The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to speak out against corruption in the legal profession by promoting tougher sanctions against corrupt lawyers.
The organisation stated this in a statement dated 14 February 2016 and signed by its executive director Adetokunbo Mumuni in Lagos.
According to SERAP, if the legal profession is to remain credible, relevant and add value to the ongoing fight against large scale corruption in the country, the NBA had to provide strong leadership especially by strongly and publicly speaking out against all acts of corruption in the legal profession and the judiciary.
SERAP stated: “For the sake of the legal profession, the cause of justice and effective remedies for victims of large scale corruption such as the arms procurement scandal, appropriate authorities particularly the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) have to speak out strongly against corruption in the legal profession.
“The NBA has to provide strong leadership including by strongly and publicly speaking out against corruption in the legal profession and the judiciary, promoting tougher sanctions against corrupt lawyers even if those involved are senior members of the bar including SANs, and judges and creating, developing and actively promoting anticorruption initiatives for the .”
It added that the NBA had an abiding responsibility to consistently and proactively promote and ensure lawyers’ compliance with anti-corruption and ethics rules. This is in addition to also encouraging lawyers to carry out their professional duties diligently and conscientiously and refrain from doing anything which would expose the legal profession to ridicule.
“It’s not only professional misconduct but also a crime for a lawyer to knowingly assist or induce another to break, violate or attempt to violate the rules of professional conduct or commit a corrupt act and other action prejudicial to the administration of justice that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.
“Lawyers are officers in the temple of justice but improperly influencing a public official to achieve results by means that violate lawyers’ rules of professional conduct or knowingly assisting a judge or judicial officer in conduct that violates applicable rules of judicial conduct or other laws is a clear negation of this sacred duty. This impunity must stop.’’