Elombah
Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

Akpata counters Malami over amendment of lawyers’ rules

Abubakar Malami and the NBA President Olumide Akpata on collision course over amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct by the AGF

221

The Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN, and the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) led by its President, Mr Olumide Akpata may be on collision course over the amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct signed into law by the AGF on September 3, 2020.

Mr Akpata on Sunday, September13, 2020 directed members of the association to ignore the new rules.

Document which purports to be the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2020.
Document which purports to be the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2020.

The AGF amended the RPF via a gazette marked S.I N0.15 of 2020 dated September 3, 2020, stated in part: “In exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act Cap L11, LFN 2004 and of all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, Abubakar Malami, SAN, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and President, General Council of the Bar, make the following rules:

“The Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 is amended by deleting the following rules, namely: 9(2), 10, 11, 12 and 13.

“These rules may be cited as the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules, 2020.

With this amendment, Malami effectively removed the requirement for the NBA stamp and seal on court processes, one of the major sources of revenue for NBA. Before now, membership of the NBA was compulsory for all lawyers and the stamps and seals were sold at N4,000 for 72 pieces and were given upon payment of NBA dues. Without the stamp, a lawyer could not submit any document or letter to the court and the sale of the stamp and seal was one of the major sources of NBA’s revenue.

With the amendment of the process by Malami, the use of the stamps is no longer necessary. This also implies that persons who are not members of the NBA, including non-lawyers, are allowed to submit court processes.

However, reacting to the amendment, Akpata urge lawyers to calm down as no authority or approval was given for the amendment of the RPC. He said they should “continue to conduct their affairs in the same manner as they did prior to the issuance of the Instrument”.

Here is the statement issued by the NBA President:-

PURPORTED AMENDMENT OF RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR LEGAL PRACTITIONERS, 2007

My attention has just been drawn to a document widely circulating in the social media which purports to be the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2020. The Document claims that in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Attorney General of the Federation has amended the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 by deleting Rules 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13. A close look at Section 12(4) of LPA referred to as well as the fact that the Bar Council, the body which has the statutory power to make any such amendment, has never met, shows why the document should be discountenanced.

Section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA) vests the power to make Rules regulating the Conduct of Legal Practitioners on the General Council of the Bar (“the Bar Council”). As provided by Section 1(1) of the LPA, General Council of the Bar shall be charged with the general management of the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association (subject to any limitations for the time being provided by the constitution of the association) and with any functions conferred on the council by the Act or NBA constitution.
The Bar Council consists of-
(a) the Attorney-General of the Federation, who shall be the president of the council;
(b) the Attorneys-General of the States; and
(c) twenty members of the association.
The twenty members representing the Nigerian Bar Association were elected at the Association’s Annual General Meeting held in Abuja on August 27, 2015.

The Attorney General of the Federation has not convened a meeting of the Bar Council. The Bar Council has neither considered nor approved any proposed amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007. Even though the Attorney General of the Federation is the President of the Bar Council, he cannot unilaterally exercise the powers of the Council.

I will therefore like to believe that the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2020 which is in circulation on social media, lacks credibility.

Abubakar Malami and the NBA President Olumide Akpata on collision course over amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct by the AGF

Posted by Elombah Television on Sunday, September 13, 2020

The NBA had been embroiled in controversies since its elections in July 26-29 that produced the current leadership. The election was alleged to have been rigged in favor of the winner, Akpata.

A contestant for the presidency of the association, Mr Dele Adesina SAN had petitioned the Board of Trustees, but in a report alleged to have been doctored, the BoT decided to allow the election, saying its powers are only advisory, and it is in the interest of the unity of the Bar.

The controversy generated by the flawed election has yet to abate when the then outgoing President, Paul Usoro SAN, apparently under pressure withdrew an invitation extended to Kaduna State governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai as a speaker in its 60th Annual General Conference.

The withdrawal generated political, ethnic and religious heat to the extent that Northern Nigerian lawyers balked from the association and formed a New Nigerian Bar Association (NNBA).

The new leadership under Akpata has been trying to quel the rebellion only for the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria(BOSAN) to set up a committee to look at the complaints of rigging of elections since 2016.

When it was accused of setting up a parallel body, BOSAN cleared the air by stating its own body will partner with the new NBA leadership.

Comments are closed.