The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, has called on the Nigerian Bar Association to make the General Council of the Bar a platform for driving its developmental agenda.
The General Council of Bar, also known as “Bar Council ‘’ is charged with the general management of the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). It is headed by the AGF.
Malami stated this in Abuja during his inauguration of new members of the Bar Council on Monday.
He said the inauguration came 16 years after the last Bar Council headed by the then AGF Bayo Ojo.
The AGF noted that the inauguration was significant in strengthening the NBA’s capacity to deliver on its mission and core values.
He added that it is also relevant in expanding the frontiers of the legal profession.
“The inauguration of the Bar Council today represents a remarkable milestone in our legal profession.
“It presents an opportunity for constitutional heads of the legal profession and members of the Bar to meet and deliberate on pertinent issues affecting the legal profession, especially given current challenges and public perception of the profession”, Malami said.
He charged the NBA to see the Bar Council as a vehicle or platform for driving the developmental agenda of the NBA, implementing NBA resolutions, and influencing government policies given its composition by the Attorneys-General who are strategically positioned to influence the president and state governors.
Malami also pointed out that the NBA should consider the Bar Council as an alternate Board of Trustees or advisory body, a link or liaison with the Federal Executive Council, State Executive Councils, National and State Assemblies, Nigerian Governors Forum, Conference of Speakers of State Assemblies, etc.
The origin of the Bar Council in Nigeria can be traced to the reference of the committee on the future of the legal profession and education which was set up in 1959.
The Bar Council comprises the AGF, state Attorney Generals and 20 members of the NBA with a stipulation that not less than seven of them shall be legal practitioners with 10 years post-call.
Section 12(4) of the NBA constitution provides for the Bar Council to make rules from time to time on professional conduct in the legal profession and cause such rules to be published in a Gazette and distributed to all the branches of the association.
The NBA President, Yakubu Maikyau, SAN in his remarks congratulated the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on the epoch-making event.
He said that with the inauguration of the GCB, his administration has set in motion the process of reinventing the ethical standards of the legal profession. The GCB is the establishment of the Legal Practitioners Act, CAP L11 LFN 2004. Section 1 provides:
“There shall be a body to be known as the General Council of the Bar (in this Act referred to as “the Bar Council” which shall be charged with the general management of the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association (subject to any limitations for the time being provided by the constitution of the Association) and with any functions conferred on the Council by this Act or that constitution.
The Bar Council shall consist of the Attorney-General of the Federation, who shall be the president of the Council, the Attorneys-General of the States; and twenty members of the Association.”
He also said,” As you are aware, this function was last performed in 2007, when the then Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Bayo Ojo, SAN, as President of the Bar Council issued the Rules of Professional Conduct that is currently in operation. Attempts to constitute the Council since then have proved abortive.
“The omission to constitute the GCB over the years has created a yawning gap in the regulatory structure of the legal profession. This gap could be seen in the fact that the Rules of Professional Conduct do not appear to be adequate in tackling the contemporary challenges facing the profession and the society at large.”