Some lawyers have said that the non-availability of the newly introduced NBA Stamp and Seal policy is making their practice difficult.
One of the lawyers, Barrister Gabriel Nkup Tsenyen Esq, who complained bitterly, told Daily Trust over the weekend that the NBA should take urgent steps to reverse this.
By the Legal Practitioners Act, a lawyer who practices in Nigeria must obtain a seal and stamp to use on every document or process emanating from him. With the enforcement of the Act, every lawyer is expected to apply and obtain the seal and stamp within 48hrs.
Gabriel Nkup Tsenyen said that he personally applied and submitted his application at the NBA National Secretariat, Abuja on September 11, 2015.
“Ever since, l have made about 5 visits to the secretariat and up till date the seal and stamp are not ready.
“I have processes to file in court and court processes are limited by time. For how long shall l wait or continue to explain to the court and clients the non-availability of stamp and seal to file the papers.
“If these are not forthcoming, the NBA should take immediate steps to reverse its directive to courts to allow lawyers file their documents by attaching their receipts of payment for their seals or file without the receipts until the seals are made available.
“My efforts and that of many other lawyers in compliance with legal practitioners act is foisting untold hardships on lawyers which the NBA needs to do something about. This is frustrating,” he said.
When thenigerialawyer contacted Access Bank over the weekend, a bank official said that they were not aware of the delay.
Thenigerialawyer recalls that about 1000 fake lawyers have been identified by the NBA since the implementation of the NBA Stamp policy, according to Augustine Alegeh SAN, President of NBA.
He disclosed this penultimate Monday at the special session of the Supreme Court of Nigeria to mark the opening of the 2015/2016 legal year and the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) which took place at the SC.
The NBA had on 15th April, 2015 launched its Stamp and Seal policy to address the malaise caused by the infiltration of quacks into the legal profession.
Under the policy, lawyers are expected to have personalised adhesive stamp/seal with the type of security features found in currencies. The features, which include individual lawyer’s number, can only be seen under ultra-violet light. The stamps are categorized into two different areas of practice, which are represented by green and red colours. Lawyers in litigation and regular practice are to affix the green seal in their documents, while lawyers employed by establishments like ministries, parastatals, agencies, MDAs, banks, corporations, associations among callings outside regular practice are to affix the red seal.
Since its inception, the policy has been criticized by various sectors and groups (especially law teachers and lawyers working in the ministry) who have expressed serious concerns and reservations on its successful implementation by the Bar.
Some groups have even challenged the validity of the entire exercise while some have questioned the rationale behind it.
According to Abdulkarim A. Kana, “it is obvious that the introduction of the stamp and seal was not aimed at quarks and impostors, but at teachers. It is discriminatory and contrary to the provisions of the constitution of Nigeria, and the Rules of Professional Conduct.
“Actually, it is more realistic and practicable to prevent unauthorised persons from practising by sending the list of those entitled to practise to the courts. This list can be updated every time names are added to or removed from the rolls. This is simple and straightforward.”
Kana, who is the Acting Dean, Faculty of Law, Nasarawa State University Keffi and the President Designate of the Nigerian Association of Law Teachers (NALT), said that once a person is called to Nigerian Bar, has paid his practicing fee, nothing should stop him from professional practice except of course if some conditions of contract of service limits the individuals entitlement as in the case of the Civil Service Rules/Public Service Rules or any contract of employment or terms of service as duly signed and agreed upon by the practitioner.
His words, “It is disappointing that the leadership of the NBA that ought to protect the interest of its members by emphasizing the above positions in defense of the sanctity and integrity of legal education by protecting teachers; now embarks on a mission of destroying the profession by alienating the profession from law teachers and researchers. The same researchers are responsible for most of the books that forms the very foundation of our legal studies and our legal system. Preventing teachers from consultancy will kill the teaching profession and bring an end to quality research.
“In spite of this leverage to practice law, very few law teachers engage in practice. There are currently an estimated 60,000 lawyers in practice in Nigeria, only about 1000 are law teachers and just about 100 of the law teachers engage in court room advocacy but almost all law teachers engage in one form of legal consultancy or the other. Out of about 100,000 lawyers trained and called to the Nigerian Bar since the inception of legal profession in Nigeria, only about 2,000 have been law teachers, constituting 2% percent of all lawyers, but the teachers account for more than 80% of law textbooks and legal academic resource in Nigeria today,” Kana said.