Former Secretary General of the Nigerian Bar Association and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Dele Adesina, has called on Nigerian lawyers to be mindful of their comments about Nigeria’s judiciary. He said that when lawyers engage in open and insensitive criticism of the Judiciary, it reinforces negative public perception of the sector. Such negative perceptions, he noted, by extension also affects the public perception of even the lawyer and the legal profession.
Speaking at Calabar on Thursday January 30, 2020 during an interactive session with members of the International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, Calabar branch. Adesina cautioned on the over generalisation and charaterisation of all judges as corrupt. He noted that Nigeria’s Judiciary still has an overwhelming majority of incorruptible, respectable and knowledgeable judges and Justices.
“The name you give your child is the name others will call him or her. If we as lawyers say in private and public glare that the Judiciary is corrupt, others will see our judiciary as corrupt. If we fail to change the perception that the judiciary is corrupt, then the nation will suffer for it in the long run”, he said.
The Senior Advocate urged Nigerian lawyers to always engage in self appraisal, noting that such self introspection would help curb some excesses and ills sometimes noticed in the country’s legal system.
Adesina said: “The greatest thing you can do for yourself is self-appraisal. Nigerian lawyers need to assess themselves on a regular basis, initiate and execute ideas that would curtail the inadequate responsiveness in our judicial system. In civilised climes, a lawyer who does not respect the ethics of the Profession is penalised regardless of his or her standing in the society.”
He called for effective collaboration between FIDA and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for a functional and effective justice system. “Nobody can build your house for you. A stranger cannot build your house. Only you can. It is time for ua to accept responsibility to build our nation based on equity, justice and the rule of law”, he said.
Responding, the Chairperson of FIDA, Mrs Ann Awah thanked Mr. Adesina for the visit. She said FIDA has been in the forefront of the fight against domestic violence, police brutality against women children and pledged to continue to contribute to the wellbeing of Nigerians.
Other members raised the issue of police brutality against lawyers. They lamented that police no longer have respect for lawyers. They called on the NBA to be more proactive in the defence of lawyers against such brutality from the police and other security agencies in the line of their duties.