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Home » Legal Parlance » The Law on Impersonating Legal Practitioners and Power of a Magistrate to Order an Arrest – Ikpenyi Michael

The Law on Impersonating Legal Practitioners and Power of a Magistrate to Order an Arrest – Ikpenyi Michael

power of magistrate to order an arrest

What The Law Says About Impersonating Legal Practitioners And The Power Of A Magistrate To Order An Arrest

During a court sitting in Anambra State, a suspected fake lawyer was arrested while presenting his case. The supposed lawyer was seen leaving the bar to present his case as seen in American movies. However, this practice is one that is foreign to the Nigerian legal profession and as such arose suspicion about his qualifications and credentials. 

The presiding Magistrate therefore ordered his arrest. 

Here, we will consider two issues.

  1. What does the law say about falsely representing oneself as a barrister and solicitor?
  2. Whether the arrest ordered by the Magistrate was lawful. 

By virtue of Section 2(1) of the Legal Practitioner Act, a person shall be entitled to practice as a barrister and solicitor if and only if his name is on the roll. This provision of the Act has been echoed by the court in Executors, The Estate of Efejuku v. Aziza [2013] 11 NWLR para. 9 pg 314. 

The Act went further in its section 22 to criminalize any one acting as an imposter i.e falsely representing oneself as a legal practitioner. According to the section, if any person other than a legal practitioner practices, or holds himself out to practice, as a legal practitioner; or takes or uses the title of legal practitioner; or  wilfully takes or uses any name, title, addition or description falsely implying, or otherwise pretends, that he is a legal practitioner or is qualified or recognised by law to act as a legal practitioner; he is guilty of an offence. 

This obviously shows that the law frowns at a person falsely parading himself as a legal practitioner. Consequently the action of the man in the case is one that the law abhors.

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On whether the arrest ordered by the Magistrate was lawful. 

Section 25(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, gives a Magistrate the discretionary power to arrest or direct the arrest in his presence of a suspect whose arrest on warrant he could have lawfully ordered if the facts known to him at the time of making or directing the arrest had been stated before him on oath by some other person. 

What this means is that where an act or omission is made in the presence of a Magistrate and the act or omission is such that the Magistrate would have ordinarily issued an arrest warrant against the person doing the act or making the omission then the Magistrate can arrest the suspect.


About Author

Michael Ikpenyi is a dedicated law student with an unusual enthusiasm for litigation, academics, leadership, human rights, and social justice. His commitment to these areas is evident through his extensive work as a legal researcher and writer, where he contributes insightful analysis and commentary on pressing legal issues. Beyond his academic and professional pursuits, Michael demonstrates exemplary leadership within the student community.

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