Agabi Explains Defence of Alleged Criminals by Lawyers

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Kanu Agabi

Alex Enumah in Abuja

A former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Chief (SAN), wednesday explained why lawyers in the country defend suspects charged with corruption and other crimes.

Agabi gave the explanation at the inauguration of Mahmud and Co Law Office in Abuja.

The former AGF explained that lawyers, by their professional duties, are bound to defend suspects even those they believe are guilty of the crimes they are charged with.

According to him, “People cannot understand why we defend crime or criminals. People wonder whether we serve the true ends of justice when we successfully defend those accused of criminal offences.

“What are we to do when called upon to defend those who are stigmatised as corrupt or who have come under suspicion and charged to court?

“Because the constitution presumes all accused persons to be innocent until proven guilty, we are not allowed to condemn them until a court of competent jurisdiction has done so.

“We are not Judges. We are lawyers; and what a dreadful day for the country if we were to take upon ourselves to condemn people and to refuse to defend them on the ground of our conviction that they are guilty even before they are tried.

Agabi, however, said it was disheartening that lawyers had come under justifiable suspicion of aiding and facilitating the corruption that now threatened the very foundation of the country. “The question that every lawyer must ask himself now ‘is whether he or she is using the knowledge for the benefit of the country and his fellow citizens’.

“If we are not able to use our knowledge and learning for the benefit of the country and fellow citizens, then we should give up our books and take to other professions,” he said.

President of the National Industrial Court (NIC), Justice Benedict Kanyip, who represented the CJN, Justice Tanko Muhammad, commended Mahmud Magaji (SAN) for his effort, describing the law office as “fantastic.”

In his remark, Magaji said the ultramodern chamber was part of his contribution to the law practice in the country.

He said he was motivated by first-class chambers in the United Kingdom, the United States among others, and decided to replicate same in Abuja.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria paid tribute to Ahmed Raji (SAN), who motivated him to have a chamber of his
own.