Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Are you one of those legal practitioners who believe that anything goes in the court of law and think that correctness of form, presentation and appearance are unimportant in the conduct of matters?
If so, you need to have a re-think and quickly too. On the good authority of Honourable Justice Ayotunde Adeyoola Philips (Judge of the Lagos State High Court since 1994) the Squib can tell you that filing, ROUGH, UNDATED, UNSIGNED, SMUDGY processes before the court will quickly hasten the determination of your client’s case in his opponent’s favour.
The reason is simple-by your dirty and inelegant processes, you would have put off the adjudicator, who is sure to be irritated and not fascinated by your sloppy work. This revelation was made by Ayo Phillips J. at the dinner organized by the law firms of Kemi Pinheiro & Co and Chief Bolaji Ayorinde & Co on 23rd October 2008 at the Jade Garden – Restaurant, GRA Ikeja, in honour of Mr. Adekunle Ojo the newly elected 2nd Vice –President of the Nigerian Bar Association and Mr. Dave Ajetomobi the chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja Branch.
Other dignitaries at the select party include Honourable Justice Olabode Rhodes-Vivour, of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Mr. Supo Sasore, S.A.N, Honourable Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Lagos State, Honourable Justice Olubunmi Oyewole of the Ikeja High Court, Chief Idowu Sofola S.A.N, Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja SAN, Prince Adebambo Adesanya S.A.N, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde S.A.N, and MR. Kemi Pinheiro S.A.N others are Mr. Seyi Akinwunmi, Mr. Tunde Busari, Mr. G.M.O Oguntade, Mr. Ademola Olaiya and Olusina Sofola
In the entourage of Adekunle Ojo Esq and Dave Ajetomobi esq, the honourees of the day, were three officers of the NBA Ikeja branch-Dare Akande Esq, 1st Vice-Chairman Isa Mohammed Buhari Esq, Secretary and Adesina Ogunlana, Welfare Secretary.
Other members of the entourage are Yinka Faroubi Esq, Ademola Ijaoba Esq, Kembi Adejare Esq, Tajudeen Ibrahim Esq and Gbenga Oniyire Esq.
The dinner started at about 5:45p.m and did not end until almost four hours later. What great, wonderful evening it was as fine jokes and quality advice flowed endlessly ably powered on by the comforting presence of nice wines and drinks and, of course, scrumptious fares! Less than twenty –minutes after the commencement of the programme, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde S.A.N firmly established a fact - he would have been wealthier and more famous were he a comedian, what with his superb turn of phrases, improvisations and tell-me-again yarns?
But the silk had stiff competition in this regard from his brother silk and friend, Kemi Pinheiro S.A.N, with his very witty side comments and interjections. Even the honourable judges present – did not exclude themselves from the banters and teases. For example, when Rhodes-Viviour J.C.A was being introduced, Justice Ayo Philips chipped in to say “Fine Boy” and all through the evening, other guests quietly referred to the Appelate Judge as Justice Fine Boy. It was the turn of Justice Oyewole to be introduced, Justice Philips caused the group’s merriment to climb two notches higher when her ladyship, with an inimitable chuckle said “914.” Of course the joke was on the fact that Justice Oyewole is perharps the best known anti-fraud and corruption Judge in Nigeria and that specie of crime is popularly known as “419”.
Although Honourable Justice Ayo Philips was the only lady on the “high table” the ever witty and lively judge was more than able to hold her own. When it was her turn to give a speech, she was proudly and joyously escorted to her place by Chief Bolaji Ayorinde S.A.N the best comedian impresario that will never be. Phillips J’s speech was an admonition and exhortation to the bar to be better behaved and comported as a class and as an individual.
Said the honourable judge in part-“The Ikeja bar is very dear to my heart, even before Adekunle Ojo became her chairman. I see red in court when I see undated rough processes. Processes should be clean, clear and dated, otherwise you put off the judge. You should always aim to impress the judge-appearance matters. And can you imagine some lawyers still using type-writers to bring out their processes in this age? Please don’t use type-writers again. I think we need to improve our standards. We are the best in West Africa may be excepting Ghana. The leaders of the bar must see to the training and retraining of lawyers.
As for bar-bench relationship, it is clear that it has degenerated. The Chief cause of this, I can tell you is the penchant of some lawyers to be writing petitions with no good cause. It can be very demoralising, for you to be doing your best only for people to be writing petitions against you on frivolous grounds, more so when you, as a judge, you are not in any position to defend your-self.
I am not saying petitions should not be written against judges where genuine reasons exist. People should write and same should be thoroughly investigated. Now because of petitions, some judges are scared of interacting with lawyers.
Since you’ve held out an olive branch out you can call on me anytime (to assist in drawing the bench closer to the bar)”. Earlier on in the evening, Dave Ajetomobi Esq, the chairman of the NBA Ikeja branch had addressed the gathering where he acknowledged the support of both Mr. Kemi Pinheiro SAN and Chief Ayorinde for his administration and the Ikeja bar in general. The chairman assured the gathering that the Ikeja bar is not interested in confrontation with the judiciary or embarrassment of any judge.
The other two judges at the dinner also made speeches, although they ended up disagreeing on the most effective way of curbing corruption in the country. Justice Oyewole advocated for the passage of the freedom of information bill, asking the NBA to sensitize the public as to the crucial value of the bill which is the creation of an enabling environment for the establishment of the culture of transparency in government, especially in the management of public funds. Enthused Oyewole J “Once the government officials know that the press can have access to the way they handle funds, then they will caution themselves (because nobody wants a public exposure of his misdeeds).
On his own part however, Rhodes-Vivour JCA, believed that the major cause of corruption in the country is poverty. Observed the honourable judge “when people are poor and are paid poor salaries they will be corrupt and fraudulent so government must address the issue of poor wages.
It was around 8.00p.m that Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja S.A.N arrived the dinner. He was warmly received by all and sundry. Some other guests also made speeches. Chief Idowu Sofola S.A.N former Secretary General of the Nigeria Bar Association and former secretary of the International Bar Forum admonished the current leaders of the NBA to spend their personal funds, instead of living off the NBA in the discharge of their duties. Before this, Chief Sofola had told the gathering of his titanic battle to become the Secretary General of the I.B.A and why 20 years after he left the office, no other African has occupied the seat.
Another very big masquerade, who spoke at the dinner was Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja S.A.N. The senior advocate who has a reputation for being rigorous and meticulous in practice disclosed that he is all what he is today by the grace of God and that of the foremost Nigerian legal practitioner “Chief G.O.K Ajayi S.A.N., who he disclosed was his mentor. Hear the learned silk.
“All what people say I am and that I do and that I will continue to do, I learnt them from Chief G.O.K Ajayi S.A.N. It was by myself that I went out to seek him out. When I first saw him, he so impressed me that I said I want to be like this man. I approached him and he accepted me.
Immediately I was called to the bar. I went to seek employment under him. He first gave me 25 pounds (in 1972) to celebrate my call-to-bar with my friends. Then he took me to the Lagos High Court and Ikeja High Court and introduced me to all the clerks and registrars of court. He gave me a warning about these category of workers-“Any time you are in court be friends with the messengers. Don’t look down on any of them because they are the ones responsible for getting your files to the judge.
The second thing he told me was that his office opened by 7.30 am but had no closing time. Then he impressed on me to always be neat as a counsel. He said “when you are neat, as counsel, 40% of your advocacy is done. The judge is a human being, if he is impressed with your appearance, half of the job is done”
So that’s where I learnt all what I do now. You must work hard and also play hard. If you practice law as it should be done, the control of your life is in your hands. I tell you for every lawyer there is a jackpot. If you use your jackpot, well, you are up there, if not you are down.
One is not saying everybody must be a millioner but if one is able to look after one’s family, train the children well, what also does one want? The learned silk ended his stirring and thought provoking speech with an appeal to the leadership of the NBA Ikeja branch to improve the standard of the legal profession and urged the Ikeja bar to change her appellation from “Tiger Bar” by which alias it was more popularly known to “Honourable Bar”. According to Ayanlaja S.A.N, the appellation “Tiger bar” is distasteful and inappropriate.
The famous silk ended his speech by promising to “retaliate” the honour of the organization of the dinner by Kemi Pinheiro & Co and Chief Bolaji Ayorinde in honour of the Ikeja Bar. Some of the guests who know Mr. Tunji Ayanlaja S.A.N well, assured their listeners that, that was no idle boast.

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