- His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, President, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria;
- Your Excellencies, President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives;
- My Lord, the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria;
- Your Excellencies, Executive Governors;
- My Lord, President of the Court of Appeal;
- My Lords, Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal;
- My Lords, the Chief Judges and Judges of State High Courts;
- Distinguished colleagues in the Federal Executive Council;
- President of the Nigerian Bar Association;
- Distinguished colleagues of both the inner and outer bar;
- Prominent members of the National and State Assemblies;
- All other Distinguished Guests and Participants.
Your Excellencies, my noble Lords, distinguished learned colleagues, permit me to begin by expressing gratitude to the Almighty God for the privileged opportunity afforded me to serve as the 24th Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and my immense appreciation to the President, for finding me worthy of this critical position. I do not take it for granted; I assure you of my commitment to serve with utmost dedication in line with the oath I subscribe to. Also Read: https://legalattorneyblog.com/2023/08/23/justice-minister-seeks-nba-support-for-law-reforms-in-nigeria/
2. While the responsibilities can be challenging, I am comforted that we have a leader, Mr. President, who has remained a staunch supporter of the rule of law over his decades of service to the nation and humanity.
3. On behalf of the Justice family, the Official Bar, let me register my sincere appreciation to the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (“NBA”) and the 2023 Annual General Conference Planning Committee (AGCPC) for the time and resources which you have undoubtedly invested in this excellent outing and also for the opportunity afforded me to share this platform at the 63rd edition of our annual conference. Thank you for choosing this year’s conference theme: Getting it Right – Charting the Course for Nigeria’s Nation Building.
4. Today, there is one thing I share in common with my amiable brother, Silk, Y.C. Maikyau, SAN, the NBA President. While this is the Association’s first annual conference under his watch, this is equally the first I am attending as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice. I also commend all past NBA Presidents and leaders of the bar for how far our Association has evolved to occupy a pride of place as the foremost professional Association in Nigeria.
5. These are exciting times in the global economy. Nigeria, as a global player, has not been spared. Coming out of successive economic downturns caused, mainly by the 2019 coronavirus pandemic, the hopes of a rapid post-COVID-19 recovery were soon dashed by the pervasive impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. It is, therefore, not surprising that many nations are grappling with unprecedented challenges. This is a phase that could, with commitment and perseverance from us all, be overcome.
6. My humble charge to all legal practitioners in Nigeria, be it on the bench or at the bar, is that in the discharge of all our professional endeavours, we should be continually guided by the need to place the interest of our nation first. This is easily achievable if we follow the mission of our Association, the NBA, which is the promotion and protection of Human Rights, the Rule of Law, and Good Governance in Nigeria, and the directive of our calling through the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2023, that is, every legal practitioner should be a proud vanguard of the rule of law and promote the course of justice.
7. Your Excellencies, my noble Lords, distinguished learned colleagues if our nation must get it right. I dare say that the NBA as a body and,, all legal practitioners must rise up to occupy a strategic place in the architecture of nation-building. We must play persistently active roles in the way the powers of the State are deployed in the attainment of the fundamental objectives and principles outlined under Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), running public institutions to achieve social, economic, political, security, legal, democratic and other forms of development. As learned gentlemen in society, our fulfilment should constantly draw from promoting the ideals of nationhood and nationalism. Our fellow citizens are looking up to us for leadership and direction, and it is incumbent upon us not to let them down and to act as the true conscience of the nation.
8. This brings me to my newly assumed practice, operation and responsibility position. After barely a week in office, I wish to remark that the enormity of the challenges on the ground and the enormous expectations and tasks on my shoulders have manifested in no small dimension. I had cause to analyse what I wish to attain in the time as may be afforded me by Mr. President. I have realised that with the enormity of tasks at hand, the most reliable approach to making significant progress will be to place the people at the centre of every policy and strategy of the Ministry. With the generous support of Mr. President, my Ministry will dedicate its time and resources to promoting people-centred justice. In implementing the much-needed legal and judicial reforms, we will maintain fair, transparent, and responsive processes that will reflect the aspirations of Nigerians in the overall promotion of the rule of law and administration of justice.
9. My actions will be guided by the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other relevant laws, the oath of office to which I subscribed. As the Attorney-General of the Federation, I will provide leadership in addressing the following critical areas:
- Improving and strengthening strategic relationships among all the arms of Government and the justice sector institutions and agencies;
- Facilitating a responsive justice sector system that promotes public confidence in the administration of justice and adherence to the rule of law;
- introducing reforms in our laws, judicial systems, and law enforcement system to achieve compliance with extant laws and judicial decisions;
- strengthening capacity to effectively coordinate the activities of all the justice sector institutions;
- benchmarking our investment law regime to favourably compare with global best practices and thus supporting other economic growth regeneration initiatives of the Government across sectors and
- Investing in and leveraging 21st-century cutting-edge information technology to reposition our justice administration for better outcomes.
10. I look forward to constructive engagements with the NBA and other learned colleagues in the justice sector, for my success will be our collective success. I will explore opportunities available through the platforms of the Body of Attorneys-General, the General Council of the Bar, and the Nigerian Bar Association in driving our shared desire for improvement. I will work to chart a new course, promote respect for and independence of the judiciary, and facilitate strategic legal interventions that will assist the Government in formulation and implementation.
11. It is now my honour and rare privilege to introduce to this solemn assembly my indefatigable boss and leader, a man of historic destiny, an icon of our democratic struggles, an apostle of renewed hope, a champion of federalism, an architect of nation building, a most detribalised Nigerian and undoubtedly, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Your Excellencies, My Lords, Distinguished Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, with a standing ovation and thunderous applause, please join me as I respectfully invite to the podium the number one citizen of this great nation, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, to deliver his remarks and declare the 63rd annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association open. Also Read: https://legalattorneyblog.com/2023/08/02/there-is-a-close-correlation-between-democracy-and-the-rule-of-law/
Lateef O. Fagbemi, SAN
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