Ikorodu NBA Chairman, Bayo Akinlade visits Lagos AG, Wants NBA/MOJ Liason office

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA Ikorodu Branch on 17th September, 2019 paid a courtesy visit to the AG of Lagos state at the state’s Ministry of Justice.

In a statement made available to BarristerNG, the Ikorodu Branch Chair, Mr. Bayo Akinlade expressed his gratitude to the chief Legal officer and  suggested a Ministry of Justice/NBA Liaison Office that will effectively engage the NBA in promoting Justice and Law Reform.

Mr. Akinlade lamented that lawyers in the ministry of justice do not run for leadership position within the NBA, hence robbing NBA of the much needed talents required to manage a purposeful NBA.

The Ikorodu Boss urged the AG to make the independence of the Judiciary a priority during his tenure.

Below is the full statement

Statement by the Chairman, NBA Ikorodu Branch presented at a courtesy visit to the AG of Lagos State Held at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice on the 17th of September 2019

On behalf of the entire members of the Ikorodu Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, we congratulate Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo SAN on his appointment as the Hon. Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice of Lagos State.

It is indeed an honour to be here today with leaders of the NBA Ikorodu Branch to felicitate with the Chief Legal Officer of the Lagos State Government, the Leader of the Official Bar and Senior Advocate who is a BAR MAN in every sense of the word.

Learned Hon. AG let me take a few minutes to introduce NBA Ikorodu and the work we have been doing with the Ministry of Justice and others in the last 13 months under my leadership.

Our Collaboration:
We have had a robust working relationship with the Ministry of Justice through its agencies which includes the Office of the Public Defender (OPD), Citizen’s Mediation Center and Community Services.

Most of our work has been with the OPD where we collaborate in the Court Centered Prison Decongestion Initiative and volunteer lawyers accompanying magistrates to their monthly visits to police stations. OPD has supported the Branch by providing capacity building for our members by inviting us to their trainings while we provide support for OPD lawyers by taking a few cases on Probono basis.

We also work with the CMC on our monthly Legal Aid Clinics where CMC Counsels come to Ikorodu High Court to join NBA members to provide free Legal Services. CMC Counsels also accompany us on community programs from time to time. CMC have also provided capacity building for our members at their own expense.

Light up the Court Project: earlier in the year, we used the funds donated to us by the Ministry of Justice to fund the project. With the help of Ministry of Justice, we were able to completely rewire the Ikorodu High Court, purchased a 6.5kwh generator, installed lights and bought fans for the 2 high courts and 6 magistrate courts in Ikorodu. We received 500 Thousand Naira from the Ministry of Justice and we used it to fund the project which cost us over 800 thousand Naira to complete.

Our relation with the office of the DPP has also improved, especially through our Court Centered Prison Decongestion Initiative which saw the release of over 70 inmates in the last 10 months. The Lagos State Judiciary has been a major supporter in this initiative and its success is largely due to the Judiciary’s cooperation.

Cooperation with NBA Branches across Lagos State:
It is our desire to see more collaboration with the Ministry of Justice with other NBA branches. In this regard, I would like to propose that the number 1 legal officer of this great State hosts a leadership retreat with all NBA Branch Executives, Directors of the Ministry of Justice, Legislators that are lawyers and some senior Judges and magistrates. The purpose of this leadership retreat would be to amongst other things brainstorm on thorny issues that affect the administration of Justice in Lagos state as well as build sustainable relations between the Executive, Legislator, Judiciary and the NBA

Other areas of sustainable cooperation that we are interested in is in the area of getting PROBONO referrals from the MOJ. We are also available to volunteer as private prosecutors in instances where DPP requires our services.

I would like to suggest; learned silk that perhaps your office can set up an MOJ/ NBA Liaison Office to effectively engage the NBA in promoting Justice and Law Reform.

The Administration of Criminal Justice Law:
While Lagos State takes the glory for enacting this law, some states have improved on the Law while Lagos State seems to be lagging behind. A very important reform to consider here is the prosecution of Criminal Cases by Lay police officers. We urge the Attorney-General to consider reforms in this area especially because it directly impacts on the employment opportunities of Lawyers. We are happy to support the MOJ in pushing for these reforms

Regarding DPP’s Advice, we are happy to hear from the AG regarding DPP’s advice and we will play our part in ensuring that our members are not complicit in the delay of the DPP’s Advice.

On the monthly visits by magistrates to the police stations; our ACJL does not have such provisions but with the intervention of the past CJN who advised all State Chief Judges to implement the provision of the ACJA this provision is now being implemented in Lagos State. It is important to note that the OPD have joined other volunteer lawyers to accompany magistrates in undertaking this assignment. We would also like the AG to consider officially partnering with us on the Police Duty Solicitors’ Scheme which we undertake with the cooperation of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria

The Independence of the Judiciary:
We urge the Learned AG to make the independence of the Judiciary a priority during your tenure. As the Chief Law officer, your advice to the Governor on this issue is very important. It is embarrassing to have our chief judge asking for handouts from the Governor; it sends the wrong signals to everyone and robs the judiciary of its impartiality and its position as the last hope of the common man. We, in the NBA Ikorodu Branch will support you in this regard; we will add our voice to yours in compelling the Executive to completely hands off the affairs of the Judiciary.

The Welfare of State Counsels:
Our members in the Ministry of Justice and in the Local Councils are heavily overworked and in many cases are not treated with the dignity they deserve as Learned Gentlemen. The fact that they work for government should not make them any less a lawyer as the rest of us. In NBA Ikorodu Branch, I have set up a Forum of Lawyers in the Civil Service so that they can impact positively on the society and be given the due regard they deserve.

We are also concerned that it is only in Lagos State that our colleagues in the ministry of justice do not run for leadership position within the NBA. Their exclusion has robbed NBA of the much needed talents required to manage a purposeful NBA. We hope that during your tenure as AG, we will experience a new dimension in this regard.

Other issues:

Our members are concerned with practice at the lands registry. Our jobs are being taken away and the government is not enforcing laws that require that only lawyers can perfect certain documents. We at NBA Ikorodu will be happy to partner with the MOJ in creating awareness in this regard with a view to improving our earning capacity as lawyers.

By and large, I would like to pledge our support for you and the Lagos State government in building and promoting a secure, efficient and resourceful justice administration system in Lagos State.

Once again, we congratulate you and look forward to a successful working relation with you.

Best Wishes
Bayo Akinlade Esq
Chairman
NBA Ikorodu Branch

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