The President of the African Bar Association, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo has stated that the proposed amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct, 2007 by Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami is not out of place and equally noting that the concerns of the Nigerian Bar Association is equally not out of place, describing them as a “family misunderstanding”.
He stated this at the Channels TV Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
“There is no position yet because the parties are trying to resolve whatever differences that are there. As President of the African Bar Association, and a member of the Nigerian Bar Association, it is difficult for me to say I support this, I support that. But what I am saying is, the position of the parties is that the proper thing should be done.”
Meanwhile, he stated that anything that would be done in order to ensure that fake lawyers are eradicated and the proper lawyers are identified should be strived to be attained.
“There is nothing wrong with the stamp and seal. Although, we have had some hiccups, some issues of delays in sending the stamp and seal to those who they are made for but it’s going to be a very veritable way of making the profession lucrative and prestigious”, he said.
Besides, he noted that the NBA President has a right to make a statement on the state of things, stating that it does not amount to a war but a mere disagreement between the NBA & Attorney General of the Federation.
In a similar development, Mr. Monday Ubani, the former 2nd Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association(NBA) stated that it is wrong at this point in time for the Attorney General to have unilaterally amend the Rules of Professional Conduct without the input of the General Council of the Bar.
“That has always been how it is done, the last rule that was made in 2007 had the input of the council and we are surprised that recently, some people went to the Attorney General saying that they have formed a parallel Association to the NBA. In fact, they called it New Nigerian Bar Association and that letter was written directly to the Attorney General and he promised to look into the merit of the application.
“So, the next thing we’re seeing is this new issue of amending the rule singlehandedly by the Attorney General now removing the issue of stamp and seal which is particularly a measure put in place in order to eliminate fake lawyers in the system.”
Therefore, he stated that the step taken by AGF, Malami “is laden with ill motive and clearly meant to dismember the unity of the Bar as a whole and so, it’s nothing done in good faith and actually, it’s very reprehensible, condemnable”.
Besides, he stated that the NBA comprises thousands of lawyers and therefore, it is improper for the AGF to have done what he did by carrying out what he described as far-reaching amendments with the NBA’s input even as it has 20 members in the Bar Council. Stating that there was no point in time when the Bar Council convened for a meeting on the purported amendment.
Therefore, he charges the AGF to retrace his steps in order to uphold the unity of the Bar.
However, the President of African Bar Association stated that the New Nigerian Bar Association “is dead on arrival” and that the Association will not support such a move.