By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
President, Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA) Abubakar Balarabe Mahmood has lamented over the blanket perception of most Nigerians on members of the Bar and the Bench in the country saying the few leprous fingers amongst legal practitioners should not be used to judge all of them.
He conceded that though the activities and conducts of a handful of his members have nearly soiled the reputation of the profession, the leadership of the professional body is doing everything practically possible to fish out the bad guys for the good of the profession and to make the legal profession the true baston it supposed to be.
The NBA President spoke Thursday in Minna, Niger state capital at the sidelines of NBA’s National Executive Council, (NEC) meeting. He however insisted that corruption in Nigeria is multifaceted and widespread across all stratas of the country and should not therefore be limited to the legal profession and the judiciary alone.
He said the NBA has made remarkable achievements in the fight against corruption but regretted that the body was still being seen in some quarters as the shield and bedrock of corruption.
While urging for a change of perception from the citizens, the NBA helmsman said terrible bandwagon perception was not good for the general image of the country and those in the noble profession of law as lawyers and in the dispensation of justice.
Mahmood cautioned against such sweeping accusations against members of the Bar and the Bench for its negative repacursions on the socio economic landscape of the country adding that “allegations of corruption against the bar and the bench should not undermine the significant positive contributions of the judiciary and the legal profession to nation”.
He disclosed that the NBA was dispassionately probing some senior judicial officers accused of sundry acts just as he charged citizens not to condemn the entire system as being corrupt or shielding those being accused.
“The NBA will always cooperate with the Federal Government to fish out bad eggs within the legal profession but this should be done in accordance with due process and the rule of law” he stressed.
While conceding that there were indeed problems in the judiciary and the entire legal profession in Nigeria, the NBA President said that the problems within the Bar and the Bench were the problems of Nigeria which need to be fixed wholistically.
“The NBA of today is making frantic effort to redeem the integrity of the profession and the entire judicial system in the country. Allegations against members are under investigation. If they are established, the NBA will come out with disciplinary measures against those concerned” he assured.
Speaking at the opening of the conference the NBA President said part of the meeting was to, “set in motion the machinery of building a brand new bar association”.
Niger state Governor Abubakar Sani Bello while declaring the NBA NEC meeting open, said the state government had set machinery in motion for the review of the laws of the state. The laws are over thirty years old.
Represented by his Deputy, Ahmed Mohammed Ketso, Governor Bello said his administration was working on a new set of code of conducts for state prosecutors.
“It is our hope that very soon, a new set of guidelines and procedures for judicial officers in the state would come into operation”.
He revealed that the state would also domesticate the administration of Criminal Justice Act to make it serve as catalyst for speedy administration of justice. He said a bill to this effect would soon be sent to the state House of Assembly.
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.