The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, has called for cooperation and synergy between the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and the General Council of the Bar.
Fagbemi reminded stakeholders that the initial rationale behind the establishment of the Bar Council by the Federal Government was to consider and make recommendations for the future of the legal profession in Nigeria, describing the Council Bar as the inner caucus of the Nigerian Bar Association.
He urged them to avoid the impression of treating the Bar Council as an extraneous government institution that purports to usurp or interfere with the powers of the elected officials of the NBA.
In a press release signed by Modupe Ogundoro, Director of Information in the Federal Ministry of Justice, said the HAGF made the call during a meeting of the General Council of the Bar which held at Abuja Continental Hotel, Abuja on 29th November, 2023.
According to Fagbemi, “The General Council of the Bar was established as a platform for both the public and private Bar to meet and deliberate on pertinent legal issues affecting the legal profession.
“The composition of the Bar Council is a reflection of the high-level responsibilities conferred on the Council and high expectations of the Bar, which ought to be taken into consideration by all members.
“Consequently, the Nigerian Bar Association, which we are all members of, must be prepared to provide necessary support and cooperate with the Bar Council to carry out its responsibilities of administering the general affairs of the NBA. This includes financial support for its representatives in the Council to be able to fulfil their responsibilities, as well as providing necessary insight and expertise on matters that affect the legal profession in Nigeria”.
Fagbemi added that without prejudice to the right of individuals to litigate on matters of interest, advised members of the NBA to refrain from litigating on issues which could appropriately be dealt by the Bar Council.
He admonished that members seek administrative resolutions of the matters within the administrative competence of the Bar Council.
He added: “The legal profession, which was once revered and admired for its propensity for discipline and high moral and ethical values, is now often a subject of ridicule in public discourse.
“We must, therefore, intensify efforts at changing this narrative, especially for the upcoming generation of legal practitioners.
“We must refocus the members of the Nigerian Bar from predisposition towards acquisition of material wealth at the expense of ethical and moral values”.
In his goodwill message, the representative of the NBA, Prof. Oluwole Akintayo, SAN, explained that the General Council of the Bar was inaugurated by the immediate past Attorney General of the Federation, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, in January 2023, and that the Council had since commenced work.
Akintayo equally explained that at the last election of the NBA, 20 members were elected to represent the NBA on the Bar Council which also had Honourable Attorneys Generals of 30 states of the federation as members.
He congratulated the Honourable Attorneys General who were returning to the council as well as a few of them who were new on the Council.
In his goodwill message, the Secretary of the forum of Attorneys General of the States of the Federation and Attorney-General of Ebonyi State, Dr Ben Odoh, thanked the Attorneys General for their frank opinions on all matters which were deliberated on. He described the meeting as intellectually fruitful.