The President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr Olumide Akpata, has said it is impossible for the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abukakar Malami (SAN), to single-handedly amend the 2007 Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners.
Akpata said this in response to reports that Malami had amended the RPC to the effect that the NBA stamp and seal was no longer a requirement to authenticate papers filed by lawyers in court.
The sale of the stamp and seal is a major source of revenue for the NBA as lawyers cannot validly file court papers without affixing the stamp and seal.
Akpata faulted Malami’s single-handed amendments to the RPC in a press release on Sunday, titled, ‘Statement by NBA President on the Purported Amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.’
The NBA President said decision to amend the LPC could only be taken by the General Council of the Bar.
Akpata said, “For the avoidance of doubt, the Legal Practitioners Act (as amended) confers the power to issue rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners, and any amendments thereto, on the General Council of the Bar (the ‘Bar Council’). The Bar Council comprises the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (‘HAGF’), the Honourable Attorneys General of the thirty-six states of Nigeria, and 20 members of the NBA. Consequently, the RPC and any amendments thereto may only be validly issued after it has been deliberated upon and approved at a properly convened meeting of the Bar Council.
“As far as the NBA is aware, no notice convening a meeting of the Bar Council was issued to its elected representatives on the Bar Council and no meeting of the Bar Council was convened and/or held to deliberate on the instrument. To that extent, our position is that no authority or approval was given for the amendment of the RPC. Consequently, the NBA maintains that the RPC has not been amended and enjoins all legal practitioners to remain calm and continue to conduct their affairs in the same manner as they did prior to the issuance of the instrument.
In the same vein, human rights lawyer, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), has said he would challenge the amendment by Malami in court.
Falana said this in a statement on Sunday titled, ‘Clarifications of My Stand on the Purported Amendment of RPC by AGF.’
Falana had in an earlier statement said the NBA failed to live up to its responsibilities when it left the General Council of the Bar in the hands of the AGF in the last 15 years.
He had said since the NBA never complained when the then AGF, Bayo Ojo (SAN), unilaterally introduced the use of stamps in 2007, then the association should not complain now that Malami has unilaterally removed it
In a fresh statement on Sunday, however, Falana said he had sought further clarification and discovered that Ojo actually did not take the decision unilaterally but only after consulting with the general council.
He said, “I have read the clarifications credited to Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) and Lawal Rabal (SAN) to the effect that the 2007 RPC was properly made by the GCB. I have also spoken to both of them on phone for confirmation of their positions. I verily believe them in toto.