#2018NBAAGC : ‘Legal Education Regulation Dysfunctional’– A.B Mahmoud SAN

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Outgoing Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) President Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN) said yesterday that legal education regulation was dysfunctional.
“The Council of Legal Education (CLE) is not a functioning body. It’s a very dysfunctional body,” he added.
Mahmoud regretted that the situation had led to the churning out of half-baked lawyers, resulting in loss of confidence in the legal profession.
He faulted the Body of Benchers, which admits lawyers to the Bar, over its operational methods.
The NBA president spoke at a session on “NBA reforms agenda” during the association’s Annual General Conference in Abuja.
Mahmoud said the 294 members of the Body of Benchers, comprising retired judges and other appointees, are ill-equipped to regulate the legal profession.
“You cannot have serious regulation done by an amorphous body,” he said in reference to the Body of Benchers.
To address the regulatory challenges, Mahmoud said he set up the Legal Profession Regulation Committee headed by Chief Anthony Idigbe (SAN).
He urged lawyers to support the proposed amendments by the committee.
“If we allow the Bar association to remain where it is, it cannot act as a bridge with the rest of the society.
“Unless we transform our Bar, we’re not going to play the role we should play in this day and age.
“We have a great role to play in moving the country forward. We must not remain in the old order,” Mahmoud said.
He regretted that aspiration to the association’s leadership “has become so competitive, rancorous and disruptive”.
According to him, for some lawyers, the NBA has become an “influence peddling mechanism”, with ethnic cleavages taking root.
“The association became bifurcated,” Mahmoud lamented.
He said his solution was to propose that NBA be professionally run.
“We said the management of the Bar has to be handled by professionals because the association has become too big, but this didn’t go down well with some of our colleagues,” Mahmoud said.
Chief Idigbe, represented by a member of the committee, Prof Anthony Agom, said they came up with the Legal Profession Regulation Bill.
He said the Bill, when passed into law, would replace the Legal Practitioners Act and the Legal Education Act.
It provides for a Legal Profession Regulation Council, with sub-committees on Bar affairs, ethics, compliance and enforcement, young lawyers and career development, privileges, among others.
Agom said the committee proposed amendment of criminal laws to empower only lawyers to prosecute cases at all levels to create jobs, among others.
Nigerian Law School Director-General Prof Isa Chiroma decried the proliferation of law faculties in universities.
While presenting a statutory report on the Law School, he said the management was engaging the National Universities Commission (NUC) in issues of accreditation and quality control.
“A fallout from emerging challenge for the profession is that of conscious proliferation of law faculties with tendencies to start law programmes among others without proper accreditation from regulatory bodies.
“To curb this anomaly, the Council of Legal Education and Nigerian Law School are engaging the authorities of the NUC to address these worrisome issues.
“The NBA is also invited in this regard for the preservation and protection of our profession,” Chiroma said.
He said the Law School has not increased its fees in the last 10 years and needs better infrastructure.