*Says We Have a Broken System Within And Outside Legal System

The President of the Nigerian Bar Association has said his relationship with the leadership of the Court of Appeal ceased to be cordial since last year due to his expression of discontent with the quality of the screening process for the Court’s justices.

It would be recalled that several stakeholders in Nigeria’s legal profession have in time past pointed to the recruitment process for Justices as very important to the quality of justice dispensed in the country.

Mr Akpata had sometime last year criticised the shoddiness of the interview conducted for the candidates by the National Judicial Council (NJC), which he said hurriedly interviewed 20 nominees within two hours.

The NBA president, a member of the NJC who was participating in the council’s interview of judicial nominees for the first time, also expressed shock that “Important legal issues that were occasionally put to the nominees could not be answered”.
He said he heard things like “they will learn on the job” during the interview.

Contributing to a panel session on “Disobedience to Court orders and the slide to a state of Anarchy” chaired by Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, at the ongoing NBA-SPIDEL Conference in Abuja, Mr Akpata decried the fact that summits, conferences and panel sessions always come up with resolutions that are never implemented. Noting that when it comes to implementing these recommendations and resolutions, opposition begins to rise from various quarters.

He then referred to his expression of concern about the quality of the screening process for Appeal Court Justices last year and how it ended up straining his relationship with the leadership of the Court.

He said: “We interviewed 20 Court of Appeal justice nominees in 120 minutes , so it was six minutes per nominee.

“I said it but I was lambasted , today the president of the court of appeal does not speak to me and I don’t speak to her either.

“I thought I was helping that court, that system, because, that court is at the receiving end of the process, but I was told that I am now the bad guy for saying that the court of appeal justices do not know what they are doing I NEVER SAID THAT.

“I said that if you bring this kind of candidate to the court of appeal there will be a problem ; but no, anywhere I go they say: “you said this about the court of appeal”

“A nominee to the court of appeal does not know what “Lis pendes” is can we please ask him to stand down? that became a problem .

“Then, we sit here and they say NBA do something about appointment, what else can we do,”.

The NBA President also stated that legal profession must make up its mind about what it really wants beyond mere recommendations from conferences.

He said: “I rise now to simply tell us that we really must make up our mind on what exactly we want to do as legal practitioners; we are re-hatching stories that we have heard all over and I cannot begin to tell you how many I have witnessed in the last couple of years

What I find and I am commenting on, is that “we don’t rise to meet standards, we pull standards to meet us wherever we are.

We are in that Orwellian farm where different rules apply to different people, and there is a sense of entitlement.”

He stressed that “”We run a broken system within and without the legal profession and nonody wants to fix it ladies and gentlemen: everyone is waiting to be the next beneficiary of a broken system”

Akpata added that it is a mentality of “No be when e reach my turn dem go change am”

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