What is wrong with ‘Charge and Bail’? by Ogunmodede Joseph Jagun – Lawyard

What is wrong with ‘Charge and Bail’? by Ogunmodede Joseph Jagun – Lawyard

A Fellow wrote: Why do people wearing white on black walk around campus like dey av made it in life. Forgetting it will still end in charge and bail things ? Let me come and be going!

Ogunmodede Joseph Jagun, a first class graduate of the faculty of law university of Ibadan 2015/2016 set replied thus:

Wisdom is profitable to direct! Even the Bible implores he who lacks wisdom to ask and it shall be given unto him. I’m of the opinion that it won’t be a bad idea to ask questions on issues you don’t understand or matters that are sources of confusion to you.

At least, even students that don’t have the legal blood are in total agreement with the fact that “question and not answers create knowledge”.

In as much as it is my practice to ignore ludicrous comments especially on social media, I can’t but make an attempt to clarify issues on the popular slogan “charge and bail” considering the rate at which it is misused by the public out of shire ignorance.

The agreement of Mr. Sadik Oluwagbenga , a “well respected” public speaker of the Premier University among others, with the misconception further lends credence to the need for public enlightenment on this subject in order to nip to the bud the wrong notion that continues to plunge a greater number of the teeming populace in Nigeria into the abyss of complete ignorance.

How did the phrase “charge and bail” lawyer arise? Why are some lawyers called “charge and bail lawyers”? The phrase is from a longer one “Charge and bail lawyers chasing black maria”.

This phrase is used to describe lawyers that run after suspects in court to solicit for cases or bid for clients that have been charged immediately they are dropped from the black maria by the Nigerian Prisons Officers in order to represent them during their arraignment and secure their bail.

In essence, what most of those lawyers do is this: they run after suspects that the State CHARGE for offences AND BAIL them.
Come to think of it, you cannot even open your mouth to announce your appearance in court if you’ve not been Called to Bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

It is no gainsaying that you must have passed the Almighty Bar Finals at the Nigerian Law School as evidence of substantial knowledge of the Law (especially the Procedural Law) before you are called to the Bar at all and in actual fact, as a lawyer, you must know something about everything and everything about something.

This is the reason why lawyers are said to be “LEARNED”.
In essence, for a lawyer to even know how to do “Charge and Bail”, such lawyer must have acquired reasonable knowledge of both substantive and procedural law.

I’ve experienced countless cases in which some very educated persons who insisted they don’t need a lawyer but would conduct their case themselves ended up causing irreparable damage to their case.

Are they even sure of what to say? Do they even know what should be the premise of each of their conclusions? Definitely not! Most of them have never visited the legal arsenal talk more of being harmed with the legal armour required to Bail an accused person among other things.

Let me point out EMPHATICALLY that the notion the public has that “charge and bail” is a synonym of “poverty” is completely false! If you have a brother who is an average charge and bail lawyer, he will definitely have the financial power to EFFECTIVELY sponsor you for a second degree in law so that you can have a better understanding about the thin line between self-confidence and pride.

To buttress my point, this analysis may not be out of place: An average charge and bail lawyer in a place like Abeokuta makes AT LEAST N10,000 in a day while some make even over N50,000 atimes when they handle several cases in a day.

With N10,000 multiplied by 5 working days, what you think the law students you have unnecessary emity for will end up doing will earn them N200,000 per month excluding other incomes from preparation of documents, going to police station etc.
Note that “Charge and Bail” lawyers in places like Lagos definitely make more than this sum of money.

My honest question to you is this, if you get a job where they will pay you at least N200,000 per month, won’t you jump at it from a three storey building? If you’re still in doubt and you think it is easy, you can walk up to the court room one of these days and make an attempt to bail an accused person who has been in custody while his relatives are wailing seriously to have him released.

Then why is “charge and bail” frowned out? I strongly submit that it is strictly on the basis that “he who knows the law should not break the law”. The Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners expressly prohibits lawyers from soliciting for clients talk more of running after them.

Also, as a lawyer, you are not to advertise yourself or your services because Law is completely a noble profession and not analogous to selling puff-puff on the road. Have you ever wondered why Lawyers use very simple sign boards rather than the very colourful and flamboyant ones?

It is simple because it is ignoble to advertise yourself to the public as a lawyer.
For the purpose of clarity, why lawyers are required to refrain from “charge and bail” is because it is ignoble, unorthodox, unethical and contrary to the Laws governing the Legal profession such as the Rule of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners.

Young lawyers are advised to undergo pupillage before establishing their own chambers and it is believed that a lawyer that is comfortable with just “charge and bail” will not be able to learn some other things that come by just experience.

A lawyers that does only “charge and bail” may also miss out of better opportunities because they may have to refer some other cases to other lawyers. For example, a “Charge and Bail” lawyer may not be able to handle a case of breach of contract between Dangote Group of Companies and Mobil Nigerial Ultd. It is not because a lawyer is automatically in abject poverty once he is tagged a “charge and bail lawyer”.

As to the issue of pride, I’ve said it times without number that our attitudes as human beings is a function of our individual personality. If you have pride you have pride either you are a lawyer, doctor, engineer, teacher or even a farmer. Haven’t you seen some lecturers in your department who have elements of pride despite that they are neither law students nor lawyers?

Don’t get it twisted, law students are always tagged as poor because they are easily noticeable and spotted with their black and white which beams a light of uniqueness on them. I repeat, there’s always a thin line between pride and self-confidence and it’s advisable to always fathom this thin line. Besides, a countless number of my colleagues are already making wave in the legal profession even before going to the Law school and Opeyemi Adeleke, Afam Ikeakanam etc can confirm this.

I have good onews for you! It is good news for you because the words of Olajuwon Olukanni Excellence that “Definitely this brother actually loves law but fate got him to be in teacher education” may not be out of place.

Law is for everybody because as a lawyer you can make impact in every areas of human endeavour. Even very important personalities in other esteemed professions such as medical doctors, politicians, journalists, accountants etc come back to read Law.

It’s not bad either if your profession is your passion; we will always need each other because this is the essence of the society. On the other hand, if you feel you don’t need a lawyer, a wise man said it means you want to die poor because you need a lawyer to at least administer your will. Cheers!

Ogunmodede Joseph Jagun, a first class graduate of the faculty of law university of Ibadan 2015/2016 set.

What’s Wrong With Charge And Bail? By Ogunmodede Joseph Jagun


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