THE Chief Judge of Kwara State, Justice Sulaiman Kawu, has berated judicial officers over negative public perception of the legal profession in the country.
Speaking at the 2016 biennial law week programme of NBA Ilorin, the chief judge said that the legal profession used to be envy of other professions until very recently.
“The current very negative perception of the legal profession by Nigerians today is not without foundation. Today, we hear stories of members of both the Bar and the Bench engaging in unscrupulous activities, which undermine the integrity of the noble profession and thus, responsible for the negative perception of the profession by the public,” he said.
The CJ, who was represented at the occasion by Mathew Adebara, therefore, advised that both the Bar and the Bench must work together to ensure strict compliance by their members to the Rules of Professional Ethics and Code of Conduct for judicial officers to regain public confidence in the legal profession.
Also speaking, the Chairman, NBA Ilorin branch, Manzuma Issa, said that there is need for reform in legal system and profession before the profession can play any role in national transformation.
Issa, who condemned growing cases of diversion of clients’ money through land transactions, described the development as worrisome, saying that it must be checked.
He said legal profession needed serious attention, and appealed to members to be contented with whatever they have, praying that, “we don’t find ourselves on the wrong side of history of the legal profession in Nigeria”.
Issa, who also bemoaned decline in professional ethics and the growing cases of professional misconduct among lawyers in the country, told his colleagues to respond to the challenges by reimaging values rooted in the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners, said that the Bar is no longer the prestigious profession held in high esteem by the public.
“The high ethical values for which the profession was known and the quality of justice administration have fallen. The profession-both the bar and the bench has in recent times come under serious public scrutiny”, he said.
In his speech, the attorney-general of Kwara state, Kamaldeen Ajibade, said that ethical issues among judicial officers called for serious concern and a certain degree of introspection.
“This is because it cannot be disputed that the legal practice in Nigeria has not been totally immune from some issues bothering on professional misconduct, dereliction, decline in professional ethic, allegation of sharp practices and corruptible tendencies among other ethical milieu. Certain excesses and outright failure by the body of legal polity and its operators have increased the needs to take a critical look at ethical rebirth, with a view to chatting a resuscitating course and making the legal practice and the practitioners worthwhile,” he said.