Unilateral Modification of RPC: See What Adegboruwa SAN, Prof. Odinkalu, Okutepa SAN, Effiong, Omoredia, Falana SAN, Akintola SAN, Dr Nduka stated
A brand new gazette by the Lawyer Normal of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), which supposedly weakens the powers of the Nigerian Bar Affiliation has brought about division amongst some Senior Advocates of Nigeria and attorneys within the nation.
Malami had amended the Guidelines of Skilled Conduct for Authorized Practitioners 2007, eradicating the requirement for the NBA stamp and seal on courtroom processes.
Prior to now, membership of the NBA was obligatory for all attorneys and the stamps and seals have been offered at N4,000 for 72 items and got upon cost of NBA dues.
With out the stamp, a lawyer couldn’t submit any doc or letter to the courtroom and the sale of the stamp and seal was one of many main sources of NBA’s income.
Nevertheless, with the modification of the method by Malami, the usage of the stamps is now not crucial. This additionally implies that individuals who are usually not members of the NBA, together with non-lawyers, are allowed to submit courtroom processes.
The event occurred lower than per week after a splinter group often called the New NBA, wrote a petition to Malami asking to be recognised by the Federal Authorities.
The gazette – marked S.I N0.15 of 2020 issued by AGF and dated September 3, 2020, which was obtained by Sunday PUNCH – reads partially, “In train of the powers conferred on me by part 12(4) of the Authorized Practitioners Act Cap L11, LFN 2004 and of all different powers enabling me in that behalf, I, Abubakar Malami, SAN, Lawyer Normal of the Federation and Minister of Justice and President, Normal Council of the Bar, make the next guidelines:
“The Guidelines of Skilled Conduct for Authorized Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the next guidelines, specifically: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.
“These guidelines could also be cited because the Guidelines of Skilled Conduct for Authorized Practitioners (Modification) Guidelines, 2020.”
The NBA had turn into factionalised final month following the choice of the affiliation to withdraw its invitation to Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who had been billed to talk at its Annual Normal Convention.
Hundreds of individuals, principally attorneys, had referred to as on the NBA to rescind its invitation to El-Rufai, who was accused of a number of instances of human rights abuse and being unable to deal with the killings in southern Kaduna.
Following the choice of the NBA to rescind its invitation to the governor, a number of northern branches of the NBA boycotted the convention and interpreted the act as one based mostly on non secular and tribal issues.
A gaggle of principally northern attorneys led by Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman subsequently arrange the New NBA, in any other case often called the NNBA, and wrote a letter to the AGF asking the nation’s chief legislation officer to recognise the splinter group as a brand new affiliation.
Nevertheless, whereas some senior advocates and attorneys described Malami’s motion as unlawful, others disagreed.
The NBA spokesperson, Dr Rapulu Nduka, advised one in all our correspondents that the event was shocking, including that the affiliation was not carried alongside.
“We weren’t carried alongside and we will certainly be certain that it’s reversed. We simply woke as much as the information of the modification like each different particular person. We’re consulting with stakeholders and we’ll decide on the subsequent step,” he stated.
A human rights lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN), stated Malami should have consulted extensively earlier than making the transfer, which he stated would tremendously have an effect on the revenues of the NBA. He, nonetheless, stated it was unlikely that the AGF had taken sides with the splinter NBA group.
Adegboruwa additionally stated as soon as the seal and stamp have been now not used, the event may result in a rise within the variety of pretend attorneys within the nation.
He stated, “The difficulty of stamp and seal has helped in eradicating pretend attorneys from our midst and I feel it can function a setback when you return to that regime while you can’t determine a lawyer by means of his processes. As we converse, different professionals like engineers, surveyors are embracing stamp and seal as a manner of figuring out their members.
“The stamp, which is a method of producing funds, helps in making the NBA self-sufficient so that it’ll not be working to politicians and non-lawyers to boost funds. Regardless that I agree that the AGF because the President of the Normal Council of the Bar has powers to make laws, however he should seek the advice of with those that are affected, specifically the NBA, the Physique of Senior Advocates and even judges as a result of we’re all in the identical occupation.”
Additionally, a former Chairman of the Nationwide Human Rights Fee, Prof Chidi Odinkalu, described the AGF’s motion as unlawful.
In a collection of tweets, Odinkalu stated he was not stunned that Malami, “who has a penchant for disobeying courtroom orders,” wouldn’t take such unlawful motion.
He stated, “The Lawyer Normal and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, claims to have amended Guidelines of Skilled Conduct within the authorized occupation underneath powers conferred by S.12(4l) of Authorized Practitioners Act. We now have a HAGF who can’t do primary due diligence.
“The one approach to go is to completely disregard and ignore this alleged modification by Malami. It doesn’t exist and didn’t occur. It appears clear that Malami determined to go rogue on this – as on different issues as he has on the disobedience of courtroom orders – as a result of he is aware of that he can’t get his proposal by means of the bar council. Few tragedies are as terrible as an lawyer basic with no regard for the legislation.”
Additionally, a human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, stated the AGF’s motion was “blatantly” unlawful as a result of the ability to amend the principles was the unique protect of the final council of the bar and never of 1 particular person.
“For him to unilaterally do that is outrageous. In any occasion, it appears no session was accomplished. Leaders of the NBA weren’t correctly consulted. For the AGF to do that simply shortly after some renegade members of the bar petitioned him smacks of ill-motive and conspiracy. He’s the worst AGF in historical past,” he stated.
Effiong stated, certainly, the NBA ought to not have commercialised the stamp and seal because it was exploitative. He, nonetheless, stated the AGF ought to cease appearing as if he was above the legislation.
One other lawyer, Oliver Omoredia, stated in an article revealed on barristerng.com that the transfer by the AGF may spell doom for the NBA.
“Within the wake of the controversies rocking the NBA, with a splinter group and powerful makes an attempt to divide the NBA, the amendments of the RPC to take away what is maybe probably the most important affect of the NBA within the affairs of all authorized practitioners, is maybe the final straw that broke the camel’s again,” he stated.
Nevertheless, a human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), stated though he agreed that the AGF’s motion was unlawful, “it’s good riddance to unhealthy garbage.”
He stated, “The NBA is a sufferer of impunity it nurtured to develop and develop. I’ve all the time opposed the stamp and seal as a result of it was meant to limit entry to the temple of justice. Why should each courtroom course of be stamped by a lawyer when litigants have the constitutional rights to both seem for themselves or be defended by authorized practitioners of their selection? Within the Second Republic, the late Professor Ayodele Awojobi, a mechanical engineer, was the main public litigator within the nation. As a layman, he ready and argued his personal instances from the Excessive Courtroom as much as the Supreme Courtroom.
“Nevertheless, I agree with a few of my colleagues who’ve argued that the modification is prohibited because it was not enacted by the Normal Council of the Bar. With respect, the argument is relatively contradictory as a result of the NBA was very comfortable when the 2007 Guidelines of Skilled Conduct have been enacted by the then AGF on behalf of the Normal Council of the Bar with none assembly. That was how each lawyer was compelled to affix the stamp and seal to all processes signed by attorneys. It had nothing to do with enhancing the standard of justice however designed to counterpoint the NBA.”
Falana added that “our colleagues should cease taking part in the ethnic card of the reactionary elite.”
Additionally, Mr Jubrin Okutepa (SAN) stated each the way of introduction of the stamp and seal by means of the modification of the Guidelines of Skilled Conduct for Authorized Practitioners by the then AGF in 2007 and the elimination of the identical provisions by way of one other modification by the incumbent AGF in 2020 adopted the due means of legislation.
“If in 2007, the Honourable Lawyer Normal of the Federation issued the Guidelines of Skilled Conduct with out passing by means of the Normal Council of the Bar, which is the physique that’s statutorily empowered to make guidelines, and attorneys opened their eyes vast and accepted it, as a result of the principles benefitted the Nigerian Bar Affiliation, due to the cash that was to be paid for stamp and seal, how do they now get up to sentence an modification by the Honourable Lawyer Normal of the Federation eradicating the cost of cash and say it’s unlawful?” he requested.
On his half, Chief Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) stated there have been consultations resulting in the modification carried out by the AGF.
He stated, “There have been consultations. I do know that there have been consultations. However whether or not the consultations have been vast sufficient is what I don’t know.
“He (the AGF) is the Chairman of the Normal Council of the Bar and I’m a member. In case you are a member and also you don’t attend conferences, are you able to blame the opposite members who take selections? You may seek the advice of members of the Normal Council of the Bar.
“It (elimination of stamp and seal) was a great intention however it was making an excessive amount of cash out there to the nationwide and department officers. Due to the cash, some attorneys have stopped going to courtroom. If there may be something that may stem this tide, at the least it ought to be welcomed.”
In the meantime, Malami’s spokesperson, Umar Gwandu, had but to reply to an inquiry from this newspaper as of press time.
We could go to courtroom over elimination of stamp and seal – NBA
The Nigerian Bar Affiliation stated on Saturday that the elimination of the stamp-and-seal from the Guidelines of Skilled Conduct for Authorized Practitioners by the Lawyer-Normal of the Federation didn’t comply with due course of.
The Nationwide Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Dr Rapuluchukwu Nduka, stated the management of the affiliation had no fore-knowledge of the modification of the RPC carried out by the AGF and solely examine it like each different particular person.
Faulting the modification as unlawful, Nduka stated there was no proof that the modification had the approval of the bar council.
He stated the NBA would take any step throughout the ambit of the legislation together with going to courtroom to make sure the reversal.
Nduka stated, “In regards to the publication in regards to the modification of the RPC (Guidelines of Skilled Conduct), we noticed it the way in which each different particular person noticed it. I awoke this morning to see the publication. We wish to imagine that some issues are usually not proper. One of many issues that’s that it can’t be amended simply that manner. The legislation offers the ability to the Bar Council to do the modification. From what we hear, no member of the Bar Council who’s a member of the NBA was conscious. There was no assembly of the Bar Council when such determination was made.
“Up until now we additionally don’t have any official communication to that impact.
“We will probably be asking that some clarifications be made. As soon as we’ve the clarification I can let you know that another steps together with going to courtroom to make sure the fitting factor is completed will probably be taken. We’re a law-abiding institutional physique, we will’t simply do something outdoors the ambit of the legislation. We are going to take each step throughout the ambit of the legislation to make sure that the right issues are accomplished. Even when it means going to courtroom, we received’t be constrained to do this.”
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