LAWYERS opposed to the recent actions of the attorney-general of the federation Abubakar Malami has launched a petition asking that he be stripped of the title senior advocate of Nigeria (San) for his recent breaches of legal ethical codes.
San is the highest rank for lawyers in Nigeria and Mr Malami a 1991 law graduate from Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto holds the title. Since becoming Nigeria’s justice minister in 2015, Mr Malami has been at loggerheads with the legal profession, as he has constantly been accused of being behind the government’s breaching of the rule of law.
In June 2019, Mr Malami was to appear before a disciplinary panel of the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee to face the petitioners seeking the stripping of his San rank for alleged misconduct. This time around, however, a petition has been floated following Mr Malami’s amendments to the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners, 2007.
His amendments removed the requirement for the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) stamp and seal to be on court processes, creating room for non-lawyers to submit court processes. In a petition filed by Izu Aniagu on www.change.org, Mr Malami was accused of taking the decision alone, thereby constituting a threat to the rule of law.
Mr Aniagu’s petition read: “Since assumption of office, the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) has continued to go rogue, from his disobedience to court orders, to his lacklustre prosecution, to his outright failure to prosecute, to allegations of corruption and bias against his person, to usurpation of office, to shielding of suspects, to his general dereliction of duty. This time, the AGF has decided to take his imprudence to top notch by unilaterally deleting the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct which provide for stamp and seal as well as bar practicing fee for government lawyers.
“The AGF does not have such powers as Section 12 (4) of the LPA gives the General Council of the bar power to make any such amendment and make other decisions concerning the NBA. There is no record of any meeting convened by the attorney-general of the federation who is the president of The Bar Council.
“The AGF took the decision alone and his actions constitute a threat to the rule of law. His action is totally shameful and is undeserving of a lawyer with the rank of a senior advocate, let alone a chief law officer of the federation.”
At the time of filing this report, about 500 people had signed the petition. Last week, the NBA had kicked against the amendments, saying Mr Malami did not follow due process in trying to introduce them.