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Olanipekun expresses concern over state of legal profession

By Ameh Ochojila, Abuja
05 April 2022   |   2:44 am
The new chairman of the Body of Benchers (BOB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has expressed concern over the state of affairs in the nation’s legal profession and noted that it requires urgent sanitisation

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Wole Olanipekun. Photo: SIGNALNG

The new chairman of the Body of Benchers (BOB), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) has expressed concern over the state of affairs in the nation’s legal profession and noted that it requires urgent sanitisation.

BOB is the highest body in the nation’s legal profession, with the serving Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justices of the Supreme Court, the President of the Court of Appeal, Presiding Justices of the Court of Appeal, Attorneys General and Senior Advocates, among other distinguished legal practitioners as members.

He assured that the body, under his watch, would do all within its capacity to sanitise the profession and ensure discipline.

Olanipekun spoke in Abuja shortly after his inauguration as the 50th chairman of the BOB, while Justice Mary Peter Odili became the group’s Vice Chairman.

Olanipekun, an ex-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the immediate past Vice-Chairman of the BOB, hailed his predecessors in office, who he noted, laid a solid foundation and assured that he would build on the foundation he inherited.

“I will try to improve on what my predecessors in the office have done. I have a focus about the legal profession.

“We have to do something about it. What we have to do about the legal profession is very urgent. I have my ideas, which I will present at the next meeting of the body.

“But, there is the need for us to sanitise the profession in Nigeria today. I will present my agenda to the body at the first meeting that I will chair. This is in July and at that time, I will roll out my programme,” he said.

Olanipekun, who spoke glowingly about his predecessors in office and their noble achievements, touched on the many responsibilities of the BOB, which he promised to sustain.

He said: “At the time Adetokunbo Ademola was the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Taslim Elias was the Attorney General of the Federation, they both worked together to bring about a unified Nigeria legal system, creating the Council of Legal Education, which gave birth to Nigeria Law School. About 90 per cent of Nigerian lawyers today are products of Nigerian Law School.”

He pledged to ensure the independence of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), the body that ensures discipline among legal practitioners, which is an organ of the BOB.

In his acceptance speech, he assured me of his commitment to service and professionalism.

“In whatever position I found myself, I have always striven to represent our noble profession as an ambassador and exemplar, displaying the learning, good character and virtues, which the law profession is reputed for, to the admiration of the non-legal communities.

“As leaders of the legal profession in our respective rights, who, in the wisdom of the law, id est (that is) the Legal Practitioners Act, has aggregated us from our different sectors of the profession, it behoves us to rejig, redefine and re-orientate our profession to restore its cherished nobility and glory.

“We must not lose sight of the unpleasant happenings around us, whether from the Bar and Bench. Succinctly surmised, our profession is under aggression and attack, both from within and without.

“These are not the best of times for the legal profession in Nigeria. But, let us be encouraged by the illuminating words of Criss Jami in his recently published book (2015) titled Killosophy, where he enthused that “To seek greatness is the righteous vengeance”

“Therefore, it is the binding duty of the congregation of these great men and women of distinction, constituting the Body of Benchers, to work for the greatness and renaissance of our esteemed profession. In doing so, we may have to crack some glass ceilings.

“While paragraph 5 (1) of the Body of Benchers Regulations provides for three statutory meetings in the dining year, the same paragraph empowers the Chairman to call for other meetings, as may be necessary and/or expedient,” he pointed out.

He announced that in the next year, he would be calling for such extra meetings, as they have much to do and accomplish.

“The one year tenure appears short, but to me, it’s also time you can achieve a lot because to the glory of God, I have been on the body since 1992. I became a Life Bencher in 2007 and I have learnt under many past chairmen .I have followed all the procedures and proceedings,” Olanipekun said.

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