Opinion: An Open Letter To 72 Newly Appointed SANs By Sam Jibrin Okutepa

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72 Senior Advocate of Nigeria ( SANs ) were recently appointed by Federal Government of Nigeria to strengthen the manpower in legal profession.

In what seems like reflection, a legal luminary of high repute, Sam Jibrin Okutepa ( SAN ), writes an open letter to the newly 72 appointed SANs.

In his letter, Sam recalls the good old days in legal profession where justice is given to whom its due…

Again, while lamenting on the level of corruption in legal profession in today’s Nigeria, Sam advises the newly appointed SANs to stand tall and defend the legal profession no matter what!.

Let us read his interesting write up:

” Let me start this open letter to you by congratulating each and everyone of you for being found worthy in knowledge and character by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) to be conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

There is no doubt that the rank is a rank of distinction. It confers on you a lot of privileges and responsibilities.

I congratulate you all and I welcome you to the inner Bar.

As you are all aware, the conferment of the rank on you is coming at a time when there are many challenges facing the legal profession.

Permit me to say that when I decided to read law and by the grace of God I became a lawyer, I read and I was fascinated by the premium the legal profession placed on honestly, integrity and candour.

Members of the legal profession were looked upon as the beacons of hope for humanity and the society at large.

No charlatans or persons of questionable character were allowed to become or joining the legal profession.

Judges too lived very secluded life and you don’t go visiting judicial officers anyhow (Judicial officers were quartered in GRA).

There was no room for any lily livers judex and the auras surrounding judicial officers were so electrifying.

When lawyers or judicial officers passed where people gathered or attended gathering of people, there were these mystical and awesome presence of spartan personality, who were considered as people next only the Almighty.

The elders of the profession were very honest and straight forward.

They placed professional integrity far above partisan and primordial selfish considerations.

In those good olden days no-one lobbied to be made judicial officers.

Those who were found fit and proper to be approached to go to the Bench accepted to do so not for the financial or other pecuniary considerations, but for the honours and dignity attached to the office of the judex.

No one dared compromised justice. Justice in it’s purity of form was served from the Bench.

It was undiluted. No-one dare to interfere with judicial processes.

The legal profession was the envy of all. Everyone wanted to read and become lawyer.

The profession was the pride of all. Leaders of the profession did not encourage and promote insubordination.

You cannot assume or continued in the leadership of the profession then if there was a sword of impropriety hanging on your next.

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No members of the profession was allowed to support evil or impropriety.

But can we say or see all of the above of our profession today.

I have my doubt. We seem to have become “Nigerianised” where we take ownership of wrongs so long as we benefit from those wrongs.

The profession has become intolerant of truth. It is difficult finding good examples to follow now in the profession.

The legal profession that should and ought to fight and eradicate corruption has become so engulfed in corruption.

The affairs of NBA for instance have become so surrounded with controversies of corruption that one begins to wonder whether we really have the legal profession of spartan rules where sanctions are applied or we now have the assemblage of people with selfish agenda to destroy the nobility of the legal profession. In all of these the elders of the profession are just keeping quiet.

The legal profession now is a case of “if you cannot beat them you join them”.

The legal profession must rescue itself from the self destruct it is heading.

As you take the silk you have become leaders of the profession.

I urge you to join hands with legal Practitioners of like minds not just to condemn the rots in the profession but to restore the profession back to its lost glory.

The legal profession must be brought back to the glory of yester years where honour and integrity matter most.

I congratulate you for making it to the top of your careers.

You must avoid any conduct that will undermine the prestige and dignity of the rank. Welcome to the inner Bar”.


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