Former Vice Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Monday Onyekachi Ubani, has reacted to the Supreme Court’s nullification of the conviction of a former governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu.

A former Second Vice-President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Monday Onyekachi Ubani, has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos to quash the purported amendment of the Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) for Legal Practitioners 2007, by Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.

He prayed the court to declare, among others, that the unilateral amendment and gazetting of Rules 9(2),10,11,12 and 13 of the RPC, on September 3, 2020, via statutory instrument No 15 of 2020, was “illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional, ultra vires, and therefore null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”

In a suit, commenced by Originating Summons, Ubani is challenging the AGF’s powers as the president of the General Council of the Bar, to make or amend the Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers without a meeting of the General Council of the Bar.

In the said Originating Summons, filed by the human rights activist, he is seeking the determination of the following questions by the Federal High Court:

“Whether given the combined provisions and proper interpretation of sections 6(6b), 36(1) and Section 251 (q&r), of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (CFRN), as amended, Section 23A, of the Legal Practitioners Act, which prohibits and removes the right of action or access to court by any person with respect to the management of the affairs of the Nigerian Bar Association, is not inconsistent with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

“Whether by a community reading and proper interpretation of the provisions of sections 1(1&2) and 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act, which created and donated to the General Council of the Bar, the powers and responsibility of making rules of professional conduct, for the legal profession, the 1st Defendant, in his official capacities, as the AGF, and or as president of the General Council of the Bar, can unilaterally, alter, amend and or make any Rules of professional conduct, without a proper meeting of the General Council of the Bar, duly convened, and notices thereof, issued to other members of the General Council of the Bar; and


“Whether given the community reading of sections 1(1&2) and 12(4) of the Legal Practitioners Act, the Attorney-General of the Federation, is given any powers to unilaterally make rules of professional conduct or to amend the existing rules of professional conducts for lawyers in Nigeria.”

Ubani further sought the following reliefs:

“A declaration that the provisions of section 23A of the Legal Practitioners Act, as amended, is inconsistent with the Constitution, and therefore null, void and of no effect whatsoever, to the extent of its inconsistency with the Constitution.

“An order deleting or expunging section 23A, of the Legal Practitioners Act, as amended, for being inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended.

“A declaration that the AGF lacks the capacity, powers or vires to unilaterally make, amend and or alter the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners, 2007, in his personal or official capacities…without the input of other members of the General Council of the Bar, in a meeting duly convened and notices of the said meeting properly issued and served on the members of the General Bar Council; and

“A declaration that the decisions and resolutions with respect to the management of the affairs of the NBA, by the General Council of the Bar, especially, as it relates to the making of, and or amendment of the rules of professional conduct, can only be reached, or taken, in a meeting of the General Council of the Bar, properly convened by the Bar Council, through invitations, timely issued and served on all members of the General Bar Council.”

He also sought an order declaring the unilateral amendment and the gazetting, of Rules, 9(2),10, 11, 12 and 13, of the RPC,” as illegal, unlawful, unconstitutional and therefore null and void and of no effect whatsoever.

He prayed the court to make an order of perpetual injunction, restraining the AGF from unilaterally altering, amending and or making Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners in Nigeria.

Nkem Okoro, who filed the action with Ubani, said they also asked the court to declare the provisions of Section 23A of the Legal Practitioners Act, unconstitutional for taking away the right of access to court by lawyers.

No date has been fixed for hearing of the suit.

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