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Stakeholders warn against unethical practices in legal profession

By Charles Ogugbuaja, Owerri
24 May 2023   |   3:20 am
Stakeholders in the legal profession, consisting of judges, magistrates, lawyers and judicial officers have warned lawyers, majorly young legal officers to desist from unethical practices, to preserve the integrity of the profession.

Livy Uzoukwu

Stakeholders in the legal profession, consisting of judges, magistrates, lawyers and judicial officers have warned lawyers, majorly young legal officers to desist from unethical practices, to preserve the integrity of the profession.

They also advocated the reinforcement of ethical standards according to the international best practices.

Those views were canvassed during the 2023 law week organised by the Owerri branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Imo State, with the theme: “State of Legal Practice in Nigeria: Imo State in Focus.”

The conversation commenced with the lecture prepared by Dr. Livy Uzoukwu, (SAN), but delivered by Ndukwe Nnawuchi (SAN).

He decried the rate at which some lawyers, largely young ones dress, allegedly indulge in unethical conducts, which are incongruent with the legal profession, and asked them to desist from those things that debase the profession.

In the session chaired by a retired Imo Chief Judge, P. C. Onumajulu, Uzoukwu, condemned those who smear the image of the profession, by opting for unnecessary adjournments, and wearing “anyhow clothes”.

He pointed out that part of the unethical practices include jumping cause lists of cases in court, inability to pay house rents to their landlords, while boasting to challenge them in the courts and frustrate the matter.

In his speech, the Imo State Governor, Hope Uzodimma, called for increased synergy between members of the bar and bench to enable seekers of justice get served without undue delay.

Scores of lawyers, justices, captains of industry, including the Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Ibadan Division, Dr. Chioma Nwosu-Iheme; the Chief Judge of Imo State, Justice Theresa Chukwuemeka -Chukwukeka; immediate past President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olumide Apkata; the chairman of the 2023 Owerri Law Week Committee/ former Imo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Jude T. U. Nnodum (SAN); the keynote speaker/ former Managing Director of Diamond Bank, now, the Chief Executive Officer/ founder Sparkle; Uzoma Dozie; the Imo State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, C. O. C. Akaolisa attended the event.

Uzodimma said the pitfalls in the dispensation of justice should be shared by both the bar and bench.

He said: “I don’t want to blame the bench. Lawyers also have the blame to share.

“I want to remind you, you are answerable to God Almighty in your discharge of duty. There is a need to work in synergy between the bar and bench..”

He highlighted the commitment made by his administration towards ensuring that the judges and judicial officers were paid arrears of salaries and allowances/welfare packages owed them by the past administrations, promising to collaborate with the NBA to ensure that the judiciary is truly the last hope of the common man, who seek for justice, and to have the enabling environment to do it.

In their speeches, Justice Nwosu-Iheme; the chairman of the 2023 Law week committee, Jude Nnodum (SAN); the chairman of the NBA, Owerri branch, Ugochukwu Alinnor; the immediate past NBA president, Apkata, stressed the importance of good synergy between the NBA and judicial officers.

They advised that the standard of practice should be maintained and practiced in line with the digital age, to enhance knowledge by constant training and restraining and capacity building opportunities.

Nwosu-Iheme, paid glowing tribute to the Owerri branch of the NBA in the upliftment of the profession, stressing that she attended the event because of her root from the branch among other synergy she has with the members.

Other former Chief Judges who attended the event include P. O. Nnadi (chairman in session) and B. A. Njemanze (chairman in session), among others.