By Our Reporter
Ilorin, the capital of Kwara State otherwise referred to as the “City of Lawyers” hosted top lawyers and judges within and outside the state to brainstorm on the way forward to arrest the dwindling fortunes of practitioners and the legal profession in country. PILOT JUDICIARY captures the thrust of their various submissions in the report.
Stakeholders from in the legal profession recently converged in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital to find answers to the dwindling standard of law practice in the country.
It was at the NBA Ilorin Continuing Legal Education Seminar which attracted legal luminaries and dignitaries including judges and lawyers from the bar and the bench from within and outside the state led by the Chief Judge of Kwara State, Justice Suleiman Durosinlohun Kawu, Yusuf Ali (SAN) among other top legal juggernauts in the country.
It was the Chief Judge that first drew the attention to worrying attitude of lawyers in the country when he called on them to uphold the ethics of the profession to make administration of justice system better.
Justice Kawu who was represented by Justice Adebayo Yusuf while declaring open the 1- day seminar expressed worry over unethical practice by lawyers.
He advised lawyers not to allow the love for material gains lure them into shielding illegal activities of their clients.
In his remark, the branch chairman of NBA Continuing Legal Education Committee (CLEC), Mr. Kehinde Eleja (SAN) said some lawyers now serve as conduit pipes for delivery of gratification to investigators in criminal matters.
Citing cases of lawyers giving their NBA personalized stamps (seals) to non-lawyers for a fee, the chairman further described as worrisome the practice by lawyers standing as sureties for their clients in criminal matters
According to him, “Cases of unfair dealings within the rank of lawyers; failure to adhere to the prescribed scale regarding the remuneration for services and indulging in illegal collection of money is now on the rise among our colleagues.
“There is also the issue of subtle advertisement, making extrajudicial statements on pending cases in court that is calculated to or is reasonably capable of prejudicing or interfering with the fair trial or court judgment thereon and failure to keep within the bounds of law in the course of representing clients are more pronounced now than ever before”, he noted.
The Senior Lawyer said “A new dimension to the worrying trend now is that some lawyers now freely give their NBA personalized stamps (Seal) to non-lawyers to be affixed on documents prepared by the non-lawyers for a (pittance) fee thereby allowing non-lawyers to carry out the practice of law. The list is endless”, he said.
Also speaking, the Chief Guest lecturer at the event, Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali (SAN) expressed dismay over the news of lawyers giving their seals to non-lawyers, recommending derobing and prosecution of any lawyer indulging in the unethical and unwholesome practice.
“Although, there may be other reasons, it is apparent that the sad decline in adherence to the ethics of the legal profession by legal practitioners in Nigeria is not because of the absence of laws and regulations, but mainly as a result of inefficient and ineffective enforcement.
“We must all be ready to be guardians of the legal profession, such that we should all be willing to play the role of whistle blowers on the unsavoury conducts of colleagues in the profession.
“It is either we do what is right or we say bye bye to our beloved and cherished profession. We must all take a hint the way policemen now treat lawyers. It wasn’t like that when some of us entered the profession close to four decades ago.
“Nevertheless, we must acknowledge the sad reality that our profession has witnessed in recent years, increasing reports of professional misconduct, corruption and sharp practices with the attendant negative consequences on the administrative of justice”.He also noted that, “the sad decline in adherence to the ethics of the legal profession by legal practitioners in Nigeria is not because of the absence of laws and regulations, but mainly as a result of inefficient enforcement.
“Therefore, the solution to the problem is not in the enactment of more laws and regulations per se, but the strengthening of the willpower of lawyers to cooperate and ensure that the rules as they exist are adhered to without exception.”
Ali added that the legal profession had since time immemorial been regarded,” as a profession of highly qualified people and therefore, desires at all times, to prove to the end-users of their services, that the members of the profession are not only professionally sound but morally upright.
“A lawyer must therefore adhere to set standards and practices that do not impair the rendering of professional services of the highest skill and quality at all times.”
Ali also said, “We must all be ready to be guardians of the legal profession, such that we should all be willing to play the role of whistleblowers on the unsavoury conducts of colleagues in the profession.
“We are all responsible for the continued existence of the respect and pride of place the noble profession has always enjoyed. We must all take a hint from the way policemen now treat lawyers, it wasn’t like that when some of us entered the profession close to four decades ago”, he added.
Earlier in his address, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin Branch, Abdulganiyu Bello said the programme was part of continue legal education aimed at building the capacity of lawyers so as to enhance their performance for efficient and effective legal practice.
Speaking on the same theme “Re-thinking Ethical Values in the practice of law: The Role of Lawyers “, he said the theme is very relevant in the light of recent happenings in Nigeria as the courts have for more than two weeks being under lock as a result of the industrial action embarked upon by members of JUSUN.
NBA Chairman stressed the need for the state Governors to show the political will to the issue of judicial autonomy and ensure immediate implementation of the policy.
He restated NBA’s commitment to continue to lend its voice to the immediate implementation of judicial autonomy with a view to promoting rule of law and administration of justice.
By Our Reporter