By Abubakar D. Sani, Esq.
A seemingly isolated incident – Make that unprecedent: Something completely unheard of – Is fast becoming the norm Lawyers – presumed exemplars of decorum; Going at each other – literally; Not intellectually or metaphorically; But, physically – in open court The first incident, in Kano, three years ago – Shocked everyone to their marrows; We thought it would be the last; But, alas, worse was to come – just around the corner The punishment handed down on that occasion – A year’s suspension from legal practice – Seems, in retrospect, to have been soft; As, it apparently merely encouraged such infamy This is because of news from the Jewel of the Savannah; That is, Gombe State, to the uninitiated; Of another (this time, more serious) flare-up between counsel; By name, Messrs. M.K. Gurumyen and John Yuwa In a cruel twist of fate – Their face-off coincided with a world-title boxing match – Between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua; Which, ironically, by comparison, turned out to be very tame Because, whilst the latter went the distance (With Joshua losing, honourably, on points) – That of counsel was short and sharp; It was also one-sided and bloody – With Mr. Yuwa bearing the brunt of it; As amply borne out by pictures making the rounds; His wounds were so bad, they needed stitches – To his prized professional assets: his jaw and his mouth His adversary – Mr. Gurumyen – quickly emerged as the villain; Given his reported snubbing of the local Bar’s peace overtures; And his apparent predisposition to physical aggression; Vide his own Facebook post of a fictional Death Certificate All of this points to an emerging pattern – Of unwholesome and untoward behavior – Which is but symptomatic of a deep-rooted rot: The presence of underserving members at the Bar Which, in turn, calls into question; The screening and filtration process – For determining admission to the profession Because, as it is, the situation is all but a mess As we are daily inundated with stories – Of counsel involved in one malfeasance or the other; From fabricating entire court proceedings to doctoring court orders; While yet others seem to revel in publicly castigating judges The latter is particularly galling; As the victims are sworn to silence; Forced to look on while they are torn to pieces – By people who are supposed to protect them Whatever happened to our once Noble Profession? Where did we loose our way? Is the situation beyond redemption? Have we blown our own case? Granted that we are but part of a larger society – And, therefore, cannot be immune from it’s decay; However, we certainly ought to be above the fray – And be seen to epitomize restraint, civility and decency Not for us the ways of the hoi-polloi; Or anything pedestrian, inappropriate or unbecoming; No, because, given our peculiar calling – Excellence ought to be our pride and joy It is unfortunate that our proud banner; Has been stained virtually beyond recognition; But we won’t give up – no, we won’t surrender; We shall, jointly, reclaim it for generations unborn The solution is there for all to see; Do we have the courage to implement it?; What is needed are root-and-branch reforms; A core part of which are sanctions for infractions The will to apply the rules – without fear or favour; No more ‘light sentences’ or ‘soft-landings’; ‘Slaps-on-the-wrists’ or ‘tempering justice with mercy’; We should crack the whip, regardless of whose ox is gored Specifically, henceforth, whoever engages in fisticuffs – Should be shoved out of the profession; Peremptorily, but fairly – targeting the aggressor; The message should be: ‘self-control, at all costs’ So that, going forward, physically-combative counsel – Should know that it would cost them their practice license; And, others: that it will no longer be business as usual; The penalties should be stiffer and more severe; So, here is calling on the Attorney-General of the Federation; By virtue of his position under the law – He is the Leader of the Bar; And, therefore, its Guardian – This should be your defining moment; Will it make or break your legacy? Summon an Emergency NBA Conference Or, declare a Bar-wide State of Emergency The goal would be to save the Bar; Sanitize, re-purpose and reposition it; With the objective of restoring its lost glory; The days of the B.A. Ibironkes and Kehinde Sofolas When professional discipline and etiquette – Were strictly enforced and not just de rigueur; When lawyers were truly learned and gentlemen And litigation was decided on superior arguments – not physical prowess
Abubakar D. Sani, Esq.
26th September, 2021
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