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Legal Profession Shares No Boundary With Darkness — J. S. Okutepa, SAN Calls For Sanitization Of The Profession

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Jibrin Samuel Okutepa, has said that he is a proud member of the legal profession but unfortunately the nobility of the same profession has been destroyed.

In a statement made available to The Lawyer, Okutepa said no more transparency and accountability in the profession and some senior lawyers are being bax examples to junior lawyers.

He said, “The profession that God blessed me to be a member of is the legal profession. I am a proud member of that noble profession. It is a profession of considerable antiquity with defined code of ethics and etiquettes. It is a profession of light.

“The legal profession is a profession that shares no boundaries with darkness and it should not and ought not to be seen in and around darkness. It is should be practiced with purity of conscience and thoughts and by the behavioral ethical standards of the profession nothing should be done or seen to be done by any members of the profession to bring the profession into total odium and disrepute.

“The purity of the profession is seen in the well defined code of conduct that spells out what a lawyer ought not to do and what he or she ought to. The legal practitioners Act gives power to the legal practitioners Disciplinary Committee LPDC of the Body of Benchers to discipline erring members of the profession.

“But like anything in Nigeria there is lack of or near total absence of the rule of law and accountability in the legal profession. We have decided to accept as normal most absurd abnormalities. We now have well dressed mode of jankara practice that appears to cut across board in legal practice in Nigeria. Look at the flagrant Ex-parte orders and motions filed by lawyers and entertained by judges.

“Beginning from our code of dressing to outright dishonest and infamous conduct in the professional respect some lawyers are just simply thou shall not touch and not sanctioned. Those who have been heavily indicted by persons and group of persons and were brought before LPDC, tried and sanctioned are in most cases set free on appeal on technicalities that did not examine the merit of the allegations of infamous conduct in professional respects brought against them.

“On daily basis you see senior lawyers showing junior lawyers bad examples and the junior lawyers behaving in total disregard of the rules of professional conduct. Check the hair of most of our female colleagues and you wouldn’t know the difference between some of them and street ladies of lowly esteem.

“The legal profession in Nigeria is what it is now because of whom we are as a people. In the climes where we inherited this profession from many legal practitioners in Nigeria will never get admitted to the Bar not to talk of getting licensed to practice law.

“We have destroyed the nobility and dignity of the Legal profession. On daily basis you either see or you hear one absurdities of misconduct of monumental dimensions or the other and nothing happens to those involved.

“There is total lack of sanctions and accountability in the legal profession both at the Bar and on the Bench.
I have said before and I say it here again that the legal profession in Nigeria is being destroyed by the members of the profession and nobody is prepared to deal with those who are destroying the profession on daily basis.”

The learned silk further laments that those who are supposed to do what is right are not ready because no more conscience to prosecute professional misconduct because they themselves have no clean hands.

He further expressed concern about the slow pace of justice delivery in Nigeria. According to him, nobody takes the legal profession serious again because of what bad eggs have caused the profession to look like.

Okutepa therefore called for fight against corruption that has infiltrated the profession and the need for reorganization of the profession so that those with skeletons in their cup Bord should not lead the profession.

“Those who have the duties to do what is right are not ready to do so because they cannot in clear conscience prosecute those who commit infractions against the ethics of the legal profession. Yes they cannot because he who comes to seat of equity must himself or herself be clean. The legal profession needs to thoroughly purges itself of bad eggs if we must earn the deserved respects of members of the general public.

“The slow pace of justice delivery system and the jurisprudential antics of lawyers routed in injustice to pollute the stream of justice must be exposed and dealt with. Lawyers and judges or justices whose antecedents have brought justice to its knees in Nigeria must be investigated and published. We must also check the backgrounds and characters of the would be lawyers admitted to the Nigerian Law School.

“Lecturers in our universities and campuses of our law school must themselves show and teach the students good moral and character and must not exhibit conduct and character that demean the nobility of the legal profession. The foundation of the legal profession is completely almost being destroyed by the kind of things some lawyers and judges do in Nigeria. There are no consequences and there must be consequences for deviant behaviors if we hope to restore the legal profession to the deserved lost glory.

“Nobody take the legal profession and indeed lawyers and judges serious again in Nigeria because of what the bad eggs amongst us have caused the profession to look like. Many litigants and business people no longer believe that you can get justice in Nigeria unless you are highly connected or meet lawyers who can reach out.

“We cannot be tolerating intolerable behaviors and expect Nigeria to develop. All over the world the legal profession is the leading profession of development and fighter for sustainable democracy. But in Nigeria some members of the Bar and Bench have constantly conspired to destroy the profession to the prejudices of justice and economic development of this nation.

“We must all come together to fight the cancerous cankerworms of corruption and pollution of the purity of justice in Nigeria. International community does not take us serious anymore. They see Nigerian lawyers and legal profession as crooked and corruption infested and are afraid of doing business in Nigeria. We must re-organize the legal profession and allow those who have no skeletons in their cupboards to lead the profession.

“It cannot be business as usual. Enough of these shenanigans in the legal profession in Nigeria. There must be accountability and Nigerian lawyers must not be treated as if they above the law of the land. There must be no sacred cows.” Okutepa said

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