By Chikodi Okeorji.
It is really worrisome and disturbing the rate and manner in which many Judges treat lawyers with so much disrespect, disdain and disgust. It is more worrisome that nobody seem to be discussing it.
Lawyers are always ready and out to protect/defend Judges and act in their best interest. Judges simply do otherwise when it is the lawyers that need protection.
Aside the Justices of the Supreme Court that are ever ready to cut lawyers some slack, many Justices of the Court of Appeal, High Courts (and equivalent), even Magistrates, are in the habit of demeaning lawyers – always looking for the slightest opportunity to lash out on, and derogate lawyers, so much so an independent bystander will think there is a competition among them. You will see a Judge who just got elevated to the Bench from the Bar, suddenly feels he’s god and behaves as if he/she should be worshipped by immediate past colleagues.
From keeping lawyers waiting for hours long past court resumption time with neither apologies nor remorse; to cancelling/calling of scheduled proceedings without notice and with little or no considerations (now the order of the day); the examples are just endless. “My Lord will not be sitting, all Counsel should take date” is now the daily mantra across the nation’s Courts. No exaggerations, a lawyer can have 3 cases lined up in different Courts on all the days of the week and the same story will be told in each of the matters at the various Courts.
Judges like Justice Bayo-Ojo, when she was at the FCT High Court, and some others (yes, we have to start calling out names) come to Court sittings conducting themselves as though their sole motive is to insult, quarel with lawyers and call them unprintable names at the slightest, I mean slightest ‘provocation’. Yet, nobody ever does anything about these incidents.
Until the NBA really gets involved in the appointment of Judges – insisting that only competent, intelligent, morally resolute and fine lawyers are appointed to the Bench, legal practice, the legal profession, and the administration of justice in Nigeria will continue to be huge joke. No body seem to care. I have never seen a group of professionals that never speak up on real issues affecting them.
Talking about incompetence; the delays which have bedeviled justice dispensation is chiefly caused by incompetence, lack of policy and willpower.
In the end, we would all have succeeded in de-marketing the once noble profession and justice system.
If we will ever recover from these ruins, the time for action is now.
Written By Chikodi Okeorji.