The Nigerian Legal System is based on the English Common Law and legal tradition by virtue of colonization and the attendant incidence of reception of English law through the process of legal transplant. English law thus has a tremendous influence on the Nigerian legal system, and it forms a substantial part of Nigerian law. According to Robert Charles Lee (2018) in Quora.com, English law is the original Common Law. It was born of Roman law on 14 October 1066, the day of the Norman conquest of England by William I (the Conqueror).
Most of the significant fundamental doctrines of Common Law were developed between 1066 and the reign of Richard I (1198–99) and all those doctrines were based to a greater or lesser extent on Roman legal principles.
English law was and is therefore a remodeled version of Roman law. As such, the influence is just fundamental. Indirectly, therefore, the Nigerian Legal System has its foundation in Roman Law which is characterized by use of Latin maxims and expressions which have formed part of the tradition, usage and practice of law. I have taken time to compile some of the Latin legal and criminal Justice maxims and principles I believe should guide legal practitioners in Nigeria and indeed the entire Nigerian public in their decisions, actions and utterances in regard to the current Paul Usoro debacle.
Below are some of the maxims and principles. Have a happy reading and vote (ie. decide, talk, and act) wisely in the interest of rule of law, due process and justice.
- Fiat justitia ruat caelum! (Let justice be done at all costs)*
- Actori incumbit onus probatio (on the plaintiff rests the duty of proving).
- probatio vincit praesumptionem (Proof overcomes presumption).
- tolletur omnis dubitatio potest esse certus de reo homo per gratiam (all doubts must be resolved in favour of the accused person).
- beneficium dandum reum peson dubii * (an accused person must be given benefit of the doubt).
- Item quilibet presumitur innocens nisi accusatus quod eius dimissa est iniquitas in atrio statutum (an accused person is presumed innocent until his guilt is established in court).
- Item quilibet presumitur innocens nisi accusatus quod eius dimissa est iniquitas in atrio statutum (an accused person must not be made to suffer before conviction).
- Iniustum est enim punire illum hominem accusavit opinione in conspectu eius (it is unjust to punish a accused person before his conviction).
- Iniustum est enim punire illum hominem accusavit opinione in conspectu eius (the prosecution has a perpetual duty to prove the guilt of the accused person beyond reasonable doubt).
- adsumes iniquitatem domus reo homo non potest nisi prius statutum in iure de atrio (the guilt of the accused person cannot be established except before a court of law).
- reo crimen alicui plures competent audiri ante terminum (the accused person is entitled to be heard before determination of his guilt).
- ut male tutius decem innoxius innocens quam iniusta poena subdi (it is safer for ten wrongdoers to go scot free than for one innocent man to be subjected to an unjust punishment).
- iustitia est et ex re publica personam querentis et accusavit (justice is due to both the state, the complainant and the accused person)
Accordingly, I hold the respectful opinion that the suggestion in some quarters that Paul Usoro should resign is suggestio falsi (a false suggestion) and amounts to in fine vero oppressis (suppression of the truth for selfish end). QED