LAWYERS4CHANGE

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

SQUIB PROFESSOR OF LAW TACKLES SILKS

Some months ago, the legal community was jolted by the news that a Lagos High Court judge had convicted and sentenced an “old lawyer,” Adebayo Jegede for contempt of court.
Further newspaper reports had it that Olusola Williams J., the honourable trial judge invited two Senior Advocates of Nigeria who were present in court to make some comments before the axe fell on Jegede, but that the silks, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan Esq., S.A.N and Chief Bayo Ayorinde Esq.,S.A.N declined any response.
The ‘say nothing’ posture of the silks immediately created ripples in the legal community as opinions differed sharply on whether the silks acted properly in the circumstances.
One of those who felt that the silks acted poorly in the circumstances is Ademola Adewale Esq., veteran columnist with the Squib, idolized in-house as ‘Squib Professor of Law.’ In his February 15 2010 Professor’s Podium column, Adewale criticized the silks in question in the Adebayo Jegede matter.
Only last week, both Professor Osipitan and Chief Bolaji Ayorinde, courtesy of a joint letter responded robustly to Ademola’s attack, and justified their refusal to make any plea for Adebayo Jegede on the ground that the accused/convict was not only properly convicted but that he, even in the dock showed no remorse for his wrong doing.
Interestingly, if only expectedly, the response of the ‘silky duo’ cut no ice with Adewale who, wait for it, this week has sent a ‘fire and pepper’ reaction to the letter of the silks to the Squib Editor-in-Chief, on the matter.
We are persuaded therefore to make the contention between the Squib ‘professor’ Ademola Adewale and the two silks as our cover story. So herein are
(a) “Professor’ Ademola Adewale’s article of 15th February 2010
(b) Professor Taiwo Osipitan S.A.N and Chief Bolaji Ayorinde’s (S.A.N) letter of 24th February 2010 to the Squib Editor.
(c) ‘Professor’ Adewale’s reaction to the response of the silk
We, must confess our doubt whether this is the end of the matter and exchanges!

INFAMY AND DISTINCTION AT THE BAR
Infamy and distinction at the Bar, vice and virtue alike are no exclusive of any group at the Bar, whether silk or non silk, young or old at the Bar. While a silk presumed to have achieved distinction at the Bar can so easily display infamy at an unguarded moment, a non silk can so easily display such remarkable brilliance and candour worthy of commendation.
There is a true life narrative of a court room incident that occurred more than 22 years ago at a court in the defunct Ondo State which included the present Ekiti State. Here is the story as narrated by a now senior lawyer.
On a fateful day before a now retired Judge of former Ondo State, the court room was filled to the brim with counsel, both young and old. As so normally happens, there was an Ibadan based silk in court who in the usual manner of members of the inner Bar coveted for himself the front row, leaving many lawyers young and old to jostle for the remaining few rows at the Bar. An attempt by a very senior lawyer, senior to Chief the silk to sit in the inner Bar was rudely rebuffed, leaving the crestfallen old man to cram himself in with many other lawyers on the limited seats at the Bar.
Soon came in a Lagos based Silk, unusually late for his case, his car having developed some fault whilst driving from his homestead in Ikenne in Ogun State to the court. Lagos Based Silk upon his entry to the Bar, promptly apologized for his unusual lateness to the court then proceeded to seek leave of the court to invite his colleagues many of whom were standing at the even outside the court, to share the inner Bar with him. This was too much for the Ibadan based silk to take; he immediately stood up to register his objection to this demeaning of the inner Bar by this open invitation of non SAN to sit in the inner Bar. After the outburst by his learned brother in the inner Bar, the Lagos based silk stood up and politely and cool as a cucumber replied his colleague ifn the Inner Bar famously: “By the grace of God, I am today, the leader of the Bar in this court having been elevated to the Inner Bar in 1983, a number of years before my learned brother and it is in that privileged position that I seek your Lordship’s leave to be joined in the Inner Bar by my learned friends, many of whom are standing uncomfortably in this court.” The court promptly granted learned silk’s request which saw many lawyers moving to share the Inner Bar with the two silks, much to the discomfiture of te Ibadan based silk who had earlier rebuffed the appeal of the elderly lawyer to share the Inner Bar with him. The Hero of this true life story is Mr. Abayomi Sogbesan SAN of blessed memory. As for the other silk in this story, please ask Mr. Adekunle Oyesanya for his true identity…
On the side of absolute distinction is the commendation of Mr. Johnson Esezobor. The Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal complimented Mr. Esezobor for canvassing a fine point of law that the court was sure that most of Mr. Esezobor’s learned friends would have overlooked. This was on a day when the court sat from 9.00 am to 4.00pm with many SANs appearing, both old and young but with none of their learned silk’s receiving any such judicial approval that fateful day. If that does not amount to distinction, I do not know what does.
On a personal note, at the expense of being immodest, I now enjoy a privileged status and complimentary remarks in Justice Tijani Abubakar’s court at the Federal High Court Lagos for merely taking up the offer of the court to take up an indigent accused person’s case in line with the old tradition of the Bar that the most senior counsel in court takes up the defence of a poor accused person.
Ever since, at every of my appearance in his Lordship’s court, I get judicial commendation and recognition. While, this may not itself amount to professional distinction, it at least accords with the best traditions of our noble profession.
Finally, the Editor-in-Chief of the Squib magazine has gradually but steadily become the toast of the legal community not only in his immediate community Lagos State Judiciary but also even at the national level. The fear of the SQUIB and its ubiquitous influence is fast becoming the beginning of wisdom in Lagos State. Judges openly praise Ogunlana (by the same token others rabidly, hate his guts). Judicial technocrats dread him; even middle-level and junior judicial workers notorious for frustrating the wheels of justice where their palms are not greased, restrain themselves where his matters and interests are involved. Everywhere he is sighted, he is out of malice, mischief or genuine affection, hailed: ‘awaiting SAN, SAN-to-be, SAN of the future.’ He has also established a reputation for competence in criminal law trial – an area in which there were few competent hands until the advent of the EFCC cases and high profile accused persons. Yes, not all these praises are heartfelt and sincere. But the fact remains, with the abrasive crusade against corruption and injustice championed in the last 9 years by Mr. Adesina Ogunlana through the medium of the hard hitting and fire spitting SQUIB magazine, Mr. Ogunlana has achieved uncommon distinction at the Bar.

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