In preparation for the 2022 NBA general elections, the Electoral Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association (ECNBA) headed by Ayodele Akintunde, SAN, had released the NBA electoral guidelines and schedule on May 16, 2022. All other things being equal, the general elections shall hold on July 16, 2022 as published in the electoral timetable.
As the election holds next month, virtually every legal practitioner is perturbed whether the electoral body of the NBA would either retain or rewrite the electoral history of the association which is characterized by various high scale malpractices. At the recently held NBA Bwari Branch (Cradle Bar) Law Week 2022, a renowned Law Professor and former Deputy Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Ernest Ojukwu, SAN, gave credence to the irregularities with his revelation on how senior lawyers used to mobilize Law students for voting and rigging in the successive NBA elections.
Besides the anticipated free, fair and credible elections, the legal profession is under serious threat. The extent lawyers particularly the new wigs suffer unspeakable harassment, unwarranted assaults and ill-treatment while discharging their professional duty in the hands of security personnel is alarming. Gone are the days lawyers were highly respected by all and sundry. The incoming exco must set the administrative machinery of the NBA in motion to effectively tackle this affront.
Moreover, the successive leadership of the NBA have played little or no role in enlightening the public on the right to legal representation of all persons facing criminal charges. The sanctity and inviolability of this stipulated legal procedure is universally acceptable. Access to legal representation is not justice denial. Rather, it is instrumental to achieve justice. In India, legal aid was provided to Amir Kasab who participated in the 2008 attacks that claimed the lives of 166 people. In the USA, legal representation was made available to Farouk Abdulmutallab who attempted to murder almost 300 people. No Nigerian lawyer deserves moral ambush or public humiliation for providing legal representation to suspected criminals.
The renumeration of young lawyers in the country is nothing to write home about. Many new wigs are living from hand to mouth. It is imperative the incoming NBA leadership once and for all sets a benchmark for lawyers’ emoluments to meet up with Nigeria’s socio-economic realities and international standards of living conditions for legal practitioners.In conclusion, the incoming executive members as a matter of urgency are implored to liaise with the Council of Legal Education and other critical stakeholders to review the current anachronistic syllabus and curriculum of legal education in the country in a bid to adequately reflect the modern law practice and emerging areas of Law such as Construction law, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, Cyber Security Law, Fintech Law, amongst others.
Binzak Azeez, Newworth LLP (Legal Practitioners), Onikan, Lagos