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Maintain standard, CJN charges legal professionals


 Mahmud Mohammed CJN

Mahmud Mohammed CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Mahmud Mohammed has charged members of the legal profession to strive to maintain the standard and dignity of the profession.

The CJN, who commended the leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) for introducing the Stamp and Seal project, urged all legal practitioners to embrace the project as it would help to weed out quacks.

Speaking at the 8th Annual Business Luncheon organised by the SPA Ajibade & Co. with the theme: “The future of legal practice in Nigeria: Regulation and discipline in the legal profession”, the CJN, who was represented by Justice Inyang Okoro emphasised the need for practitioners to conduct themselves in an upright manner.

He noted that the profession is a noble one and tasked professionals never to lower the standard. “Every profession must be able to set certain standard for the dignity of the profession. Our profession is a honourable one and our members should conduct themselves in upright manner”, he said, adding that the National Judicial Council (NJC) has been doing its best to rid the bench of errant judges.

He pointed out that an example of what its doing to clean up the judiciary was the compulsory retirement of a judge of the federal high court in Port Harcourt as a result of misbehaviour.

In his presentation, the guest lecturer, Mr Harry Matovu (QC), who examined the topic suggested that the legal profession should open its doors for regulation by outsiders. He argued that the profession has been on self-regulation for a long time such that a different appraoch might be necessary to consider, adding that self-regulation may act as a fetter on open competition for the supply of services and foster the development of a closed shop.

He said: “In a world where consumer rights are recognised as an increasingly dominant feature of trade and of service industries, a system of self-regulation in which members of a profession act as prosecutors, judge and jury over their own may, unless carefully managed, lead at best to a loss of confidence in the profession by the consumers who use those services, or at worst a sclerosis in attitudes within the profession, a complacency about standards and a loss of the habit of rigorous self-examination.”

According to him, lay people and consumers should be involved in the regulatory process to question and to drive up standards. “And I do not see why the situation should be any different in a mature legal market such as Nigeria”, he posited. He also suggested the consideration for an imposition of a duty on legal professionals to report misconduct by their fellow professionals.

Earlier in his welcome address, the convener, Dr Babatunde Ajibade (SAN) said the motive of organising the event annually is ‘our own little way of contributing our quota to the profession that has done so much for us’.

His words: “We as lawyers need to address the problems we create in terms of achieving swift justice delivery . What we are struggling for here is not peculiar to us, only that others have learnt how to deal with theirs.”

Other contributors in the event include, senior partner, Libra Law Office, Mrs Hairat Ade-Balogun, partner, Aelex, Mr Lawrence Fubara Anga and scores of others.

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