The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mariam Alooma Mukhta on Wednesday swear in twenty Five lawyers who were recently elevated to the rank of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) as part of activities marking the commencement of a new legal year by the Supreme Court.
Lagos based lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana and the others were conferred as senior advocates by the Legal Practitioners Privileges committee. The elevation, the Committee said, was in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners’ Act 2004.
Those who were sworn in alongside Mr Falana included: Yemi Akinseye-George, a lecturer at the University of Ibadan, Dakas Clement James Dakas, Joy Okungbowa Adesina, Connie – Jeanne Aremu, Mahmud Abubakar Magaji, Ogwu James Onoja, Garuba Usman Tetengi, Henry Oghogho Ogbodu, Selekeowei Larry, Abenny O. Mohammed and Charles Nwanne Obishai.
Others are Luke Chukwudi Illogu, Francis Chuka Agbo, Paul C. Ananaba, Akinlaja Dayo Moses, Ahmed Raji, Adekunle Theophilus Oyesanya, Rotimi Oluseyi Oguneso, Oluseye Samuel Opasanya, Aderoja Claudius Olumiyiwa, Aliyu Umar, Illo Katune Sanusi, Rotimi Jacobs and Ndukwe A. Nnawuchi.
Justice Mukhta praised the Supreme Court Practice Direction signed into law by the past Administration for contributing to the speedy conclusion of election cases.
“In this new legal year, our efforts will be redoubled to ensure that the confidence bestowed on us by the people and by God will not be thrown into the abyss,” she said.
The Chief Justice said there are presently an estimated 40,000 prisoners in Nigeria with about two thirds of this population not convicted.
She said that perhaps the Amnesty International is correct for laying the blame on the Nigerian judiciary where cases are unnecessarily adjourned.
She commended the efforts of some state administration aimed at introducing alternative punitive measures as a way of prison decongestion and praised Community service, non-custodian sentences and probation as having great benefits to the government and the society at large.
Also speaking at the event, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke called for a rethinking in the elevation of persons to the rank of senior advocates of Nigeria. He observed that the general perception is that being a SAN offers legal practitioners license to charge very fat legal fees.
“In popular discourse within and outside the profession, there is a palpable feeling or perception that the rank is a passport to fame, personal riches and comfort. To others, the rank is a license to command fat fees, open doors and prominence bordering sometimes on arrogance. It is a matter of regret that these negative perceptions of the rank have engendered resentment from our colleagues who are yet to be similarly recognised and honoured”
He said the position of senior advocates of Nigeria places a duty and responsibility on the bearer to the profession.
He called on the new senior advocates as leaders of the Bar, to behave in a manner befitting the rank.