Gbadamosi, O. A. Ph.D & Aderibigbe, T. O. Ph.D, ‘Legal Representation of Corrupt Political Office Holders in Nigeria: Between Professionalism and National Development, In Proceedings of 46th Conference of the Nigerian Association of Law Teachers, Held a

Gbadamosi, O. A. Ph.D & Aderibigbe, T. O. Ph.D, ‘Legal Representation of Corrupt Political Office Holders in Nigeria: Between Professionalism and National Development, In Proceedings of 46th Conference of the Nigerian Association of Law Teachers, Held a

Author by Dr. Titilayo Aderibigbe

Language: English

Abstract

The fundamental basis of our legal profession is that every person accused of crime has a right to a fair trial, including corrupt political office holders whose conduct, reputation or alleged violation may be the subject of public unpopularity or clamour. A lawyer has the professional duty to undertake the defense of a person accused of any crime, regardless of his personal or public opinion as to the guilt of the accused. The law is a veritable vehicle for the realization of social justice and equity. With recent corruption allegations in Nigeria, there has been an increase in degradation of professional values and ethics by some lawyers who engage in unethical acts that violate the rules of professional conduct. Monetary gains have led some legal practitioners to be obsessed about winning cases at all costs, disregarding the overriding importance of professionalism, nationalism and ethical values. Profit motivations compromise the core values and obligations of professional conduct. This sometimes causes some lawyers to lose sight of their duties to the public interest, the law, and the administration of justice. With this ethical decline, not only has the sanctity of the legal profession been defiled, but also the average Nigerian citizen, who looks up to legal practitioners with the potentials as officers in the temple of justice are disappointed. This paper states that the overarching desire to make money at all costs occasion violations of the legal professional ethics which must be arrested. The paper addresses the concerns and dilemma lawyers face on a moral and professional plain when representing corrupt public office holders. The trend recently developing among some lawyers which emphasize commercialism in the practice of law and de-emphasize our historical heritage that law practice is an honourable profession to be conducted with dignity, integrity, and dedication to the service of clients and public good. The paper further analyses the interplay between Professionalism and National Development involved in the legal representation of corrupt political office holders in Nigeria. It also looks at ways the NBA has strained to sanitize the profession and its effectiveness. It concludes that the legal profession is not only losing its ethics and values but also needs to intensify its efforts in re-orientation and commitment to the professionalism and nationalism.


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