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NBA Warns Judges, Lawyers Against Professional Misconduct, Excludes Akwa-Ibom Branches From Election Monitoring For Endorsing A Candidate

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has warned judges and lawyers against professional misconduct during litigations that may arise from the conduct of the forthcoming general election.

The President of the NBA, Mr Yakubu Maikyau (SAN), gave the warning in a “State of the Nation” address he delivered on Tuesday in Abuja.

Maikyau observed that besides the need to guarantee the security of the lives and properties of Nigerians as they troop out to vote in the 2023 general election, the ultimate outcome of the election will largely depend on the interface between the Bench, the Bar and the political gladiators.

The NBA president was of the opinion that members of the legal profession, serving either on the Bench or at the Bar, owe Nigerians sincere and honest participation in the process.

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“We must do all that is legitimately within our abilities, motivated by the desire to serve the course of justice, to ensure that the relevant laws and rules, properly interpreted and applied, remain the guiding principles for our involvement in the process.

“While we shall stand with the courts and do everything legal to protect the integrity of the Bench against any form of intimidation by the political class, any person or group of persons, we will not hesitate to call out and pursue disciplinary action(s) against erring judicial officials.

“Similarly, members of the Bar who misconduct themselves while participating in the resolution of electoral disputes will face disciplinary action at the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) and the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC), where Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) are involved,” he said.

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Meanwhile, the NBA has commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for all that it is doing to deliver a free, fair and credible election to Nigerians.

The NBA president urged the electoral umpire to maintain its independence, while declaring the bar’s unequivocal support in helping to ward off any attempt to undermine the integrity of the electoral process and neutrality of INEC.

Maikyau, however, faulted the Akwa Ibom State chapter of the NBA for endorsing a candidate in the forthcoming election, stressing that NBA as a body remains neutral in the election.

“I want to say in no unclear terms that we condemn the action of the few members who embarked on such despicable and disgraceful conduct using the platform of the NBA.

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“That declaration was not made for or with the authority of the NBA. It is disgusting and I have already instructed the First Vice President NBA, who is leading the NBA Election Monitoring Group, to immediately exclude all the branches of the NBA in Akwa Ibom State from participating in the monitoring of the forthcoming election.

“This exclusion will be communicated to INEC forthwith and members involved in this conduct will also face disciplinary action as may be determined by the NBA.

“NBA is not partisan; we are not a political party, we are representatives of the people, we remain neutral and must be seen to maintain our neutrality at all times – we belong to everyone and to nobody,” he added.

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