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Onitsha Lawyers charged to protect the legal profession from extinction, encourage Taxation

By Uzo Ugwunze, Ojoto

Young lawyers have been charged to hold fast to the tenets and ethics of the legal profession as a means of protecting the legal profession from extinction, adulteration and infiltration. Lawyers were also encouraged to embrace taxation and not to see it as a means of extortion.

These formed part of the papers presented during the Nigerian Bar association (NBA) Onitsha Branch 2019 Law week and Dinner themed ‘Protecting the Legal profession from Extinction, Adulteration and Infiltration’ which held at the Sir. Louis Mbanefo Bar Center, High Court Complex, Onitsha.

Delivering his welcome address, Chairman Onitsha branch, Ozo Erinne Esq. said that the theme of the Bar week underscores the frustration and worry faced by lawyers in Nigeria.

“With the deliberate and flagrant disregard of the judiciary and disobedience of court orders which has attained frightening heights, the infiltration of our profession by quacks, the consequent adulteration of our ethics, laws, rules and regulations guiding the profession, incessant police harassments, humiliation and assaults and the looming possibilities of extinction of our noble profession, if we fail to act now, very soon our voice will be muffled”, said Erinne.

Discussing a paper –Equipping Young lawyers; A way of protecting the legal profession from extinction, Chief Chidi Onyiuke ,Hon. Justice Onyinye Anumonye, Dr. Chukwudubem Anyigbo, Onyechi Ononye Esq. Boss Anyeji and Sir Ejike Ezenwa in their separate speeches admonished the lawyers on professional ethics and conduct.

Dr. Anyigbo posited that as long Laws exists in a society there must be legal practitioners but urged older lawyers to exhibit standards worthy of emulation by the young lawyers adding that a lawyer should be an embodiment of knowledge, respectful, dignified, honourable, honest, gentle and smart.

Justice Anumonye revealed that only about four out of sixty lawyers enter the court room to do the actual practice saying that those few eventually reap the dividends.

“If there is nobody to equip you, equip yourself. Identify your strengths and weaknesses.  Build up your strength by embracing the area of law that interests you most. Know the character of the judge you are approaching in court”, said Anumonye.

Ononye harped on the importance of establishing good relationships with Senior Lawyers, Judges and colleagues. “Impress your principal. Decide for yourself before graduating from law school whether to end at the bench, become a lecturer or a SAN”

Moreover, the Chairman Bar week planning committee, Ejike Ezenwa stressed on the virtue of patience, endurance especially when someone was being mentored by a principal. “Chastisement is not evil. Bend down and serve. Some great partners today like Gozie Obi are now eating the fattest bone as a result of patience.

Meanwhile the duo of Prof. Meshak Umenweke of Nnamdi Azikiwe University and Chief Ikenna Egbuna  SAN reiterated the importance of lawyers as patriotic citizens ensuring they pay their taxes provided the sources remain the legitimate tax masters.

According to Umenweke, ”Lawyers should tidy up their accounts on daily basis or employ accountants/tax consultants to assist them. This would enable the law firm to present a near accurate self assessment of income called Tax return at the end of the month”.

Similarly, Egbuna said that tax evasion involves outright fraud and deceit, when tax payer achieve minimization of tax through

Illegal means adding that without clearance lawyers cannot apply for fiat to prosecute any criminal case .

Highlights of the Bar week include: Free medical checkups and medical lectures, Health walk, Bar dinner/Award night, Visitation of elderly and sick, Pro-Bono Legal Services by lawyers,Novelty Football match between NBA vs FRSC which ended in a 2-2 draw.

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