Human rights lawyer and a senior advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has described the alleged unilateral amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, as an act of unpardonable impunity, which he was ready to challenge.
In a statement released on Sunday titled, ‘Clarification of My Stand on the Purported Amendment of PRC by AGF’, Falana said he had erroneously blamed the NBA for failing to live up to its responsibilities when it allowed the AGF to usurp the responsibilities of the General Council of the Bar in the past 15 years.
He had said since the NBA never complained when the then AGF, Bayo Ojo (SAN), unilaterally introduced the use of stamps in 2007, then the association should not complain now that Malami has unilaterally amended the rules.
But in his statement on Sunday, Falana said his investigation revealed that Bayo Ojo’s action was not unilateral, but that he got the buy-in of the general council.
He said, “My position on the 2007 RPC was anchored on the preamble wherein it is stated: ‘In the exercise of power conferred on me by section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act 1990, as amended, and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, Bayo Ojo, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice/Chairman General Council of the Bar hereby Make the following Rules.’
“However, I have read the clarifications credited to Prof. Ernest Ojukwu (SAN) and Lawal Rabal (SAN) to the effect that the 2007 RPC was properly made by the GCB. I have also spoken to both of them on phone for confirmation of their positions. I verily believe them in toto.
“Therefore, notwithstanding my opposition to the Stamp and Seal on ideological grounds I wish to reiterate my position that the 2020 RPC was illegally made by the AGF, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN). To that extent, I will take appropriate steps to fight this latest act of unpardonable impunity emanating from the office of the AGF.”
The vexatious clauses are sections 9(2), 10, 11, 12, and 13 which the AGF expunged from the rules, thereby removing the requirement for NBA stamp and seal on court processes and giving everyone – including non-lawyers – the right to submit court processes.
The move is also expected to stifle the NBA’s of revenue as the sale of stamps is one of its major sources of income.