7th July, 2011
A Lagos legal practitioner, Oluwole Kehinde, who is also the Editor of Gani Fawehinmi Law Publications, has dragged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), before a Lagos High Court over alleged regulation and validation of the legal profession.
In a sworn affidavit, the lawyer averred that recently, he received series of text messages from the officials of NBA and also read an advertorial in the media, calling on all legal practitioners in Nigeria to visit designated venues of various states for the validation or verification for a fee, their records as legal practitioners in Nigeria in order to inter alia, enable it regulate the legal profession in Nigeria.
The claimant contended further that as a fact, the records of legal practitioners in Nigeria are statutorily kept by both the Council of Legal Education in Nigeria and the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria respectively.
Consequently, if the NBA is allowed to carry into effect the much publicised exercise of validating records of legal practitioners in Nigeria for the purpose of regulating the legal profession, it will not only infringe on the statutory roles of the Council of Legal Education, the Body of Benchers and the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, but also constitute an oppressive act on his person and practice as a legal practitioner based on the reasons that only verified lawyers would be eligible to practise legitimately, while the verified records would be used as basis of reference by the Bar for recommendation and letters of good standing and only verified lawyers would be eligible to vote and be voted for in all bar elections.
Continuing, he noted that any lawyer that refuses to submit to the exercise would not be able to access the Corporate Affairs Commission and Land registry.
In view of this, Mr. Oluwole urged the court to determine whether having regard to the provision of Sections 2 (1), 3 (1), 4 (1) and 4,7 (1), 23 (1) of Legal Practitioners Act Cap L 11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 and Section 5 (1) of the Legal Education Act Cap L 10 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004; the NBA having legal right or duty to regulate the legal profession in Nigeria or validate or verify records of legal practitioners in Nigeria.
Consequently, he prayed the court to restrain the NBA from carrying out the proposed validation exercise forthwith and also set aside any such purported verification and validation of the said records.