Non-avail­abil­ity of NBA Stamp foist­ing hard­ship –Lawyers

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Ade­lanwa Bamg­boye

Some lawyers have said that the non-avail­abil­ity of the newly in­tro­duced NBA Stamp and Seal pol­icy is mak­ing their prac­tice dif­fi­cult.

One of the lawyers, Bar­ris­ter Gabriel Nkup Tsenyen Esq, who com­plained bit­terly, told Daily Trust over the week­end that the NBA should take ur­gent steps to re­verse this.

By the Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers Act, a lawyer who prac­tices in Nige­ria must ob­tain a seal and stamp to use on ev­ery doc­u­ment or process em­a­nat­ing from him. With the en­force­ment of the Act, ev­ery lawyer is ex­pected to ap­ply and ob­tain the seal and stamp within 48hrs.

Gabriel Nkup Tsenyen said that he per­son­ally ap­plied and sub­mit­ted his ap­pli­ca­tion at the NBA Na­tional Sec­re­tar­iat, Abuja on Septem­ber 11, 2015.

“Ever since, l have made about 5 vis­its to the sec­re­tar­iat and up till date the seal and stamp are not ready.

“I have pro­cesses to file in court and court pro­cesses are lim­ited by time. For how long shall l wait or con­tinue to ex­plain to the court and clients the non-avail­abil­ity of stamp and seal to file the pa­pers.

“If these are not forth­com­ing, the NBA should take im­me­di­ate steps to re­verse its di­rec­tive to courts to al­low lawyers file their doc­u­ments by at­tach­ing their re­ceipts of pay­ment for their seals or file with­out the re­ceipts un­til the seals are made avail­able.

“My ef­forts and that of many other lawyers in com­pli­ance with le­gal prac­ti­tion­ers act is foist­ing un­told hard­ships on lawyers which the NBA needs to do some­thing about. This is frus­trat­ing,” he said.

When Daily Trust con­tacted Ac­cess Bank over the week­end, a bank of­fi­cial said that they were not aware of the de­lay.

Daily Trust re­calls that about 1000 fake lawyers have been iden­ti­fied by the NBA since the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NBA Stamp pol­icy, ac­cord­ing to Augustine Alegeh SAN, Pres­i­dent of NBA.

He dis­closed this penul­ti­mate Mon­day at the spe­cial ses­sion of the Supreme Court of Nige­ria to mark the open­ing of the 2015/2016 le­gal year and the con­fer­ment of the rank of Se­nior Ad­vo­cate of Nige­ria (SAN) which took place at the SC.

The NBA had on 15th April, 2015 launched its Stamp and Seal pol­icy to ad­dress the malaise caused by the in­fil­tra­tion of quacks into the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

Un­der the pol­icy, lawyers are ex­pected to have per­son­alised ad­he­sive stamp/seal with the type of se­cu­rity fea­tures found in cur­ren­cies. The fea­tures, which in­clude in­di­vid­ual lawyer’s num­ber, can only be seen un­der ul­tra-vi­o­let light. The stamps are cat­e­go­rized into two dif­fer­ent ar­eas of prac­tice, which are rep­re­sented by green and red colours. Lawyers in lit­i­ga­tion and reg­u­lar prac­tice are to af­fix the green seal in their doc­u­ments, while lawyers em­ployed by es­tab­lish­ments like min­istries, paras­tatals, agen­cies, MDAs, banks, cor­po­ra­tions, as­so­ci­a­tions among call­ings out­side reg­u­lar prac­tice are to af­fix the red seal.

Since its in­cep­tion, the pol­icy has been crit­i­cized by var­i­ous sec­tors and groups (es­pe­cially law teach­ers and lawyers work­ing in the min­istry) who have ex­pressed se­ri­ous con­cerns and reser­va­tions on its suc­cess­ful im­ple­men­ta­tion by the Bar.

Some groups have even chal­lenged the va­lid­ity of the en­tire ex­er­cise while some have ques­tioned the ra­tio­nale be­hind it.

Ac­cord­ing to Ab­dulka­rim A. Kana, “it is ob­vi­ous that the in­tro­duc­tion of the stamp and seal was not aimed at quarks and im­pos­tors, but at teach­ers. It is dis­crim­i­na­tory and con­trary to the pro­vi­sions of the con­sti­tu­tion of Nige­ria, and the Rules of Pro­fes­sional Con­duct.

“Ac­tu­ally, it is more re­al­is­tic and prac­ti­ca­ble to pre­vent unau­tho­rised per­sons from prac­tis­ing by send­ing the list of those en­ti­tled to prac­tise to the courts. This list can be up­dated ev­ery time names are added to or re­moved from the rolls. This is sim­ple and straight­for­ward.”

Kana, who is the Act­ing Dean, Fac­ulty of Law, Nasarawa State Univer­sity Keffi and the Pres­i­dent Des­ig­nate of the Nige­rian As­so­ci­a­tion of Law Teach­ers (NALT), said that once a per­son is called to Nige­rian Bar, has paid his prac­tic­ing fee, noth­ing should stop him from pro­fes­sional prac­tice ex­cept of course if some con­di­tions of con­tract of ser­vice lim­its the in­di­vid­u­als en­ti­tle­ment as in the case of the Civil Ser­vice Rules/Public Ser­vice Rules or any con­tract of em­ploy­ment or terms of ser­vice as duly signed and agreed upon by the prac­ti­tioner.

His words, “It is dis­ap­point­ing that the lead­er­ship of the NBA that ought to pro­tect the in­ter­est of its mem­bers by em­pha­siz­ing the above po­si­tions in de­fense of the sanc­tity and in­tegrity of le­gal ed­u­ca­tion by pro­tect­ing teach­ers; now em­barks on a mis­sion of de­stroy­ing the pro­fes­sion by alien­at­ing the pro­fes­sion from law teach­ers and re­searchers. The same re­searchers are re­spon­si­ble for most of the books that forms the very foun­da­tion of our le­gal stud­ies and our le­gal sys­tem. Pre­vent­ing teach­ers from con­sul­tancy will kill the teach­ing pro­fes­sion and bring an end to qual­ity re­search.

“In spite of this lever­age to prac­tice law, very few law teach­ers en­gage in prac­tice. There are cur­rently an es­ti­mated 60,000 lawyers in prac­tice in Nige­ria, only about 1000 are law teach­ers and just about 100 of the law teach­ers en­gage in court room ad­vo­cacy but al­most all law teach­ers en­gage in one form of le­gal con­sul­tancy or the other. Out of about 100,000 lawyers trained and called to the Nige­rian Bar since the in­cep­tion of le­gal pro­fes­sion in Nige­ria, only about 2,000 have been law teach­ers, con­sti­tut­ing 2% per­cent of all lawyers, but the teach­ers ac­count for more than 80% of law text­books and le­gal aca­demic re­source in Nige­ria to­day,” Kana said.

cJN Mah­mud Mo­hammed, Vice Pres­i­dent Yemi Os­in­bajo and a cross sec­tion of Supreme Court Jus­tices dur­ing the 2015/2016 le­gal year cel­e­bra­tion in Abuja re­cently.

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