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Clarify CCT’s Status Now – NBA Urges Supreme Court

Clarify CCT’s Status Now – NBA Urges Supreme Court

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has urged the Supreme Court of Nigeria to determine the status of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, to clarify whether it is an organ of the executive or a quasi-judicial tribunal vested with criminal jurisdiction, THE NATION reports.
The request was contained in a communiqué issued after the 59th Annual General Conference (AGC) and Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the association held at the Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos. It was signed by NBA President, Paul Usoro (SAN) and Chairman, Technical Committee Association on Conference Planning, Gbenga Oyebode.
It was sequel to the contentions by senior lawyers who were panelists at the AGC of the NBA over the removal of the immediate past former Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen.
While some of them argued that the tribunal is under the Executive arm, others said it should be responsible to National Judicial Commission (NJC).
The NBA noted that the status of the CCT has remained a gray area in Nigerian jurisprudence which has given rise to great contention.
The communiqué which was presented to journalists in Lagos during the weekend recognised the rule of law as one of the core fundamental values in a democracy, predicated on an independent judiciary, independent bar, separation of powers and access to justice.
It urged the people and governments to respect rule of law always, stressing that they have a duty to protect, safeguard and advance it at all times.
It identified the poor socio-economic situations as a contributory factor for the increase in kidnapping and terrorism.
“Government is urged to adopt policies that support socio-economic empowerment” adding “there should be in addition holistic and total enforcement of the Criminal Justice Act 2015, Criminal Justice Laws of some of the states, the anti-kidnapping provisions of the Criminal Code Act and the Kidnapping Laws of some of the States, Terrorism (Prevention) Act and Fundamental Human Rights to reduce the act of kidnapping and terrorism”.
The communiqué urged judicial officers to be independent, courageous and unbiased in the execution of their functions without regard to the appointing authority in order to bolster and retain confidence of investors, businesses and the public in the judiciary.
Acknowledging the commitment of government under the Sustainable Developmental Goal 5 on Gender Equality and Female Empowerment, and the dismissal record of the country on gender equality, it urged government to engender gender equality in the Nigerian Constitution, enact laws that will eliminate gender inequalities, strengthen and mandate institutions to implement gender mainstreaming.
It sought amendment to political party constitutions, judicial activism in the interpretation of laws and cultural norms and support of prominent male champions are required for the attainment of the Sustainable Developmental Goals 5.
The NBA described Gender-Based Violence (GBV) as a serious epidemic destroying many communities.
It advised that laws with severe punitive measures for sexual offenders should be enacted to curb the trend.
It said awareness programmes and community dialogue on GBV should be promoted to remove the stigma around GBV.
“In view of the increased attack on children and minors in various incidences of violence against persons, particularly GBV, the Child’s Right Act 2003 should be reviewed or amended to reflect current trends”, it stated.
The communiqué further lamented the prevalence of bullying and sexual harassment in the legal profession and advised that the menace should be specifically addressed in the Rules of Professional Conduct of the legal profession, adding that the requirement for the signing of a code on bullying and sexual harassment by lawyers should be given serious consideration.
It acknowledged the effect of a globalised business environment, the desire of Nigerian lawyers to build regional and global law firms and noting the inadequacy of the regulatory framework in the country on the current and future realities of cross-border trade in legal services, the Conference resolved that the NBA should work with the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Solicitor-General of the Federation to amend existing laws and draft new laws to introduce appropriate innovative structures and models that will advance the developmental interest of Nigerian lawyers and legal services delivery standards.
The communiqué further asked government trade negotiators to involve the NBA and the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation in the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) negotiations on services while enjoining legal practitioners to study the agreement, and fully understand the opportunities it presents and be well-prepared to take full benefit of AfCFTA.
The NBA stated that this had become imperative “having realised that the AfCFTA will, upon its full implementation, impact the legal profession in the continent”.
It acknowledged that infrastructure funding deficit was one of the biggest challenges to development in Nigeria.
It counseled government to explore alternative financing structures such as Sukuk, asset securitisation, land value capture, infrastructure-cum-sovereign bonds and pension assets to plug the vast financing gap, improve public financial management and resolve regulatory and institutional challenges.
The conference, according to the association, achieved the objective of speaking to the task of “Facing the future”, not just by the NBA, representing all of the legal system, but also the nation, and the continent with new initiatives for taking our people forward.
“In terms of the overarching policy objective, the message of the conference is to move from dialogue to taking positive steps to resolve current problems in a manner that takes us into the future; and helps us achieve our true potentials through scalable and sustainable solutions that will impact the daily life of Nigerians; and through solutions anchored on the true rule of law, fair treatment of our women and youths and inclusion of all in the benefits of technological innovation and new thinking,” it stated.

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