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Osigwe Challenges AGF, Says He Has No Unilateral Power To Amend Rules Of Professional Conduct

 

A former Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association,  NBA, and member of the Body of Benchers, Mazi Afam Osigwe has challenged the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, Abubakar Malami that he has no unilaterally right to amend the Rules of Professional Conduct, RPC, because it will only be seen as a move to usurp the entire Bar Council.

He called on all lawyers in the Federal Republic of Nigeria not to believe what he described as a purported amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct being circulated all around.

Osigwe in a statement titled “PURPORTED AMENDMENT OF RULES OF PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT FOR LEGAL PRACTITIONERS, 2007”, expressed his thought on the recent amendment.

He said, “My attention has just been drawn to a document widely circulating in the social media which purports to be the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2020.

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“The Document claims that in the exercise of the powers conferred on him by Section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Attorney General of the Federation has amended the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 by deleting Rules 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.

“A close look at Section 12(4) of LPA referred to as well as the fact that the Bar Council which has the power to make any such amendment, has never met, shows why the document should be discountenanced.”

Osigwe explained  that the power to make Rules is vested in the General Council of the Bar and not unilaterally vested in the Attorney General of the Federation.

“Section 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA) vests the power to make Rules regulating the Conduct of Legal Practitioners is vested on the General Council of the Bar (“the Bar Council”).

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“As provided by Section 1(1) of the LPA, General Council of the Bar 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 consists of-
(a) the Attorney-General of the Federation, who shall be the president of the council;
(b) the Attorneys-General of the States; and
(c) twenty members of the association.”

 He added  that the 21 members are to be elected at the NBA AGM.

“The twenty members representing the Nigerian Bar Association were elected at the Association’s Annual General Meeting held in Abuja on August 27, 2015.”

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However, he noted that the AGF is yet to convene a meeting of the Bar Council and no approval has been made by the Council. Thus, the AGF is bereft of competence to do so unilaterally.

“The Attorney General of the Federation has not convened a meeting of the Bar Council.

“The Bar Council has neither considered nor approved any proposed amendment to the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.

“Even though the Attorney General of the Federation is the President of the Bar Council, he cannot unilaterally exercise the powers of the Council.” 

“I will therefore like to believe that the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2020 which is in circulation on social media lacks credibility”, he said.

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