Body of Benchers cautions the National Assembly against the expansion of law schools
The National Assembly's proposal to regulate the establishment of Law Schools in the nation has been warned against by the Body of Benchers (BOB).
When admitting 4, 691 new attorneys at the Call to Bar ceremony held in Abuja on Tuesday, BOB Chairman Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) issued the warning.
“May we beg the National Assembly to cease considering passing laws or amending the Legal Practitioners Act to make way for the proliferation of Law School campuses, particularly around the neighborhoods of some lawmakers?” he asked.
Establishing new Law School campuses is solely within the authority of the Council of Legal Education, in consultation with the Body of Benchers.
“While I do not contest the National Assembly's authority to enact laws as necessary, the establishment of Law School campuses is not permitted without the Council of Legal Education's approval.
“What we need right now is an upgrade and improvement of the current law school campuses, using the recently opened Graham Douglas Law School Campus in Port Harcourt as a model, which was constructed and furnished by the Rivers State Government. I'll venture to say that it's currently the best in the nation, according to Olanipekun.
He counseled the new lawyers to uphold the ethics of the profession at all times and refrain from actions that might damage the profession's reputation.
It is my duty at this point to warn you in advance about the impending likelihood of rough rides, jabs, tirades, general vicissitudes, and other contingencies to which all people are vulnerable.
Regardless of illustriousness or nobility of ancestry, tribal or ethnic affiliation, religious inclinations, affluence eminence, or dexterity, these eventualities are of a universal nature and spare no one. Of course, your faithfulness is a working illustration.
“Three adjectives that define our profession are noble, honorable, and learned. In your endeavors, understanding, and interactions with others, aspire to these guiding principles.
Do not engage in conflict, blackmail, mudslinging, a defamation campaign, treachery, or any other attempt to tear someone down, said Olanipekun.
He urged senior lawyers to improve the welfare of junior lawyers and spoke of plans to mentor new lawyers nationwide through a mentoring committee of the BOB headed by J. K. Gadzama (SAN).
Olanipekun urged judges to be lenient with young lawyers, saying: “To our noble judges, before whom these young ones will start appearing, please be patient with them and exercise your awesome owners to commit for sparingly.”
Dwelling on the activities of the BOB, Olanipekun noted that the body is not an appendage of the Federal Government, or any government, institution or agency, howsoever.
He added: “It is an independent and autonomous body, and its meetings, affairs and decisions are not influenced by any power or authority whatsoever.”
Olanipekun noted that although the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC), the body responsible for the discipline of lawyers, is a committee of the BoB, the LPDC is a juristic personality on its own, independent of the BOB and is not controlled in any way or manner by either the body or its chairman.
He cautioned: “Proceedings before the LPDC should not be politicized, sensationalized, publicized and advertised in advance or while the proceedings are ongoing by complainants for whatever reason howsoever, as so doing, negates the principle of fair hearing, which all lawyers subscribe to.”
Earlier, the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Professor Isa Chiroma (SAN) disclosed that the new lawyers successfully completed the vocational training at the Nigerian Law School as prescribed by the Legal Education Act of 1962.
Chiroma disclosed that the new lawyers are those who emerged successful at the August/September 2022 Bar Final Examination. He said out of a total of 5,802 students who participated in the exams, 4691 emerged successful representing 80.81%.
A breakdown of the results showed that 119 students came out with 1st Class; 789 with 2nd Class Upper; 2, 460, 2nd Class Lower; and 1, 323 came out with Pass, while students were from the last exam.
Meanwhile, the President of the Nigeria Bar Association ((NBA), Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), who has recently been critical of the BOB Chairman, was absent at the event.