- As Law School decries exam malpractice by lawyers
Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) has charged lawyers in the country to fashion out, promote and defend a national culture that would regard obedience to the rule of law as a desirable goal, rather than an aberration.
He gave this charge in a paper he delivered at the ongoing 56th Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association in Port Harcourt, River s State, with titled as ‘One Year Later: Review of Law and Change Under the Buhari Administration.’
In a press statement issued to newsmen in Abuja yesterday by Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, special adviser on Media and Publicity to the minister, Isah said Malami at the conference with the theme, ‘Democracy and Economic Development,’ enjoined those in the legal practice to do all humanly possible and permissible in law to ensure that Nigerians home and in Diaspora were no longer described as rule breakers.
The AGF reiterated that section 106 of the Administration of cCriminal Justice Act, 2015, transferred the duties of prosecuting all criminal matters to the Federal Ministry of Justice, thereby prohibiting prosecution by police who are not trained lawyers.
Malami further made known that his ministry had so far taken over about 8000 case files from police for prosecution.
He also advised the judicial arm of government to be transparent in the use of its powers as enshrined in Section 6(6)(c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), frowning at the abuse of judicial process in the courts, which is evident in the proliferation of counter judgements and orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
“Multiplicity of counter judgment and orders by the court of coordinate jurisdiction on the same matter does not encourage the desired confidence building in the judicial process,” he said.
The Attorney General reiterated that the policy thrust of President Muhammadu Buhari was anchored on the fight against corruption, building a safer, secured nation and improving the economy that will provide answers to national interest questions that brought about the change.
He further explained that the ongoing anti-corruption fight was aimed at not only to arrest, investigate and prosecute criminals, but includes preventing the crimes from being committed through the rigorous application of extant laws and regulations in all strata of our national lives.
Other benefits of the anti-corruption war, according to him, include holding persons indicted by investigators accountable by filing appropriate charges against them in the courts, recover individual loots in public domain and redirect such funds to the developmental needs of government, etc.
Malami emphasised that the administration of President Buhari had put Nigeria back in the book of records among comity of nations that abhor corruption and the ills it portends.
“On the international scene, there is no doubt that there is a greater global awareness on the part of international partners that Nigeria government now exhibits greater political will in its capacity to pursue and recover national assets abroad.
“We have therefore, begun to receive greater cooperation from all such foreign entities,” he said.
He also disclosed that federal government had signed agreement with Swiss government that would engender the repatriation of about USD321 million back to the country.
“Recently, we signed MOU with Swiss Federation that will ensure the imminent repatriation of USD321 Million Nigeria funds in Switzerland. We are equally addressing, through a robust Mutual Legal Assistance Mechanism, the challenges which had hitherto tied down assets in excess of USD500 million in jurisdictions such as the United States, Jersey Islands and United Kingdom,” he added.
In the renewed fight against corruption and the reinvigorated efforts to repatriate illicit funds, Malami revealed that federal government had signed critical agreements with United Arab Emirates.
“In January, we signed four critical agreements with the United Arab Emirates which is a favourite destination of Nigeria Funds to enable us commence long term cooperation to block and recover illicit funds in that jurisdiction.”
He added that imprisonment was no longer enough deterrent for treasury looters, saying compelling them to make restitution through the disgorgement of the proceeds of crime within the ambits of law would be explored.
“It has been long recognised by criminal justice stakeholders that mere imprisonment of guilty persons is not sufficient to repair the damage done to society by such persons.
“If society must be healed of the harmful effects of illicit property acquisition by the unscrupulous persons and institutions, then the law must compel them to make restitution through the disgorgement of the proceeds of crime in order to use such resources to provide critical services to the citizenry.”
Malami further explained that the absence of adequate legislation to prosecute and punish those who plunder the nation’s economy and plough back such funds necessitated the re-transmission of the Bill seeking to establish Proceeds of Crime Agency, POCA, back to the National Assembly for reconsideration and possible passage into law.
According to him, the bill, if passed, will ensure that there is coordination and proper management of assets recovered from those suspected or convicted of embezzling public funds.
He also stated that a Bill on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters which is expected to define and validate the processes for mutual legal and symbiotic relationships with other countries on a predictable basis had also been transmitted to the National Assembly.
A human rights activist, Mr. Joseph Otteh who was represented by Bar. Ken Atsuwete, appealed to the Attorney General of the Federation to grant all necessary approvals needed by court judges to enable them give judgements on cases pending in the various courts.
Law School decries exam malpractice by lawyers
Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, NLS, Professor Olarenwaju Onadeko (SAN) has decried the situation where some practising lawyers write exams for students at the law school, saying it would not help the practice.
Onadeko stated this yesterday while speaking at the Annual General Meeting, AGM, of the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.
The NLS director-general, who stated that some practising lawyers were recently caught while writing examinations for students of the school, pointed out that such act would not help in the training of future lawyers for the country.
He said: “It is very unfortunate that some lawyers have been caught writing examinations for students of the Nigerian Law School. Such act is condemnable because it is not helping in the training of future lawyers for this country.”
Onadeko further stated that those caught in the act have been reported to the NBA, and urged the association to take drastic actions against such lawyers to serve as a deterrent to others.
He added: “The only thing we can do is to report those lawyets to the Nigerian Bar Association and we have done that. So we expect the leadership of NBA to take drastic actions against them to serve as a deterrent to others.”
Reacting, outgoing NBA president, Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN) said for the past two years, the association did not receive report of any lawyer caught writing examinations for students of the Nigerian Law School.
Alegeh, however, assured that the Disciplinary Committee of the NBA would handle such cases whenever they are received by the leadership of the association.
He said: “For the past two years, we have not received any report of lawyers caught involving themselves in writing examinations for law students. However, we have a Disciplinary Committee, which will handle such cases whenever the reports are received.”
Also speaking, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs called on the leadership of the NBA to address the case and ensure that those found culpable are punished.