The Body of Benchers on Thursday in Abuja admitted 1,468 candidates to the Nigerian Bar as barristers and solicitors, with a charge to exhibit the highest level of professional ethics.
Performing the ceremony, Justice Walter Onnoghen, Chairman, Body of Benchers and Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, charged the new lawyers to be an embodiment of integrity and discipline.
“An area which must be of concern to you as legal practitioners is your integrity and conduct.
“As legal practitioners, you cannot close your eyes to the social, political and economic problems of our time, therefore, you have a duty to help rescue our society from pervasive lawlessness, corruption and anti-social activities.”
Mr. Onnoghen noted that between January 2013 and July 2017, 140 petitions were filed at the registry of Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee of the Body of Benchers.
According to him, out of this number, 26 lawyers were disbarred, 10 suspended, 40 were discharged, while 64 petitions are currently pending before the committee.
He stated that the committee would discipline erring legal practitioners whose conduct negated the sacrosanct standards of the profession or amounted to infamous conduct in a professional respect.
He encouraged the new lawyers to acquire skills under the supervision of reputable senior lawyers or a firm of competent legal practitioners rather than rushing to set up individual firms.
The CJN charged the new wigs to exhibit the highest level of professional ethics and decorum and to tenaciously guard the ethical values of the profession.
“In time honoured tradition, I hereby close with the chairman’s charge to the newly called legal practitioners.
“You may now go forth in your new wigs from this day forward to serve Nigeria and serve humanity in justice, without fear or favour, affection or ill will.”
Earlier, the Director-General of the Nigerian Law School, Olarenwaju Onadeko, said that the April 2017 examinations taken by the re-sit students, recorded a 72 per cent success rate.
Mr. Onadeko noted that this was as a result of the compulsory intensive revision exercise which the Council of Legal Education stipulated for all intending re-sit candidates.
“Of note is the impressive performance of some candidates, with one attaining the level just short of the first-class grade,” he said.
He added that out of 1,468 candidates, 1,390 were successful at the April final examination, while 78 were candidates from previous bar final examinations.
Mr. Onadeko decried the situation where some universities violated the admission quotas of their faculties of law.
According to him, even though some faculties of law have had their accreditation withdrawn for the violation, some more faculties have joined in the fray.
“I must state for emphasis that the consequence for violation is withdrawal of accreditation and the Council of Legal Education will not hesitate to apply the sanction.
“I appeal to our universities to heed the decision of the council and the National Universities Commission in this regard,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that one of the candidates, Tukur Ismail, although deceased, was called out as one of those who qualified in character and learning to be called to the Nigerian Bar.
One-minute silence was observed in his honour.
NAN also reports that the call to bar ceremony was performed in two sessions, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.