NBA v. AGF Tussle over Stamp and Seal, Membership: The Way Forward — RAMINBA


The Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association, RAMINBA, has described the recent amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct by the the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN as “Unilateral” and “against the provisions of the Legal Practitioners’ Act.”

RAMINBA made this known in a statement on Sunday which reads:

“The Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA) rising from a Lagos Base Meeting held on Tuesday, 15th September, 2020, has reiterated her demand for the reopening of the Magistrate Courts of Lagos State.

This was made known in a Communique issued at the end of the Meeting by Adesina Ogunlana and Ayo Ademiluyi, Chairman and Secretary of the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association respectively.

The meeting observed that the letter of response of the Deputy Chief Registrar(Administration), Mrs Omolade Awope on behalf of the Lagos State Judiciary to the letter of the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association dated 4th September, 2020, wherein it was stated that the application of RAMINBA for the reopening of the Magistrate courts has been “overtaken by events” is vague and evasive. The meeting observed that there is nothing tangible to show that events have overtaken the application as “current situation ” of the closure of the Magistrate Courts have not been reversed. The meeting also advised that there is nothing to indicate that consultation with the Bar and other stakeholders in the legal profession including but not limited to the Radical Agenda Movement in the Nigerian Bar Association (RAMINBA) should be foreclosed.

Therefore, RAMINBA, consequent upon the Meeting had written a fresh letter dated 16th September, 2020 requesting for audience with the Chief Judge of Lagos State in respect of reopening of the Magistrate Courts.

The meeting also observed the action of the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN in deleting the provisions for Stamp and Seal in an amended Rules of Professional Conduct. The meeting observed that the action of the AGF is unilateral as he acted in the office of the President of the General Council of the Bar, without carrying along the General Council of the Bar, as provided under the Legal Practitioners Act.

The meeting observed that Stamp and Seal has curbed quakery in the legal profession, though it has not abolished it. It has also empowered NBA as well as promote the prestige of legal practitioners. However, the meeting observed that payment for Stamp and Seal after paying for their Annual Bar Practising Fees amount to double professional taxation and so unfair and illegal.

The meeting states that since legal practitioners are called to the Bar of the Supreme Court in Nigeria, it is the Supreme Court or the Body of Benchers that should be in charge of Annual Bar Practising Fees as well as Stamp and Seal.

The meeting observed that the Nigerian Bar Association being merely an Association should not and cannot in law attract compulsory membership of legal practitioners in view of the well known constitutional right of freedom of Association in the Nigerian Constitution.

The meeting observed that the Nigerian Bar Association has been generally lacking in responsiveness to the welfare interest of her members as typified by thế shocking indifference of thế 5 Branches of thế Nigerian Bar Association in Lagos State to the prolonged closure of thế Magistrate Court of Lagos State since March, 2020 till đặte.

Thế age-long deficit of thế NBA in this regard has weakened ít. Nonetheless, promoters of alternative body to the NBA should nốt use thế issues of religion and ethnicity as springboard.

The meeting was of the view that in the circumstances, the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association should challenge in a court of competent jurisdiction the unilateral amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct by the Attorney General of the Federation.

The meeting submitted further that the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association both at national and Branch levels should be responsive to the welfare of her members in order to earn her pride of place in the hearts of the members.

The meeting also condemned the repression of the anti-fuel price and electricity tariff hikes’ protests and resolved to extend free legal services to pro-masses organisations including but not limited to the Joint Action Front, which has sought its assistance in thật regard.

ADESINA OGUNLANA
Chairman

AYO ADEMILUYI
Secretary


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