Senators, House of Representatives members and members of other legislative houses in the country who are lawyers, on Monday intensified their clamour to be conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
The clamour also covers all lawyers working in legislative houses in various capacities.
Besides claiming that they worked harder than judicial officers, the lawmakers argued that regular lawyers and other legal practitioners were not better qualified for the rank than the legislators.
The members pressed for the recognition during the inaugural meeting of “The Forum of Lawyers in the Nigerian Legislature,” held at the National Assembly in Abuja.
Convener of the forum, Senator Ita Enang, while speaking for the group, said since the lawyers in the legislature participated in passing all the laws used for legal practice in the country, they were qualified for the rank of SAN.
Enang, a former Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, stated that it was an “insult” to say somebody who made a law was not qualified to become a SAN, while another person who practised it could become one.
He said, “It is an insult not to make legislature lawyers SANs.
“They make the laws that the magistrate interprets and makes his way to the Supreme Court, yet you say that a lawmaker is not qualified to be honoured with the rank of SAN.
“The legislator is not qualified but the lawyer who practises the law passed by the legislature is qualified.
“Legislative practice is an arm of legal practice and should be recognised as such.
“It is the legislature and the legislator that know the laws more than the practitioners because they draft the laws.
“All the laws that practitioners practise and they are celebrated and honoured are passed by the legislature, but you say that same legislator is not qualified to be a SAN.”
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara, said at the session that the aim of the forum was to promote the productivity of lawyers in the legislature through capacity-building programmes.
Dogara, who is a lawyer, was represented by another member and lawyer from Abia State, Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta.
He added that, “The association is to promote cooperation, networking and interaction among its members, and to develop legislative practice as an enviable area of legal practice in Nigeria.”
The speaker said having been informed that there were about 200 lawyers at the National Assembly, he was convinced that the forum should transit “to a well established association.”