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Examining CLA from Africa’s perspectives

Posted: Apr 16, 2015 at 12:35 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Adam Adedimeji /  Law Editor (Reporting from Glasgow, Scotland) 


South Africa made history in 2013 as the first African country to host the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA) conference. Thirteen years ago, South Africa made the same history when it hosted the International Bar Association (IBA) conference as the first and so far the only country in Africa to do so. Nigeria’s Boma Ozobia was the immediate past President of the 54 member countries of CLA.

Ozobia, the first black woman to chair the Association of Female Solicitors of England and Wales was elected the President of Commonwealth Lawyers Association in Hyderabad, India in 2011. A Partner of Sterling Partners with office in Lekki, Lagos, Nigeria, Ozobia is the first woman to serve in that capacity and the only black person in the history of the Association. She was succeeded by Mark Stephens.

Participants from various countries started arriving for the conference since Sunday. Nigerian Bar Association’s President, Augustine Alegeh SAN is expected to lead other Nigerian lawyers that include Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Ricky Tarfa, Joseph Daudu, Niyi Akintola, Adegboyega Awomolo, Wole Olanipekun, Mallam Yusuff Ali, Funke Adekoya, Dele Adesina, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Oluyede, Olisa Agbakoba and other jurists to the conference. The Nigerian participants should however expect to be confronted with issues of Terrorism, Rule of Law, Press Freedom, Rape, Fight against Corruption and Electoral Violence in the face of recently held General elections.

While speaking with Daily Independent on the conference theme, Ozobia said: “There is nothing that happens here that has not happened before in one country or another. It makes sense to say that we have common challenges albeit, it may be at different stages,” she said.

“There are certain things that have become basic principles, foundation and standard issues that have been affected across the board. We have judicial independence. If you intend to have a rule of law and a stabilized democracy, there must be an independent arbiter particularly between the state and the people. The executive has this overbearing power. As regards standard in the profession, we all agree that this profession, a noble one as we call it, is in a position of utmost trust. We owe a judicial duty to our client in the same way that doctors or a Catholic priest and other religious persons do. It is not just a supplier-consumer relationship. There are higher standards that are expected of us, we often fell short for all sorts of reasons. This is why a regulator is very important to regulate the profession and in so doing, protecting the interest of the clients. This is essential. There are common solutions. We can look at what others are doing better,” Ozobia told Daily Independent.

Nigerian lawyers are reputed for high participation in law conferences, be it regional, annual or biennial. It was reported that Nigerian lawyers always come second after Europe in any International Bar Association IBA conference. As such, many are also expected to turn up at the CLA conference in Glasgow.  All in all, about two thousand Nigerian lawyers are said to be interested in attending this conference.