The Nigerian Bar Association (NBB) has lamented that the Bar and the Bench were presently under siege.
He said the practice of law has been criminalised by the security agencies that have “demonize and humiliate lawyers and the legal profession. The practice of law has consequently become very dangerous and risky,” President of the NBA, Paul Usoro (SAN), said.
Usoro, who spoke at the swearing in of 38 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria at the Supreme Court in Abuja, Monday, deplored the attitude of law enforcement agencies to lawyers nowadays.
He asked the new SANs to braze up for the challenges ahead, because “Your elevation comes at a time that the profession – both the bar and the bench – is under siege, mostly at the instance of agencies that ordinarily should be our partners in law enforcement. ”
“It is no longer news that some law enforcement agencies seem to derive sadistic pleasure in locking up lawyers and imposing impossible bail conditions for their release, mostly in the course of investigating the professional functions of these lawyers. Indeed, the practice of law is now being criminalize by these agencies all in an effort to demonize and humiliate lawyers and the legal profession. The practice of law has consequently become very dangerous and risky.”
The body expressed concern at the process that led to the sudden retirement of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen.
Usoro said the body deprecated the process that led to the retirement of Onnoghen, adding it was not all that tiding.
“This has been the concern of the NBA because it showered a graze external intrusion and interference in the disciplinary processes of the judiciary in a manner that undermine its independence and by extension, the rule of law.
“The process was not only contrary to the provisions of our law but also degraded and desecrated the hallowed dignity that is attached to the office of Chief Justice of Nigeria.”
He said the NBA was not against investigating anybody because no one is above the law, including judicial officers, but that the NBA was against side tracking that process, “coupled with condemnable media trial that is now the bane of some agencies.”
He this does not only undermine the rule of law “but desecrates the responsibility that is attached to the office of the CJN. We pray never to experience such dark days in our judiciary,” he said.