By John Austin Unachukwu
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), and human rights activist, Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN, yesterday in Lagos clarified his position on why he condemned the ongoing practice of lawyers holding media trials and court sessions to discuss President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Chiago State University Certificate saga, on television screens, a matter that is already pending before the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Dr. Agbakoba had on Monday, berated lawyers for overheating the polity over this issue of President Bola Tinubu’s Chicago State University Certificate saga, Atiku Abubaka’s US court judgement and called on NBA President, Y.C. Maikyau SAN, to take steps to sanction the lawyers who now turn television/ media houses into Courts of Law.
“Let us allow the Supreme Court of Nigeria to make a judicial pronouncement which is binding on us all. This public nonsense must stop” Agbakoba stated
However, in a telephone interview with The Creed Publications yesterday, Dr. Agbakoba maintained that lawyers should stop going to television stations to discuss legal issues as if they were in Court, especially when such matters are pending before Courts of competent jurisdiction. He said: My statement is directed to lawyers only and not the general public, public commentators, public affairs analyst and/ or political parties
I am completely against lawyers turning the public space to commentaries on cases
“When I criticized the Supreme Court, it was based on a decided case at which point comments were permitted, but not when cases are pending before the courts.
“It is unethical for lawyers to do cases on television screens as many of them grant press interviews after court sessions fully robbed, this is wrong.
When reminded that this practice of discussing pending cases exists in the United States of America and other foreign jurisdictions.
Agbakoba said: “First, US rules don’t apply here. It is the English comment on cases of public interest in England that apply here.
“And in doing this, you follow two rules, first comments on pending cases are not allowed under the ancient subjudice rule.
Secondly, comments no matter how rigorous are allowed once cases are decided.
There is a remarkable difference between the US and UK rules on public discussion of ongoing cases
“But here, the NBA has a standing rule that we can’t speak to media on pending cases, this directive is old, that is my position” Agbakoba said.
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