Odinkalu frowns at wanning legal professionalism



CHAIRMAN, National Human Rights Commission, Professor Chidi Anselm Odinkalu has said that Nigeria’s legal profession is in an unprecedented reputational trough.

He described the development as one that portend  existential consequences for its practitioners and wider ramifications for the future stability of the institutions of elective governance in the country.

Odinkalu made this remarks at the 2015 JIC Taylor Memorial lecture organised by the Nigeria Bar Association, Lagos branch at the Foyer of the High Court, Igbosere recently.

He pointed out that the relationship between the standing of the legal profession, and the standards of living of its members as “direct proportionality”.  In other words, the standing of the legal profession is very essential to the ability of lawyers to make a good living from their trade.

“A legal profession that cannot command the followership of its people is much more dangerous than an irrelevance: it’s a threat  to its country and itself”, he stated.
Odinkalu cited examples of  Rivers State, where the courts have been victims of repeated attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and have not been  really functional since May 2014.

He said even at a time when the run-up to the most competitive elections in Nigeria’s history was on, Rivers State was without courts to address the justice needs of its institutions and people.

He opined that, the Nigerian judiciary is in the eye of a raging storm. “Never before in the country’s history has the judiciary been at the centre of so damaging an allegation of graft and misconduct. Whilst there may never have really been a time when Nigerians viewed the judiciary as being above reproach, the current happenings suggest that those who should dispense justice in the country are deeply involved in the ignominy”, he stated.

Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman of NBA, Lagos branch, Mr. Alex Muoka said late JIC Taylor was a great, noble and honest judge. “It is said that although he was leading lawyer in Nigeria at the time he left the bar in 1956 to move onto the bench, and even though he showed great promise during his years as a judge of the Western Region High Court, the Supreme Court and the West African Court of Appeal, his greatest achievements come from his time as Chief Judge of Lagos State from 1964 to 1973. His landmark judgments in employment law, succession, land, practice and procedure, admiralty, commercial law, criminal alw, tort, family law, evidence and constitutional law continue to be relevant today”, he explained.

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