The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olumide Akpata has promised to engage the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abukakar Malami (SAN) over his recent decision to weaken the powers of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) with the introduction of a new rule.
According to Akpata, Malami doesn’t have the unilateral power to amend the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners.
This he said in reaction to reports that in a new gazette marked S.I N0.15 of 2020 issued by AGF Malami and dated September 3, 2020, the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 has been amended, removing the requirement for the NBA stamp and seal on court processes.
Recall that NBA membership was compulsory and the stamps and seals were sold at N4,000 for 72 pieces and were given upon payment of NBA dues.
A lawyer could not submit any document or letter to the court without the stamp.
With the new directive, the use of the stamp will no longer be needed to submit court processes.
Persons who are not members of the NBA, including non-lawyers, are now empowered to submit court processes.
However, Akpata in a press release on Sunday, titled, “Statement by NBA President on the Purported Amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007,” disagreed with the position of the AGF on the matter.
The NBA President added that such a decision to amend the LPC can only be taken by the General Council of the Bar.
In his words, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Legal Practitioners Act (as amended) confers the power to issue rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners, and any amendments thereto, on the General Council of the Bar (the ‘Bar Council’). The Bar Council comprises the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (‘HAGF’), the Honourable Attorneys General of the thirty-six states of Nigeria, and 20 members of the NBA. Consequently, the RPC and any amendments thereto may only be validly issued after it has been deliberated upon and approved at a properly convened meeting of the Bar Council.
“As far as the NBA is aware, no notice convening a meeting of the Bar Council was issued to its elected representatives on the Bar Council and no meeting of the Bar Council was convened and/or held to deliberate on the Instrument. To that extent, our position is that no authority or approval was given for the amendment of the RPC. Consequently, the NBA maintains that the RPC has not been amended and enjoins all legal practitioners to remain calm and continue to conduct their affairs in the same manner as they did prior to the issuance of the Instrument.”
As earlier reported by Bibian Anekwe News, the report is coming at a time when the NBA had become factionalized following the decision of a group of mostly northern lawyers led by Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman to set up the New NBA, otherwise known as the NNBA.