God forbid that a lawyer is blackmailed from practicing his profession!
I have read all manners of comments informed by crass ignorance and or jaundiced ecstasy why Evans “the Famed Kidnapper” should not have a day in court or even be entitled to legal representation. Some have even cursed any lawyer that may appear for Evans. Some posited that such a lawyer be delisted from the Roll of Legal Practitioners. For doing his job? What a joke!
For the avoidance of doubts, section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999(as amended) provides a presumption of innocent in favour of an accused person until the prosecution proves his case beyond reasonable doubts. In the case in issue, Evans is still a suspect as he has not been arraigned in any court of competent jurisdiction, until then, he becomes an accused person. Irrespective of what ever he might have said to the police or whatever the media have reported. Also, section 36(6)(c) of the same Constitution armed every accused person and or a suspect with the right of any Legal Practitioner of his choice. This constitutional provision is immutable and strongly rooted in International Human Rights Jurisprudence.
The Cab Rank Rule enjoins a barrister to accept any work in which he profess himself competent to practise, at a court at which they normally appear, and at their usual rates/fees.
Rule 14(1) of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007 states that it is the “duty of a lawyer to devote his attention, energy and expertise to the service of his client and, subject to any rule of law, to act in a manner consistent with the best interest of the client”.
Whilst doing his job, the RPC enjoins the lawyer under Rule 15 to represent his client within the bounds of law. Also, under Rule 37 both the prosecution and defense counsel are enjoined to pursue justice in criminal matters. That’s, conviction at all cost or acquittal at all cost should not be the essence of criminal trials but justice.
I like to posit that to achieve criminal justice, all players in our criminal justice system MUST all do their jobs thoroughly. From proper investigation, arrest, drafting of charges, arraignment, trial, conviction and sentencing. Key to all these processes is investigation. The police must do their work properly to extract evidence that could serve justice in a case. Rushing to arrest and parade before the media is unnecessary frenzy. The court is not concerned with all those showmanship. The court of law is not a court of emotions and sensation, it deals with law and facts. It deals with what is before it and no amount of newspaper, television or social media publications will move it except what is before it.
Before bashing the judges and the entire judiciary, take time to observe how some of the state counsel in our Ministries of Justice lethargicly conduct trials and when the case fails, the judge has been compromised will be the anthem. The police MUST investigate properly and the prosecution MUST prosecute diligently to achieve criminal justice.
Evans or anything worse than Evans in your estimation, a lawyer MUST practice his profession and it is both legally and morally rooted that a lawyer MUST practice irrespective of the situation.
H. Okwudiri Ikwunemere Esq
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