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Lawyers, heaven and the moral high ground – Part 2

By Bobson Gbinije
27 April 2022   |   2:47 am
The Warri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association on Friday, January 29, 2010, at the Dr. Mudiaga Odje Hall- Law Centre, Warri held its anniversary lecture in honour of John Alele Esq-50years

[FILES] Lawyer’s wig

Continued from yesterday

The Warri Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association on Friday, January 29, 2010, at the Dr. Mudiaga Odje Hall- Law Centre, Warri held its anniversary lecture in honour of John Alele Esq-50years of private legal practice. The occasion was simply glorious as legal gargantuans from all walks of life graced the occasion with their brilliant presence. Although the keynote address delivered by Late Hon. Justice Niki Tobi, JSC, OFR was titled “Legal Practice in Nigeria: Issues, Challenges and the Need for Reforms”. Lawyers in a lighter mood talked about this question of “Lawyers, the Moral High Ground and Heaven”.

Hon. Justice Niki Tobi harped on the issue of integrity. He said “if at all any profession needs integrity, that one is the legal profession. A person cannot be a successful practitioner unless he is a person of integrity. A person of integrity is the one who has sound moral fortitude, faithfulness, honesty, fidelity, moral soundness, probity, propriety, righteousness, truthfulness, and uprightness of character are all synonymous with integrity in the strict or large content of the word”.

The way and manner in which lawyers and the judiciary compromise integrity remains sordidly eldritch. Hence, Napoleon Bonaparte said, “justice is blind, but not always deaf, for in many cases she loveth to listen to the sweet ringing of gold and silver”.

Most lawyers, legal officers and judges are quintessentially corrupt. Hon Niki Tobi further stated that “A legal practitioner who is interested in both the briefs of the plaintiff and the defendant is a person of no integrity. So also is one who is interested in both the briefs of the prosecution and the accused. A legal practitioner who is paid fees for a case but refuses or fails to appear for the client is one without integrity.”

As a palliative on the way forward, he suggested that the only way to ensure integrity amongst legal practitioners is to step up disciplinary action against erring legal practitioners in the performance of their professional duties. They should either be removed from the Bar list or suspended for a period, depending on the gravity of the professional misconduct. When bad eggs are flushed out, the profession will maintain the required integrity and that should be our goal.

We entirely agree with the submissions of Hon. Justice Niki Tobi, but wish to add that when the fear of God and the desire to make heaven becomes the driving force behind our lawyers and their actions, it will make a lasting impact on them. But who is the ultimate decider as to who goes to heaven. It is our good works, faith and the grace of God. In Jeremiah chapter 9 verses 23 and 24, the Bible said, “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercises loving Kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord”.

In the Grail Message ABD-RUSHIN posited thus, an eternal law operates in the Universe: That in giving can one receives where lasting values are concerned; like a sacred legacy of its creator, this law deeply permeates the whole of creation. To give unselfishly, to help where help is needed and to understand both the suffering and the weakness of your fellowmen; means to receive because it is the simple and true way to the Highest.

Without obstructing the trajectory of this discourse with a gossamer of skewed objectivity, sentimental patitio principi, judgemental fallacies and prejudicial projectiles, it is clear that salvation and the path to heaven is an individual albatross that everybody must work out with fear, respect and reverential apotheosization of God through keeping his commandments. We have seen a thousand and one lawyers and members of the judiciary who have committed themselves to defend the defenseless, being voices for the voiceless and through philanthropic and altruistic gestures touched the lives of the helpless and the poor thereby bettering our society.

We have also seen lawyers and other legal practitioners who have stood and still standing with an unwearable proclivity for the nicety and without any nitty-gritty for the truth and transparency of the law and good conscience. They do not resort to establishing their averments. It is recorded in one of the synoptic gospels that James and John the sons of Zebedee asked Jesus Christ to grant them a place, one on his left side and the other on his right when his kingdom shall come. Jesus answered and said, “to sit on my left side or on my right is not mine to give, it is meant for those for whom they are prepared”.

Yes, it could be meant and prepared for our lawyers and judges too, if they uphold the truth, display integrity, serve humanity themselves, shun corruption, 419, client manipulations, unnecessary arrogance and the luciferous quest for material abundance. Lawyers are by training noblemen, adjudicators, leaders and societal pathfinders, but when they fail, the oracular counsel admonishes them, thus “As the volcano bursts with a louder explosion, when the combustible matter is confined within his bosom, so will a nation’s revenge find vent, the more their wrongs are repressed”.

Finally, the shipwrecked mariner may escape the raging billows, and the thief the gallows tree, but not the wrath of God by their names being struck out from the Book of Life. Lawyers must listen to this ‘CALL TO ORDER’ and revert to the ethics of their profession through fear and reverences for God to enable them to make Heaven.

Gbinije, a  social critic, wrote from Warri, Delta State.