- Category: Society
- Published on Friday, 27 August 2010 05:47
- Written by The Nation
- Hits: 1693
THE row over the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) title deepened yesterday at the yearly bar conference in Kaduna. Some lawyers demanded the abolition of the title, others sought a reform; yet others asked that it be retained.
At the end of the day, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) settled for a middle of the course road. The NBA asked the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) to convere a stakeholders meeting to deliberate on the issue.
The forum will decide whether the title should be abolished, reformed or retained. The issue was referred from the National Executive Council (NEC) to the Annual General Conference.
It has split the NBA into three, with a group led by Mr Tunji Gomez championing the former NBA President, Wole Olanipekun led those who believe that the process should be allowed to stay.
But the former NBA Secretary General, Nimi Walson Jack, who toed the same line with the Gomez group believe that rather than abolish the title, major reforms should be carried out within the system.
Advancing reasons why the title should be abolished, Gomez said that many people hold the belief that SANs are the best lawyers, adding that clients only retain lawyers who are not SANs because they don’t have money or are ready to gamble with their cases, adding that “even your relation will not trust you with a case against a SAN.
“Can we reform it instead of abolition? This is the big question. The mentality and mind of the retaining public is already made up. If there is reform, non-SANs will still suffer. Your success can only be measured in pari pasu with the SAN title no matter how good you are.
“It might interest you to know that countries like Ghana and the United States of America have abolished it and they still wonder why a country like Nigeria still holds onto it… in the next 20 years, we will have 400 SANs more. What is the possibility of you becoming one if that is your hope?
“Do you know also that quota system is unofficially used to confer? Can quota system and merit exist side by side? If you are from a state where there are many SANs, you might have to struggle all your life”, he said. However, Chief Wole Olanipekun and Yusuf Ali (SAN) said the issue is a serious one that must be taken as such.
Olanipekun said: “This is a serious matter that concerns our profession. If all the dead QC (Queen’s Counsel in England) and SANs are resurrected and asked what their profession is, I am sure that they would say it is the legal profession. They would not say it is QC or SAN. Abolition of the rank is tantamount to abolition of the legal profession itself.
“While it may be true that a lot of things need to be done because of imperfections in the award process and the reality of some bad eggs in the profession, nonetheless, abolition is hardly the solution. Don’t let us be sentimental about this. Any one of you can become whatever you aspire to be in life.
“In the university community, some segments believe that the professors have cornered all the advantages. Yet, nobody will suggest the abolition of the title of professorship. Furthermore, everybody know Nigeria as a nation has a lot of problems. Will you call for the abolition of Nigeria as a solution to those problems?
Ali argued that “a society that has no hierarchy of attainments will not survive. If there are imperfections, let us look into those areas and try to improve them instead of suggesting cutting the head to cure the headache”.