Fri. Sep 29th, 2023

“Let’s Adopt A Civilised Way Of Protesting Supreme Court Judgments”

“Let’s Adopt A Civilised Way Of Protesting Supreme Court Judgments”,  By Johnson Odion Esezoobo Esq

Dear colleagues, I have been watching with interest how some colleagues have been reacting to the Supreme Court decision in the hijab suit. To say the least, it is ridiculing the Court and bringing down its integrity. If the Supreme Court delivers a judgment that is considered out of tune with our national ideal, or is likely to create fresh problems in our society such as telling on our national unity, peace or security, there are ways by which it can be protested I consider more preferable than having to turn our Courts to theatres of drama where we wear apparels that we know are not official. In this video, the exchange between the counsel and the Magistrate does not redound to the honour that is the Court’s from which the legal profession draws its respect.

To stand up in Court against its protest against improper dressing and say It is my fundamental right, Supreme Court has said so, to dress anyhow, is most inappropriate.  The Supreme Court did not say so, and we cannot give our own interpretation to that judgment as allowing lawlessness. 

In any event, where has legalism taken us in this Country? For example, in what way does the wearing of an apparel the right to which (the wearing), is restricted to the profession, and regulated by rules and regulations of that profession become a fundamental right? 

The qualification for dressing in the attire derives from our call to Bar as against a fundamental right that derives from being a human being and citizen of Nigeria. We merely bring ourselves to ridicule when we resort to strange process of protesting what we consider to be wrong. I have had to propose in the past that the NBA should establish a special process by which the office of the Attorney General can be engaged by bringing matters of this nature to his attention with observations that would inspire a process of review by the court on the ground of public interest.

Similarly, I have proposed in the past that the Attorney-General or the NBA should engage and develop the case stated  procedure by which the apex Court can be invited to make pronouncements on matters of public interest without the the usual antagonism that attends proceedings in  common form actions in Court. For example, matters of public interest such as tenure elongation of the Inspector-General of Police the Accountant-General etc by the President, where the legality has been challenged in Court might have received different treatment were they done through the case stated procedure. 

I recall that after the Supreme Court decision in the famous President Obasanjo’s seizure of the Lagos State Local Government Councils’ statutory allocation in 2004, I wrote a letter to the CJN, the Attorney-General of the Federation as well as to the Lagos State Attorney-General, pointing out the grave error in the judgment. I pointed out that the judgment was a bad commentary on our case law and should be reviewed and erased from our case law. When none of the three parties responded, I proceeded to file a motion to have it set aside. In a discussion of the matter with about six (6) Judges at a certain function, all the Judges agreed after the argument that the decision was wrong. But they expressed doubt if I would make it on grounds of locus standi. I assured them that following Johnson O. Esezoobo v The Provisional Ruling Council…(Unreported) of July… 1995, I was confident I would see through the point. 

However, report reached me that the then CJN was not open enough to the nature of litigation. According to the report, he said, ‘Take it (the file) away. We have decided…’ I then asked if I could seek the CJN’s audience but the Registrar advised that against it except You want me out of this place…’. Gratifying to note that subsequent cases from Anambra and Kano with similar facts were decided differently.

Thus, we can make more impact if we adopt a civilised way of protesting what is considered to be wrong instead of a style that only serves to ridicule us all ultimately.

BarristerJohnson Odion Esezoobo Can Be Reached Via +234 803 320 0595