The law profession in Nigeria is in a serious mess and in urgent need of help. However, this is not the main problem; the main challenge is that there appears to be no one working to help the lawyer and his law profession to overcome their challenges. In other words, the lawyer’s problems persist and of course keep increasing because everyone everywhere appears to have abandoned lawyers and the law profession. Lawyer appears to have no one and nowhere to turn to, for help . Or, what do you think, please? Tell me I missed it! In the meantime, check these out: . Policemen and women, EFCC, ICPC, etc are victimising Lawyers by brutalising lawyers, although (truth be told) some lawyers are contributorily blameful in this. As I plan to show in my next piece, lawyers and the police (law enforcement agents) share the blame 50-50.
Judges and justices (including of the highest courts in the land) and courts oppress lawyers. They feel no qualms in publicly abusing, insulting, and denigrating lawyers, and in some cases, without even affording the lawyers an opportunity of being heard. Without giving particulars of the “professional misconduct” allegedly committed by the lawyers, the judges/justices sometimes call these lawyers unprintable names making lawyers to feel hopeless, useless, fruitless, hapless, helpless, and manner-less, although, indeed, some lawyers are. But what’s the use of due process if judges can convict lawyers for “professional misconduct” without any opportunity of a fair hearing and without giving particulars of the charge against them? With due respect to my Lords, it is a violation of rule of law and due process to convict a suspect without a prior charge (ie, without giving him/her the particulars of the offence or professional misconduct allegedly violated) and without offering him/her and opportunity of a making a defence. Further, judges and our courts create serious holdup for cases pending in their court thereby making the cases to stay and remain in court for up to 25 to 30 years in most cases, thereby making Nigeria’s administration of justice system the slowest (and arguably the most debased) in the world. Lawyers are equally guilty with the justices.
Custom officials, NSCDC officials, NDLEA officials, and other law enforcement agencies frequently victimize lawyers by always, openly beating up and brutalizing, and locking lawyers up, just for doing their professional (lawyers’) jobs. Look at the latest scenario where in a viral video, some brainless custom officers are seen rough-handling, assaulting and molesting a lawyer who had gone to the custom office on behalf of his client whose car was (allegedly) impounded and detained by the customs. Even the admonition by a fellow custom officer to his colleagues, that “this man is a lawyer; this man has done practically nothing” could not deter or dissuade the irresponsible, scatterbrained and power-drunk custom officers. This is how low the law profession has sunk in Nigeria; no one has any regard or respect anymore for lawyers! Anyone can do just anything against lawyers and the law profession and get scot-free. Yes, why not? If ordinary non-lawyer policemen could be allowed to take the job of lawyers in criminal prosecution, why would they not disregard lawyers? Whatever a lawyer can do, (policemen think) we too can; so what is the need for lawyers anywhere? And the leadership of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is there issuing useless and needless public statements – statements that are never taken seriously by anyone (not even by lawyers) anywhere. Yes, because everyone now sees the NBA as an association whose leadership is only a toothless bulldog — a barking dog that never bites, full of noise and no action. The more annoying part is when one sees lawyers everywhere chanting “The Bar has spoken; The Bar Has Spoken”! Of what relevance is it that the Bar “speaks” without action? Majority of the members of the Bar are jobless, hopeless and therefore hungry, frustrated and disillusioned. And you are going about shouting “The Bar Has Spoken”! Empty-stomach speeches. Dear, NBA please stop speaking, and start acting and performing; let people hear you more in action, than in speeches. This is what your members want now! Your empty public speeches no longer moves anyone anywhere! The era of “The bar has Spoken” is in the past already; stop living in the past, in past glory. Face reality! Wake up from your slumber now, lest the profession get finally destroyed while you go about “speaking”!
T. The general public constantly and unrestrainedly mistreat lawyers by calling them “liars”. Look, Mr. Man and Mrs woman, lawyers are not liars. Assuming but not conceding that lawyers are, I can tell you that non-lawyers are even greater liars — indeed the most mischievous and barefaced lies are told by non-lawyers who also are the worst hypocrites. Hypocrisy of the highest order! Check out: (a) you call lawyers liars and you still turn around to send and sponsor your own favorite children or wards to go and become lawyers. Does this mean you sponsor your kids/wards to be liars! (b) you call lawyers liars and you still turn around and begging lawyers to come and work for you. (c) If lawyers are liars, then since you (clients, non lawyers) are the ones who pay them to tell lies, your are sponsors of lies and accordingly the principal liars! Put differently, if lawyers are liars, then clients and non-lawyers are accessories after-and-before the fact. Hence, non lawyers are partners in the lying business and therefore equally guilty with the lawyers. Why then the kettle call pot black? Why, Mr. Kettle? How market? Or,Tell me this is not true, assuming lawyers are indeed liars!
Law firms (yes, most of them) oppress lawyers by treating them as slaves and rags, good only to be used and dumped. Most law firms are unscrupulously selfish, collecting huge doll from clients but paying lawyers peanuts and still joining in persecuting lawyers.
NBA Leaderships are oppressors of lawyers — extorting lawyers, playing with the lawyers’ intelligence, and shortchanging lawyers, by collecting annual Bar Practice Fee (BPF) but refusing, failing or neglecting to do anything to promote the welfare and economic advancement of lawyers. The BPF paid by lawyers in Nigeria is total failure of consideration. NBA Leaderships have so far been the greatest enemies-of-progress to lawyers. Leaderships in the NBA constitutes mostly in clueless grandstanding, egoistic shenanigans, and hypocritical play-to-the-crowd. NBA leaders are purveyors of bad governance, enablers of lawlessness, promoters of impunity and condoners of rot. NBA Leaderships do not have any pity for the pitiable plight of lawyers in Nigeria. How have they shown any concern? They carry on as if nothing is happening even when all is not well! Imagine bad leaders (in the NBA) condemning other badly leaders, instead of working hard to correct your own iniquity! NBA, first remove the log of wood in your eyes, so you can see clearly to correct others. Charity begins at home!
All governments in Nigeria oppress and cheat lawyers by making lawyers the most poorly paid and unfairly badly-treated professionals in Nigeria’s public service. Imagine posting lawyer-NYSC members to secondary schools to go and teach. Imagine refusing to establish law departments in local government areas in Nigeria. Section 66(3) Nigerian Police Force Establishment Act 2020 which requires that every Police Station in Nigeria must have posted to it, no fewer than one lawyer whose job is to monitor compliance with human rights at the police station. Imagine that the government has refused to implement this section. Imagine!
. Lawyers oppress fellow lawyers in Nigeria. Imagine that a lawyer would employ his professional colleague in his office, and then refuse to pay salaries, or refuse to impart experience or allow his professional colleagues; allow his colleagues to wallow in abject lack and penury while their employers are engaging in extravagant spending. Imagine that a lawyer would refuse a brief on grounds of gross inadequate fees only for a colleague to accept to do the same job for less than gross undercharge! Imagine for example that a non Lawyer would prepare a Deed of Assignment (for land sold for N100,000,000) and hand over to a lawyer to sign and seal for a consideration of N10,000. Further, imagine a lawyer engaging in charge and Bail
The lawyer’s family, relatives, friends and dependants constantly, although ignorantly, oppress the lawyer. First, they all believe the lawyer is rich, well-to-do and that everything is already well for the lawyer. So, when they expect the lawyer to offer financial aid and the lawyer does not because he’s unable to, they believe the lawyer is stingy and selfish. The more the lawyer tries to explain, the higher their anger against the lawyer goes —they believe without justification, that the lawyer is lying to them and thereby compounding his already “bad” case. How I wish they have an idea what horror most lawyers go through economically. How I wish they are aware of the oppression many lawyers face in the hands of the other members and segments of society as discussed in this commentary! They don’t know and they don’t care to know. All they care about is financial help from the lawyer. The lawyer either offers the help or, (s)he is seen as selfish, insensitive, stingy and lying to cover up!
Clients oppress and victimize lawyers by refusing to pay lawyers’ earned fees, after the lawyer has faithfully rendered services or by refusing to pay adequately or by refusing to give the lawyers law jobs that are truly theirs (Lawyers’). Further, imagine that lawyers’ clients now prefer to take Lawyers’ jobs to EFCC, police, OPC arewa Youths, IPOB, massob, omo n’ile, NURTW, old SOJAs, ex militants, area boys and louts, etc.
. Outsiders (non lawyers) oppress lawyers by stealing lawyers’ traditional jobs and and thereby leaving majority of lawyers jobless, money-less, hopeless, disenchanted, disillusioned, disappointed, and frustrated. Unfortunately, lawyers and their professional Leaders do practically nothing to stop these non-lawyer thieves of lawyer-jobs.
. Regulators in the law profession oppress lawyers by neglecting lawyers, subjugating lawyers, and ignoring and refusing to tackle the pressing challenges of lawyers in Nigeria. They are only concerned about disciplining lawyers for professional misconduct. They don’t appear to give a hoot about why some lawyers engage in unprofessional conduct and about what can be done to halt the ugly trend. Why not try to find out what can be done to improve on the condition of lawyers? Punishing lawyers for “misconduct” is not a bad idea, but you should be also interested in investigating into why lawyers take to misconduct, and in lending a helping hand to halt the ugly trend. Adopt the criminology-approach, in addition to the criminal law approach! When the cause is removed the effect reduces! Improving the welfare and economic advancement of lawyers would reduce the high rate of misconduct among lawyers.
Unknown gunmen, kidnappers, killers and terrorists oppress lawyers by killing, kidnapping, maiming and terrorising lawyers. “Gunmen murder Imo lawyer Darlington Odume” (Punch, 16 September 2021); “SAD: Abuja Senior Lawyer Brutally Murdered in Abuja” (BARRISTERNG, OCTOBER 5, 2021); “How Nigerian lawyer, Adaeze Ikpema was allegedly murdered by her husband” (Newswire NGR, July 2021); “Lawyer murdered in Akwa Ibom community headship tussle” (sunnewsonline, December 2021); and many more.
Law education providers and institutions in Nigeria are also oppressors of lawyers; they continue to train and to produce more Lawyers even while doing little or nothing to help improve the economic plight of the ready made lawyers and the Law profession. Law education institutions should pause, take a deep thought about the fate of their products; how are they faring in the society? Should we continue to pump more lawyers into society, or should we tune down until there is some hope for the existing ones? Further, imagine that a university assigned a quota to admit not more than 100 law students, would go ahead and take in over 400 only to turn around to start lobbying for all the 400 to be admitted to the Law School at once. And when the Law School refuses on grounds of no-adequate-facilities-on-ground and you-overshot-your-quota, these universities and their quota-overshoot graduates would turn around and begin to publicly castigate the law school and making the Law School look bad. Then a Senator Smart Adeyemi would kickstart an un-smart establish-a-Law-School-in-every-village-in-Nigeria campaign.Senator Smart Adeyemi would kickstart an un-smart establish-a-Law-School-in-every-village-in-Nigeria campaign.
. Nigeria’s National Assembly oppress lawyers in Nigeria and helping to destroy the law profession. Imagine that Senate, without doing anything to make existing campuses viable, would pass a Bill establishing more law school Campuses! Meanwhile, what is the business of the Senate in establishing additional campuses for the Law School? Is that not an administrative decision to be taken by Council of Legal Education, based on expediency and need? Why were Senator Smart Adeyemi and his Senate not smart enough to have seen this? ‘Even slaves should not attend Yenagoa campus of Nigerian Law School: Wike” ”Indicating the appalling conditions at the Nigerian Law School, Yenagoa Campus, Governor Nyesom Wike says even slaves should not be allowed to use the facility. ‘You’ll never allow your slave to attend the campus in Yenagoa,” said Mr Wike on Tuesday Wike when the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, led by its chairman, Opeyemi Bamidele, paid him a courtesy’. (See Gazettengr; November 24, 2021) And if they saw it, what plans did they put on ground to solve the problem, before talking about additional campuses for the Law School? Anyway, it’s all about smartness! And in my opinion, the decision to pass a Bill establishing more campuses is not a Smart decision! If you really care about the plight of law education in Nigeria, smartness demanded that you should first work to make existing campuses viable before talking about establishing new ones. I therefore respectfully advise President Buhari to ignore the Senate and its un-smart decision to destabilize law education in Nigeria. President Buhari should not sign that Bill into law, but should rather vote more funds to upgrade existing campuses in order to meet the admission needs of that great school. Existing seven Campuses of the Law School can conveniently admit up to 10,000 law students if adequately and smartly upgraded. Check out: the Abuja campus current takes care of up to 1,500/1,600 students while the Lagos Campus takes up to 1,300/1,400 students. Why not upgrade the other five (5) campuses to start taking the same number as Lagos and Abuja? Instead of this needless Bill to establish six (6) additional campuses to bring the number of campuses to 13? What an unwise decision taken by people that represent themselves as smart people! Dear Mr, President, be smart enough to not join in destroying law education in Nigeria. No additional law school Campuses should be established save by the Council of Legal Education & NLS; they (CLE/NLS) wear the shoes; only they know where it pinches.
By: Sylvester Udemezue
from the Nigerian Law School
Court Rules On Dagogo’s Application, Friday
The embattled governorship aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party in Rivers State and a member of Federal House of Representatives representing Degema /Bonny federal constituency, Hon Farah Dagogo has pleaded not guilty to the two counts charge of cultism and felony.
He was alleged to have attempted the disruption of screening exercise of PDP in the state in the charge filed against him by Rivers state government at the state High Court in Port Harcourt, Monday.
The embattled federal lawmaker was properly arraigned at the state High Court presided over by Justice Chinwendu Nworgu where he took his plea on the two-count charge on cultism and disruption of PDP screening exercise in Port Harcourt ,recently .
The charge sheet read before the court, that “you Farah Dagogo and others now at large are alleged to have on the 27th of April, 2022 invaded PDP party secretariat on Aba Road with firearms causing panic with intention to disrupt screening exercise of the party”.
However, when the charges were read out, the accused, Hon Farah Dagogo who was brought to the court on wheelchair pleaded not guilty and thereafter, his Counsel informed the court of his bail application and cited some sections of the Rivers State law High Court rule and practice which authorises the court to grant bail to his client after withdrawing preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to entertain and hear the matter.
Opposing the motion, the prosecution counsels led by the Attorney General of the state and Commissioner for Justice, Hon Zacheaus Adango (SAN) in his response, objected to the application, saying that bail application could not be tendered.
He argued that there was a pending motion on preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter which must be determined first and therefore asked the court to dismiss the bail application motion.
Trial Judge, Justice Chinwendu Nworgu after listening to the various arguments from both the defending and prosecution counsels adjourned the matter to Friday, 20th of May, 2022 for consideration of bail application and possible commencement of proper trial, of the matter and directed that the accused be remanded in correctional centre, while also advised that he should be taken back to Rivers State University Teaching Hospital where he is taking medical attention.
Speaking to newsmen outside the courtroom, the Attorney General, Zaccheaus Adango, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, explained what transpired in court, saying that the state opposed the bail application of the defendant.
On his own part, one of the Counsels to Farah Dagogo, Emmanuel Rukani, expressed concern that despite the fact that their client was brought to court on wheelchair, the court still adjourned his bail application but expressed hope that the court would look at the process before it and do justice to the matter on the next adjourned date.
By: Amadi Akujobi
N6.9bn Fraud: Absence Of Witnesses Stalls Fayose’s Trial
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, adjourned until July 4, the continuation of trial of former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, who was charged with money laundering and fraud.
The trial, which was earlier scheduled for continuation, was adjourned due to unavailability of prosecution witnesses.
Fayose is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for N6.9billion fraud and money laundering.
When the case was called, yesterday, Mr Rotimi Jacobs (SAN), announced appearance for prosecution.
Messrs U.U. Njoku and Olalekan Ojo (SAN) announced appearance for Fayose (first defendant) and his company, Spotlight Investment Ltd. which is the second defendant.
Jacobs told the court that two prosecution witnesses, billed to testify, yesterday, were unavailable.
According to him, prosecution’s 12th witness was unavailable due to political party’s primary election while the other witness was occupied with another matter.
He prayed the court to grant an adjournment, saying that he had already informed the defence team of the development.
Both defence counsel did not object to the request for adjournment.
Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke consequently adjourned the case for continuation of trial.
Fayose was first arraigned on October 22, 2018, before Justice Mojisola Olatotegun, alongside his company, Spotless Investment Ltd. on an 11-count charge.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and was granted bail on October 24, 2018, in the sum of N50million with sureties in like sum.
The former governor was, however, re-arraigned before Justice Chukwujekwu Aneke on July 2, 2019, after the case was withdrawn from Justice Olatoregun, following EFCC’s petition.
He also pleaded not guilty before Aneke, and was allowed to continue on the earlier bail.
At the last adjourned date in December 2021, EFCC called its 11th witness, Mrs Joanne Tolulope, who narrated how Abiodun Agbele, an associate of Fayose, allegedly illegally bought property worth several millions of Naira.
During the trial before Olatoregun, EFCC called witnesses from several commercial banks, as well as a former Minister of State for Defence, Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro.
According to the charge, on June 17, 2014, Fayose and Agbele illegally took possession of N1.2billion for purposes of funding his gubernatorial election campaign in Ekiti.
Fayose allegedly received cash payment of $5million (about N1.8billion) from Obanikoro without going through any financial institution.
He was also alleged to have retained the sum of N300million in his account and illegally took control of the aggregate sum of about N622million.
Fayose was also alleged to have procured De Privateer Ltd. and Still Earth Ltd. to unlawfully retain the aggregate sum of N851million
Besides, the defendant was alleged to have illegally used about N1.6billion to acquire property in Lagos and Abuja.
He was also alleged to have used the sum of N200million to acquire a property in Abuja in the name of his elder sister, Moji Oladeji, which sum he ought to know also formed crime proceeds.
The alleged offences contravene the provisions of Sections 15(1), 15 (2), 15 (3), 16(2)(b), 16 (d), and 18 (c) of the Money Laundering Prohibition Act, 2011.
Landlord Butchers Female Tenant, Fiancee In PH
A landlord and owner of a compound at Ekwulobia Street Mile 3, Diobu, Port Harcourt has allegedly butchered his female tenant, Miss Comfort Nwagadi and her fiancee, Mr Stanley Nwagadi for dating each other, saying that his tenant was dating a man she reportedly takes care of.
Speaking with our reporter at her hospital bed, Comfort Nwagadi said the incident happened on Saturday night.
She was rushed to hospital Sunday morning when her health condition was deterrioting after the landlord attacked her.
Speaking from her admission bed, the victim of the attack said, she washed and spread her clothes on the rope on that fateful day and the landlord of the compound who is also residing in the compound removed her washed clothes where she had spread them and they fell down on the ground.
She averred that when she went to pick up the clothe, her landlord started abusing her that she was keeping a man she feed and takes care of adding that in the wake of the abuse, her fiancee came in and heard the utterances from the landlord popularly called Alabo, and both had exchange of words.
Comfort stated that she and her fiancee left after the exchange of words with the landlord but
unknown to them that the said landlord had sharpened a machete and was already waiting for them.
The moment she walked into the compound as she came back with her fiancee from where they went to, the landlord rushed her with a machete and started cutting her.
Her fiancee who ran to save her on hearing her scream, was also cut twice on his head and hand before the landlord ran away.
Also speaking, Mr Stanley Nwagadi told our reporter that he rushed to save his fiancee when she was screaming from the machete cuts she received from their landlord and called for justice on the matter.
Our correspondent who visited the intending couple at hospital reports that Comfort had four machete cuts on the head, three at her fingers while the fiancee Stanley had two machete cuts on the head and left hand.
Police Officers from Azikiwe Police Division, Iloabuchi Mile 2 Diobu who spoke undercover said he had also visited the intending couple at the hospital where they were receiving treatment.
However, when contacted on phone, the acting spokesperson of the state police command, DSP Grace Iringe Koko said she was yet to be briefed on the matter.
By: Amadi Akujobi
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