Leading human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana SAN has advised further review of the guidelines for the award of rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) to ensure that all qualified applicants are awarded.
Delivering a speech at dinner to mark the 90th birthday of foremost activist and Life Bencher, Chief Tunji Gomez at the MUSON Centre, Lagos, Falana also commended the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Lagos Branch for “celebrating Chief Gomez while he is still very much with us.”
Falana noted that Gomez’s anti-SAN rank stance “is borne out of his commitment to equality before the law and equal rights. As far as he is concerned, a lawyer is a lawyer. And if we are running a truly democratic system like in America, there should be no ranking of lawyers.”
Falana however observed that since Nigeria “inherited the British tradition of having a club of lawyers to act as a shining example for others, we are retaining the rank of Senior Advocate.”
The human rights activist however noted that over the years, “it is undeniable that the rank has been mired in controversy just like any honour given in Nigeria. It ought to be pointed out that the campaign for the abolition of the rank is not limited or peculiar to Nigeria.”
He observed that the rank was abolished in Ghana in 1988 following a court judgement, adding that the attempt by the abolitionists in Nigeria led by Chief Gomez to replicate that feat was truncated by the Federal High Court on a “technical ground” of lack of service.