The Attorney General Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), who allegedly weakens the powers of the Nigerian Bar Association, has triggered conflict among some senior Nigerian lawyers and lawyers in the region.
Malami also revised the 2007 Rules of Ethical Conduct for Legal Professionals, eliminating the NBA stamping provision and sealing on court proceedings.
Prior to that, membership of the NBA was obligatory for all attorneys, and the stamps and seals were sold for 72 pieces at N4,000 and issued on payment of NBA dues.
A lawyer could not send any paper or letter to the court without the stamp and the selling of the stamp and seal was one of the key sources of NBA ‘s revenue.
However, Malami’s alteration of the mechanism no longer necessitates using the stamps. This also means that individuals, including non-lawyers, who are not members of the NBA are eligible to request court proceedings.
The creation took place less than a week after a splinter party called the New NBA wrote a letter to Malami urging the Federal Government to accept it.
The Gazette – labelled S.I N0.15 of 2020 issued by AGF and dated 3 September 2020, received by Sunday PUNCH – reads in part, “In exercise of the powers bestowed on me by section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act Cap L11, LFN 2004 and of all other powers empowering me in that term, I, Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and President, Genera.
“The 2007 Legal Practitioners’ Rules of Ethical Conduct was revised by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.
“These laws can be quoted as the Rules of Professional Conduct (Amendment) for Legal Professionals, 2020.”
Last month, after the association ‘s decision to revoke its invitation to Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, who had been billed to speak at its annual general conference, the NBA became factionalised.
Thousands of citizens, mainly attorneys, had called on the NBA to revoke its invitation to El-Rufai, who was accused of several human rights violation cases and was unable to cope with the killings in south Kaduna.
Following the NBA ‘s decision to revoke the Governor’s invitation, many NBA northern divisions boycotted the conference and viewed the act as one based on religious and tribal considerations.
Subsequently, a group of mainly Northern lawyers led by Nuhu Ibrahim and Abdulbasit Suleiman formed the New NBA, otherwise known as the NNBA, and wrote a letter to the AGF asking the chief law officer of the nation to recognize the splinter party as a new organisation.
While some senior lawyers and advocates have described Malami ‘s action as illegal, others have disagreed.
Dr. Rapulu Nduka, the NBA spokesperson, told one of our correspondents that the event was shocking, adding that the organization was not taken along.
“We weren’t taken around and we’re certainly trying to make sure it’s changed. Like every other citizen we just woke up to the news of the change. We meet with stakeholders and we’ll decide on the next move, “he said.
The Nigerian Bar Association said on Saturday that the Federation’s Attorney General’s removal of the stamp-and-seal from the Code of Professional Conduct for Legal Professionals did not go through due process.
The NBA ‘s National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Rapuluchukwu Nduka, said the association ‘s leadership had little foreknowledge of the AGF’s RPC amendment, and read about it just like every other individual.