Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
Worried by the spate of conflicting orders emanating from various divisions of the Federal High Court as well as the Federal Capital Territory High Court on the leadership crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the Society for Global Justice and Equity Promotion has called on the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), to caution lawyers against filing multiplicity of suits on same issues.
Addressing judiciary correspondents in Abuja, the group asked the NBA to call to order, lawyers who were making a mockery of the judicial system by filing multiple suits on the same subject matter for the same people at courts of coordinate jurisdiction.
The group’s Deputy National Coordinator, Mr. Jolayemi Adekunle who addressed journalists in Abuja named Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja divisions of the Federal High Court where conflicting judgments and orders had emanated on same issues.
Adekunle said that from their findings, lawyers could not be absolved from the blame on the conflicting judgments because they were the ones who presented different facts to courts on the same issue to confuse Judges.
“We have found that some lawyers engaged in the unwholesome practice of arranging someone loyal to their clients to appear as a representative of the adverse party in order to mislead the courts into thinking that the proper adverse party has been served.
“We are calling on the NBA President Malam Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud SAN to summon a meeting of the General Council of the Bar to address these issues raised by this unwholesome practice.
“In the main, the NBA should encourage lawyers to advise their clients properly and avoid a situation where they would allow politicians to manipulate the courts for their selfish end.
“The politicians don’t have much to lose if the judiciary is destroyed but the lawyers stand to lose everything including their means of livelihood.”
The group expressed concern over the situation where high court judges give multiple and conflicting orders and judgments on the same issues and parties.
The group said that, apart from the fact that the scenario subjected the court to ridicule it was also capable of eroding public confidence in the judiciary.
We recall the statement of the Hon Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister for Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN to the Nigerian Bar Association’s National Conference in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The minister said: “Multiplicity of counter judgment and orders by courts of coordinate jurisdiction on the same subject matter by the same parties does not encourage the desired confidence building in the judicial process.”
The group therefore urged the new leadership of the NBA to ensure strict compliance with the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession.
It drew the attention of the NBA to the following rules:
Rule 1(a) which provides thus: “It is the duty of the lawyer to maintain towards the Court respectful attitude, not for the sake of the temporary incumbent of the judicial office, but for the maintenance of its supreme importance. Judges, not being wholly free to defend themselves, are peculiarly entitled to receive the support of the Bar against unjust criticism and clamour. ”
Rule 4(e) provides: “A member of the Bar must not promote a case which to his knowledge is false, nor should he file a pleading or other document which, he knows to be false in whole or in part, or which is intended to delay the trial.”
The group said: “When lawyers advise their clients properly, the sacred institution of judiciary is protected and the public confidence of the judiciary is strengthened.