Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said the country’s judicial system does not belong to the legal profession but to Nigerians in general.
Osinbajo revealed this in Lagos over the weekend at the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) annual dinner and scholarship. He highlighted the impact of the legal profession in solving societal ills and building a just society.
According to him, “our justice is a public resource, it does not belong to the legal profession, it does not belong to the bar or to the judiciary, it belongs to the people.
“We are the paid operators of a service our constitution has created to resolve their disputes and deliver justice. We are the stewards, not the owners. When this public resource is not working efficiently due to delays, or is discredited by corruption, we the operators have a moral, legal and civic obligation to fix it.”
According to him, as guardians of justice and fairness in society, the role of the Nigerian Bar goes beyond the development of an effective and efficient justice sector, it must also be at the forefront- guardian of the defense of reforms and the deepening of the discourse which will continually maintain its excellence. and prestige, and the rule of law.
Quoting the Bible, the vice president told his fellow Senior Advocates that “we must not become defensive or thin-skinned. If we don’t fix it, we would have failed in our most important task; we don’t would not have succeeded in expressing ourselves”. for the voiceless and vulnerable.
“Every one of us sitting here today knows that there are many problems with our justice system today, history invites us to address them.”
Regarding the need for the legal profession to continually elevate its importance and prestige, Osinbajo noted that “some of the reputational damage suffered in recent times by the profession and the national justice system could have been avoided with careful introspection and sustained on our part.”
He observed that one of the ways to improve the standard of legal practice in the country was to improve the quality of legal education, including adopting a hybrid approach, in order to prepare the next generation of minds. legal for the future.
The vice president noted that there was no country with the number of law graduates, “we have every year that offers in-person lectures and accommodation for those taking the bar exams.”
He added: “Generally speaking, professional exams don’t offer residential training. That’s why I think the suggestion by some that we remove residential training and allow law graduates to enroll in online to bar exams, receive online resources for training, mock trials, court appearances, how to make claims in court, can be put on video and it will even allow the student to replay it again and again for mastery.”
While noting the efforts of the Nigerian Bar Association to conscientiously advocate and support the continuing legal education of legal practitioners, Osinbajo felt that more needs to be done, especially using the BOSAN platform.
His words: “When it comes to legal education, BOSAN is in a better position in terms of knowing what is required in legal education,” the vice president said, adding that “we, in our various ways, have developed programs through which we provide community service, whether in the form of pro bono legal services to indigent litigants or undertaking projects to benefit our surrounding communities.”
According to him, “a partnership between BOSAN, the Council of Legal Education and some law schools on a pilot basis for the provision of additional educational support will not only be useful to the students of these universities, but also to some of the lawyers teachers who may need mentoring.
He recalled how Justice Amina Augie, while sitting on the Sokoto State bench, voluntarily agreed to serve as an associate lecturer at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto.
“Imagine the excitement and excitement of the students, and most importantly the expertise and experience that teaching by our corps members will bring to the classrooms. Only a few of our undergraduate students benefit from the guardianship of those of us, who are traditionally within academia,” noted the Vice President.
Osinbajo also urged BOSAN to ensure continued discipline among its members, noting that “the strength of character and integrity of our body could, to a great extent, be called into question by the transgressions of a few.
“As an organization, we are in a better position to ensure internally that our members are held to the highest standard of probity. I think it is time to commit to calling those whose actions degrade the rank of lawyer principal and to ensure that they are brought before the competent disciplinary body”.
He also commended the leadership of BOSAN for supporting this initiative and establishing the scholarship program to reward excellence among law school students.
He congratulated the newly preferred Senior Advocates on achieving the prestigious rank, including Professor (Head) Ajagbe Toriola Oyewo, whom the Vice President commended for his resilience and persistent determination in the pursuit of excellence that he had the silk clothed at the age of 91.