Serve Humanity and Stand for Justice – Mazi Afam Osigwe Urges New Wig in a Congratulatory Message

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Life Bencher and Former General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mazi Afam Osigwe, SAN, has enjoined newly admitted lawyers to serve humanity and stand out firmly for justice.

The learned silk made the above call in a congratulatory message to the 1507 new entrants to the legal profession.

He wrote:

Today, 1,507 (One thousand, five hundred and seven ) new wigs joined the legal profession in Nigeria. The Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun , SAN in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by law performed the call ceremony by uttering these words:

“By the powers conferred on the Body of Benchers by Section 3(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act and by powers conferred on me as Chairman of the Body of Benchers by Regulation 16 of the Body of Benchers Regulations 1983, I hereby admit each and every one of the 1507 Applicants herein present severally to the Bar as Barristers and Solicitors. You may now put on your wig”.

Having uttered these words the brand new lawyers (pictured) proceeded to put on their wigs, having now been admitted into the legal profession in Nigeria. The long wait is finally over. Lest I forget, they made history as the first set of lawyers to be called to the Bar at Body of Benchers Hall and Auditorium, Plot 688, Institute and Research Village, Phase III, Abuja (Close to the EFCC Headquarters).

As these ladies and gentlemen join the legal profession, I have nothing but best wishes and prayers for them. As I am wont to do for sometime now, I go on to say:

“Dear colleagues, congratulations on your call to the Nigerian Bar. This is a moment you have all laboured for and dreamt of. From the first time you had a dream to be a lawyer, you booked this date and your success in the Bar examination has guaranteed you a place in the profession. Some of your friends were not so fortunate. I felicitate with you.

As you join the legal profession, I enjoin you to serve humanity and stand out firmly for justice. Your call to bar is a new start. You are no longer who or what you used to be. Each one of you now acquires a new age and a new status. You are now Ministers in the Temple of Justice.

The legal profession is undoubtedly the noblest of all professions. It is as well a challenging profession which imposes on you a general responsibility to uphold and observe the rule of law, promote and foster the cause of justice, maintain a high standard of professional conduct, and not engage in any conduct which is unbecoming of a legal practitioner. Your call to the Bar is therefore not an end, but the beginning of the professional journey of a lifetime. The way you begin and or commit to go in the profession will be a signpost of where you will end.

The legal profession is like a pyramid. Never worry that in climbing a pyramid, you would likely start at the base. The race to professional excellence starts this day. The profession offers several vistas. It depends on you to decide which path to toe and endeavour to master the skills and exercise patience to blossom in your chosen direction.

You should never be deterred by tales of how difficult and almost impossible it is to get to the top or to succeed in the profession. All lawyers who set out on this journey which you embark on today went down this same road. The road may appear difficult, daunting and insurmountable, but you will master and succeed in it. With focus, commitment, hard work, perseverance and grace of God, you will surely excel and get to the top of the pyramid.

To get to the zenith of your chosen path these virtues are very necessary – hard work, trustworthiness, patience, integrity, perseverance and honesty. Imbibing these virtues will sustain you in the profession as the profession punishes any erring lawyer for any contravention of any of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners or failure to perform any of the duties imposed by the Rules.

As you commence this walk which I have no doubt will someday lead you to the pinnacle of the pyramid, always remember to 1) find a mentor to emulate; 2) value your beginning; 3) read more; 4) write better; 5) acquire requisite skills for your chosen area of practice; 6) learn to listen especially when addressed; 7) observe and internalize proceedings; (dress well; 9) speak audibly and politely; 10) invest your money wisely; 11) learn to be humble; 12) respect clients, judicial, seniors, elders, employers and all whom you come across; 13) protect your reputation; and above all 14) keep yourselves abreast with developments in whatever you choose to apply your qualification to.

You can always reach out to others for advice and guidance on areas of practice and management, tailored to your individual needs in the profession.

I assure you, you will never regret your decision to be a lawyer as long as you understand that your destiny lies in your hands. I believe you will work diligently work towards your set goals.

I wish you success. You can be a success story. You surely, will. The sky is wide enough to accommodate all the stars.

I look forward to meeting you in the continuous quest to open up legal markets to our colleagues and to defend human rights while supporting our members within the domestic legal market’.

Congratulations learned friends.

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