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NBA pledges to sanction corrupt lawyers
The Nigerian Bar Association on Wednesday pledged a clampdown on legal practitioners who engaged in acts capable of clogging the wheels of Justice.
The President of the NBA, Mr Augustine Alegeh (SAN), said the disciplinary arm of the association would not spare any lawyer found guilty of reprehensible conducts.
Alegeh made the statement while reacting to allegations that the bar was frustrating the prosecution of corrupt public officers.
He described the allegations as “sweeping”, adding that the NBA was at the forefront in the fight against corruption and was ready to sanction any lawyer who ran foul of acceptable legal principles.
“The allegations are very unspecific; we maintain at all times that lawyers do not frustrate proceedings.
“A person who is accused of an offence has the right to legal representation; both the victim and the defence have such right.
“When a counsel is briefed, he needs adequate time to sit with his client, who often times, is not granted bail, to discuss.
“You do not expect the lawyer to visit his client in prison where such client needs to show documents.
“Fundamentally, in order for there to be a trial according to due process of law, then both the accused and the victim require a defence; counsel must have access to his client.
“Representation by counsel is not just a figure of speech; counsel must be in a position to defend his client, and this cannot be described as an attempt to distort prosecution.
“For instance where an accused is charged and remanded in custody, how does the lawyer get access to him?
“The NBA has a zero-tolerance for corruption, and so, any lawyer who takes any step capable of impeding the course of justice faces sanction from the NBA.
“If you follow the trend, we have recently sanctioned a lawyer for filing an application that led to an order that was a perversion of the course of justice.
“Although the judge was not aware of the situation, but the lawyer was very much aware; so you can see we are doing our part and playing our role.
Alegeh also stressed the need to refer cases bordering on allegations of indiscipline on the part of lawyers first to the NBA before charging such lawyers to court.
He described the neglect of the role of the NBA as an attempt to “cow” its functions.
He added that where a lawyer had already been charged to court, an interference by the NBA would be over-reaching on the judge.
Alegeh therefore, recommended that allegations of corruption on the part of lawyers be forwarded to the disciplinary arm of the NBA for redress.
Source - NAN
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