Body of Benchers’ll enforce discipline in legal profession – Awomolo

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By Ebere Agozie

The Body of Benchers (BoB) will not fail in its duty to apply the Rules and enforce discipline no matter the status, position or rank of any legal practitioner involved.

The Body of Benchers is a statutory Body established by the Legal Practitioners Act, 1962 (as amended), Cap. L11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

Section 3 of the Act stipulates that the Body of Benchers is the Legal Body of Practitioners of the highest distinction in the legal profession, which shall be responsible for the formal call to the Bar of persons seeking to become legal practitioners as well as disciplining of erring lawyers.

Chairman of the BoB, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, made this known in his key-note address at the ongoing 2024 Law Week of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Abuja Branch (Unity Bar) on Thursday in Abuja.

The law week is with theme: `Developing the Law to Attain National Stability and Development’.

He noted that corruption has reached alarming proportions in the legal profession and that the practice permits both the Inner and the Outer Bars.

“It is commonly believed that my colleagues of the Inner Bar perpetrate and involve themselves in unwholesome practices with impunity.

“I have challenged those I read and knew their authors on social media and I am waiting for proof on any of these allegations.

“There is need for all of us to be conversant with the Rules of Professional Conduct at the Bar published in 2023 and that are fundamental provisions that are a complete departure from all the previous Rules.

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Awomolo, said that attainment of national stability and development can only be happen when the proper and the right instrumentality of the law is enacted, faithfully implemented, obeyed and enforced.

He noted that the law was only meaningful when it addresses the common goal of government of the people, by the people and for the people.

He said that Nigeria has remained stagnated, poorly governed, and underdeveloped because of a deficit in the quality of governance by the people we elected into political offices, and those appointed into public offices.

“The country’s problems include a dysfunctional socio-political structure, entrenched corruption, and an unproductive economy hence there is a dispute over whether Nigeria is a failed State.

“The late Fela Kuti’s words in his popular song “Suffering and Smiling” perfectly capture the Nigerian experience, highlighting the fact that problems persist, and continue to evolve in various forms.

“The country’s problems are not solved, but rather persisted.

“This has led to huge economic loss, massive brain drain and high loss of majority of Nigerian’s vibrant, intellectual and active youth in what is called the ‘Japa’ Syndrome.

“The effect of this unfortunate demographic loss in human resources manifest mostly in professional and technical sectors and industries because of the unemployment of educated and skilled youths’’.

Also speaking, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Chris Uche said Nigerians had lost hope in the legal profession.

Uche, who was the Chairman of the event said the lecture would afford his learned brothers the opportunity to have a rethink and help the society.

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“People have lost hope in this our profession, so we want to see how our gathering today will help to give us hope as lawyers.

“It has always been said that the judiciary is the last hope of the common man, but in recent times in this country that has become very debatable.

“This is an opportunity as practitioners to see how we can use the law to help the society, to help the country and also to help ourselves,’’ he added.

He, therefore, urged participants to be in the right frame of mind, have the right spirit to consume and to receive and to impact positively on the society.

Mr Afam Okeke, the Chairman of the Unity Branch in his address of welcome said the annual event was part of providing a platform to celebrate the vital role of lawyers in our society.

“It’s a time to reflect on our achievements, and contributions to the national discourse, and address challenges on our way to greater impact.

“The theme `Developing the Law to Attain National Stability and Development’ affords us the opportunity to evaluate our roles in upholding the rule of law and its impact on our society.

“Through this theme, we will once more be reminded of our shared commitment to justice, fairness, and the protection of fundamental rights’’. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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