The Nigerian Bar Association has placed a ban on congratulatory messages and media advertorials for legal practitioners newly admitted to the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The directive was given by the NBA President, Mr. Augustine Alegeh (SAN), in a letter dated September 7, 2015, addressed to the 21 lawyers selected for the conferment of the award this year.
Alegeh said the decision to ban congratulatory advertorials for new SANs was a resolution of the NBA National Executive Committee.
He added that the practice, which had gone on for years, infringed on the provisions of Rule 39 (2) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007.
He urged the newly selected SANs to dissuade their families, friends and well-wishers who may want to congratulate them on the pages of newspapers, radio or television.
Since the directive was issued, some well-wishers, who had booked space for congratulatory messages for the new SANs, have started withdrawing them.
One of the newly selected SANs, Mr. Valentine Uche, while confirming the receipt of the letter to our correspondent on Thursday, said the development was like a rumour until a letter was delivered to him from the NBA President’s office.
He said, “It was like a rumour and I said I could not act on the basis of a rumour; but now I have a letter delivered to me from the office of the NBA President, saying it is a violation of the provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007.”
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), who also confirmed the authenticity of the directive, said the decision was to return the NBA to the strict path of professionalism.
“What the current President of the NBA is doing is to show by example that the NBA is a professional body and not a political body. So, if you get a professional award like the silk, it is the President who will honour all the awardees, so that you don’t have a clash of parties in Abuja, where each stand is throwing a party and splashing money. In fact, that is not what the award is about. It diminishes the award,” Agbakoba said.
Efforts to get the NBA President, Alegeh, to comment were unsuccessful as calls to his phone were not picked.