President of the Nigerian Bar Association Mr. A.B Mahmoud SAN has asked the Senate to stay further legislative proceedings on the Legal Practitioners Act Cap, C11 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (SB.435).
Mr. Mahmoud stated this in a letter addressed to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters where he noted that the bill has been before the Senate for about 12 years while requesting that same should be replaced with the recent Legal Profession Regulation Bill.
“Our humble request to H.E. President of the Senate; the Distinguished Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters is that the National Assembly should kindly stay any further legislative proceedings on the Legal Practitioners Act Cap, C11 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (SB.435) which we understand was first presented to the Senate almost 12 years ago, and allow for the replacement of the pending Senate Bill 435 with the proposed Legal Profession Regulation Bill. Mr. Mahmoud’s letter stated.”
It would be the second time a letter would be written to the Senate in respect of the LPA Amendment bill presently being considered by the Senate. It would be recalled that Professor Ernest Ojukwu had, shortly after the Senate announced the date for the public hearing on the LPA amendment written to the Senate stating categorically that some of the provisions of the bill were obsolete. Read here
The NBA President also highlighted the efforts made by the professional body to reform the old law in the new bill which the NBA seeks to present before the Senate.
“In a bid to strengthen the Nigerian legal profession to play a progessive role in Nigeria’s development, and to transform and reposition the legal profession to enable it achieve parity with other legal professions around the world, the NBA has embarked on an aggressive reform Strategy which aims to promote reforms in four (4) crucial areas:
- Regulation of the profession (covering issues such as entry requirements, standards, ethics, professional development, discipline and service quality);
2. Restructuring the internal governance processes and the reform of the NBA as an organisation to enable it offer service-oriented value propositions by its elected and appointed officials to our members; and
3. Reviewing the current policy and regulatory framework of the Association, specifically the NBA Constitution.
4. Public Interest interventions by the Bar.”
Also highlighted in the letter was the activities of the 34 members Legal Profession Regulatory Review Committee (LPRRC), which was inaugurated on 24th January, 2017 and chaired by Chief Anthony Idigbe SAN and Dr. Aminu Gamawa as Secretary.
“The Committee carried out its work through Calls for Memoranda; Committee and (the Current State, Job Creation and the Future State) Sub-committee Meetings; and nationwide Stakeholder Engagements with the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Nkanu Onnoghen CFR, JSC; the Honourable Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami SAN; and representatives of the National Institute for Legislative Studies, the Nigerian Law School, and Law Faculties of Nigerian Universities, Attorney Generals of various States, the National Judicial Council (NJC), and the National Judicial Institute (NJI).”
“The Committee also held Town Hall Meetings in Lagos, Kaduna and Cross River States during which it considered the comments, input and concerns of members of the Legal Profession and the Public on the current regulatory framework of the Nigerian Legal Profession. The LPRRC concluded its work and presented its Committee and Sub-Committee Reports and Recommendations to the NBA President on 31st May 2017.”
He informed the senate that the Legal Professin Regulation Bill was drafted through a very thorough procedure.
“Upon conclusion of the Committee’s national stakeholder engagements, the LPRRC held a retreat in Calabar, Cross River State to review and reflect on the work carried out and the feedback received from across Nigeria on the current framework of the Legal Profession. Based on their review, the Committee then produced a draft ‘Legal Profession Regulation Bill’ which is a proposed Bill that seeks to repeal the Legal Education (Consolidation) Act Cap 206 and the Legal Practitioners Act Cap 207, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and enact a more comprehensive single legislative framework for the regulation of legal practice and education in Nigeria.”
“The Legal Profession Regulation Bill proposes some key reforms of the Nigerian Legal Profession and seeks to introduce clear regulatory objectives and principles that would guide the regulatory authority and committees established there-under in carrying out their respective responsibilities and duties over the Legal Profession. The Bill also seeks to establish a single apex regulatory organ that will be the highest regulatory authority and independent Committees thereunder for the regulation of the legal profession.”
“The proposed Legal Profession Regulation Bill is currently at exposure stage and has been circulated for consideration and input amongst stakeholders which include the Body of Benchers, the Body of Senior Advocates, the Nigerian Law School, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen CFR , JSC, Senate President His Excellency Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki GCON ,Honourable Yakubu Dogara ,Honourable Speaker, Hon. Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN, Nigeria Prison Service, Nigeria Immigration, Nigeria Defence, FIRS, Nigeria Army; etc.”
On the above premise the NBA President urged the Senate to consider the new bill which would give a more robust and internationally acceptable regulation to the Legal Profession in Nigeria.
“The NBA is grateful to the National Assembly for its interest in the reform of the Nigerian Legal Profession, which has been clearly demonstrated by the valuable time the Distinguished Chairman and members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters has invested in the legislative process on the pending Legal Practitioners Act Cap, C11 LFN 2004 (Amendment) Bill, 2017 (SB.435).”
“The NBA has expended considerable time and resources on its regulatory reform initiatives over the past year, especially in its review of the regulatory framework of the Nigerian Legal Profession. It is the firm belief of the Association that the proposed Legal Profession Bill which has been drafted by the NBA is a detailed legislation developed with the input and consideration of national and international stakeholders in the Nigerian Legal Profession.”