The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), on Tuesday, boycotted the Call to Bar ceremony organised by the Body of Benchers (BoB) where 4,711 new lawyers were admitted into the legal profession.
The ceremony was presided over by the Chairman of the Body of Benchers, Chief Wole Olanipekun, who the NBA had asked to step down.
The association in a statement by its national president, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, said its decision to shun the ceremony was based on the refusal of Chief Olanipekun to resign.
In a letter equally copied to the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, the NBA asked Chief Olanipekun to step aside as leader of BoB.
The call followed a claim by a leading partner in his chamber, Ms. Adekunbi Ogunde, that he influenced judges to deliver favourable judgements for his clients.
The NBA said it had, in view of the weighty nature of Ogunde’s claim and the negative impact on the overall image and integrity of the legal profession in the country, urged Olanipekun to allow his deputy, Justice Mary Odili (retd), to preside over the Call to Bar ceremony scheduled for yesterday and today.
In the statement, the NBA president noted that he had in the said letter dated December 4, made the position of the association known to the BoB chairman.
Meanwhile, the Body of Benchers (BOB) has cautioned that National Assembly against giving effect to its proposal to regulate the establishment of Law Schools in the country.
Its chairman Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) said: “May we plead with the National Assembly to stop toying with the idea of promulgating laws or amending the Legal Practitioners Act to pave way for the proliferation of Law School campuses, particularly, around the neighbourhoods of some lawmakers. It is within the exclusive prerogative of the Council of Legal Education, in consultation with the Body of Benchers to establish new Law School campuses. While I do not question the jurisdiction of the National Assembly to make laws as appropriate, law school campuses cannot be established without clearance from the Council of Legal Education.
“What we need now is the improvement and upgrading of the existing law school campuses, using the newly commissioned Graham Douglas Law School Campus, Port Harcourt, built and equipped by the Rivers State Government as a model. I dare say that it is the best in the country for now,” Olanipekun said.
He advised the new lawyers to always uphold the ethics of the profession and desist from acts that could portray the profession in bad light.