"There is a great deal of moral and institutional decay. I don’t think there is any question at all about that."

Nigeria's development is tied to the building of a society with strong moral values and the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajor, has emphasised how this could be achieved. 

He wants lawyers in Nigeria under the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to do something about this precarious situation by ensuring effective administration of justice. 

Professor Osinbajo made the request during an interactive question and answers session at the 58th Annual General Conference of the NBA, with the theme: Transition, Transformation & Sustainable Institutions; held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, his spokesman, Laolu Akande said. 

According to the Vice President, beyond government actions, every Nigerian has a responsibility to ensure that there is consequence for wrongdoing.

He said: “If you look at the whole question of how to develop a moral society, a society that is driven by values and principles, I think one of the major issues with that is to understand where we are coming from and how to resolve that problem.

"There is a great deal of moral and institutional decay. I don’t think there is any question at all about that.

"Just taking an example of corruption.

"It is systemic, this is a sort of thing that had eaten so deep into societal fabric, and it’s difficult to simply say that you can do that by just being exemplars of moral conduct.

"There is a lot more that needs to be done.

"One, there is a need to establish a system of consequence for misdeeds, for wrongdoing.

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"Now that is a very important issue, and it is one I believe applies to the Bar, as well as to the rest of society, maybe more to the Bar. I think the most important part is that everyone has a responsibility to ensure that there is consequence".

The Vice President highlighted that one of the major problems Nigeria had was with the legal process - ensuring that the legal process is able to deliver justice within a reasonable time, especially where the matters concern issues of public corruption and all of that.

He says this is why there is little or no conviction secured by the government. 

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"There are several cases that have been in courts. The government is frequently criticised for not being able to secure convictions, there are arguments back and forth… but all of this has to do with our administration of justice system, and we are very much a part of it.

"So, I think that there is a sense in which, to an extent, we must accept some responsibility.

"The law society, for example, in England, accepts responsibility for the discipline of lawyers, even when lawyers engage in dilatory tactics in courts.

"So, if a lawyer wants to delay a case as a strategy for either winning the case or hoping that, years after, the matter would be forgotten, that kind of lawyer would lose his shirt in any other jurisdiction. But here, it’s become an accepted tactic; dilatory tactics is part of our system of doing business.

"I think that, beyond government, strong institutions such as the NBA, must really rise to the occasion; and it really calls for self-regulation," he told the lawyers. 

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