What a coincidence! I had to check my date again; Monday, the 30th day of April, 2018. After the Magistrate rose at the Court I was attached to for the compulsory Nigerian Law School Externship, I decided to go through my Professional Ethics and Skills which was the course on my time-table.
The topic for the day was the Dutiesof a Legal Practitioner( to his Client, the State, his fellow Lawyer and the Court) and I decided to go through the relevant provisions of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners, 2007 first.
Have you ever seen the Cooks pounding yam and wondered what it would look like pounding the head of a human being? That was exactly the way my head was pounding when I got to Rule 15 of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
This particular Rule, which has “Representing Clients within the bounds of the Law” as its side note, is so long and detailed that one would wonder what the draftsman envisaged.
Suddenly, something dropped in my minds. Can you guess? Here is it, “As long as this provision of the Rule is, some people will still go to that length to engage in illegal acts thereby breaching the law“.
In a twinkle of an eye, I was on my way home and I decided to check my whatsapp messages. Lo and behold, the first message I encountered was the link sent to me by Dr. Kelvin Ashindorbe, the Head of Department, Political Science, Chrisland University, Abeokuta.
The link containing the report by Punch Newspaper really caught my attention; “Court sentences Nwobike, to One Month’s imprisonment”.
According to The Punch Newspaper, “The Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has sentenced a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Nwobike, to one month’s imprisonment for perversion of the course of justice.
The court convicted Nwobike of 12 counts bordering on the offence, sentenced him to one month’s imprisonment on each of the 12 counts but said the sentences would run concurrently.
Justice Raliat Adebiyi, who pronounced the verdict on Monday morning, said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission proved beyond reasonable doubts that the SAN was in constant communication with court officials to influence the assignment of his cases to his preferred judges.”
You know what? And Rule 30 of the Rules of Professional Conduct kept on begging Dr. Nwobike, SAN and screaming, “A lawyer is an officer of the Court and accordingly, he shall not do any act or conduct himself in any manner that may obstruct, delay or adversely affect the administration of justice”.
All I will say is that not all that glitters is gold and this is a lesson for all of us! The truth is: most of us are unconvicted convicts; many are just as guilt as Dr. Nwobike, SAN but we consider ourselves saints because we’ve not been caught. This reminds me of the Battle of Waterloo.
Yes! Mr. Judge that influences the case they assign to his court so he can either conspire with the parties to pervert the course of justice or victimize some lawyers and their clients.
You; Chief Lawyer that’s always telling Mr. Judge to meet you at the Club and promising to sponsor his vacation if gives judgement in your favour.
Even you; Aunty Registrar that cannot do her work except they give her ‘change’ or she coercively and bluntly demand for it as if it’s the air she breathes.
You’re not excluded Ma! Mummy Prosecutor that will say Complainants are not in Court, just because they didn’t have 20 Naira to give you, even while you are staring at them.
Beautiful People, let me go and read my books before our Daddies and Mummies in the Nigerian Law School will start setting questions like:
“Mrs. Lagbaja, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, went to file his case at the High Court Registry, Igbonsare, Logas. He met the Registrar, Mr. Wobia and gave him 50naira to assign his case to High Court 999 where Justice Oleniwona sits. What is the ethical implication?”.
Joseph Jagunmolu Ogunmodede
THE LEGAL DIARY