Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN has asked the Federal High Court to dismiss a suit brought by the Nigerian Bar Association to annul the amended Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (RPC).

Malami has also told the court that the Bar Council held a meeting to ratify the controversial RPC, CITY LAWYER can exclusively report.

CITY LAWYER recalls that the Nigerian Bar Association had through the Chief Ferdinand Orbih SAN-led NBA Section on Legal Practice (NBA-SLP), dragged the Attorney General to court via an originating summons dated 17th January, 2022 and filed on 24th January, 2022 alleging that Malami unilaterally amended the RPC without due process of law.

The Attorney-General argued that the NBA lacked the locus standi to institute the action, urging the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim “for failure to comply with the Evidence act and lacks (sic) locus standi to institute it.”

In a counter-affidavit obtained by CITY LAWYER and deposed by one Oni Michael, a Litigation Officer in the Civil Litigation and Public Law Department, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation, he stated “That members of the General Council of the Bar were invited for the meeting which was held.”

Restating this point in the written address, the defendant said: “My Lord, we submit that an invitation has (sic) been sent to all members of the General Council of the Bar and some have (sic) attended the meeting. Subsequently any decision arrived at the meeting where a member is voluntarily absent is binding on all members as the quorum was provided in subsection 4 of section 1 of the LPA. We urge my lord to so hold.”

Continuing, the deponent stated that Malami “did that which he is statutorily empowered to do strictly within the confines of the Law as the Chief Law Officer of the Federation and the President of the General Council of the Bar.”

He restated that “a meeting (of the Bar Council) was called and members of the Council were duly notified and present in same.”

Malami argued that he is “statutorily empowered to improve the professionalism of legal practice in Nigeria,” adding that “The Plaintiff is bringing this action based on mere speculation and hearsay as he (NBA) is not a member of the General Council of the Bar.”

In the written address in opposition to the plaintiff’s originating summons, Malami argued that “The plaintiff commences this suit without averting his mind to the fact that he is not a member of the General Council of the Bar and as such cannot challenge what they deliberate on in their meetings and whatsoever he said amounts to hearsay and the Plaintiff has no Locus to institute this action.”

The matter, INCORPORATED TRUSTEES OF THE NBA VS ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION has also been assigned Suit Number FHC/ABJ/CS/77/2022 and slated for March 24 by Justice Donatus Okorowo of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

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