By Chuks Ekpeneru
The recent amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners has drawn the ire of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
In a statement on Sunday, NBA President, Olumide Akpata said Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abukakar Malami (SAN), cannot single-handedly amend the 2007 RPC.
The recent amendment stops the NBA from the sale of stamp and seal, a requirement to authenticate papers filed by lawyers in court.
The sale of the stamp and seal is a major source of revenue for the NBA as lawyers cannot validly file court papers without affixing the stamp and seal.
Akpata said in the statement that the decision to amend the LPC can only be taken by the General Council of the Bar.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the Legal Practitioners Act (as amended) confers the power to issue rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners, and any amendments thereto, on the General Council of the Bar (the ‘Bar Council’).
“The Bar Council comprises the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (‘HAGF’), the Honourable Attorneys General of the thirty-six states of Nigeria, and 20 members of the NBA. Consequently, the RPC and any amendments thereto may only be validly issued after it has been deliberated upon and approved at a properly convened meeting of the Bar Council.
“As far as the NBA is aware, no notice convening a meeting of the Bar Council was issued to its elected representatives on the Bar Council and no meeting of the Bar Council was convened and/or held to deliberate on the Instrument. To that extent, our position is that no authority or approval was given for the amendment of the RPC.
“Consequently, the NBA maintains that the RPC has not been amended and enjoins all legal practitioners to remain calm and continue to conduct their affairs in the same manner as they did prior to the issuance of the Instrument.”
He urged lawyers not to worry, assuring them that he would engage Malami on the issue.