The new president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Abubakar Mahmud SAN, has declared that the association, under his leadership, will fight judicial corruption and make the legal profession unattractive for corrupt lawyers.
He made the declaration while delivering his inaugural speech at the just-concluded 56th Annual General Conference of the NBA in Port Harcourt, on Friday.
This is as the new NBA helmsman also called for the reformation of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), advising that its role should be limited to investigation.
He said NBA would advocate urgent reforms that would reposition the judiciary and make it play crucial roles, adding that a clean, efficient and knowledgeable judiciary was pivotal to building an orderly, peaceful and prosperous society.
“The NBA, under my watch, will fight judicial corruption. We shall make the legal profession unattractive for corrupt lawyers. NBA will advocate for urgent reforms the will reposition our judiciary and equip it to play it’s future role.
“A clean, efficient knowledgeable, effective and transformative judiciary is at the foundation of building an orderly, peaceful and prosperous society. It is the only way we can guarantee the rule of law and an egalitarian society for our people.
“The notion that a judge could be bribed, either by a lawyer or litigant, is completely obnoxious and unacceptable. In many countries, it is unthinkable. The NBA, under my watch, will fight judicial corruption.
“We shall also make the legal profession unattractive for corrupt lawyers. We will ensure that the NBA does not become a date haven for miscreant lawyers”, he declared.
Mahmud admonished that the association should take active interests in the happenings in the North-East and Niger Delta Region, adding that NBA would set up task forces in the two zones to assist members affected by conflict in the zone, provide legal services to individuals and communities who were victims of the conflict and monitor human rights issues and to also enhance environmental protection and quality of life
The NBA president said while EFCC should concentrate on investigation, the mandate of prosecution should be handled by an independent and highly resource prosecution agency.
“The critical institutions involved must be repositioned, re-equipped and retooled to confront the problem of corruption on a consistent and sustainable basis.
“As a start, we commend the efforts of EFCC for the work it is doing and for its modest achievements. However, going forward, NBA must demand the reform of the institution itself. We need to define its mandate more narrowly and more clearly.
“In my view, its broad objective as an investigative and prosecutorial agency should be reviewed. I recommend strongly that EFCC be limited to investigation”, he said.
The president said the NBA Anti-Corruption Committee would be mandated to develop clear recommendations towards enhancing the fight against corruption and improving the effectiveness of the agencies involved.