Curbing the high incidence of fake lawyers


Curbing the high incidence of fake lawyers

THE recent discovery of not less than 1,000 fake lawyers by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) across the 36 states in the country shows the extent of infiltration of the noble profession by unfit individuals. The discovery was reportedly made through the NBA stamp policy which was launched on April, this year.
This unsavory development was revealed by the 3rd Vice President of the NBA, Mr. Oluwole Akintokunbo, who spoke at a special court sitting of the Akure branch of the association to mark the opening of the
2015/2016 Legal Year.
Akintokunbo also explained that the fake lawyers were discovered after the inauguration of the association’s stamp policy, which was introduced to check the infiltration of bad eggs into the legal profession.
The NBA Vice President also observed that the issue of quacks has been a serious cankerworm, which had eaten deep into the fabric of the legal profession in the country and needs to be urgently ad- dressed.
Although Akintokunbo acknowledged that the NBA stamp policy has been able to revive the system and has increased the revenue stream of lawyers across the country, he noted that most importantly, it has improved the authenticity of documents, which are now being filed in court registries since all legal documents must now bear the stamp of lawyers to be considered valid. The NBA official also called for the cooperation of all stake- holders in restoring the integrity of the legal profession.
The stamp policy initiative stems from the provision of Rule 10 (1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007. This rule mandates that a lawyer acting in his or her capacity as a legal practitioner, legal officer or adviser of any government department or corporation shall not sign or file a legal document unless his stamp and seal are affixed on any of such document.
The increasing number of fake lawyers in the country had been decried by the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mo- hammed. The CJN had at the official launch of “Stamp for Lawyers” bemoaned that the prevalence of fake lawyers negatively affects the integrity of the legal profession and casts a shadow of disrepute on the judiciary as an arm of government in the country. He lamented that one of the major challenges facing Judges today is how to differentiate between a “real” and a “fake” legal practitioner.
Similarly, the Chief Judge of Ondo State, Justice Olasehinde Kumuyi, admitted that dubious individuals had carved out personal stamps, which they used in issuing affidavits to unsuspecting members of the public but stressed that the judiciary in the state had been able to curb such malpractices.
We condemn the rise in the number of fake lawyers in the country and also commend the effort of the NBA to rid the legal profession of impostors. There is no doubt that the resolve of the leadership of the association to curb the infiltration of unqualified persons in the profession appears to have yielded positive results with the recent discovery of many fake lawyers across the country.
We enjoin all stakeholders in the nation’s judiciary to join the NBA in its war to protect the legal profession from being tainted by unscrupulous individuals.
We say this bearing in mind that a situation where untrained hands have consciously invaded the noble profession portends grave danger to law practice in the country. If the unwholesome practice is allowed to go unchecked, it will definitely paint the nation’s judiciary in bad light. This is a situation we must try to avoid.
Let all the identified fake lawyers be apprehended by the police and be diligently prosecuted in the law courts without further delay. And all those found guilty should be given condign punishment to deter others from toeing such ignoble path in future.
We urge the NBA and the Council for Legal Education to double their efforts to flush out unfit individuals from the legal profession. We think that this is the best way to ensure that the integrity of the profession is maintained at all times.

CULLED FROM SUNNEWSONLINE