For many years, we complained about the incursion by non-lawyers into areas of work statutorily and traditionally reserved for lawyers. We also chuffed at the seeming indifference with which some lawyers greeted proposals for enforcing mandatory continuing legal education by the Nigerian Bar Association (‘NBA’).

There had been several earlier attempts to introduce a process of lawyer verification and a ‘Stamp and Seal’ scheme requiring the mandatory affixing of an NBA Stamp on documents issued by persons entitled to practice law in Nigeria. The current scheme was approved by the National Executive Committee in 2015, and requires the affixing of a green (for lawyers in private practice) or red (for lawyers in paid employment) NBA-issued adhesive secure seal on all instruments signed by lawyers in Nigeria.

The scheme was sold to the Judiciary and made mandatory for court processes, and was greeted with initial enthusiasm by lawyers. After the euphoria died down, concerns began to be expressed about the expiry dates of the Stamps and long delays associated with their processing and delivery. Some court decisions, in confirming the legality of the NBA Stamp, appear to have whittled down its potency, and there is now an open debate regarding the continuation of the scheme.

The NBA also introduced an Annual Practice Licence – which was issued to members upon payment of annual Bar Practicing Fees. Some years back, the Licence was issued as a wallet-sized plastic identity card. Subsequently, it took the form of a paper certificate – which could be framed and displayed as a ‘public announcement’ of current entitlement to practice the profession. Sadly, the License was issued for a few years and then abandoned.

I believe that the introduction of the NBA Stamp Scheme was a step in the right direction, and it plays a critical role in ensuring that legal practice is reserved for persons currently entitled to practice law in Nigeria. I also believe that the Stamp Scheme and Practice Licence are effective means of enforcing the annual payment of Bar Practicing Fees and Branch Dues, have significantly expanded the active membership of the NBA, and shorn up the relevance and revenue of the Branches. When fully integrated with the proposals for enforcing mandatory continuing legal education, both schemes would go a long way in ensuring that every lawyer in Nigeria is annually updated with some legal skills and knowledge, belongs to a Branch of the NBA, is connected to documents and processes issued by him or her, and can readily be traced – where necessary.

However, the NBA must address the complaints and concerns of colleagues regarding expiry of the Stamps and the interminable delays with their processing and distribution. We must streamline and, possibly, eliminate all impediments to legal practice which relate to the issuance of the NBA Stamps and Practice Licences.

If elected as General Secretary of the NBA, I propose to address this by:

a) Strengthening the recently introduced online portal for stamp application, payment and processing;

b) Initiating and creating an easy process for approving the use of electronic stamps/seals by practitioners; and

c) Pushing for the issuance of Electronic Practice Licence to members upon payment of Annual Bar Practicing Fees.

Going forward, I consider that a comprehensive searchable database of lawyers hosted on the NBA Website, which is updated on an annual basis and contains notations indicating payment of current year bar practicing fee as well as indications of members under disciplinary sanction, would soon obviate part of the rationale behind the introduction of the Stamp Scheme.

If you elect me as General Secretary of the NBA, I Pledge to serve with the passion, integrity and efficiency for which I am well known, and to pursue this and five (5) other Core Pursuits which I have elaborated on in MY MANIFESTO to deliver a ‘Fit For Purpose’ Bar Secretariat. My Profile and Manifesto have been uploaded by the ECNBA and can be viewed at (or downloaded from)

I will place my time, energy, talents, experience and resources at the disposal of the Bar for the next two years, and offer the kind of premium stewardship which the Bar definitely needs at this time. The Bar needs a great scribe. I have been tried, tested and adjudged to be one.

I seek your mandate. Let’s do this together.

Warm regards,

Alexander Nduka MUOKA
Candidate for General Secretary of the NBA

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