers were many at the time. A snake bite could have finished me off. I am slightly asthmatic and lying on a wet ground on a cold floor can easily trigger an attack I had no drug there and that could have been it.”

When one aspires to success, one also has to prepare for its downsides. In Amadi’s case, whatever travails his fame brought him were not in vain because by getting out of his comfort zone, he blessed many lives with his work as evidenced by these comments on Bellanaija when the blog announced his death.

Elechi used his literary skills to enrich the lives of many. What will your legacy be?

P.S: I finished reading Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood today. Since this year, I have also read Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck, Chigozie Obioma’s The Fishermen and Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen. I didn’t pay a dime for any of these books. I borrowed them from the local library here.

One of my dreams is to see a Nigeria where every community has a free public library. I don’t have the resources to do it. Please if you are thinking of what charitable projects to undertake, please consider providing your community a public library. If you are from Anambra State, don’t worry about the building to use. A colleague who is currently a State legislator in Anambra State told me that the government is willing to provide the infrastructure to support anyone willing to undertake such project.