Portraying the True Nigerian Legal Environment – a Challenge to Nollywood

Nollywood Actresses on lawyers robe

This writer stumbled upon an Hausa movie titled ‘Ga fili, ga mai doki’, on African Magic Hausa wherein they tried to portray the conduct of proceedings in a High Court of one of the judicial divisions. Even as a Nigerian lawyer, I was able to tell it was a High Court because the lawyers Ali Nuhu and fellow cast were wearing wig and gown. This was about the only thing the movie got right about the conduct of proceedings in the Nigerian High Court of Justice.

In the movie, the lawyers on the front row of the bar wore black suits with white neck tie shirts but with no tie or bib. The lawyers on the back row of the bar wore something dark, and the judge was the only lawyer who wore a bib on a barrister’s suit. This is a far cry and departure from the true position of the Nigerian court room. In the real legal world, every lawyer seated at the bar must be properly robbed and this includes a bib for a male legal practitioner, and a collaret for female legal practitioners.

Sadly, this is not the only movie in the Nigerian movie industry that gives a wrong impression of the Nigerian legal environment to movie watchers all over the world. With the wide outreach of Nollywood movies, one would expect that our movie makers would pay attention to details, and do a proper research on the workings of the legal atmosphere to show the world as it is in reality. Or better still hire the services of a legal practitioner to be on set to give the true description of the Nigerian court room.

In my humble opinion, the Nigerian movie industry needs to help the image of the legal profession by portraying the true position of things in the Nigerian legal industry. Our lawyers look dapper, and properly dressed when appearing before my lords. There are certain means of communication between court and counsels not portrayed by our movies making the legal system look like a mockery of itself.

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When we watch foreign legal sitcoms or movies, they plant an advanced version of their legal system in our minds not farfetched from what obtains on ground, this way a lawyer in another country can relate with what is being portrayed. If the Nollywood watchers both within and outside the shores of Nigeria can be shown the true Nigerian legal environment as it obtains on ground, many would appreciate the importance and value of the legal profession.

While deliberating this issue on the Young Wig Network, a member of the network suggested that sanctions be placed on the movie industry by the Nigerian Bar Association on movies that portray the legal environment in the wrong light, that way movie makers would begin to pay attention to details and portray the true position of the Nigerian legal profession.

According to Fumen Isaac Gandu, Esq the secretary of the network “there should be a synergy between the Nigerian Bar Association and the Nigerian movie industry and find a way to portray the legal practice as it is, this could be through seminars, symposiums et al.”

The movie industry ought to be reflective of the society it portrays, in the instant case, the legal environment. When a script involves a scene that involves the legal profession, be it a law firm, a lawyer offering legal service, or a court room trial, a legal professional should be properly briefed and consulted to get the true picture of things as it is in the Nigerian legal atmosphere.

Looking at the big picture, a proper description of things as they happen in the society, and paying attention to details would help the image of both the Nigerian movie industry and the legal profession. Imagine the Nigerian movie industry showing the legal practice of legal practitioners like Femi Falana (SAN), J.K. Gadzama (SAN), O.C.J. Okocha (SAN) and the likes to the movie watchers around the world.

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To my mind, portraying the legal profession as it obtains in the real world would greatly improve the image of the Nigerian legal profession to viewers within and outside Nigeria.


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