My Twitter Feed

August 19, 2018

THE BAR AND THE BENCH UNDER SCRUTINY (2)

The Emergence and Proscription of the Indigenous People of Biafra
Swift Share!

 

This is more so with Banks which have been known to charge their customers for legal services that they are not competent to provide.

This raises the issue of touting in the profession and mostly by non lawyers which accounts for the falling standards and poverty of the profession. In many land registries, non lawyers and employees of governments insist on rewriting deeds prepared by lawyers in their own forms when they are presented for registration.

Perhaps, this is why the new NBA stamps provided for sealing, franking and validation of legal documents, deeds, pleadings, transactions   in a frenzy of enforcement by lands Registries, CAC, Banks, and government bodies is timely.

This stamp is issued only to verified lawyers on the rolls of lawyers and database of the NBA and are mandatory for the execution of these documents. According to a notice signed by the secretary General of the NBA pursuant to section 10 of the Rules of professional conduct, the stamps with security features, and names of the applicant lawyer are prepared on the receipt of application by a lawyer within 72 hours for each year upon the payment of the annual practice fee(you can see this notice on ‘Nigerian Bar Imo/facebook’

This practice entails the issuance of practice certificates to all lawyers who are accordingly verified. Once affixed any attempt to remove it will lead to disintegration.

The use of the legal stamps carries with it onerous responsibility for lawyers to keep track of the stamps.

Where a stamp is lost you must report this as it may surface on a fraudulent documentation or land transaction with dizzying consequences for the affected attorney which may give rise to legal liability.

The use of these stamps will also ensure that legal documentations especially with respect to the preparation of deeds by touts are discouraged.

It is however yet to be seen whether the NBA can meet demand with timely supply as many of us who paid for the stamps are yet to get them as the year comes to a close. What happens in cases of defaults? Can the NBA be sued where a transactional lawyer is unable to get his stamps as at when due leading to the loss of a contract?

As the legal profession adds 21 new more senior Advocates to the already existing 408 to the exclusion of festus keyamo for appropriate reasons, we need to reexamine the issues of integrity at the Bar. Lawyers are indeed the priesthood in the temple of Justice which requires that we must shun the idolatry of ethical corruption. Much as I disagree on the indices for choosing a SAN, I do opine that the selection of judges from the Bar must be done with great caution as a judge who does not know the law as he should is like a pilot without an idea of landing an airborne plane with hundreds aboard on their way to the land of Justice. A crash should be anticipated and a natural expectation. Indeed the Bench , distinct and independent of the Bar should not be allowed to control it by nominating or approving those who are to be benched. There should however exist a credible system of nomination, selection, and installation of judges beyond the control of ‘societies’ and corporate influences.

There should be appropriate qualifying exams for Judges to determine their real character. A person who seeks to be a judge should exercise a level of decorum and appearance in public although cognizance must be given to the harsh terrain which makes being gentle in Nigeria, a difficult nature especially if you have challenging means.

Indeed, it is trite that lawyers are generally feared respected and admired in their society which nonetheless views them as liars as characterized by the misnomer ‘lawyers are liars’ .

Such irrationalisations are wont to make many, to be lynched by the lay mob but for the law. Indeed the law cannot make the mob to love you but keep it from lynching you. -We must like TOS Benson said in 1990 call to the Bar, ‘lawyers must strive always to be relevant in their society.’

This is thematic if the 2015 Bar conference in Abuja. We need to sustain the law and make it the engine for social , economic development and advocacy by being relevant to our National development.

 

The Bench as we know it

The term “bench” refers to the Judge presiding in a court and may also refer to the Judiciary. In a simple legal contexts it means simply the location of a courtroom where the judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from judges formerly having sat on long seats known as Benches (freestanding or against a wall) when presiding over a Court

In modern courtrooms, the bench are usually an elevated desk area that allows a judge to view the entire courtroom .

But the word also has a broader meaning; It can be used to describe the judiciary of a state or judges of a particular division like the Queens or /Kings bench or more particularly, Judges of the supreme court as in the case of Nigeria..

 

However, the phrase “bench and bar” denotes all judges and lawyers collectively.

The Bench in Nigeria is often criticized for corruption and for good reasons, although I am yet to come across a corrupt Judge in practice. But as to magistrates’ it is an entirely different issue inspite of the fact that many of them are well recommended. Corruption is at the heart of the reform of the judiciary and many judicial officers are guilty of aborting justice at a price. This has led to repeated calls for the review of the appointment modalities of judges which appears to be provocative, seemly without merit, biased, and clearly politicized inspite of the fact that I must hastily add, that there are many good judges at the bench.

Indeed the National Judicial Council (NJC) this year and quite recently, announced new Extant Guidelines and Procedural Rules for the Appointment of Judicial Officers of All Superior Courts of Record in Nigeria.

Under sections 231 (1), 238 (1), 250 (1) of the 1999 constitution, 256 (1), 261 (1) and 266 (1), the appointments of Chief Justices of Nigeria, President of Court of Appeal, Chief Judge of Federal High Court and the Chief Judge FCT High Court, Grand Khadi, Shari’a Court of Appeal, and President Customary Court of Appeal respectively are in the hands of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria at the recommendation of the NJC and subject to the confirmation of the Senate.


 

Leave A Comment