COMMUNIQUE
ISSUED AT THE END OF THE MEETING OF THE NATIONAL EXECUTIVE
> COMMITTEE (NEC) OF THE NIGERIAN BAR ASSOCIATION (NBA) HELD
> ON THURSDAY 18th FEBRUARY, 2016 AT CREST HOTELS &
> GARDEN, JONAH JANG WAY (FORMERLY OLD AIRPORT ROAD), PLATEAU
> STATE
>
>
> INTRODUCTION
>
> The Nigerian
> Bar Association at its National Executive Committee [NEC] > Meeting held at The Crest Hotels & Garden, Jonah Jang
> Way (formerly old Airport Road) on Thursday 18th of
> February, 2016 considered several issues of urgent national
> importance including, but not limited to: the
> anti-corruption policy of the Federal Government of Nigeria;
> the delay in the payment of salaries and allowances of
> Judicial Officers and staff; misguided remarks and
> disparaging utterances by politicians and certain
> personalities against the Judiciary in order to intimidate
> or infuse fear; the appointment of Justices of the Supreme
> Court; the worsening state of the Nigerian economy; the
> ongoing electricity pricing controversy; the urgent need to
> set up the NBA Anti-money laundering and Anti-terrorism
> Financing Guidelines for all lawyers in Nigeria.
>
> NEC carefully
> considered the said issues and resolved as follows:
>
> STATE OF
> NIGERIAN JUDICIARY
>
> ATTEMPTS TO
> INTIMIDATE OR INFUSE FEAR INTO THE JUDICIARY
> NEC noted with concern the worrisome trend of disparaging
> the judiciary and judicial officers by the political class
> and other disgruntled persons in the course of the
> performance of their judicial duties in an attempt to
> malign, intimidate them and infuse fear. NEC resolved that
> any member of the NBA involved in such unprofessional
conduct should be sanctioned.
> NEC restated the independence of the Judiciary and called on
> all the other arms of Government to ensure that the
> Independence of the Judiciary is maintained and observed at
> all times. NEC resolved that the NBA shall continue to
> uphold and safeguard the Integrity of the Judiciary and
> shall rise to the defence of the Judiciary whenever Judicial
> Officers are unfairly attacked by the political class and
> other members of the public.
>
> DELAY BY
> FEDERAL AND STATE GOVERNMENTS IN PROMPTLY PAYING THE
> SALARIES OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS AND STAFF
> NEC noted that the Federal and some State Governments are
> unduly delaying the payment of the salaries and allowances
> of judicial officers and staff. This is a worrisome
> development in view of the losses suffered by the nation as
> a result of the last Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria [JUSUN] > industrial action in 2015.
> NEC reiterated the need for full compliance with the
> provisions of the Constitution on the financial autonomy of
> the Judiciary in order to ensure the independence of the
> Judiciary and to prevent unnecessary interference in their
> affairs by the other arms of Government.
> NEC resolved that the Federal and State Governments should
> as a matter of urgency set up measures to tackle issues of
> non-payment of salaries and allowances of judicial officers
> and staff and to take robust steps to ensure full compliance
> with the constitutional provisions on judicial autonomy.
> JUDGMENTS BY ELECTION PETITION TRIBUNALS AND APPELLLATE
> PANELS
> NEC commended the judiciary for their efforts in resolving
> election matters timeously. NEC noted that the judiciary
> applied its best efforts but conceded that certain things
> could have been done a lot better.
>
> NEC noted
> with concern the several instances of conflicting judgments
> and failure to abide with laid down judicial precedents by
> some Tribunals and Appellate Panels. NEC also noted the role
> of NBA members in the Election Petitions/Appeals and the
> need for there to be a remarkable improvement in the
> professional conduct of Lawyers handling Election
> Petitions/Appeals.
>
> NEC resolved
> that all those who were responsible for these obviously
> avoidable blemishes on the judiciary and the entire legal
> industry should be sanctioned to prevent them from causing
> grave harm to the fabric of the legal profession.
>
> THE
> APPOINTMENT OF JUSTICES OF THE SUPREME COURT.
>
> NEC commended
> the Chief Justice of Nigeria for amending the Guidelines for
> the Appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court to include
> appointments of deserving Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
>
> NEC noted
> that despite the impeccable records and deep knowledge of
> the law of NBA nominees, the final decision was based on
> number of judgments delivered when it is a known fact that
> lawyers do not write judgments.
>
> NEC urged the
> Chief Justice of Nigeria to initiate a holistic review of
> the appointment guidelines to accommodate lawyers as doing
> so will inject new blood and improve efficiency of the
> Supreme Court.
>
> 2.0 STATE OF
> THE BAR
>
> 2.1. THE DUTY
> OF LAWYERS TO REPRESENT CLIENTS WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION
>
> NEC noted
> with displeasure the steps taken by certain overzealous
> operatives of Government hiding under the guise of fighting
> corruption and criminality to apply unlawful techniques in
> harassing and intimidating lawyers in the course of their
> legitimate work.
>
> NEC declared
> such unlawful practices by these overzealous operatives of
> Government as totally unacceptable and morally
> reprehensible.
>
> NEC further
> noted that the investigation and/or prosecution of
> corruption cases will be a sham if the agencies involved in
> the investigation and prosecution enjoy the services of
> lawyers, but the accused persons are denied access to
> counsel of their choice.
>
> NEC stated
> that lawyers carrying out their legitimate duties of
> representing their clients within the ambit of the law
> cannot be wrongly classified as persecuting or aiding
> corruption. Our law provides for the presumption of
> innocence until proved guilty.
>
> NEC resolved
> that lawyers will continue to offer their legal services to
> all clients in accordance with law and in compliance with
> the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal
> Practitioners.
>
> 2.2. NBA
> ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING AND ANTI-TERRORISM FINANCING
> GUIDELINES
> NEC noted that lawyers play a significant and independent
> role in the administration of justice as well as in ensuring
> lawful compliance by persons and entities involved in
> commercial and financial activities.
>
> NEC resolved
> that in furtherance of the commitment of the NBA to
> effectively combat corruption, NBA shall put in place
> anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing
> guidelines to be observed by law firms and lawyers in
> Nigeria which shall be known as The NBA Anti-Money
> Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Guidelines.
>
> 2.3.
> DISCIPLINE AT THE BAR
> NEC warned lawyers to desist from making disparaging
> comments against the Court simply because the Judgments were
> not in their favour. All lawyers must imbibe the practice of
> decorum and civility while commenting on a judicial
> pronouncement.
>
> NEC restated
> NBAs commitment to deal with all cases of professional
> infractions and misconduct with dispatch.
>
> STATE OF THE
> NATION
>
> CORRUPTION
> NEC restated the support and commitment of the NBA to the
> zero tolerance for Corruption policy of the Federal
> Government and restated NBAs undertaking to work with the
> FGN and all willing FGN Agencies in the battle to kill
> corruption before corruption kills Nigeria.
>
> NEC also
> stressed that the war against corruption must be fought
> within the ambit of the law and rule of law must at all
> times be given primacy. The war against corruption can only
> be won within the ambit of the law.
>
>
> THE DECLINE IN THE VALUE OF THE NAIRA
>
> NEC noted
> with grave concern the dire straits of the Nigerian economy
> with particular emphasis on the depreciation of the Naira
> against other international currencies thereby causing
> serious panic in the Nigerian Stock market.
>
> NEC noted
> that the fluctuating exchange rate of the US Dollar to the
> Naira in an import based Country such as ours is extremely
> dangerous.
>
> NEC resolved
> that the Federal Government should formulate policies and
> initiate measures to salvage the value of the Naira and to
> reflate the economy to reduce the hardship currently faced
> by millions of Nigeria.
>
> 3.3
> ELECTRICITY PRICING CONTROVERSY
> NEC noted the current controversy on electricity pricing and
> the resolution of the Senate directing NERC to suspend any
> proposed increase in the electricity tariffs. NEC urged all
> concerned parties to amicably resolve the controversy in the
> interest of all Nigerians. The rights of electricity
> consumers to a fair and reasonable tariff mechanism and the
> rights of Investors in the Power Sector as determined by our
> extant laws must be protected at all times.
>
>
>
> DATED THIS
> 19TH DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2016

>
> Augustine
> Alegeh, SAN, FCIArb [UK] > President, Nigerian Bar Association
>
> National Secretariat
> (NBA)
>
> Nigerian Bar Association (NBA)
> National Head Office,
> 24 Oro-Ago Street, Off
> Mohammed Buhari Way,
> Garki II – Abuja,
> Nigeria.
> info@nigerianbar.org.ng
> Tel:234-07098211663
> www.nigerianbar.org.ng

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