The Nigerian Bar Association has placed a ban on congratulatory messages and media advertorials for legal practitioners newly admitted to the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

The directive was given by the NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN), in a letter dated September 7, 2015, addressed to the 21 lawyers selected for the conferment of the award this year.

Alegeh said the decision to ban congratulatory advertorials for new SANs was a resolution of the NBA National Executive Committee.

He added that the practice, which had gone on for years, infringed on the provisions of Rule 39 (2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007.

He urged the newly selected SANs to dissuade their families, friends and well-wishers who may want to congratulate them on the pages of newspapers, on radio or TV.

A copy of the said letter, sighted by our correspondent, read in part, “I wish to seize this opportunity to draw your attention to the provisions of Rule 39 (2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007, and a Resolution of the Nigerian Bar Association National Executive Committee in respect of the placement of congratulatory messages on behalf of lawyers on pages of national dailies and/or jingles on the electronic media and considers such practice as a serious professional infraction.

“I appreciate the fact that friends and family, who may be unaware of the RPC provisions, may wish to congratulate you on your recent elevation to the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria with paid advertorials and congratulatory messages on pages of newspapers or any other media platform. Kindly endeavour to draw their attention to these provisions and discourage them from putting up paid advertorials on your behalf.”

Since the directive was issued, some well-wishers, who had booked space for congratulatory messages for the new SANs, have started calling off same.

One of the newly selected SANs, Mr. Valentine Uche, while confirming the receipt of the letter to our correspondent on Thursday, said the development was like a rumour until a letter was delivered to him from NBA President’s office.

He said, “It was like a rumour and I could not act on the basis of a rumour; but now I have a letter delivered to me from the office of the NBA President, saying it is a violation of the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007.”

A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba, who also confirmed the authenticity of the directive, said the decision was to return the NBA to the strict path of professionalism.

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