The Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has called for urgent reforms in the legal profession that will rescue it from the looming loss of its credibility.
Prof. Osinbajo said that the rule of law which is the pillar of any democracy can only thrive if the legal profession maintains the high-ethical standard.
Osinbajo spoke at the weekend during the Body of Benchers award night held at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja.
While commending the Body of Benchers for providing a gateway into the legal profession as well being a custodian of values, the vice president who was among the awardees, however, lamented that declined in the ethical values of the profession.
“I commend the Body of Benchers for organising this award night. As a statutory body established by the Legal Practitioners Act, it still remains the gateway into the Nigerian Bar and custodian of the values of the legal profession.
“The rule of law which is the pivot of our democracy cannot be achieved if the ethical values of the legal profession are eroded.
“Today, our profession is facing difficult times as it faces extinct of its credibility, which has been eroded over the years. There is, therefore, the need to carry out a self- assessment reform to reclaim the values and ethics of our profession.
“We can only achieve a free, fair and an impartial system of justice if we stand firm to protect our cherished ethical values no matter whose ox is gored.
“We have a duty to protect the social structure of our nation to bring about a just society through deliberate sacrifice and efforts.
“Our greatest debt to the future generation is to be worthy mentors who must fearlessly insist on the rule of law and corporate integrity.”
In his speech, the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, expressed the need for judicial integrity where power and money shall not bow to justice.
He explained that integrity has a role to play in the legitimacy of the judiciary, where truth and justice shall prevail.
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, decried the way and manner in which orders of the court are been treated by the executive arm of government. He, therefore, called for a strong and formidable judiciary.
According to him, “if the judiciary is not strong, there is no way our democracy can be strong. If our judiciary is not strong, there is no way the judiciary can be independent. We must all come out of our comfort zones and take the challenge to redeem the judiciary.”
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Chairman Body of Benchers, Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu, disclosed that the body was making some regulations towards upholding the core values of the legal profession.
Among the dignitaries who graced the event were governors Muhammed Abubakar (Buachi State), Simon Lalong (Plateau State), Aminu Tambuwal (Sokoto)and the Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson.
Other attendees were the Minister of Works, Housing and Power. Babatunde Fashola; Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; his Communications counterpart, Adabayo Shittu and that of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung.
The highlight of the event was the presentation of awards to 132 legal practitioners made up of serving and former justices of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Senior Advocate of Nigeria amongst others.