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IBA president Neto urges Nigerian lawyers to promote rule of law

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Chairman, Technical Committee on Conference Planning, Gbenga Oyebode (left); Managing Partner, Olaniwun Ajayi LP, Konyin Ajayi (SAN); Founding Partner, Banwo and Ighodalo, Asue Ighodalo; Managing Partner, Principles Law Partnership, Miannaya Essien (SAN); Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Mohammed; President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Paul Usoro (SAN) and President, International Bar Association (IBA), Horacio Bernardes Neto at the ongoing conference in Lagos …yesterday PHOTOS: SUNDAY AKINLOLU

President of the International Bar Association (IBA), Horacio Bernardes Neto, has urged the Nigerian Bar Association to protect and promote the rule of law, stressing that it should not to be traded for anything.

He stated this yesterday at the 59th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Lagos, while speaking during plenary of Rule of Law Symposium’ which was chaired by former President of NBA, Olisa Agbakoba.

Neto disclosed that he has been a greater threat to rule of law globally, saying that citizens and lawyers do not fully understand what rule and law meant, hence the need for it to be taken more seriously.

“Rule of law should not be taken for granted, it should not be traded for anything, it has to be pure because anything short of that is not it. Rule of law entails freedom of speech, free press, liberty of speech, independence of the judiciary and legal secrecy, among others,” he said.

Explaining the future of legal services, he said there was the need for lawyers to live in accordance with the dictates of the rule of law, as a commitment to promoting and safeguarding it.

He added that in terms of generational distribution, a number of authors pinpoint the incorporation of the millennial generation to the legal market, as having a significant impact, not only in the demographic mix, but also in the emergence of new values in the legal profession.

He identified emergence of new forms of value creation, technological developments and innovation, regulatory innovations with a global impact and regulatory gaps, globalisation and shift of economic power to emerging markets, as some of the factors driving change in legal services.

Other factors, he said are, new skills demand and growing misalignment between legal education and practice, as well as changing demographics and values in the legal services market.

Speaking, Stephen Cragg (QC), who dwelled on abuse of prosecutorial powers, said prosecutors play a crucial role in the administration of justice, adding that rules of performance and their important responsibilities should promote respect for and compliance with the right to fair trial.

“States shall ensure that prosecutors perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference or unjustified exposure to civil, penal or other liabilities.

“The office of prosecutors shall contribute to fair and equitable criminal justice and the effective protection of citizens against crime. Prosecutors are to be strictly separated from judicial functions, perform their duties fairly, consistently and expeditiously,” he stated.

Also speaking, Manager, Gender and Social Inclusion, British Council, Mrs. Priscilla Ankut, said Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption (RoLAC) programme has been promoting access to justice for people with disabilities.

She noted that they are working on transcribing relevant laws into disability associable versions- audio and braille to enable greater access by those whom the laws are intended to benefit.

“RoLAC will develop guidelines and training on the use of guidelines for handling people with disabilities in the justice sector and work with physically challenged persons community to develop disability employment policy for the justice sector,” she stated.

She, therefore, recommended that there was the need for NBA to show good example in states and national secretariat buildings to factor in their members with physical challenges, programmes and policies on (person with disabilities (PWDs) issues.

“NBA should encourage judicial activism, engage in strategic impact litigation and class action on behalf of PWDs. NBA should work with other CSOs to continue to advocate with policy makers on disability rights issues.”


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