The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Muhammad, on Monday inaugurated 38 Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) with a charge on them to display a high sense of integrity always and be good example to junior lawyers in the country.
The CJN reminded the lawyers that the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria comes with immense prestige and greater responsibilities and as such should not be taken for granted.
In a speech at the inauguration at the Supreme Court complex Abuja, Muhammad however warned that the apex court would however not tolerate any conduct or attitude that could put the legal profession in a negative light.
Among the newly inaugurated SANs include the Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Dayo Apata; wife of Supreme Court Justice, Adedoyin Rhodes-Vivour; and Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, amongst others.
Muhammad congratulated the conferees, noting that it is a well deserved honour having emerged successful from among the 117 that applied for the position in 2019.
He disclosed that 80 applicants emerged after the preliminary screening, while the list was later pruned down to 38 after the conduct of specified screening carried out by justices of the apex court, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Body of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the general public and the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee, amongst others.
“As Senior Advocates of Nigeria, you carry on your shoulders a lot of responsibilities. From this moment, your behaviour and general conduct will now be publicly criticised by all those who come in contact with you. There is nothing like private life for you anymore, as everything you do or say will be openly displayed and dissected in the public domain.
“Watch your utterances, watch your actions and watch your company because you have already assumed the role of ministers of the court as you are now expected to assist the court to attain justice, equity and fairness in all ramifications.
“You must display enormous integrity, self discipline and high standard of advocacy as custodians of justice,” he said.
The CJN further advised them not to feel that they have arrived and thereby become casual visitors to courtrooms, warning that the leadership of the apex court would not tolerate any form of misconduct.
“I have stated severally that lawyers must desist from the practice of filing needless appeals at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court. Let it be known that the Supreme Court will henceforth be unsparing in punishing blatant abusers of court processes.
“I need to state clearly that any lawyer who does not adhere to the time-honoured dress code of legal practitioners will not be allowed to appear in court. Such attitude is capable of eroding the prestige and respect accorded to lawyers worldwide,” the CJN added.
Speaking on behalf of the new SANs, Mrs Rhodes-Vivour, assured the CJN that her set of conferees shall always uphold the dignity of the rank of SAN as exemplified by their comportment and relation with the courts.
She added that they will continue to mentor young lawyers and lead them along the right path through their conduct and behaviour.