‘They are corrupt, i am not corrupt, but the system is corrupt’

Ogunsakin Mustapha
6 Min Read
Bayo Akinlade, NLS Publicity Secretary

I must say that it was so exciting and joyous listening to very senior members of the Bar discuss ethics within the Profession, the menace of corruption and how it has affected our justice delivery Sector.

On October 5, 2023, the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) hosted a webinar on the topic: ‘Ethics and Professionalism in the Practice of Law”, with a special focus on  ‘Professional Relationship amongst Lawyers’. Now this topic was nowhere as interesting as those who spoke on the subject.

Imagine, where would you see a combo of Chief O.C.J Okocha, OFR, SAN, Mrs. Funke Adekoya, SAN and Chief J.K Gadzama, SAN discuss issues around the legal profession and the session moderated by a 2nd generation legal genius in the person of Mr. Osaro Eghobamien, SAN? For me, a self proclaimed anti corruption activist within the judiciary, this was simply the webinar of my dreams.

So enough of my excitement and jumping happily around like a puppy with a juicy bone, let me get down to reviewing the webinar outcomes.

After the speakers had identified the teething problems around our lack of professionalism in the profession, they all agreed that we needed to change our attitudes, be self regulated in our conduct and we should shun corrupt practices.

It was also mooted that perhaps we may need external independent bodies to regulate the profession as well as review our laws to ensure that disciplinary mechanisms were faster and less complex.

While I agree with the outcomes of the webinar in terms of possible solutions, I would like to note that solutions based on requiring some other entity or group to do something is far fetched so let me suggest to BOSAN the following:

  • BOSAN members including Senior Lawyers who are interested in a corrupt free Judiciary, Ethics and Professionalism should start walking the talk.

This is simple really! What stops a senior advocate who is already in court from taking a few minutes out; to visit the Court Registry and ask the staff how things are going, ask the lawyers in the registry if they are getting the services they require and if those services are rendered free of requests for a bribe.

  • Imagine Mrs. Funke Adekoya SAN, paying a surprise visit to the ACRs or the DCRs of a Court she is in and asking questions about the condition of the Court or taking a stroll around the Court monitoring the activities of lawyers and correcting any abnormalities around dressing, decorum and acts that tend to corrupt the court staff.
  • Imagine a situation where all members of the Disciplinary Committees at the National or Branch levels took time out to observe behaviours in the court premises and monitor acts of corruption and corrected same if it happens in their presence.
  • Imagine that the judges and their staff know that they are being watched but don’t know by whom.
  • Imagine the impact in behavioural changes if lawyers know they are being watched and that their conduct is being recorded.
  • A lawyer who wants to give a bribe at the registry will think twice because he doesn’t know who the lawyer standing next to him may be.
  • What are our Bar leaders holding titles for if they are totally useless in carrying out the functions of these offices.?
  • I can’t comprehend that a member of the LPPC or LPDC will be in court or at a function and won’t take time out to look out for bad behaviour..

I have had cause to challenge many lawyers attempting to bribe a court staff and publicly opposed even some senior lawyers who try to justify offering bribes… I take no prisoners when it comes to acts of corruption and I have no patience for bad conduct or bad dressing.

Let me clarify, this is not a job for a few people or for our leaders alone, it is the responsibility of all lawyers.

So when you come out to do your court business, be sure someone will be watching and please if you are being reported or chastised don’t blame it on witches from your village or on bad belle by your colleagues, no no no no… you have yourself to blame.

We must not tolerate a corrupt colleague, one person should not come and destroy this profession for the rest of us.

We met this profession here and we will leave it for generations to come.

Bayo Akinlade Esq is the convener of Fight Against Corruption in the Judiciary. (To be part of the movement WhatsApp a request to 08065172866)

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