African Bar Association (AFBA) president, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo has faulted the idea that foreign lawyers are better than their African counterparts.
According to him, it is wrong to give important briefs to foreign firms when local ones can do better, saying very good Nigerian lawyers can match the best abroad.
Uwaifo, who noted the excellent performance of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at the International Bar Association (IBA) conference which held in Vienna, Austria, said: “I want to thank our hardworking President Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN) for the beautiful admonitions he gave at the breakfast meeting of the African regional forum in Vienna.
“He touched on the need not only to upgrade our skills, but to join forces in order to benefit from the huge investments we make into IBA conferences without corresponding benefits.
“It is obvious that most of the sessions at each succeeding conferences are not relevant to our practice in Nigeria and Africa.
“I, however, do not believe that our skills are poor in Nigeria. I do not also agree that we can only fit into global legal practice by sharpening skills whatever that means.
“Nigeria has always played at the world stage. In the World Court, in the International Criminal Justice system and practice. “
All jurisdictions, Uwaifo said, have their peculiarities, culture and style. “However, successful legal practice is tied to good governance, the rule of law, economic wizardry and technology breakthrough and unfortunately, these are mostly lacking in Africa. “Lawyers join politicians to break the law and shop for judges to help validate these shameful conducts. They take advice from clients instead of offering them advice advice professionally,” he said.
He continued: “Lawyers collect huge sums of money from political clients not in any way commensurate with the regime of legal charges, knowing that these funds were drawn from public funds meant for the commonwealth to tare roads, fix hospitals, schools, electricity and fund technological advances.
“The Economy remain stagnant, unemployment becomes rife. There are serious security problems, the entire society is dysfunctional. The prosperity of the profession is blocked.
“Everybody is accusing each other and the profession is now Thomas Hobbes’ contraception of nasty, short and brutish. You cannot meet global skills when you take bribes and promote corruption.”
According to Uwaifo, AFBA will work towards improving lawyers’ fortune.
His words: “We intend to bring about some of these changes by encouraging individual lawyers and national associations to imbibe attitudinal changes by organising frequent interactions and acting as watchdog.
“The present NBA executive has done excellently. They have shown that things can be done right. They are bringing about orderliness transparency and professional etiquette.”
The next Exco, he said, has to fight corruption, influence peddling, compromising judicial officers, accepting monies stolen from public coffers to pay professional bills for personal political cases.
“Be bold to take on judges who ridicule our profession and our country by making ridiculous orders and granting bogus injunctions that will make even the market women reel with laughter.
“Injunctions stopping security agencies from investigating corruption and other crimes against the Nigerian people should not be granted,” adding: “The bar and the bench must know that the average Nigerian, whose public funds is misappropriated daily is also entitled to injunctions against these mindless crooks and deserves the protection offered by the rule of law.”