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Lawyers seeking SAN rank bemoan difficulties in registration

Senior lawyers hoping to be conferred with the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria have called on the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee to extend the duration for application submission as they were unable to meet the March 31 deadline.

Some of the applicants told The PUNCH that the new online application, which said they initially hailed its process, denied them registration for they experienced difficulties that didn’t allow them complete the application.

The portal, powered by a leading legal technology firm in Nigeria, to eliminate the manual process of application, was opened at 12pm on January 01, 2022, and closed on March 31, 2022.

Speaking in Benin City, Edo State, a lawyer, Benjamin Okorie, called for the intervention of the Nigerian Bar Association to ensure that deserving legal practitioners were not denied the privilege of the SAN rank.

He said, “When in December, the LPPC jettisoned the manual mode of application and went digital, we were all excited with the conviction that the process would be seamless and hitch-free. Little did we know that the automation which we all celebrated will make it impossible for some of us who are deserving of the SAN rank.

“The portal steadily experiences lags, while the filing process was not only difficult but makes it impossible for applicants to complete the registration process. I call on the LPPC to be considerate and extend the application to accommodate the interest of many qualified legal practitioners who may be affected by this hitch.”

Also, Uyi Ekeosa of Ekeosa Chambers in Benin City, called on the LPPC to take responsibility for the failures in the new portal and extend the date of application.

“I started my application in the second week of January and was still not able to complete the process till I was shut out of the site at midnight, March 31, 2022. This is quite embarrassing and immediate actions must be taken to salvage the situation.

“As applicants, we were expected to upload clear and legible copies of supporting documents required by the guidelines for the purpose of the application on the application portal. But this was impossible in the over two months that I struggled to complete it. The site is quite slow and troubleshoots, thereby affecting the filing process. The NBA should please intervene and save us from this.”

Another lawyer, Igbinosa Edebiri, said with the digitalisation and automation of the application process, they anticipated a hitch-free application process, noting that it was not the case as most of them were logged out of the site without completing the process.

He stated, “I urge the legal practitioners’ committee in the spirit of fairness to ensure that the date of application is duly extended. We have put in lots of effort to meet up with the requirements of the LPPC. We rendered pro bono services to indigent clients and also pursued cases up to the Supreme Court as parts of the requirement that would enable us to enjoy the privilege. It is bad that we will be dropped for selection because of computer-error.’’

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