Chief Justice rues high number of fake lawyers
THE Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed yesterday decried the rising number of “fake” lawyers in the country, saying it is negatively affecting the integrity of the judiciary and the legal profession.
Speaking in Abuja at the official launch of “Stamp for Lawyers”, which was produced by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Justice Mahmud lamented that the preponderance of fake lawyers casts a shadow of disrepute on the judiciary as an arm of government.
”Indeed, judges find it difficult to identify which counsel, appearing before them, is genuine or otherwise. Of even greater concern is the fact that members of the public are often left in a quandary over who they can place their trust, property and even lives in.”
The CJN therefore urged stakeholders “not to forget that the credibility of the Bar has a direct impact on respect for the Rule of Law and the independence of the courts.” Speaking further, he said: “This is why it is our collective responsibility to ensure that the stamp is used as a veritable means of authenticating a qualified legal practitioner and the documents emanating from him.”
Justice Mohammed therefore lauded the Bar for the production of a stamp which he said would help restore the image of the legal profession. ”I believe that the stamp can, if properly deployed, become a hallmark of a firm’s work and a way for prospective clients to better identify their counsel- a veritable means to ‘Know Your Counsel’.
Thus, having an innovation which may bestow a ‘stamp’ of integrity and respect, is indeed welcome.” The CJN expressed the view that “an enhanced synergistic use and adoption of appropriate ICT innovations will further enhance our ability to bring the legal profession into the 21st century and re-position the temple of justice to provide effectively a qualitative justice dispensation system that meets the complex demands of our dynamic society.”
He added: “These innovations will soon include the electronic service of hearing notices from the Supreme Court and more secure inter- and intra- communications platforms between the courts and legal practitioners. “I am confident in the ability of the leadership of the NBA to sustain and engage all members of the Bar in this initiative.
However, I urge the NEC of the Bar to ensure that a proper management structure is established to administer the scheme, as this will enhance the confidence of the users, while also reducing the avenues wherein fraudulent misuse may be occasioned.
“This launch celebrates the welcome actualization of a long held aspiration of the Bar for which the President, NEC, and indeed predecessors in office, should be applauded and commended. To contextualize this innovation, a key role of the NBA is the regulation of its members’ identities through various means of identification.”
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