The National Secretariat of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, was agog with delegates and special guests as the 2023 Annual Conference of the Association’s Section on Legal Practice (SLP) got underway.
NEWSWIRE Law & Events Magazine correspondent in Abuja reports that the event was graced by notable personalities on both the Bar and the Bench – including a robust presence by top jurists such as the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Hon. Salisu Garuba (who represented the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Kayode Ariwoola, GCON) as well as the Chief Judge High Court of the FCT, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba-Yusuf, who was the Chief Host.
Opening Remarks were made by Chief Paul Harris Ogbole, SAN, Chairman, Conference Planning Committee; and by Afam Okeke, Chairman of the NBA, Abuja Branch.
In their respective addresses of welcome, the Chairman of the NBA-SLP, Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN, and the President of the NBA, Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, expressed satisfaction with the theme of this year’s confab, given the competitive global marketplace in which lawyers currently operate and live in. Adapting to this marketplace, they said, means adopting new paradigms of work, and even of charging of legal fees especially for cross-border teansactions. The two Bar leaders also called on senior lawyers as well as SANs to expand their mentorship circle to more junior lawyers.
Goodwill messages were also presented by, or on behalf of, various legal luminaries.
The Kenote Speaker, Prof. Peter Terkaa Akper, SAN, urged delegates to proffer workable, practical and far-reaching solutions to the challenges, as well as strive to maximise the opportunities presented by the evolving global legal ecosystem in their bid to deliver quality legal services to their clients.
The Opening Ceremonies came to a close with the vote of thanks offered by the Secretary of the NBA-SLP, Prof. Augustine Robert Agom.
The business end of the Confab began with a Premium Showcase Session which considered the topic, “Transformation of Legal Practice In Nigeria.” It was chaired by a former President of the NBA, Augustine Alegeh, SAN. The panel comprised of the immediate past Attorney-General of Delta State, Hon. Isaiah Bozimo Esq; Hon. Justice Daketima Kio of the High Court of Rivers State; Dr. Nkiruka Chidia Maduekwe; Retired Hon. Justice Taiwo Taiwo; Prof. Agbo Madaki; and Prof. Usman Suleiman, SAN.
In the course of a wide-ranging discourse on the current state of legal practice in Nigeria, the panelists were of the view that it has become a challenge graduating so many law students from the Nigerian Law School, noting that quality suffers when so many graduands have a limited understanding of how the legal system actually works outside the confines of academia. They advocated further training (of teachers and students alike); the provision of laptops and other modern instructional facilities; greater emphasis on practical experience rather than just theory; and the reform of the judicial system to complement the required changes in the teaching and practice of law.
In his summation, Bozimo called the panel’s attention to a poll that asked Nigerians to rate the country’s justice system on the scale of 1-10, and the consequent low estimation reflected in the outcome of the poll, urging that lessons being learnt from ssuch jurisdictions as Singapore, United Kingdom, and South Africa who have a practical effective legal system and a transformative approach to justice reform.
“The solution to these challenges,” Bozimo said, “are there for all to see – whether in the use of technology, proactive legal policy reform, encouraging alternative dispute resolution, enabling proactive judicial involvement, enhancing transparency, accessibility and accountability in our judicial system.”