RE: SANS Ask NBA to Suspend Stamp Project
Posted: 05/Aug/2015

Our attention has been drawn to the above captioned article credited to the Body of Senior Advocates [Lagos Zone] which appeared at page 46 of the Guardian Newspaper of August 4, 2015. While not trying to join issues with the Body, we respectfully wish to state as follows:

The Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007, was made by the General Council of the Bar ("the Bar Council"), in the exercise of the powers conferred on it by the Legal Practitioners Act to make rules of professional conduct for Legal Practitioners. The Rules were made for the maintenance of the highest standards of professional conduct, etiquette and discipline. The RPC 2007 is a Subsidiary Legislation made pursuant to the Legal Practitioners Act.

Contrary to the assertion in the publication that there is no enabling statute backing the NBA Stamp Scheme, Rule 10(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct authorises the NBA to approve the use of the stamps. The Rule provides as follows:

“1. a lawyer acting in his capacity as a legal practitioner, legal officer or adviser of any Government department or ministry or any corporation, shall not sign or file a legal document unless there is affixed on any such document a seal and stamp approved by the Nigerian Bar Association.

2. For the purpose of the rule, “legal documents” shall include pleadings, affidavits, depositions, applications, instruments, agreements, deeds, letters, memoranda, reports, legal opinions or any similar documents.

3. If, without complying with the requirements of this Rule, a lawyer signs or files any legal document as defined in sub-rule (2) of this Rule, and in any of the capacities mentioned in sub-rule (1), the document so signed or filed shall be deemed not to have been properly signed or filed”.

At its meeting held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on November 13, 2014, the National Executive Committee of the NBA approved the introduction of personalised adhesive stamps for all Legal Practitioners mandatory use on all legal documents. The Stamp are in two colours: Green for lawyers in private legal practice and Red for lawyers in employment with Ministries of Justice, Ministries, Commissions, Parastatals, Agencies, MDAs, banks, corporations, associations etc.

The mandatory use of the stamps commenced on June 1, 2015. There is therefore no doubt that that the NBA followed the due process of law in introducing the stamps.

We wish to state that the initial back-log in the delivery of Stamps to Lawyers has been cleared and stamps are now produced within forty eight (48) hours from the date of receipt of the application at the National Secretariat of the NBA. The Stamps will only be issued to verified Legal Practitioners whose names are enrolled on the Roll of lawyers.

There cannot be a better time than now to enforce the provision of the Rules of Professional Conduct which in the words of the Chief Justice of Nigeria ‘is aimed at providing a means of authenticating all legal documents, processes and letters that are prepared by legal practitioners duly qualified to practice law in Nigeria’. 

It is important to note that since the introduction of the NBA Stamp scheme we have been able to identify several fake Lawyers who have applied for the Stamps.

Mazi Afam Osigwe
General Secretary, Nigerian Bar Association
August 4, 2015