By Olusegun Obisanya
Sweeping legal resolutions meant to advance church advocacy were reached at this year’s legal officers’ conference of the Redeemed Christian Church of God which ended recently. The two-day conference was the 12th in the series.
In her welcome address, the National Legal Adviser, RCCG, Pastor Titi Adegbile, posited that the legal pundits have converged for the purpose of improving and defending the gospel with their professional legal knowledge.
She noted that having survived from the dreaded Covid-19 pandemic, which in no small way disrupted economic and social life, created a new normal and technological innovation, which the legal adviser would want ministers in the temple of justice to imbibe to advance their legal services and advance the gospel.
The 12th edition of the legal conference was themed, “Innovate: Think global, practice local”.
“It is one of the greatest privileges of my life to see such a hallowed gathering of Ministers in the temple of Justice assembled particularly for the purpose of improving and defending the gospel with their professional legal knowledge.
“Being the 12th in the series, this year’s conference is particularly a special one because it speaks volumes about the next flow in church advocacy and solicitorship. Emerging from a Covid-19 interruption and disruption, direction necessitates that we innovate in order to navigate not only the new normal but even the next normal in legal practice and church advocacy.
“Specifically, the new normal has reduced distance and facilitated communication via online technological interventions. A top-notch practitioner then necessarily needs to become more creative in exploring the value-laden opportunities made available through the new normal, hence, the theme for the RCCG Legal Officers’ Conference 2022, which is Innovate: Think Global, Practice Local,” she said in her opening address.
In her presentation titled, “The place of innovation in legal practice,” Dr Remi Peter Olatubora, SAN, opined that the one-time “conservative” legal profession is changing narrative in the present age by adapting fast to technological innovation thereby making it a matter of urgency for practitioners of legal profession to embrace technology if they hope to remain relevant and attractive to their prospective local and foreign partners.
“The legal profession, known from time immemorial to be conservative, is steadily transforming into one in which innovation is at its core. With the exceptional advancement in technology, the continuous upspring of novel and emerging areas of law practice and the attendant globalization of the 21st century, lawyers in Nigeria ought to step up to be able to roar and speed like the steamship in the globalization ocean.
“Globalized legal practice involves providing legal services by lawyers to clients located outside their national jurisdictions, and sometimes, without being physically present within the foreign jurisdiction. It involves the provision of legal services across national boundaries without restrictions imposed by differing legal regimes or cultural, economic, political, and religious diversities. Lawyers licensed to practice law as Barristers and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria must key into the evolving globalization of legal practice,” the legal expert noted.
In her view, lawyers need to position themselves to render professional services, not only to clients resident or doing business within Nigeria, but also to others either residing or doing business outside Nigeria.
In a bid to forestall avoidable complex legal entanglement in their practice, the conference admonished members to ensure thoroughness in their dealings both for the church and private practice. For instance, to be relevant in the modern-day legal practice, members were told not to lag behind in creating digital footprints and they were told to be sensitive in how they handle and resolve matters especially criminally inclined ones; that it is best to get the Police is involved in criminal situations to avoid further loss or retaliation.
In the case of matters involving the church, part of the resolutions reached at the conference include church lawyers advising their respective parishes on the proper documentation and processes for depositing a body at the morgue. In addition, they were informed to apply for exemption to the Land Use and Amenities Charge in the respective States provided that there is no ongoing commercial activity on the same land as the church.
In addition, legal officers and pastors were told to discontinue mounting pressure on landowners who are not predisposed to sell their property leased to the church while electronic recording devices should be engaged during land transactions and Will drafting “to be able to have evidence of the intention of the parties.”
Endeavouring to prevent crisis, part of the resolutions reached states that “Provincial Pastors should no longer handle negotiations and payment for properties on behalf of the Church without the full involvement of their Legal Officers.”
The well-attended two-day conference had in attendance prominent jurists such as Hon. Justice Helen Morounkeji Ogunwumiju, Justice of the Supreme Court; Hon. Justice Ebiowei Tobi, Justice of the Court of Appeal; Hon. Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu, Chief Judge, Ogun State; Hon. Justice Deji Balogun, High Court, Lagos State and Hon. Justice Akintola, High Court, Oyo State.
Others are Hon Justice Ogunbowale, National Industrial Court, Ibadan; Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, SAN; Dr Remi Olatubora, SAN (Former Attorney-General of Ondo State); Pastor Bamidele Adebayo (Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary, Ogun State) and members of the Ogun State High Court.