Govt Must Work Within Dictates Of The Law At All Times – NBA | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Govt Must Work Within Dictates Of The Law At All Times – NBA

Posted: Jun 11, 2015 at 12:57 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

• Launches Visa Affinity Cards

By Adam Adedimeji  –  Lagos


With current goings-on in the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, the Augustine Alegeh–led National Executive Committee, NEC, appears poised to allow the larger world appreciate nobility, which the legal profession is traditionally known for. That much manifested last weekend when the NBA president addressed the NEC meeting held in Sokoto.

Alegeh disclosed a number of development indicating that the NBA is hitting the ground running in its trip to standardise professionalism and make the bar contribute its unique contribution to the advancement of the Nigerian society.

Alegeh (middle) and other NBA Executives during the unveiling of the VISA card

Alegeh (middle) and other NBA Executives during the unveiling of the VISA card

For instance, as mentioned by Alegeh, the NBA had unveiled its stamp, practice license and NBA insurance policy. They were unveiled on April 15, 2015 at the event witnessed by Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the Chief Justice of Nigeria. In fact, Alegeh commended the CJN, whom he said directed all Heads of Court to effect implementation of the NBA Stamp policy from June, 2015. The Stamps, as said by the NBA president bears the name and Enrolment numbers of individual lawyers.

“Lawyers in attendance who had paid the Annual Bar Practicing Fees and filled the relevant Forms were presented with their Annual Bar Practicing License at the venue”, Alegeh disclosed. He added that “Branch Chairmen who were present at the event were also encouraged to collect printed Practice Licenses of their members for subsequent distribution at the branches”.

According to him, “the Practice License this year will be issued on the basis of payment of Bar Practicing Fees alone. However, its issuance in subsequent years will be based on the participation at Continuing Professional Development Programmes in line with the provisions of the RPC”.

On the NBA Insurance Scheme, he said “Lawyers who are verified and have paid their Bar Practicing fees are covered under this scheme”. He enjoined all lawyers who have paid their Bar Practicing fees to fill and submit their Insurance Forms to their Branches as soon as possible to enable them reap the benefits” of the scheme.

Alegeh also made mentioned of the NBA VISA Affinity Cards produced by Access Bank, the association’s official banker, which was unveiled at the NEC meeting. “The NBA VISA Card will serve the dual role of an Identification Card as well as a payment card that serves all online payment portals; ATMs and POS terminals. The NBA VISA Affinity card will also afford lawyers the opportunity to access the various discounted welfare packages of several Service Providers negotiated on their behalf by the NBA. Most importantly the NBA VISA Card when used for payment on the NBA online platform for NBA Conferences, programmes and Seminars will attract a certain level of discount.”

He further asserted that plans are on pipeline by the NBA to establish a National Pro Bono Centre “to address all issues relating to pro bono work/services rendered by lawyers to the general public”.

To foster advances in the frontiers of lawyers, the NBA, according to Alegeh, “intends to collaborate with foreign Bar Associations, agencies and Fora in the quest to ensure adequate training of lawyers” in areas such as Entertainment Law, Sports Law, Terrorism et cetra. In that regard, plans are already afoot by the NBA to organise a training Seminar in collaboration with the UNODC sometime in late August or early September 2015”. The NBA president said that the training will dwell on the fundamental rights aspects of the, investigation, prosecution and trial of terrorism cases. This training seminar will be free for all lawyers.

On issues involving standard of legal education, he said that there will be a summit of legal education “to review the state of legal education in Nigeria”. His emphasis: “We are mindful of the fact that educational standards are falling, yet nothing appears to have been done to address this issue so far.

“It is imperative that the NBA takes a position on the current state of our legal education in our tertiary institutions. The NBA should be able to decide whether or not the current system of operating a centralized law school should be maintained or not. These would help in improving the quality of legal education and the quality of lawyers we have.” Besides, “The NBA intends to set up a mentorship programme for the Universities and law schools to afford senior lawyers an opportunity to visit and deliver lecture to the students from time to time. What the NBA intends to achieve with this system is to improve learning and quality of lawyers called to the Bar”. He also revealed that “the NBA intends to encourage senior lawyers who have specialized in certain areas of law to champion this initiative by organising lectures for law students. The NBA has been in constant discussions with the Law School and intends to take advantage of the newly installed video conferencing system in the various Law School campuses to be able to effectively reach-out to a wider audience.”

In enforcing discipline among lawyers, Alegeh had the following words to say: “The rate of acts of professional misconduct is growing at an alarming rate despite the good work of the LPDC. It is common to see lawyers addressing themselves as Barrister ‘A’ or ‘B’ in front of National TV. This is a season of election petitions and lawyers must understand that there is no duty on them to win election petitions at all costs.

“We do not want a repeat of the unfortunate incidence of a SAN not just losing his silk but also being de-robed for work done at the Elections Petition Tribunal.

He explained that “The essence of including Branch representatives at NEC meetings is to ensure that decisions of NEC are transmitted to the branch members so that they become aware of the happenings of the Association”. He also stressed the need to strike a synergy between the branches and the National body.

On state of the nation, he singled out the 2015 general elections, the JUSUN strike and kidnapping. Concerning frequent strike by judicial workers across the country, Alegeh elaborated on how the NBA has been playing pivotal role in fixing the mess occasioned by industrial action on the part of the judiciary workers. In fact, he disclosed that the NBA is the official mediator in settling disputes between the judicial workers and the governments. He said that that has paid off in all the states but eight across the federation in resolving their disputes with the respective state governments.

Regarding the 2015 elections, he congratulated President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Professor Yemi Osinbajo for having the mandate of the Nigerian electorate to steer the ship of the state.

He continued: “The NBA expects that the agenda of the new administration in their first 100 days in office would be to tackle the problems of infrastructural deficiency, unemployment, insecurity, pervasive corruption, revenue leakages, devaluation of the naira and persistent scarcity of petroleum products.

The NBA also expects the new administration to urgently set out as part of its agenda the amendment and reformation of Nigerian laws to make them meet present day challenges. The NBA offers its support to the administration in the exercise of amending, reforming and update of our laws.

The present government was voted massively based on its Agenda of Change. However, to be able to achieve this Agenda of Change, the government must work within the dictates of the law at all times”