Law leaders blast lawyers and judges over ethics

By Jonathan Ames

12 October 2012 at 12:10 BST

A leading Nigerian legal figure fired a broadside at the local profession within the last few days - calling on the country's lawyers to play a greater role in keeping judges honest.

Nigeria: judicial corruption 'a serious problem'

Former Attorney General and Justice Minister Chief Akin Olujinmi, told a meeting of the Nigerian Bar Association that judicial corruption was a serious problem, but the authorities had neglected it, instead turning their attentions to fraud in the executive and legislative branches.
‘There are some quite fine, outstanding, courageous, brilliant and incorruptible judges who always stand in defence of the truth,’ Mr Olujinmi told the meeting, according to a report in the newspaper Leadership. ‘But there are also a few you cannot say the same thing of. There are those who are more executive than the executive itself.’

High fees

His comments came only several weeks after his successor issued equally harsh criticism of the wider legal profession. At the opening of the jurisdiction’s legal year last month, current Attorney-General and Justice Minister Mohammed Bello Adoke criticised fellow senior advocates for viewing the title as little more than a licence to charge high fees.
Mr Adoke told a group of 25 freshly minted senior advocates that it was time ‘to reflect on the true significance of the rank of senior advocates of Nigeria. In popular discourse, within and outside the profession, there is a palpable feeling and perception that the rank is a passport to fame, personal riches and comfort’.


According to a report in local newspaper, This Day, the Attorney-General continued: ‘To others, the rank is a licence to command fat fees, open doors and prominence, bordering sometimes on arrogance.’
Mr Adoke also took a swipe at Nigeria’s practising lawyers for not cracking down sufficiently on those with slack ethics. He urged ‘the leadership of the bar to put the issue of professional ethics and discipline on the front banner’.


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