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COUNSEL SHOULD NOT JOIN THE PUBLIC TO RAISE BIAS ON A JUDGE

Dictum

The above quoted obiter of the learned trial judge did not form part of the ratio decidendi of the judgment and is a good example of the less said, the better by way of obiter in a judgment. In any event, the current penchant of counsel to allege bias against judicial officers under every imagined pretext must be highly deprecated, condemned and discouraged. It does not enhance the confidence of the public in the judicial process and only serves to erode the rule of law. Justice is rooted in confidence. If the parties felt strongly that there was a fiduciary relationship between the Bench and any lawyer or party, it was their duty to draw attention to it BEFORE the case was heard and determined by the judge. It is obviously the antics of a bad loser to cry foul after the case had been lost.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. Godwin Ukah & Ors. V. Christopher A. Onyia & Ors. (CA/E/295/2008, 21 Jan 2016)

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NATURE OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CLIENT & COUNSEL

The nature of the legal relationship between Counsel and his client, which exists in this case between plaintiff and PW1, his Counsel, is one of an independent contractor and not one of principal and agent. (See Performing Right Society Ltd v. Mitchell &.Booker Palais de Danse Ltd (1924) 1 KB 702 at page 365 per McCardie J). It is not that of master and servant. Counsel is clearly not a servant of his client. It is accepted that where a client gives specific instruction to Counsel, such instruction must be adhered to. Where the nature of the specific instruction is in conflict with the manner of discharging his professional skills and interferes with his control of how to conduct the case of his client, Counsel is entitled to return the brief to his client. Counsel who is in law, the dominis litis is not bound to obey any such instructions. It is in the exercise of his apparent general authority in the discharge of his professional duties to his client, to have complete control how such instructions are to be carried out, and over the conduct of the case.

– Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Afegbai v. A.G Edo State (2001)

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SENIOR ADVOCATES SHOULD BE PROFESSIONAL IN ACTS

Learned Senior Advocates, being not only officers of the Court but supposedly noble and worthy knights in the temple of justice should be more silky in the administration of justice, particularly in election or pre-election disputes. I will, at any time, hate to recall the antonyms of the word “silky” in relation to the manner they conduct themselves in the Court. A baseless and frivolous categorization of the political leaders as criminals has its negative reciprocal bearing on the total image of the Nation. – Ejembi Eko JSC. APC v. Obaseki (2021)

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COUNSEL FIRST DUTY IS TO THE COURT

Learned counsel, as officers in the temple of justice have a sacred duty to assist the court to do substantial justice in any matter before it. His first duty is to the court. The second to his client. It is almost five years to the day since the ruling complained of was delivered. Precious judicial time and resources have been wasted pursuing technicalities.

– Kekere-Ekun JCA. Adewoyin v. Executive Governor (2011)

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CONVENIENCE OF COUNSEL SHOULD HAVE NO PREEMINENCE OVER THE DICTATE OF THE LAW

The convenience of counsel should have no pre-eminence over the dictate of the law. The law as enacted should be followed. I do not for one moment see any valid reason why the decision of this court in Okafor v. Nweke should be revisited. It has come to stay and legal practitioners should reframe their minds to live by it for due accountability and responsibility on their part and for the due protection of our profession.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. FBN v. Maiwada (2012) – SC.269/2005

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COUNSEL (APPEARING FOR HIMSELF) WILL HAVE HIS MISTAKES VISITED ON HIM

In Kotoye v Saraki 1995 NWLR (Pt.395) 256, in circumstances where the party (who is also a legal practitioner) took a decision not to appeal. Uwais J.S.C (as he then was) at Pages 7 and 8 said: “Any act of gambling involves risk taking and no gambler can claim not to be aware of that. When a counsel makes a mistake, such mistake or its consequence should not, in general, be visited on his client who, in most cases is a layman. Can the defendant/applicant who has been or is a legal practitioner be such a client? I certainly think not. There is therefore, no good reason given for the delay bringing this application.”

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APPEAL TO SET ASIDE COST AWARDED AGAINST COUNSEL SHOULD PROVIDE TENABLE REASON

Before I round off, learned senior counsel for the Appellant has urged this court to set aside the costs of #5 million awarded against J.O. Olotu, Esq, counsel who settled the Appellant’s brief at the lower court. Without belabouring the point, let me state clearly that the Appellant has not placed before this court, any tenable reason or argument why the lower court’s order as to costs should be set aside or interfered with. Hence, the Appellant’s prayer in that regard is refused.

— A. Jauro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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