Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, (ACJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, has said that the challenges of the legal profession were self-inflicted and that Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA) had a burden to ensure that legal practitioners kept to the ethics of the profession.
In his keynote address at the NBA Section on Legal Practice (SLP) 2022 Annual Conference in Asaba, Delta State, Justice Ariwoola said the conference with “Legal Practice in Nigeria: Our Reality, Our Future” as the theme was timely and appropriate.
While he lauded the choice of the conference theme which according to him was meant to address the challenges facing the profession, Ariwola represented by Justice Abdul Aboki, urged legal practitioners to brace up to improve the administration of justice in the country.
He said, “In Nigeria, the challenges of the legal profession are self-inflicted. In such situations, the Nigerian Bar Association has a burden to ensure that legal practitioners keep to the ethics of the profession. Legal practitioners should, therefore, brace up by improving the administration of justice in the country” Ariwoola advised.
Delta Governor and vice presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, in his address said that there cannot be effective rule of law in Nigeria without financial autonomy and independence of the judiciary.
Okowa said the NBA leadership deserved commendations for its continued fight for the rule of law and holding the executive arm of government accountable to the principles of fairness, equity and justice.
He commended the NBA for holding the conference in Asaba and assured that his administration would continue to support financial autonomy for the judiciary in the state just as the legislative arm.
“The courts and the legal profession must continue to adapt to cope with rapid changes like cross-jurisdictional legal issues and resolve disputes over business activities in the virtual world. They will have to address the impact of information technology on their work.
“Of equal importance is the need for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to continue championing the welfare and well-being of legal practitioners and members of the Judiciary. This is because there can be no rule of law without a guarantee of independence for the judiciary,” he said.
He added that businesses would need competent lawyers to advise on domestic and international transactions, conflicts of laws and commercial dispute resolution and urged Nigerian lawyers to specialise in established and emerging practice areas.
Earlier, President of NBA, Mr Olumide Akpata, said that the three sections of the NBA – Section on Business Law, Section on Legal Practice and the Section on Public Interest and Development Law had continued to grow in leaps and bounds.
“The NBA-SLP occupies a very credible place in the Association as members are engaged in dispute resolution practice as litigation practitioners and alternative dispute resolution practitioners.
“I commend the organisers for the choice of the conference theme and timing because of the critical role it will play in the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria,” Akpata stated.
He charged the judiciary to entrench the principles of accountability, probity and transparency in the management and allocation of the resources allocated to it.
Welcoming guests earlier, Chairman of the NBA-SLP, Chief Ferdinard Orbih (SAN), said the objective of the conference was to valiantly confront the contemporary challenges facing the legal profession and design a road map for the future.
He said lack of consistency in judicial pronouncements was becoming an albatross for the legal profession especially as regards electoral jurisprudence and called on members to find lasting solution to the challenge.
On her part, Chief Judge of Delta, Justice Theresa Diai, expressed delight with the partnership between the state government, the state judiciary and the NBA, saying that it was necessary for the development of the justice sector in the country.
She commended the section on Legal Practice for championing the course of improving knowledge of legal practice in the country.