Senior lawyer and businessman, Dr. Wale Babalakin, has canvassed for an internal cleansing of the judiciary. Â
He spoke at the presentation of a book: â€˜New Developments in Law and Practice in Nigeria,â€™ written in honour of Mr. Dele Adesina, a former Secretary-General of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Â to mark his 35th year as a lawyer and Â the 25th anniversary of his law firm. It is also to mark his 10th year as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
Â Babalakin said: â€œThe legal profession must heal itself. We canâ€™t come here and continue to say that we are not happy about the profession, when weâ€™ve not actively participated in changing the course of the profession. The profession today, sadly, is incongruous. I see senior lawyers who are blessed but their audience is the court. It is very anomalous to have criteria that make it more beautiful to become a Senior Advocate of Nigeria than to be a High Court judge. We senior advocates go to the High Court judges to make our cases. If the audience is not better than you, you are wasting your time.
â€œSecondly, institutionalisation must happen in the Judiciary. It must happen if we are going to protect justice. I was in court on Tuesday. We started a trial and a senior lawyer stood up and told the court that although the case was for the next three days, he would not be able to come on the last day because he was going for a social event. I was alarmed that he could stand up and tell the court this when the dates had been agreed, that he was otherwise engaged. Of course, the court ignored him but I was told by my colleague that some courts would have yielded to him. Now that wouldnâ€™t have happened if he had a relatively big firm. But since he was able to continue, he must have trained enough people, who could step into his shoes and continue. If he hadnâ€™t done that, then heâ€™s not a successful lawyer.
â€œMany of us have held high political offices. I have seen lawyers take actions that would have shocked even the most barbaric people. Iâ€™ve seen lawyers discountenance the rule of law simply to achieve a temporary advantage. How did this happen? We created deliberately or inadvertently a profession that is not clearly merit-driven and is anchored on a high point of mediocrity. I hope this will change very quickly.
â€œI am happy that the lawyers have been told how challenging their profession is. Our education system requires a substantial surgical operation, if we donâ€™t want it to be comatose.â€
Babalakin congratulated Adesina on his achievements in the legal profession and urged other senior lawyers to strengthen the rule of law