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AGF laments decline in legal education

The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Adoke (SAN), has lamented the decline in legal education in the country.

Speaking at a meeting of the Nigerian Law School Class of 1988 in Enugu on Saturday, Adoke called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Council of Legal Education to restore sanity in the system.

“I regret to observe the vastly declined standard of legal education in the country. I observe this as part of a general trend in education at all tiers and across subject areas.

“It is a matter of grave concern that even the conduct of examinations for the bar finals is no longer free from irregularities and malpractice,” Adoke said at the fourth re-union meeting hosted by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim.

He also condemned the “disturbing trend by which some legal practitioners now engage non-lawyers or touts to scout for briefs on their behalf, and enter into sharing arrangement of the legal fees’’.

“As Attorney General of the Federation, I am astonished at the manner businessmen and women approach my office for patronage.

“When I question them as to the impropriety of their conduct, they often answer to the effect that it has been done before and that they had in the past secured brief, which they handed over to their lawyers to handle on their behalf,’’ Adoke said.

The Attorney General, who spoke on “Ethics and discipline at the bar: Repositioning the legal profession in Nigeria,’’ said there was the need to challenge the lukewarm attitude to ethics in the pursuit of material wealth or welfare.

“The underlining objective is to sensitise members of this noble profession to the need to uphold high ethical standards and discipline in the practice of law in the country.

“We have for too long relegated these issues to the background to the detriment of our profession,” he added.

In another lecture, the Director General of the Nigerian Law School, Dr Mamman Tahir, said the school had introduced new programmes to prepare its graduates for the challenges of the society.

He called on the lawyers to re-focus their attention to the school in the area of infrastructure development because it was being perceived as a private school.

In his address of welcome earlier, Gov. Martins Elechi of Ebonyi, who was the chief host, said the fact that many members of the Class 88 had become successful within a short time, spoke volumes about their individual drive and sense of mission.

In his remarks, Anyim said the idea of the re-union was to sharpen the legal profession to take its place in the country’s democracy.

The Class 88 has three governors as members – Babatunde Fashola (SAN) of Lagos, Liyel Imoke of Cross River and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom.

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