WHITHER THE ETHICAL CONDUCT AT THE BAR – MY EXPERIENCE AT THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION PETITION TRIBUNAL
BY MUTALUBI ADEBAYO OJO, SAN
At the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, I saw series of desecration of the virtues of the temple of justice and the ethics of our legal profession severally thrown overboard, and in most cases they were deliberately thrown under the train.
I saw very Senior members of the Bar who turned themselves to show biz personalities. Top Senior Advocates of Nigeria took turns at the end of every proceedings to address the national and global media to comment on each day concluded proceedings right from inception of the case till judgement were given on all the petitions. They pontificated, postulated and re-argued their cases before the full glare of cameras. Yet, those Senior legal practitioners who brazenly breached and violated the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners are the same people who will always (demand) better ethical conducts from young lawyers. Is that not a case of ” just take the messages and ignore the messengers”?
Worthy of mention is the hilarious case of a Nollywood star, now a legal practitioner. This learned friend of ours is yet to come to term or the reality that he is now in a very sober, solemn and conservative profession where playing and acting to the gallery is frowned at and seriously deprecated. Our very young learned (friend), apparently being influenced by his long sojourn in his original profession, will always post and ‘advertise’ photographs of himself with his Bishop like Bibs on the social media- Facebook, X (twitters) and Instagram to run false and distorted commentaries/reporting of everyday proceedings of the tribunal as if he was the person conducting the case of the Labour Party. Yet, if my memory served me right, I never heard of his name being announced, even just once, as one of the Counsel in the Labour Party petition or any other petition for that matter. The question that continues to agitate my mind is that – “Who then is our Learned friend trying to impress ? Or is another Nollywood film loading?” Our junior colleague needs to be advised and told that the earlier he adjusts himself to the rules and guidelines governing his newfound love which is the legal profession, the better for him and for his greater exploits in the profession.
I must not end this piece without commending and saluting the sagacity and strict adherence to the fidelity of the ethical conducts of the legal profession by the legal practitioners who represented INEC, PBAT and the APC. They are all great role models to the legal profession because they never, not even once, played to the gallery as they consistently shunned all pleas and entreaties to address the media while the proceedings lasted. Their conducts were very exemplary and worthy of emulation. Posterity will not forgive me if I also fail to acknowledge Mr. Onyekachi Ikpeazu, SAN (finest gentleman by any standard ), Professor Awa Kalu, SAN and Mr. Tayo Jegede, SAN also for keeping and sustaining the ethical standards of the profession by avoiding media trial.
In conclusion, I want to advise that we all owe the legal profession the onerous duty to keep the temple of justice pure and clean at all times. Ethical conduct must not only be mouthed and touted but it must be shown in real practice.
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