A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Chief Joe Gadzama, has thrown his weight behind the establishment of a new umbrella body for lawyers in the country other than the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
Gadzama, SAN, who is former Chairman of the Abuja Branch of the NBA and currently the Chairman of the Mentoring Committee for Young Lawyers of the Body of Benchers of Nigeria, lauded the recent judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which ordered the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, to register a new association for legal practitioners in the country.
Describing the judgement as a victory for lawyers and the Constitution, the learned silk said he would attend the maiden meeting of the new association which has been registered as the Nigerian Law Society, NLS.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja on Friday, Gadzama, SAN, who is a Life Bencher, stressed that the landmark judgement would have far-reaching implications on the legal profession in Nigeria.
He commended Justice Gladys Olotu of the high court for her courage and boldness to okay the creation of the new body, saying, “just like in many other climes, the Nigerian legal practice sector will now experience and enjoy competitive development, owing to the possible multiplicity of lawyers’ associations, as captured in the popular saying, the more the merrier.”
However, Gadzama, SAN, said there was the need to amend the laws regulating and engaging lawyers in Nigeria to reflect the current position and reality of the law.
He called on members of the National Assembly, who are lawyers, to seize the opportunity and table the relevant amendments for consideration.
“It is certainly going to be a gradual process and one thing that is sure is that interesting times lie ahead for legal practice in Nigeria and I believe that 2024 will be a good year for legal practitioners,” the senior lawyers added.
More so, Gadzama, SAN, debunked the notion that the birth of the NLS would be to rival the NBA, adding, “the sky is large enough to accommodate many shining stars.”
He argued that the different associations would complement each other for the betterment of lawyers and the legal profession.
In November, the High Court found that the 1.5% monthly levy unfairly targeted Kenyans working in the formal sector and ordered payments to halt.
On Friday, the Court of Appeal ruled that citizens should stop paying the tax until the case is decided.
The government had wanted to carry on collecting the tax in the meantime.
President Ruto has vowed to press ahead with the project regardless, claiming to have public support that was tantamount to an endorsement from God.
“Your say is God’s say. So I have enough directive and I will push this housing programme forward,” he told people at a public rally in Meru County, central Kenya, on Friday.
Kenya’s government had begun deducting 1.5% of the gross salaries of locals and foreigners last July, to fund construction of affordable houses for low-income earners.
The levy sparked an outcry from the opposition and a large section of Kenyans, who feel burdened by the raft of taxes introduced under President William Ruto.
The government had argued that suspending the levy would render thousands of workers under the housing programme jobless and breach contracts that had already been signed.
Many Kenyans are relieved by the judgement, although the Court of Appeal is yet to make its final decision.
The ruling comes a week after the appeals court gave the go-ahead for a controversial healthcare insurance levy, which will require people to contribute 2.75% of their monthly salaries to a social healthcare programme.
The housing levy case is one of the petitions that have created a rift between the judiciary and executive, with President Ruto accusing allegedly corrupt judges of colluding with the opposition to sabotage national development projects.
Friday’s ruling was one of two on the same day to go against the government. The High Court also ruled that Kenya could not send police officers to Haiti, to tackle gang violence there.