My Grouse: Reminiscence of a Mischief Lawyer

Court Room in Nigeria

There are lawyers who believe that this practice is a game of mischief. They believe the moment we are in a matter, it is a matter of who is smarter. They take practice too seriously that sometimes you begin to wonder whether they sent them to practice law by force. Have you ever tried to serve a lawyer court process in court and he asks you to bring it to his office? Don’t get it twisted, they won’t say it nicely. They will say it like you are incompetent and daft. Wetin  happen? No be to serve you process? The nicest of them would collect the process and inscribe on it some epistle like “Received in court today Monday, the 24th of July, 2017 at 8:50 am in the presence of my learned friend Mosafejo Ejonifari (of counsel)”. Oga Lawyer, wetin happen? On top say I serve you court process for inside court?

Recently, I had an encounter that left me baffled. It was an early Monday morning and the people from my village had gathered on top my head. A response to an application had been filed but was inadvertently not served on the Applicant’s counsel. I felt so terrible having had one or two “not too nice” encounter with my Learned Colleague – the Applicant Counsel. I got to court early and I approached my Learned Colleague in the most polite manner.

I gave him the response and he received it in the manner earlier stated, I pleaded with him and he quickly almost immediately confirmed to me that it was not a problem at all, that in any event, he doesn’t wish to reply. I believed him and became rest assured that I would not have any issue with the delayed service. Then in my mind I was doing ohoyin to my village people.

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Then the court started sitting. I was still thanking God for my luck and wondering whether I was wrong about my impression of my Learned Colleague. Then, our matter was called! My Learned Colleague got up, introduced his application and informed the court that it was ripe for hearing. Ok, shebi he said he doesn’t need to respond. I adjusted, Then the first shocker, using my Learned Colleague’s exact words “My Lord, there is no response to my application I am ready to move same” Haa! mo ku mo gbe! I was not understanding again, my head went 360 degrees and I was asking aloud, what did I just hear? While I was battling with what had just befallen me and finding both strength to rise on my feet and courage to explain what actually happened, My Lord called out at me! “What is your reaction to your colleague’s submission? You have no response to the application?”

I wambled to my feet, first, I started incoherently to explain how my response had been filed on time but inadvertently not served on my learned colleague. Then My Lord, who obviously must have seen a copy in her file was listening with rapt attention, ok now, she is not shouting, and she is not impatient, confident level boosted. My ancestors! You have gone to scatter the gathering of village people! Thank you! I continued now more articulate, and angry! “My Lord, I had politely met with my learned friend (friend ko, enemy ni) earlier this morning and explained the situation that led to my not serving the processes. I apologized profusely and my learned friend told me he would not be filing any reply on points of law.”

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It was as if I bribed My Lord. She took on my learned friend o. She went “counsel, did your colleague serve you the process this morning?” Learned colleague stood, it was his turn to experience my ordeal. He said “well, My Lord, I was given a copy of.. My Lord interjected, “and did your colleague also not apologize to you for the delay in service?” My learned colleague responded “yes, but..” My Lord interjected again, “What you did this morning was highly unprofessional. I have the response to your application before me, I have just been told you received same, and you chose to mislead the court” My Learned Colleague spoke in between, “My Lord, our practice in the office is that all processes must be served in our office. I was not served with anything…” As the drama between My Lord and My Learned Colleague played out, I went into the spirit, carried a bucket of popcorn, relaxed and was enjoying the movie!

When they were done, My Lord did not even do as if she had ear let alone to hear my Learned Colleague arguing cost and how it follows event! Matter adjourned! I stood outside waiting for my Learned Colleague so we can chat, he never came out!

Wetin lawyers dey do with mischief self?

My Grouse – venting my frustrations!

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