The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has set up a panel to investigate the role of lawyers in the conflicting court orders on the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The Rivers State High Court, on August 23, issued an order of interim injunction restraining Prince Uche Secondus from parading himself as the party’s National Chairman.
Three days later, a Kebbi State High Court ordered him to continue exercising all the constitutional powers of the office.
The NBA threatened to sanction lawyers who contribute to the ridiculing of the Judiciary.
Speaking yesterday during a breakout session on Regulating Legal Practice at the ongoing annual general conference (AGC) of the association, moderator of the session, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN), confirmed the setting up of the panel.
“A panel has been set up to probe the lawyers involved, with a view to sanctioning them, if found culpable,” he said while responding to a comment by a participant that the NBA should sanction the lawyers involved.
A former chairman of the NBA Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), Joseph Daudu (SAN), called for the decentralisation of the association’s disciplinary mechanism.
“The centralisation of the LPDC poses some difficulties in some cases,” he said.
A panelist, Mofesomo Tayo-Oyetibo, suggested that the LPDC should be reconstituted to include non-lawyers, saying this would inspire more confidence in the public.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mrs. Funke Adekoya, said the legal profession should move from rules-based to principles-based regulation, as done in the United Kingdom (U.K).
“In the U.K, the rules are surrounded by principles, such that a solicitor should act in a way that promotes public confidence and trust. This will apply to all the lawyer does,” she said.
Also, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, has decried what he called forum shopping among judicial officers.
He accused some lawyers of filing cases in courts they knew lacked the jurisdiction to hear them and some judges who heard such cases, despite the obvious anomaly.
The CJN spoke in Abuja at the swearing-in of the Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Justice Hussein Baba-Yusuf.
“The legal profession should indeed take the lead in all human affairs. However, the lead is at a price. We cannot take the lead when our courts issue ex parte orders recklessly.
“We cannot take the lead when many litigants, with support of their counsel, engage in forum shopping.
“We cannot take the lead when counsel file a case before a court that they know lacks jurisdiction and the judge proceeds to hear the case.
“We cannot take the lead when counsel files frivolous cases in our courts just for nuisance value or to buy time,” the CJN said. Justice Muhammad stressed the need for self-assessment by lawyers and judges to rid the legal profession of bad eggs.