Malami shun court to stalls NBA’s suit against his office | NN NEWS

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Proceedings were stalled Thursday in the suit instituted by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) against the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami over the validity or otherwise of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners(Amendment) Rules 2021, enacted by him.

The development followed the absence of the AGF at the Abuja division of the Federal High Court where the case has been instituted.

Although the justice minister was served with a hearing notice in the suit, he neither appeared in court nor was represented by a legal practitioner while no explanation was offered for his absence.

Counsel to the NBA Ibrahim Sunday Ameh expressed displeasure over the absence of the attorney-general in court in the suit in which he is a sole defendant.

Ameh informed Justice Donatus Okoronwo that the AGF had filed a memorandum of conditional appearance and counter affidavit to the originating summons of the NBA served on him and wondered why the defendant did not deem it fit to be in court.

The senior lawyer however said that, since the matter was for mention, he urged the court to give an adjournment for the defendant to have another opportunity to appear in court.

Justice Okoronwo, in his reaction, confirmed that the AGF was duly served with the hearing notice and originating summons and had even taken steps in filing a memorandum of appearance and counter-affidavit on record.

He however granted the request for adjournment and fixed a new hearing date for May 12.

The Thursday proceedings were witnessed by the NBA President Olumide Akpata and a retinue of officers of the Bar in various units across the country.

The Incorporated Trustees of the NBA had dragged the AGF before the court challenging the validity of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Rules 2021 (S.I. No. 15 of 2020) enacted by the Attorney General of the Federation.

NBA while faulting the rules as being unlawful is praying the court to void and set aside in the interest of justice and fairness to practising lawyers in Nigeria.

The Bar association specifically asked the court to interpret sections 1, 11, 12 and 20 of the Legal Practitioners Act and determine whether the AGF who is just one member of the Bar can act alone in the discharge of functions of the NBA Council without the inputs or contributions of other members of the Council or in consultation with them.

NBA also prayed the court to further interpret the sections of the Act and determine whether the AGF can validly and without any recourse to the General Council of the Bar or consultations with other members to amend, purport to amend or to have amended the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners through the instrumentality of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners dated September 3, 2020, and contained in Nigeria’s official gazette number 140, volume 107 of September 7, 2020.

Upon proper interpretation of the sections of the Act, the NBA asks the court to declare that the AGF who is just one member of the General Council of the Bar cannot act alone in the discharge of the functions of the Council without the inputs or contributions of other members of the Council or in consultation with them.

NBA prayed the court for an order setting aside or nullifying the purported Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners as purportedly made unilaterally by the AGF on September 3, 2020.

The NBA also applied for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the AGF, his agents and servants from giving effect or further giving effect to the contentious Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners Rules 2020 purportedly made on September 3, 2020.

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