NBA AGC 2022
“If as a lawyer in 10 years of law practice and you win all your cases then YOU ARE A SUSPECT,”
JUSTICE EBIOWEI TOBI JCA
“Lack of Consistency in Judicial pronouncement in Nigeria; Code of Conduct to the rescue” is the theme for the session on legal practice which had resource persons both from the bench and the inner bar
The session was hosted at the 2022 edition of the NBA AGC holding in Lagos with the conference theme Bold Transitions.
Speaking to the topic, Justice Ebiowei Tobi of the Court of Appeal said that he is emboldened to make some of the pronouncement he will make, just as the theme of the 2022 conference signifies Boldness
According to him, the theme for this plenary is very contemporary as it has given the judiciary and legal profession a bad name within the public domain
“The topic tends to give the impression that there are more inconsistencies in judgements of court than consistency and I hope that was not the intention of the organisers.
“The narrative is not as so damaging as it is in the public domain; There are more consistencies in our courts than there are inconsistencies
“If you look at the scenario of inconsistency it is like a man wearing a white cloth with an oil spot on it. No one sees the white but only the stain
“Everyone is guided by social media report of cases rather than reading the judgement itself; they instead proceed to shred the judge, and the judgement
“We must stop the blame game of putting inconsistency on the judges and rather see it as a community problem that we all can work together to bring about a solution; If we do otherwise, it is not just the judiciary we bring down but the entire legal profession,” he said
Meanwhile, Justice Tobi noted that one cannot completely eradicate inconsistencies but can only stem the tide to its barest minimum
“Yes we have a problem to tackle but is the code of conduct the solution?
” If a judge sees a situation from his perspective are we going to see it as an inconsistency because other judges see it differently ?
“A court”s exercise of a discretion that does not fall in line with the decision of others cannot fall within the description of inconsistency! No doubts, there are inconsistencies but the next stage is to identify the problem and then profer solution
“I am inspired that I am not here to say what you want to hear but I am inspired by the truth,” he said
X+raying some of the reasons for inconsistencies Tobi said that a reason for Inconsistenciy is the lack of knowledge and laziness of judicial officers
He also noted that the legal profession have sadly co-towed in the whims of political officers .to do their biddings
According to him, “politicians should leave us alone to do our work to the best of our ability ,”
The Jurist noted that knowledge is good but a greater consideration for appointment of a judge should be intergrity as it is even weightier than knowledge. He urged the bench to be firm and bold in the dispensation of their duties
“The court is yours and at the end you will appear before your God to give account personally and nobody will be there to applaud or sympathise with you; A judge should not allow himself to be influenced by anyone
“That there are inconsistencies in the judgement of a court does not make a judge corrupt except you can show circumstances! but you must draw the line as a judge.and not rigmarole with politicians; they will simply use you and dump you,” he said
On the contribution of lawyers to inconsistencies Justice Tobi noted that lawyers were also complicit in facilitating the much talked about issue of inconsistency
“Not all clients have the audacity to approach a judge to influence his case; they have facilitators and these facilitators are lawyers; Yet, same lawyers are complaining that judges are corrupt when you are involved in forum shopping
i”It is my earnest plea that lawyers do their work and allow the judges do theirs,” he said
Meanwhile, Justice Tobi noted that it is most likely that a lawyer who wins Al his cases in court , influences its outcome
“If as a lawyer in 10 years of practice and you win all your cases then you are a suspect,” he said
In his concluding remarks, Tobi noted that the code of conduct is not the rescue to judicial inconsistencies as it can only regulate people who agree to be regulated by it
: Ebiowei Tobi JCA