NBA must rescue judiciary from executive stranglehold

The 12th in the series of the S.P.A. Ajibade and Co. business luncheon will hold on November 14, 2019 in Lagos with the theme: “Enforcement of the resolution of civil disputes, the proper forum”.

In this interview with the managing partner of the law firm, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade, (SAN), he reviews the achievement of the firm in the business luncheon over the years and the impact it has created in shaping the law and jurisprudence in Nigeria. He also reveals the future plans of the firm to expand the lecture series to include the awards of excellence to jurists and legal professionals who have demonstrated integrity and outstanding performances in their fields of endeavour, and how the body of lawyers, the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), can benefit from the firm’s lectures to confront national challenges and the much needed legal reforms. Excerpts:

How can you assess the S.P.A. Ajibade and Co. annual business luncheon and its impact in the larger society in shaping the law and the polity?

We started S.P.A. and Co. annual business luncheon in 2008. This year will be the 12th in the series. If you look at all the themes of the business luncheon all through the years, you will discover that they all focused on the state of the legal profession in Nigeria. It has been a corporate social responsibility event. We have not been able to open it up for everybody. What we have tried to do is to target those people that will help disseminate the message, those with some degree of influence in the society.

In terms of impact, the feedback we get is that it is very very much looked forward to by people. The legal community always look forward to hear what we have to offer at the business luncheon. It has had practical effect. I remember the one we had in 2013 which key note was ‘Achieving judicial excellence’ delivered by Professor Oba Nsugbe, (QC, SAN.). After that lecture the Lagos State Government invited him to come and help the state in the recruitment of judges using the recruitment standard as it is done in the United Kingdom (UK).

This year we will be dealing with the topic: “Enforcement of the resolution of civil disputes: The proper forum”.

Do you document the outcome of every annual lecture and transmit same to interested stakeholders who use the reports for the greater good of the society and for the amendment and improvement of our laws?

Yes, we do. We invite people of influence, judges, senior lawyers, Attorneys General, chairmen of the branches of the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), the law faculties of universities as well as the Nigerian Law School within our catchment area.

The main papers that have been delivered and those of the discussants are circulated to interested parties. There is always an opportunity follow up and for one to take away one or two things from the papers for implementation by state governments and other relevant authorities.

Another thing we are considering to do is compile all the lectures and publish them into a book form.

Why have you not incorporated awards into the business luncheon whereby you reward excellence either found among your staff, participants at the annual lectures or outstanding personalities in the legal profession and the judiciary, who stand out as examples for others?

This is a very brilliant idea you have just suggested. The management of the Chambers will be considering such brilliant ideas. At the management level of the firm, we have already started discussing the award issue and keying into the idea as we are already considering the awards for our staff, perhaps beginning with long service awards or awards of excellence, not necessarily during the business luncheon sessions.

This is one of the good ideas that has been put forward. But the challenges we will have in terms of orientation, both generally and specifically in our profession is that good behaviour or excellent performance is not sufficiently rewarded.

How can the achievement of your firm in the business luncheons over the years be replicated with the body of lawyers, the Nigerian Bar Association, (NBA), to better position it as a knowledge-based pressure group?

I understand the question perfectly well. There is indeed a challenge.