The body of senior advocates of nigeria (the body) at its meeting held at the Nigeria Law School, Lagos on Saturday 12th March 2016 considered severial issues of improtance to seciety, its members and the larger legal profession. they include:
* Anti-corruption efforts of the government and the Due Processes of Law;
* Independence of the Judiciary and Avoidance of Intimidation of Judges. and
* The Right of Accused persons to counsel of their Choice, and the duty of Lawyers to defend their clients without fear or discrimination.
The Body carefully considered these issues and resolved as follows:
1. Anti-corruption efforts of the Federal Government and the Due Processes of Law
a. The body condemns all forms of corruption and money laundering by any one, lawyers inclusive, and wholeheartedly supports appropriate efforts of the government almed at curbing the menace of corruption, through investigation and prosecution of offenders in a fai trial that complies with due process of the law and ensures equal access to justice by the prosecutor and the accused, while guaranteeing the fundamental right of all persons as enshrined in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended).
b. For the avoidance of doubt, the body welcomes the investigation of any lawyer, no matter how highly placed, provided due process is followed, as no lawyers id above the law.
c. As a body we accept that we have a duty and a responsibility to hlod ourselves to the highest professional and moral standards and are detemined to continue to ensure that those standards are maintained.
d. The body condemns all acts of disrespect by any person or agency of gocernment, of valid orders of courts of competent jurisdiction. Indeed to disrespect or disregard court reders is a step towards anarchy, which does not and cannot augur well for a democratic society such as Nigeria.
2. Independence of the Judicairy and Avoidence of Intimidation of Judges:
a. The body is concerned about the spate of disparaging remarks and attacks on the Judiciary and Judicial officers, often made in a generalized manner and perhaps calclated to intimidate and infuse fear in Judges, who are sworn to dispense justice without fear or favour. It is the body’s view that it is unfair to the many honest and hard-working judges in our country, to be painted with the same brush as the few who have been found wanting for misconduct ot those who bring the office into disrapute and violate their sacred oaths of office. The body also views as unprofessional situations where lawyers engage in tjis generalized statements of a disparaging nature.
b. The body is alo concerned about the evolving practice of delays and non-payment of judges and judicial workers their salaries and believes that erverely undermines the much cherished independence of the Judiciary.
3. The right of accused persons to counsel of their chioce and the Duty of Lawyers to defend their clients without Fear or disorimination.
a. The body reiterates its belief that the harassment and intimidation of lawyers in any form in the course of their legitimate work in unlawful and counter-productive in a democratic society. Such actions are not only unlawful but antithetical to the rule of law.
b. Noting is further from the truth that once a lawyer undertakes the defence of an accused person particularly a professional colleague, then he must be in active support of the alleged crime or be working against the anti-corruption crusade. The nigerian constitution, for good reason, preseumes a person innocent unit proven gullty before a court of comp[etent jurisdiction following a fair hearing, with an opportunity to conduct his defence by a counsel pf his choice.
c. Lawyers are enjoined to represent their clients to the best of their abilities, within the ambit of the law, and in compliance with the rules or professional conduct for legal practitioners 2007.
4. The body of senior advocates of nigeria continues to enforse the core values of professional excellence, integrity, industry, professional ethics, and leadership by example as its overaching principles, and has taken appropriate measures to ensure that the rank is not brougth to disrepute as a whole by the actions of those adjudged of worng-doing.
5. The body relterates the position of the National Executive committe (NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) on the anti-corruption, and anti-money laundering stance of the NBA, as well as its stand on the rule of law; as contained in the NBA communique issued at the end of its meeting of February 18, 2016 at Jos Plateau State.
Dates at Lagos this 12th day of March, 2016.
E.O. Sofunde, SAN
Seyi Sowemimo, SAN
For: Body of Senior Advocates Of Nigeria