A Group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to investigate and sanction the lawyers to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, for walking out on the Code of Conduct Tribunal during its Thursday’s sitting.
The Street Journal recalls that all the three counsel to Saraki staged a walk out on the tribunal after the tribunal refused their application for stay of proceedings in the case of alleged false asset declaration filed against Saraki by the Code of Conduct Bureau.
SERAP,in a statement issued in Lagos on Thursday by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said that the conduct of Saraki’s counsel, all of whom are Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SAN, was disrespectful to the tribunal.
According to the group, Sakari’s lawyers owe him a duty to serve their client’s best interests but in doing so they should not act in a manner that would put the administration of justice and the society’s confidence in the judicial system and the fight against corruption at risk.
The statement reads: “Walking out on the Code of Conduct Tribunal for simply and correctly applying section 305(e) of the newly enacted Administration of Criminal Justice Act is disrespectful. It offends the basic rule that lawyers should act with integrity and professionalism, maintaining his or her overarching responsibility to ensure civil conduct.
“SERAP believes that a lawyer’s duty to the court is a fundamental obligation that defines a lawyer’s role within the adversarial system. Lawyers should at all times act to promote the rule of law and the public’s confidence in the administration of justice and not to be seen to undermine it or facilitate an infringement of the law.
“As we have seen many times, without the rule of law, the rule of the jungle takes hold and the economically and socially vulnerable fall victim to the strong and nobody is safe. The rule of law also creates a disincentive for would-be corrupt officials.”
The group noted that senior lawyers especially have a responsibility to act as the guardians of the rule of law by contributing to a strong judicial and legal system, which is crucial to a well-functioning democracy and which in turn is necessary to satisfactorily prevent and combat years of official corruption in the country.
SERAP further stated that if at all Saraki’s lawyers were dissatisfied with the ruling of the Tribunal, there are laid down processes that they should have followed to demonstrate their roles as officers in the temple of justice.
“We urge the NBA to urgently investigate what exactly happened and to punish any professional misconduct that may have occurred,” the statement added.