The law: When the cost of the brief crushes the conscience of the counsel-Bala Ibrahim
According to lawyers, a counsel or a counsellor is a person who gives advice on various issues, particularly in legal matters. Lawyers and counsellors are therefore employed to help in finding the best way to resolve a dispute or prevent one from occurring. And many a time, they help in that direction.
However, like in every profession, the place of conscience is subjectively based on the personal feelings and opinion of the individual. What may be morally right to one person may be viewed wrong by another. And such behavioural dichotomy is abound among lawyers.
Depending on the cost of the brief, some lawyers tend to mortgage their conscience, by surrendering the concept of correctness to the casual cajole of cash. Such etiquette is not only capable of crushing the creed, but injuring the persuasion and principal purpose of the legal practice. Yes, lawyers must be seen as the companions of conscience.
Last week, Monday, 07/02, my Governor, H.E. Dr.Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, invited me to his lodge at Asokoro, Abuja, where we had a lengthy frank discussion on a number of issues, that climaxed with the terrible death of five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar. I told the governor that, all eyes are on Kano now, not because of the turbulent political situation, but because of Hanifa.
Much as the state is determined to get justice done, if care is not taken, some unscrupulous lawyers may come under the common excuse of Human Rights, to either frustrate the trial, or make a mess of the entire process, by cajoling the suspect to change his position.
The governor said, “on this particular issue of Hanifa, justice must not only be done, but must be seen to be done. I would do everything humanly possible, including keeping track of the legal process, to ensure that no one frustrates the trial. And whatever is the outcome of the trial, I would hasten to assent, even if its a capital punishment”. I said thank you. But my instincts were telling me to expect surprises.
Lo and behold, yesterday Monday, 14/02/2022, exactly a week after my meeting with His Excellency, at the continuation of the trial of the principal suspects of the murder of the little Hanifa, Abdulmalik Tanko and his partner in crime Hashimu, who had both earlier confessed to the police, of committing the murder, made a change of mind, by denying in court the allegations that the little girl was poisoned and buried in the school by them.
My mind was quick to say, aha!, the devilish lawyers have come and whispered in the ears of the accused, and this may be the beginning of frustrating the case, and ultimately the end of the arrival of the justice the public and his Excellency are looking forward to. They may be sent as surrogates, to assist in saving those who severed the life of the little girl. This is wickedness.
Yes, lawyers say, when justice is delayed, justice is denied. And from the body language of the accused yesterday, unless there is a special intervention by people of conscience, the journey to get justice for Hanifa may not be achieved, or could take longer than expected.
I know once some unconscientious lawyers come into the case, honesty and diligence would be thrown to the dogs, depending on the cost of the brief. They would work at cross purpose with common sense and conscience, without thinking about what is right, what is fair, or even appropriate. All they are after is what they would get.
As reported by one agency, “The main suspect in the murder of five-year-old Hanifa Abubakar in Kano, Abdulmalik Tanko has denied killing the girl and pleaded not guilty. Tanko, accused of abducting and killing Hanifa, has denied the allegations levelled against him and two others in court during the trial on Monday”.
I have always been an advocate for the formation of Human Wrongs unions or organizations, to counter or confront the excesses of the so called Human rights unions, some of whom are only doing it in deceit, as double-dealers working for selfish aggrandisement.
Yes, the accused has a right as a human being, but what about the victim? Is he or she not human? What does one stand to gain morally, by cajoling the accused to deny his confession, simply because you want to drag the argument in court.
I think the time has arrived, particularly with this case of late little Hanifa, for the public to rise to the occasion, and mobilize very well, to checkmate the nonsense of some irresponsible lawyers and their cohorts, who are fast becoming an encumbrance or impediment in the discharge of speedy justice in Nigeria.
It is sad that in inconsideration for cash, the conscience of some counsels is crushed, such that they become ready to play the clog, without regards to the consequences.
Ibrahim, a media advisor writes from Abuja