The Nigerian Bar Association has expressed concern over the declining capacity of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee to effectively deal with cases of unethical conduct among lawyers in the country.
It blamed the development on the ebbing standard of discipline, rising cases of misconduct among legal practitioners and the ineffectiveness of the LPDC as currently constituted.
The NBA President, Olumide Akpata, said the Body of Benchers, whose organ is the LPDC, should ensure an urgent reform of the committee to enable it to function effectively to restore public confidence in the legal profession.
Akpata spoke on Saturday in Abuja at an event to celebrate the change of baton in the leadership at the Body of Benchers, with Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) succeeding retired Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour of the Supreme Court, as the chairman, while Justice Mary Odili of the Supreme Court became the vice-chairman.
Akpata stated, “I will charge the new chairman to look closely at the issue of discipline; look closely at the issue of the LPDC.
“Members of the public right now have very little confidence in the LPDC and they believe that we are shielding many of our colleagues, who have committed one infraction or the other.
“So, more work has to be done at the LPDC. First, more panels should be created so that the LPDC sits across the country. It cannot be the case that a man, who has a matter against a lawyer in Ughelli, Delta State, will have to travel all the way to Abuja to have his matter heard.
“So, it is the responsibility of the Body of Benchers to ensure that the LPDC has more panels and that the process is more efficient.”
The NBA president said cases/petitions had piled up and were waiting to be heard.
He stated, “As the president of the Bar, I get calls every day from people, who feel that they have been hard done by lawyers; who feel that some lawyers have not conducted themselves properly in cases involving them, and they think we are not doing enough in terms of disciplining errant lawyers.
“The chairman of the Body of Benchers is a one-year term. It is not a very long tenure. But, as the NBA president, I will know if he puts his mind into it. I am sure he (Olanipekun) can totally revamp the LPDC to ensure that our citizens regain confidence in the legal profession to serve the public and discipline our own.”
Olanipekun, who is the 50th chairman of the BoB, said he was humbled by his new assignment and gave an assurance of his commitment to lifting the body and the profession by building on the enviable foundation laid by his predecessors.
“I pledge to continue to give my all to the services of the BoB as the chairman for the next one year, and in doing so, I will be calling on you all for your cooperation, understanding, assistance, advice and counsel. Nobody knows it all, and no man born of a woman can boast of monopoly of wisdom. I am not insular,” he said.
All rights reserved. This material, and other digital content on this website, may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed in whole or in part without prior express written permission from PUNCH.
Contact: [email protected]