Adhere to ethical obligations, judge tasks lawyers
A Court of Appeal judge, Olasumbo Goodluck has tasked lawyers to adhere to ethical obligations as they serve the interest of their clients and ensure the course of justice is achieved by protecting the integrity of the legal profession.
Justice Goodluck disclosed this in his lecture titled: “Two sides of the Court: The bench and the Bar,” at a dinner in honour of recently elevated academic staff of the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Akoka.
She was represented by the Lagos Admin Judge, Ikeja Judicial Division, Justice Olutoyin Atinuke Ipaye, who noted that lawyers being technical experts, are also often called upon to act as counsel to their clients.
Lawyers, she said, help clients solve fundamental legal problems by applying existing law to particular facts using their legal analysis skills and their knowledge of the legal system and legal subject matter.
“The relationship between the Bar and Bench should be of true partnership. They must work together in harmony, give mutual respect to each other and ensure that they are committed to the upliftment of the image of the legal profession.
“Members of the bar must see themselves as ministers in the temple of justice who have a duty not only to their client but also to the nation at large,” she charged.
The judge noted that, “solving these legal problems require traditional attributes of issue spotting, analytic power, ability to draft, negotiate, and advocate – but also an increasing degree of a highly sophisticated substantive and procedural expertise.
“Lawyers must adhere to their ethical obligations as they serve the interest of the clients, ensure the course of justice is achieved and protect the integrity of the legal profession,” she emphasised.
Justice Good luck, however, decried lawyers’ attitude of not seeing themselves as conflict resolution agents any more. She noted that Lagos judiciary had introduced so many innovations like the referral system, Case Management Conference (CMC), Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism, among others to discourage litigation.
“Lagos judiciary is the most dynamic in terms of innovations and I wonder what has been propelling them to innovate. The most dynamic of these innovations was the 2004 Civil Procedure Rules, the introduction of the law of process, the pre-action protocols, uploading process, the idea of written briefs and case management processes. I wonder what has been propelling them into making all these innovations,” she declared.
The honourees included a judge of the Lagos High Court, Justice (Dr) Rasul Oriyomi Olukolu who was elevated from the lecture hall to the Lagos State bench.
It also included UNILAG Law Faculty lecturers recently conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) by the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) such as Prof. Abiola Sanni, Prof. Oludayo Amokaye and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) prosecutor, Wahab Shittu.
Many senior lawyers who attended the event included Emeka Ozoani (SAN), Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN) and Deacon Dele Adesina (SAN), among others.
In his remarks, Prof. Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) noted that the Bar and the Bench cannot afford to fail the nation. Attorney General of Oyo State, Prof. Oyelowo Oyewo, in his remark stated that when people are given the opportunity to be elevated, it means that they are challenged to do more.
Oyewo said most of the problems with the legal profession occurred because the foundation has gone bad, stressing that if they fail to address the problems of the foundation, it will get worse.
Prof. Joseph Abugu (SAN), said the faculty has the largest number of professors compared to other faculties in the institution with about 20 professors and the largest number of SANs that any faculty of law in the country has ever produced.
Abugu criticised the method of appointment into the bench in the state, which he said is characterised by high level politicking. He lamented that a lot of people who should not be on the bench are appointed.
He recalled that there were times professors in the law faculties were to be appointed to the bench at the Appeal Court and Supreme Court, but that those in power thwarted the effort when they insisted that appointment to the upper levels of the court must follow a career path.
Abugu recalled the appointment of Justice Fatai Elias from the university, who ended in distinguishing himself as the Chief Justice of Nigeria.
He advised that more judges should be appointed to the bench of the Lagos Judiciary from the academics to improve administration of justice in the state.