No less than 6,072 persons have so far signed a petition seeking to strip the nation’s chief law officer, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN of the coveted rank of “Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”

Malami, Nigeria’s Attorney-General & Minister of Justice, made the headlines recently following media reports stating that he had issued “Statutory Instrument No. 15 of 2020” amending the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (RPC). The instrument provides that “the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.”

Started barely eight days ago by one Izu Aniagu, the petition which is still trending on www.change.org, the petition is titled “Sign to strip Nigeria’s AGF, Abubakar Malami the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.” The tagline states that “Izu Aniagu started this petition to Lawyers in Nigeria and 5 others.” The “Decision makers” listed on the petition are “Lawyers in Nigeria, Nigeria Bar Association, LEGAL PRACTITIONERS DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE, THE LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGE COMMITTEE, THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL COUNCIL and The Bar Council.”

The petition states that “Since assumption of office, the Attorney General of the Federation has continued to go rogue, from his disobedience to court order, to his lackluster prosecution, to his outright failure to prosecute, to allegations of corruption and bias against his person, to usurpation of office, to shielding of suspects, to his general dereliction of duty.

“This time, the AGF has decided to take his imprudence (sic) to top notch by unilaterally deleting the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct which provide for stamp and seal as well as bar practicing fee for government lawyers. The AGF does not have such power. Section 12 (4) of the LPA gives the General Council of the Bar power to make any such amendment and make other decisions concerning the NBA.

“There is no record of any meeting convened by the The (sic) Attorney General of the Federation who is the president of The Bar Council. The AGF took the decision alone and his actions constitute a threat to the rule of law. His action is totally shameful and is underserving (sic) of a lawyer in the rank of a Senio (sic) Advocate, let alone a Chief Law Officer of the federation.”

One of the signatories, Ogholaja Onesiosan gave the reason for signing the petition as follows: “The AGF has abused the rule of law and has not conducted himself in a manner that is expected of him.” CITY LAWYER could not confirm at press time that all the signatories are lawyers.

The amendment of the RPC has annulled the power of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to issue stamps to eligible legal practitioners, a practice that has been validated by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. This comes against the backdrop of a clamour for dismemberment of the NBA, leading to the formation of the New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA) by some lawyers.

Following a meeting with Malami in his office, NBA President, Mr. Olumide Akpata had in a letter to the chief law officer dated September 15, 2020 demanded rescission of the amendment “immediately.”

He noted that “I have been duly informed, by NBA representatives on the Bar Council and other members of the Bar Council who have reached out to me, that to the best of their knowledge no meeting of the Bar Council was convened to discuss any amendments to the RPC or to approve the instrument. It, therefore, appears that the instrument was enacted without proper authority.”

Former NBA Second Vice President, Mr. Monday Ubani had also dragged Malami to the Federal High Court seeking among others a determination whether the AGF has the power to “unilaterally, alter, amend and or make any rules of professional conduct, without a proper meeting of the general council of the bar, duly convened, and notices thereof, issued to other members of the general council of the bar.”

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee had stripped some senior advocates of the rank following their conviction for criminal breaches or successful petitions against them.

However, one Fred Ogundu-Osondu argues that the online petition against Malami is dead on arrival, saying: “If his actions can be interpreted as an abuse of the powers vested in him as Attorney-General of the Federation, then an actual petition can be lodged against him before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee. If the LPDC finds him guilty of professional misconduct, then the LEGAL PRACTITIONERS PRIVILEGES COMMITTEE may withdraw the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria from him. This was clearly stated in No. 5 of the GUIDELINES FOR THE CONFERMENT OF THE RANK OF SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA, 2007. However, let us keep it in mind that the HAGF is the Chairman of the LPDC. The only other ground is if he is convicted for any offence that in the opinion of the LPPC is incompatible with the honour and dignity of the holder of the rank of SAN as an offence relating to breach of trust, theft or other offence involving fraud or dishonesty. Again, the HAGF is the Chief Law Officer of the federation, and may not allow such prosecution to see the light of day, as he is clothed with the constitutional powers of nolle prosequi.”

Copyright 2020 CITY LAWYER. Please send emails to citylawyermag@gmail.com. Join us on Facebook at https://web.facebook.com/City-Lawyer-Magazine-434937936684320 and on TWITTER at https://twitter.com/CityLawyerMag All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.

‘You Have Not Been Fair to Us,’ Olanipekun Tells Mahmoud

Early signs that the forthcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) will be explosive emerged yesterday as former NBA President, Chief Wole Olanipekun warned the Mr. Abubakar Mahmoud SAN-led NBA to shelve any plan to amend the association’s controversial constitution.

In a letter dripping with angst and discomfiture, the go-to lawyer expressed disappointment at the situation, adding that the NBA President had “not been fair” to the past NBA presidents and secretaries who admonished him to shelve the constitutional amendment project.

Below is the full text of the statement:

2nd August, 2018

Mr. A. B. Mahmoud, SAN
The President,
Nigerian Bar Association,
NBA House,
Plot 1101, Muhammadu Buhari Way,
Central Business District,
F.C.T. Abuja.

Dear Mr. President,

First and foremost, may I extend my professional and brotherly courtesies to you as our/my President.
You would recall that at the last meeting of past Presidents and Secretaries of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) called at your instance at Fraser Suites, Abuja on Friday, 20th July, 2018, you brought up, amongst others, your proposed amendments to the NBA constitution and apprised us of the far-reaching amendments being proposed by you on the eve of your departure, as the President of the foremost professional association in Nigeria. After a very extensive discussion on your proposals, and considering the depth and implications of such amendments, the meeting advised that you should shelve and/or put the proposals on hold, and allow your successor-in-office do further consultations on them, both at the National Executive Committee (NEC) and general levels and platforms, in order to adequately weigh the pros and cons of the proposed amendments before passing same. It was on this note that the meeting closed, and you did not disagree with the wise counsel.

Surprisingly, a notice or plan/intention to amend our constitution, as proposed and tabled by you at the meeting has now been sent out, and I must confess, I am in receipt of same, to the effect that the proposed amendments will be presented at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the NBA. I am taken aback by this development, and I kept on wondering why you ever brought up the topic at our meeting of Friday, 20th July,2018, if you knew you would not respect our opinion. Mr. President, you have not been fair to us, to put it mildly. As a person, I protest this attitude and action of yours. Needless reminding you, Mr President that the same meeting resolved a lot of burning issues to your advantage and satisfaction.

As agreed at the said meeting Mr. President, may I again advise and counsel that you put on hold the proposed constitutional amendments. No one possesses the monopoly of wisdom, and it is only courteous that you also respect the objections raised to some of your amendments at the meeting, despite the fact that some of us saw the proposals for the first time just at the meeting. No leader, however brilliant, industrious, good-intentioned or pragmatic can ever resolve all the problems of his association, society or country in his life time or within his tenure. You cannot be an exemption. Please let us learn from history; and be reminded that amendments to the NBA constitution should no longer be randomly done. I dare say that the proposed amendments, in some material particulars, will turn out to be an ill-wind, which will bring or blow in no fresh breath. You are advised not to force the amendments on our beloved Association at the AGM, which, with much respect, might be constituted in such a way that the attendees would not readily understand or appreciate the unending conundrum we will be plunged into if the amendments sail through. And in case you insist on going ahead to present the amendments at the AGM, can you be gracious enough, as a lawyer and leader, to circulate this letter of mine to the AGM.

Allow me to copy this letter to the past Presidents and Secretaries of the NBA.
Once again, Mr. President, accept my high regards.

I remain,

Your colleague and predecessor-in-office,

Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, SAN, LL.D, FCIArb., FNIALS.

Chief Richard Akinjide, CON, SAN
Chief (Mrs) Priscilla Kuye
Chief T.J.O. Okpoko, OON, SAN
C.J. Okocha, SAN
Chief Bayo Ojo, CON, SAN
Prince Lanke Odogiyan
Olisa Agbakoba, SAN
Chief Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN
Joseph Bodunrin Daudu, SAN
Okechukwu Wali, SAN
Augustine Alegeh, SAN
Dele Adesina, SAN
Chief Isiaka Olagunju, Esq

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Copyright 2018 CITY LAWYER. All materials available on this Website are protected by copyright, trade mark and other proprietary and intellectual property laws. You may not use any of our intellectual property rights without our express written consent or attribution to www.citylawyermag.com. However, you are permitted to print or save to your individual PC, tablet or storage extracts from this Website for your own personal non-commercial use.