12th September, 2012
Twenty Five legal practitioners who were recently elevated to the rank of senior advocates of Nigeria were on Wednesday sworn in by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Mariam Alooma Mukhtar, as part of activities marking the commencement of a new legal year by the Supreme Court.
Lagos based human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana and the others were elevated to the elite lawyers rank by the Legal Practitioners Privileges committee. The elevation, the Committee said, was in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners’ Act 2004.
The others are Professor Yemi Akinseye- George, a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Professor Dakas Clement James Dakas, Joy Okungbowa Adesina, Chief Mrs. Connie – Jeanne Aremu, Mahmud Abubakar Magaji, Ogwu James Onoja, Garuba Usman Tetengi, Henry Oghogho Ogbodu, Selekeowei Larry, Abenny O. Mohammed and Charles Nwanne Obishai.
The rest are Luke Chukwudi Illogu, Francis Chuka Agbo, Paul C. Ananaba, Akinlaja Dayo Moses, Ahmed Raji, Adekunle Theophilus Oyesanya, Rotimi Oluseyi Oguneso, Oluseye Samuel Opasanya, Aderoja Claudius Olumiyiwa, Aliyu Umar, Illo Katune Sanusi, Rotimi Jacobs and Ndukwe A. Nnawuchi.
The CJN praised the Supreme Court Practice Direction signed into law by the past Administration for contributing in no small measure to the speedy conclusion of election cases and noted that it presents a pragmatic shift from the erstwhile occurance of political cases dragging for years without end.
She promised that the tide will continue in this new legal year and in the course of her leadership of the Nigerian judiciary.
“In this new legal year, our efforts will be redoubled to ensure that the confidence bestowed on us by the people and by God will not be thrown into the abyss..”
Justice Alooma Mukhtar observed that there are presently an estimated number of 40,000 prisoners in Nigeria with about two thirds of thus population not convicted. she further noted that perhaps the Amnesty International is correct for laying the blame on the Nigerian judiciary where cases are uneccessarily adjourned.
She commended the efforts of some state administration aimed at introducing alternative punitive measures as a way of prison decongestion and praised Community service, non custodian sentences and probation as having great benefits to the government and the society at large.
Decrying the problem of inadequate funding confronting the judiciary, the CJN gave knocks to some state executives who have been treating the judiciary as an appendage of the executive arm.
Also speaking at the event, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) called for a rethinking in the elevation of persons to the rank of senior advocates of Nigeria. He observed that the general perception is that being a SAN offers legal practitioners license to charge very fat legal fees.
“In popular discourse within and outside the profession, there is a palpable feeling or perception that the rank is a passport to fame, personal riches and comfort. To others, the rank is a license to command fat fees, open doors and prominence bordering sometimes on arrogance. It is a matter of regret that these negative perceptions of the rank have engendered resentment from our colleagues who are yet to be similarly recorgnised and honoured”
The justice minister called for a redirection of minds by his fellow senior advocates of Nigeria to the real intendment of the elitist rank. He noted that as senior advocates of Nigeria, that they owe a duty and responsibility to the profession. He called on the new senior advocates as leaders of the Bar, to conduct themselves in a manner befitting the rank.
Adoke also charged the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, LPPC, not to shy away from ensuring that those elevated to the status of senior advocate of Nigeria, continually remain worthy of the rank by not shying away from reviewing its appointment to weed out those who have proved to be undeserving of the rank. He noted that it is the only way to ensure that the Bar can remain relevant and command the respect of the larger public.
By Namdi Felix / Abuja