No fewer than 1,000 fake lawyers had been uncovered by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), through the NBA stamp policy launched on April 15, 2015.
The Third Vice President of the NBA, Mr Akintokunbo Oluwole disclosed this in an address delivered at the special court sitting to mark the opening of the 2015/2016 Legal Year in Akure, the Ondo State yesterday.
Oluwole described the issue of quacks in the profession as a serious cankerworm which had eaten deep into the fabric of the legal profession and needs to be addressed urgently.
According to him, “So far, the NBA stamp policy has been able to revive the system and has increased the revenue stream of lawyers across the country.
“Most importantly, it has improved the authenticity of documents, which are now being filed in court registries since all legal documents must now bear the stamp of lawyers to be considered valid”, he said.
He further explained that, though the fake lawyers had also devised various means to scuttle the implementation of the stamp policy, they had been unsuccessful.
Oluwole who noted that the NBA had received reports from stakeholders expressing concerns and reservations on the successful implementation of the policy, said that the leadership of the bar is not re-inventing the will but merely enforcing the provision of the law.
He said, “The provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 on the NBA Stamp is unambiguous and sacrosanct”.
While speaking at the occasion, the Ondo State chief judge, Justice Olaseinde Kumuyi said that several despicable discoveries were made during the strike by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
Olasehinde who said, top of the discoveries was affidavit forgery, explained that some dubious individuals had carved out their personal stamps and issued out illegal affidavits to unsuspecting or collaborating members of the public.
According to the chief judge,the activities of the dubious individuals compromised the integrity of the affidavits and reduced the oath process to ridiculous activities just as it denied government of revenue.
Kumuyi said: “All affidavits would now have two coloured passports photographs of the deponent who must swear or affirm the truth of the contents before specially trained commissioners for oaths”.
Meanwhile, some members of NBA boycotted the 2015 legal year celebration, accusing the state chief judge of taxing lawyers heavily.
The aggrieved lawyers who had earlier this year embarked on a strike for almost six months ,alleged that the chief judge has commercialised the judiciary in the state.
The lawyers also threatened to continue to boycott all court activities presided over by the chief judge until he leaves.
Speaking with journalists in Akure yesterday, the Akure branch chairman of NBA, Mr. Kayode Dare disclosed that the state judiciary is no longer for the common man as it is now a money making machine for the state government.
Dare explained that the “Environmental fine that is supposed to be affordable in a sum of N500 is now N10,000. Many people are languishing in jail because they can’t afford that money.”
The NBA boss disclosed that over 60 magistrates appointed by Kumuyi were operating from rented apartments which is against the law.
He, however, demanded the removal of Justice Kumuyi by the National Judicial Council, NJC, as necessary petitions had been submitted to the council.