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CJN: Nigeria Needs Good Lawyers To Resist Tyranny

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Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad

The Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Tanko Muhammad, has said there was a need for more cerebral lawyers to emerge in Nigeria in order to resist tyranny and expand the frontiers of jurisprudence in the country, The Punch reports.

Tanko who.said this on Wednesday added that with more good lawyers, the fundamental issues of the rule of law and basic human rights would be promoted and defended at all levels of society.

Punch reports that the CJN, represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Helen Moronkeji Ogunwumiju, said this in Abuja during the public presentation of a book, ‘Two Decades of Forensic Advocacy at the Inner Bar: A Festschrift in Honour of Yusuf Ali (SAN)’.

The book was edited by Prof. Wahab Egbewole (SAN); Kehinde Kolawole Eleja (SAN) and Ayo Olanrewaju.

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The programme attracted many leading lights in the legal profession, including the Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University, Prof. Olarenwaju Fagbohun (SAN), a former Pro-Chancellor, University of Lagos, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN); President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olumide Akpata, and Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).

Ogunwumiju said, “As judges, when you read some briefs, you are like ‘Oh, my God!’ because you are aware of the kind of research that was involved in ensuring that justice is done, considering the facts and all the available laws.

“So, when briefs are written with a view to espousing the law, and are ingeniously written that you step back mentally and say ‘Wow, this is good. This person has thought things through,’ that is the kind of briefs that usually emanate from the chambers of Yusuf Ali (SAN). But that is not to say I always agree (with his assertions). But I always admire the level of work he puts into his briefs.

“When good briefs are read and judgments are written, they espouse the law and expand the frontiers of jurisprudence in a matter. It is a thing of inspiration to the legal profession in Nigeria. For tyranny to succeed, you must first eliminate good lawyers.”

In his remarks, Babalakin said legal profession in Nigeria was under threat and could only be saved if lawyers decided to always speak the truth, no matter who was involved.

Meanwhile, the NBA President, Akpata, solicited the support of the senior advocates to move the NBA forward

Speaking on the motivation to compile the book, Egbewole said, “The whole idea was to examine the honouree through the cases he had handled as an advocate.

“This project was informed by our perception of the honouree as a person whose works must be showcased for the upcoming generations to learn and be inspired from.”

The Oba of Gbomina Ekiti Kingdom in Kwara State, Oba Rufus Ajayi Ogidi Olu, described Ali as one of the few good lawyers fit to mentor the young ones.

He said, “Though a first class graduate of Law from UNILAG, I learned from Yusuf Ali (SAN), before I mounted the throne of my forefathers. He is an expert. He is good, not only in knowledge, but also in character and in his religion.”

Ali, in his remarks, made a case for respect for the rule of law in the country.

He said, “What turns around comes around; those who are in power today will not be there tomorrow; those who were there yesterday have left; it is a lesson to all of us, life is too transient.”

He noted that the book covered areas such as constitutional law, banking, commerce, land cases, chieftaincy and others.

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