At the just concluded Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Bar Week of the Minna Branch of the Association, which was held on the 9th to the 13th of February in Minna, Tobenna Erojikwe, who spoke as a panellist in the esteemed programme themed Moving Forward: Harmonising Judicial and Public Confidence for Sustainable Development, made an ingenious case for the democratisation of knowledge acquisition for lawyers through increased investment in trainings and other development initiatives.

Tobenna also emphasised the point that, given the fast-emerging areas of law and the increased competition in the provision of legal services to both local and international clients, every lawyer, regardless of their location in Nigeria, can offer his or her services for a profitable fee if they have competence in the given subject matter and are trained adequately to use technology for work. He explained that this may be pivoted on three factors, namely, what the lawyers know, how they can leverage technology to get what they know to people who need it, and the networks and associations they build to expand their market presence.

He enjoined all lawyers to realise that the world is now borderless, and hence, they need not confine themselves to the prevalent practice in their location only. It is against this background that he has worked tirelessly through the Nigerian Bar Association Institute of Continual Legal Education (NBA-ICLE) to organise and offer free training on general and emerging areas of law practice to all members of the bar who may be interested, especially the younger lawyers.

He also added that it was against this background that the NBA-ICLE is offering free mentorship training to younger people to build their expertise and network with market leaders and subject matter experts, regardless of their locations across the country. Tobenna also took the opportunity to express his unalloyed reservations about the purported Enhanced Trade Investment Partnership (ETIP) MOU between the governments of Nigeria and the United Kingdom currently making the rounds in the legal profession. The said MOU reportedly seeks to, among other things, allow UK lawyers to practice in Nigeria on some international transactions. Tobenna maintained that the reports about the said MOU, if true, amount to a major incursion into our Nigerian legal practice, especially as Nigeria operates mainly under foreign laws in its legal framework.

Having practiced as a qualified solicitor in England, Tobenna further stated that the said MOU, even if executed on a mutual basis, would be in the disfavour of Nigerian-trained lawyers due to the cultural bias in the minds of the average Nigerian in favour of foreign-sourced professional services, and such should be resisted on all grounds. Tobenna Erojikwe again makes this passionate appeal in line with what has always been his drive, which is to build capacity amongst Nigerian lawyers.

Also, responding to questions regarding the remuneration, he traced the history of the order to the time that he was Chief Adviser to Akpata and said that every lawyer has a responsibility to ensure that he or she charges fees consistent with the order and also has a responsibility to report infractions of the order.