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UK lawyers shouldn’t be allowed to practise in Nigeria – NBA President

By Mo Isa

Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, has taken issue with a contract made by the Federal Government that permits lawyers from the United Kingdom to practise law in Nigeria.

The putative ETIP agreement on legal services between the governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom was disclosed by the NBA president in an email sent to association members on Tuesday.

The Enhanced Trade and Investment Partnership, which was agreed by the United Kingdom and Nigeria, aims to increase trade, investments, remove obstacles in the legal services sector, and permit British solicitors to practise law in Nigeria and vice versa.

According to the UK government, the agreement “will create opportunities across a breadth of sectors crucial to both economies.’’

Though Maikyau pointed out that it was depressing that a decision that negatively affects the welfare and livelihood of millions of Nigerians was made without considering the association, the ETIP deal was the first that the UK had signed with an African nation.

The “news making rounds on a number of media platforms on the alleged signing of the Enhanced Trade Investment Partnership Agreement, between the governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom,” he claimed, given his knowledge of the agreement between the two nations.

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The NBA president also voiced his displeasure with Doris Uzoka-Anite, the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, who hailed the arrangement as a “ground-breaking agreement” that would bring “more money” to Nigeria.

Maikyau said that he found the statement “ridiculous, unpatriotic, and uninformed.’’

He noted, “For the avoidance of doubt, the NBA had no foreknowledge or inclination of the text of the said agreement. We could not therefore have contributed to it. I have since assuming office as president of the NBA clearly opposed any agreement that will compromise our legal space. At all the meetings I had with officials of the Law Society of England & Wales and the Bar Council of England & Wales, I never failed to note our opposition to a bilateral agreement between the Government of Nigeria and that of the United Kingdom on legal services.’’

The NBA president went on to say that while other trade issues might be discussed or agreed upon, legal services were not on the table because Nigeria was not prepared for such deals.

According to him, they cannot compete favourably with UK lawyers due to the vast knowledge and ability difference, even if they were to enjoy reciprocity with the UK—which is an unacceptable position.

He added, “We know for certain that the British Government will not undermine its own body of legal professionals in such spectacular fashion as this administration has done to the NBA in the matter of this agreement. It is truly tragic that while the government of the UK is seeking opportunities for its own lawyers beyond its constrained environment, the government of Nigeria is attempting to deprive Nigerian lawyers and their millions of dependants of a means of livelihood”.

Maikyau continued by saying that the ETIP agreement, which dealt with legal services, was unacceptable in its entirety and that the NBA would take the appropriate legal action to support the association’s stance.

Additionally, he urged association members to prepare for the fight ahead, declaring, “Under my leadership, the NBA will not allow any incursion into our legal space.”

Mo Isa
Mo Isa
Mo Isa is writer whose pen only curate the latest news within your neighbourhood.

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