Osinbajo Proffers Solutions To Challenges Facing Legal Profession In Nigeria

Osinbajo Proffers Solutions To Challenges Facing Legal Profession In Nigeria
A file photo of Professor Yemi Osinbajo at an event in Abuja on March 28, 2019.

 

The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has proffered solutions to the numerous challenges facing the legal profession in the country.

He gave the recommendation while addressing an audience at the Body of Bencher Award Night held at the National Judicial Institute in Abuja.

Professor Osinbajo called for the adoption of a set of reforms hinged on reclaiming the traditions of virtuous ethics and entrenching personal and corporate integrity, among others.

According to him, these are some of the requisites for addressing the many challenges facing the legal profession and they will go a long way in solving the problems if adopted.

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“The weaknesses that have recently been exposed in our profession, as disturbing as they are, have at the same time provided us great opportunity for deep introspection and self-assessment,” the vice president was quoted as saying in a statement on Saturday.

He added, “This is an opportunity for reform and reclaim of that tradition of virtuous ethics; a tradition of moral inquiry and doggedness in the dispassionate and impartial application of law no matter whose ox is gored.”

Professor Osinbajo stressed that the practice of legal profession and the courts must always measure up to the moral, ethical and statutory standards they subscribed to.

He informed members that whether they sit at the Bar or on the Bench, they should be mindful that they bear the responsibility for a fair and just society.

The vice president explained that the responsibility he was referring to was a free, fair and impartial justice system that ushers in progressive reforms in governance and protects the social structure of the nation.

Meanwhile, he was preferred to the rank of Life Bencher at the event which held on Friday in the nation’s capital.

Read the full text of Professor Osinbajo’s remarks below:

REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO, SAN, THE VICE PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, AT THE BODY OF BENCHERS AWARD NIGHT HELD AT THE NATIONAL JUDICIAL INSTITUTE, ABUJA ON FRIDAY MARCH 29, 2019.

PROTOCOLS

It is a special privilege to be here at this special dinner with some of the brightest and best in our profession and many, whose contributions have decisively shaped the destiny of our profession and even our nation.

I would like to, first, commend this Body for the extraordinary leadership it has provided over the years. As the gateway for access into the Nigerian Bar and as the custodian of our ethics and values, this Body has borne the enormous responsibility of being the conscience, arbiter, judge and interlocutor for the legal profession and our administration of justice system.

I am deeply honoured to have been preferred to the prestigious rank of Life Bencher. It is humbling, but also exciting to be reminded that one still has more to offer. I owe gratitude to the remarkable men and women – teachers, mentors, partners and students, who have contributed to my professional experience. I accept this honour as a call to greater responsibility.

Perhaps, one should also seize  this opportunity to salute all distinguished colleagues, seniors and juniors alike, who have internalised the application of the rule of law in the most difficult circumstances; stood for the helpless through advocacy; demanded transparency and accountability in all spheres; and pushed for positive reforms in the advancement of not just our system of justice, but also all the ramparts upon which our democracy is built, alongside our nationhood and common patrimony.

Today, our profession stands at a critical crossroad. Yet, the different possible paths that we could take have, to my mind, never been as clear as they are today. One path is the path of business as usual which of course means that we will face the extinction of our credibility soon enough.

The other is the path of renewal, the right path, a more courageous even if more difficult path.

The weaknesses that have recently been exposed in our profession, as disturbing as they are, have at the same time provided us great opportunity for deep introspection and self-assessment. This is an opportunity for reform and reclaim of that tradition of virtuous ethics; a tradition of moral inquiry and doggedness in the dispassionate and impartial application of law no matter whose ox is gored.

We owe the young and aspiring lawyers the duty to set the ground rules right and to lead by example. We also, as custodians of the law, owe our nation, at the very least, the duty to ensure the proper functioning of the justice system. Our professional practice and the courts must always measure up to the moral, ethical and statutory standards we subscribed to. Whether we sit at the Bar or on the Bench, we bear the responsibility for a fair and just society; a free, fair and impartial justice system that ushers in progressive reforms in governance and protects the social structure of our nation.

Our everyday practice of law has the potential to either strengthen or weaken our democratic values and institutions. The ‘learned’ that everyone ascribes to us, suggests amongst other attributes that we are- skilled not only in the art of our trade/calling but also in the mechanics of a just society.  That just society cannot be established by mere wishes or rhetoric. It can only be by deliberate action and sacrifice especially of those of us to whom our profession has so generously conferred membership of its highest body.

My Lords, distinguished members of the Body of Benchers: Our greatest debt at this point in our lives and careers is to the future. The future of this profession that has been so kind and generous to us and to this society that has yielded leadership at various levels to us. That debt is one which we must discharge faithfully. First by being worthy mentors to an ever-growing number of legal practitioners, but more importantly by fearlessly insisting that the bedrock of justice and the rule of law is personal and corporate integrity.

I congratulate all the honorees tonight. An award from the most distinguished body of our profession is worthy of commendation indeed. I pray that you will go from glory to glory.

I thank you all.

Released by

Laolu Akande

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity

Office of the Vice President

30th March 2019

Russia Insists #ParadisePapers Deals Were Legal

The Queen Victoria Memorial statue is pictured in front of Buckingham Palace, the official residence of Queen Elizabeth II, in central London on November 6, 2017. US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has business ties to a shipping firm linked to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, according to a vast leak of financial documents that also revealed Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s investments in tax havens. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

Russia on Monday downplayed leaks in the Paradise Papers concerning Russian officials and companies, insisting the deals were legal and not politically motivated.

One of the companies mentioned in the papers, petrochemicals giant Sibur, slammed media reports on the findings, while confirming the facts.

In a statement reported by Russian news agencies, Sibur voiced its “amazement at the politically charged interpretation in some media of ordinary commercial activity.”

The leaks revealed that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has ties to a shipping firm called Navigator Holdings, which has a contract with Sibur.

Sibur confirmed that it works with Navigator Holdings, making up 2.8 percent of its logistics spending, or $15.9 million, in the first half of 2017.

A billionaire reported to be President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law, Kirill Shamalov, owns a 3.9 percent stake in Sibur, according to Vedomosti business daily.

Gennady Timchenko, Putin’s friend and business partner who is subject to US sanctions, owns 17 percent of Sibur, Vedomosti reported.

Sibur said that it had thoroughly checked whether there were any restrictions on its activities due to a shareholder (Timchenko) being under sanctions, but “did not find any such restrictions.”

– ‘Muddled wording’ –

The head of the foreign affairs committee of the Russian senate, Konstantin Kosachev, charged that the leaks were “stirring emotions and muddled wording,” speaking to RIA Novosti state news agency earlier Monday.

The papers leaked from offshore law firm Appleby reveal that VTB Bank, Russia’s second largest bank and now under US sanctions, funded an investment in Twitter.

In addition, a branch of Gazprom energy giant through an offshore company financed an investment vehicle that owned Facebook shares.

Both deals are linked to Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner.

“When it is boiled down, what is described here is standard and legal commercial activity,” Kosachev said.

He added that the deals were being “presented as practically a plot against the foundations of Western democracy.”

The findings emerged as part of the Paradise Papers released by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which was behind the Panama Papers made public last year.

– Political ties –

Russia’s opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta was the only Russian media to take part in analysing the leaked materials. It reported that it looked at 13.4 million documents over the course of a year.

The newspaper said the leaks did not principally concern Russians, saying this was possibly because Appleby, “asked questions about the origins of funds more often” than the company that leaked the Panama Papers, Mossack Fonseca.

“Russia is not even in the top 10 countries whose citizens used Appleby’s services,” it wrote.

Novaya Gazeta found the names of two current lawmakers in the papers: Alexei Yezubov of the ruling party and Vladimir Blotsky of the Communist Party. Yezubov told RIA Novosti he had “heard nothing” of the leaks.

The former wife of powerful Rosneft chief and Putin ally Igor Sechin, Marina Sechina, also figures. She registered a property investment company in 2012, soon after their divorce.

Sechin’s declarations previously showed she had no earnings for several years.

Novaya Gazeta said Appleby was aware of Sechina’s significant political ties.

The files also name the wife of first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov, Olga Shuvalova, as the beneficiary of a company that owned a Bombardier plane, Novaya Gazeta reported.

The anti-corruption foundation of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in 2016 had accused Shuvalova of using a private plane to fly her corgies to dog shows.

Those named also include Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea football club, who did not respond to the newspaper’s request for comment.

AFP

Reps. set for nationwide grassroot hearing on constitution review

The House of Representatives has concluded arrangements to hold public hearings on the review of the 1999 constitution across the 360 federal constituencies in the country.

In a statement, the deputy speaker of the House of Representatives; Emeka Ihedioha stated that the sessions aim to bring the process of constitution review closer to the people.

He stated that various institutions, political parties and civil societies have been invited to contribute their views.

Issues identified to be discussed include recognition of the six zonal structure; creation of states; structure, funding and creation of local governments as well as indigene, residency and citizenship questions.

Others are fiscal federalism, removal of immunity clause establishment of state police as well as zoning and power sharing and terms of office of the president and governors.

The deputy speaker further stated that decisions at the sessions shall be reached, as much as possible, by consensus but where that fails, decisions will be reached by voting.

He however assured that the views of the majority would prevail.

Nigeria does not have what is called a Constitution – Idaye Opi

Today, discussing the constitution issue of the country, Nigerians of all walks of life will definitely hold different opinion on this one issue.

But whatever our views and opinions may be, a review of the constitution is in view after the recent Senate retreat which the oil state Delta state hosted.

Idaye Opi, a Legal Practitioner on this issue said the country; Nigeria does not have a constitution.

 

Enjoy the interview.

Non-Custodial Sentencing: Lagos introduces community service orders

The introduction of the non-custodial sentencing option is one of the reforms of the Lagos state government which is aimed among other things at decongesting the prisons and ensuring a more pragmatic criminal justice system.

On our big story tonight, our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele shows the shift from not only seeking to punish but also to rehabilitate offenders.

Lack of legal representation responsible for prison congestion- Bolaji Ayonrinde

The newly constituted board of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria is considering some bold reforms to tackle the challenge which prison congestion poses in the country.

In an interview with our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, the Chairman of the Board, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Bolaji Ayorinde says lack of legal representation is one of the major causes of prison congestion and the Legal Aid Council has big plans to partner with legal practitioners to combat this issue.

Anti-Graft War: Legal practitioner seeks more compliance checks

The damage on the Nigerian psyche with the continuous dashing of the hopes of the majority by the elites is very worrisome and portends no good for the country.

These are the thoughts of a legal practitioner, Mr George Etomi on the fallouts of the Farouk/Otedola bribery allegation.

Mr Etomi in an interview with our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele says more than ever there is a need to act swiftly & decisively against issues of corruption to avoid giving the impression that a political rather than a legal will is being applied.

Lagos introduces community sentencing/new traffic laws


Criminal justice administration in Lagos is set to get better, fairer & faster.

That’s according to the Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr ade ipaye.

In a chat with our judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele recently, the Attorney General shared some measures taken recently to ensure sanity on the roads.

Salami’s Recall:Approach is political than Legal – Emmanuel umoren

Another legal practitioner; Emmanuel Umoren reacted to the Salami saga going on saying the Attorney General should act as an Attorney General always in the sense from the angle of the law the Attorney General should advise the government on steps to take on certain issues in terms of law.

Umoren cited the instance where the NJC advised the Federal Government to suspend Justice Salami, meanwhile there was a matter in court, and the Attorney General did not advise the President not to go into action based on the advice of the NJC.

Now the same NJC has requested that Justice Salami be reinstated and the Attorney General is saying the he cannot be reinstated based on the case pending in the court of law.

Reinstating Salami does not violate court process – Ejilibe

Udoka Ejilibe, a legal practitioner said on the issues surrounding Justice Salami’s recall that it is appalling that people are looking at the issues from the angle of politics as there is nothing subjudice about the office that is in court and the office of the judge.

Ejilibe said that Salami can be restored to office while the cases in court can be going on.