How Have we Ridiculed our Legal Profession – Accused defends Accused

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook

The emergency of President Muhammadu Buhari brought a lot of cleaning to various sectors in Nigeria. Nigerians immediately identified that it was no longer business as usual. From health to education to economy, the wind of change blew over board. The judiciary was not left out. Homes of Judges were raided by anti graft agencies. Senior members of the Bar were called for questionings. Their “generous donations” to judges were subjected to criminal investigation. Some were lucky to be left off the web, some are presently being tried for one offense or the other.

A lot have argued that the “clean up” going on in the judiciary is cosmetics. Some opined that it is vindictive. Those are subjective arguments. What is most important is perception. After all, perception is everything.

All told, players in the Judicial Sector agree that there is need for sanity. The only way the much awaited sanity may be achieved is to allow the “clean up” exercise presently being undertaken by anti graft agencies to be concluded. If there is any attempt to ridicule the exercise, the Judiciary would be the most hit.

As stated earlier, there are a few members of the inner bar (senior lawyers) who are presently being tried for some offences relating to their activities which anti graft agencies consider as perversion of Justice. While the criminal trials of those silks are ongoing in various courts in the country, some of them are carrying on as though it is still business as usual.

Some of the silks presently facing criminal charges are going to court to represent other accused person (who are clients) to the “accused silks”. This is the very definition of “abuse of privilege”. Even if the LPPC decides not to withdraw the silk pending the time that prosecution would be concluded, is it not a moral call on the silk to hang his gown pending the time his name is cleared?

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A situation where an onlooker sees a silk in the dock today and sees him at the inner bar arguing in favour of another accused person the next day leaves a very sour taste.


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