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Payment of practicing fees

By the provision of the Legal Practitioners Act, no legal practitioner shall be accorded the right of audience in any court in Nigeria in any year, unless he has paid to the registrar in respect of that year, a practicing fee as is from time to time prescribed by the Attorney General of the Federation after consultation with the NBA.
The Nigerian Bar Association on Tuesday, March 3, 2015 published on the pages of Daily Trust a notice for the payment of Bar Practicing Fees (BPF) for 2015, that with effect from January 1, 2015 BPF shall be paid to only one account, i.e. Access Bank, Account name: Supreme Court Bar Practicing Fees, Account number: 0000976716. In addition, accounts maintained with other banks for the payment of BPF ceased to be operative with effect from December 30, 2014.
The schedule of BPF for young lawyers of 0-4 years post call still remains N5,000 (five thousand naira). Some have contended that the fees should be reduced for young lawyers as most often than not, they end up paying their practicing fees and Branch dues from their own pocket despite the challenges they face. Some are yet to appear in court this year due to the JUSUN strike and the deadline for the payment of the fees is just around the corner. Having said that, “the fees will be payable this year as the general council of the Bar is yet to meet to review and approve the proposal by the NBA president for the reduction of BPF.”
A young lawyer from Port Harcourt jurisdiction, Anthony ‘Atiku’ Inidame Esq wrote on his Facebook page “… I could not be far from the truth to say that in this perilous time, a barrow pusher earns more than some of us. Yet we are not to be seen pushing barrows lest we be disciplined either by the Bar or by the public through its tongue… God be our strength.” {Hmnnnn}, it is no longer news that some states are still on strike, and due to the strike many young wigs have been disengaged from their places of employment, some are being owed months in salaries, others have become clueless as to the next step they should take.
No matter how perilous the times may be, senior lawyers due to their number of years in the profession can navigate through the hurdles as they come, but not the young wigs. When things were moving smoothly, we still complained of economic hardship and difficult times, not to talk of now that things are at a standstill in some jurisdictions.
A young wig asked me to use this medium to plead with the NBA president to relax the deadline for young lawyers to comply with the stamp and seal rule, maybe till after the 2015 general elections when things would pick up, God willing.
If senior lawyers are desirous of encouraging young lawyers’ participation in Bar activities, they should help by supporting the young ones pay their requisite fees. Young lawyers at the early stage of practice need all the encouragement they can get from their senior colleagues who are well established in the profession, and what better way to show the care for the Young lawyers than by paying their mandatory annual fees.
In my humble opinion, law firms, government institutions, multi-nationals et al with young lawyers under their employ should help alleviate the plight faced by the young ones in the legal profession by shouldering this kind of responsibility.
For the young ones, don’t be swayed by the current predicament. We should endeavour to pay our practicing fees before the deadline of March 31st. The year is just in the first quarter and a lot can still happen to change our financial lot, let most of us not lose our right of audience because we didn’t have N5,000to pay.
Do send your comment(s), observation(s) and recommendation(s) to danielbulusson@gmail.com, follow on twitter @bulussdan

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