By Ononye VC
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN has stated that the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing is a legal fight, that must be fought within the framework of extant legislations and that there is no profession better positioned to be at the vanguard of this fight than the legal profession. Mr. Maikyau made this remark in Abuja while attending the ongoing National AML/CFT/CPF Compliance Retreat being organized by the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
According to the NBA President, “the narrative being propagated or possibly sponsored that, members of the legal profession constitute a stumbling block to the fight or are the most readily available to advance such illicit transactions is totally false, it is untrue and merely calculated to malign the image of the profession, knowing that the fight cannot succeed without the involvement and cooperation of the legal profession. There is no record of complicity by the legal profession to warrant or justify such sweeping generalization. As a matter of fact, those who feed such narrative are the ones who either work against or ignore the right measures needed to be deployed or adopted to succeed in this fight.”
Recall that the NBA President in a recent Notice to lawyers has insisted that the NBA will self-regulate its members with regards to money laundering and terrorism financing concerns but that the “NBA will not allow or in any way subscribe to any arrangement that will subject the legal profession to the regulatory control of 3rd parties. Therefore, while intimating the retreat of the passage of Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) for Legal Practitioners, 2023, Mr. Maikyau noted that in recognition of the dangers of money laundering and terrorism financing on the integrity of the legal profession, the NBA has ensured that the Part 2 of the new Rules incorporate Guidelines and Rules on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism for Legal Practitioners.
Mr. Maikyau noted that the new Rules will come into effect on 1 January 2024 in order to allow time for sensitization, advocacy and the setting-up of necessary structures for the implementation of the Guidelines. His words: “I invite NFIU to partner with the NBA in organizing trainings and workshops on this guideline in order to achieve smooth and effective implementation thereof. Save in exceptionally clear cases of breach, I call on NFIU to tarry on its activities targeted at law firms and concentrate on the process of educating our members, based on the new RPC with the view to building a culture of compliance. The 2023 Annual General Conference of the NBA coming up from 25 August to 1 September 2023, themed ‘Getting it Right: Charting the Course for Nigeria’s Nation Building’, affords us the opportunity to lay the foundation for this partnership. We shall have a session on the AML/CTF/CPF Guidelines and Regulations. I hereby invite NFIU to attend, participate and sponsor its members to the Conference.”