SAN Award: Priority should be given to Lawyers in Government Employment – Law Officers

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LAWYERS on the payroll of the federal and state governments have expressed concern over heightening insecurity in the land. They are seeking protection.

They argued that, by the nature of their duties – involvement in the prosecution of high risk criminal cases relating to terrorism, kidnapping, high profile corruption, among others –  they were mostly exposed to security threats and could easily fall victim.

The lawyers called on their employers to urgently put in place measures to secure them from harm while carrying out their official responsibilities.

These formed part of deliberations at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Law Officers Association of Nigeria (LOAN) held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

In a communique issued on Monday, the lawyers said: “NEC observed with dismay the tedious task and burden of law officers in prosecuting high risk security, criminal and high profile civil cases at the federal level and in different states of the federation, and drew attention to the vulnerability of such unprotected Law officers.

“NEC called on all the federal and state governments to take action and assign security protection to law officers as well as security allowances as it is obtainable in other climes.”

LOAN stressed the need for all to ensure the sustenance of judicial independence and argued that it was impossible to effectively fight crime “without adequate safety and protection of prosecutors, judges and magistrates.

The communique further reads: “NEC noted with concern the state of insecurity in the nation. It condemned the wanton destruction of lives and properties orchestrated by terrorists, herdsmen, kidnappers, bandits, armed robbers and the like in the nation and called on the Federal Government and security agencies to put in place measures to curb these anomalies.

“NEC urged all Nigerians to be security conscious and proactive through timeous report of security threats and security breaches to the appropriate security agencies.

“NEC re-committed itself to the rule of law and restated its belief in the sanctity of the independence of the judiciary as the bedrock of democratic society.

“NEC encouraged other arms of government and security agencies to give the judiciary free hands and the needed independence to carry out her constitutional responsibilities without fear or favour.”

The communique was signed by LOAN National President, Yusuf Abdullahi and General Secretary, Joseph Jebba.

The group called for enhanced welfare for its members and said priority be given to its senior members in the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

It stated: “NEC observed that the positions of DPP, DCL Ind SG/PS are positions of high professional standing in the legal profusion. ll. NEC recommended that the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) should give priority to these law officers in the award of SAN-ship.

“NEC observed that some states of the federation are yet to implement the harmonisation of the salaries of law officers.

“NEC resolved that a letter of commendation from LOAN be sent to states that have implemented the harmonisation of salaries of law officers and made significant strides in the welfare of law officers; and appealed that states yet to implement the harmonisation of salaries and peculiar allowances of law officers should do so.

“NEC resolved that the provision of vehicles to all law officers by the federal and state governments was imperative and called on the federal and state governments to action to meet this need as a matter of priority for the safety and security of law officers.”

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