I was going to wait till later before I write this but something positive is happening that would just not let me take my fingers away from the keyboard. Writers after writers have said it, Michael Oluwagbemi said it and now that Okey Ndibe has lend his voice to it. I think the fire should be kept burning.
A man who does not know but thinks he knows is a very fatal danger to the society and when it was said that a country deserves the kind of leadership it has most times due to the complacency of its people, I agree whole heartedly.
Before I read Ndibe’s piece this morning, I had been thinking of asking us all to look at ourselves and see what we are doing or not doing as a result of which few people are holding our country to ransom. I expressed that same sentiment in criticizing the critics. In the Guardian online today Wale Adebayo posed a question, “where have all our activists gone?” The question is do we have activists? Winfrey Oprah went to South Africa to open a school; some celebrities went with her, a worthy course, while we are busy bringing celebrities to Nigeria just to perform.
Nigeria’s problems are multifaceted, the fact that we have an educated class that cannot discern right from wrong is disheartening and I don’t see any way forward when the so called elite in our society are not capable of critical thinking.
Like Fela said in his song, “let us face ourselves for Africa” I adopt that and reword it to “let the educated class face itself”, and in the spirit of the moment I will like to face men and women of my profession, the legal profession.
There was a play when I was in Nigeria with the title of this piece. I do not mean it literarily. What I think needs to be done is to put lawyers in check and cut their wings. I know as a fact that here in the United States, my Bar Association, Washington State Bar Association, has ways and means of dealing with lawyers who conduct themselves in a manner that is capable of being a clog in the wheel of justice, Dallas bar Association has laudable plans and projects just for the poor in order to bring justice to all while Nigerian lawyers would engage in acts unbecoming of a lawyer and still be hailed.
I am one of the ardent believers in sanctions where one offends the law or procedure. The bulk of the problems in Nigeria are caused by lawyers and Wale Adebayo need not wonder because most of the so called activists, some of them lawyers, have no interest in the poor or what happens to them, that is just a way of advertising their trade since the law does not allow formal advertisements and the others were in it just for their own pockets. That is not to say all activists fight for people’s right just for their own pockets, we have the likes of Pa Imodu who died fighting leaving no fat bank account in his estate when he died.
I know as a fact that lawyers advise their clients sometimes to disobey court orders and then attempt to shield those clients from justice by bringing all sorts of unnecessary and frivolous motions, something you can’t do in the United States because you might be called upon to defend it.
We have witnessed lawyers interpret the law in a manner that makes us wonder if our educational system is not indeed suspect, or how do you explain a situation whereby the chief legal officer of the country contended that until a decision of the court of appeal is upheld by the supreme court it cannot be given effect to when he knows or ought to know that appeal does not operate as a stay. If you have an appeal and you want to keep the status quo that is the job of your lawyer not that of the Attorney general. In the absence of a contrary order or an order enjoining parties to keep the status quo, a court order, even if it’s that of a customary court should not be ridiculed and it should not go in vain, that is the law. But then you have the Chief of Police, who is also said to be a lawyer referring to their lordships’ order as that of a toothless bulldog.
Most of the judges swearing in people when they know or ought to know that laid down procedures were not followed were once lawyers and what we saw was the kind of attitude that they have been exhibiting from their time as lawyers. I understand the judicial commission sanctioned some judges who were involved in one political imbroglio or the other but that is not enough.
We need a Nigerian Bar Association that is vibrant and responsible and that will keep lawyers in line because knowing the law and using it negatively is a very dangerous trend that ought to be checked. Rule of law without lawyers’ accountability is nothing. We need a Nigerian Bar Association that will promote the rule of law not just in words but in deeds especially among its members. We need a Bar Association that is truly and honestly interested in the people and in justice for all. When that is done then the lawyers will have the moral and legal right to point fingers at others, until that is done I say “First, Kill The lawyers” and see what a just society we will have without rogues and crooks in wigs and gowns.