All eyes – and cameras and microphones – were trained on Ajibola Oluyede, Senior Advocate of Nigerian Lunatics (SANL) last Thursday when he stirred up a needless commotion at the resumed hearing of false asset declaration suit against Bukola Abiku Mesujamba Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT).
The argument ensued over the motion filed by Oluyede who is also the attorney of the drug baron Senator Buruji Kashamu. Oluyede had filed an application asking the CCT Judge Danladi Umar to disqualify himself from hearing the suit of false asset declaration against Mesujamba Saraki on the basis of an alleged ongoing investigation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Oluyede argued in his petition that Judge Umar is likely to be biased against his client by the anti graft agency which is also part of prosecuting agencies against Mesujamba Saraki. Oluyede who until now has been missing in action as one of the 80-member legal team of Mesujamba Saraki told the court that he has an application to make before the start of proceedings for the day. Judge Umar said he was unaware of such application. Rotimi Jacobs, the lead prosecutor said he was served the application on Wednesday. He then asked Kanu Agabi (SANL), the lead defense counsel if he filed any such motion. Agabi said he did not. Jacobs said he did not accept the motion:
“This application, I only received it this morning,” says Jacobs, “It is not ripe for hearing unless the lead counsel say something about it,” continues Jacobs. “I know that application was based on false premise, EFCC has already cleared you (Judge Umar) on 5 March 2015. This motion was filed by a mere busybody practitioner. It was not accepted. The business of this day is for the continuation of the cross examination,” Jacobs explains to the court.
Judge Umar: “Is he (Oluyede) not the one that sued me that I was undergoing trial at EFCC?”
Jacobs: “That was why I asked your Lordship to be patient with me. The business of the day is for cross examination, the application is not ripe for hearing.”
Judge Umar to Muhammed Adelodun of the defense team: “How can you allow such a rubbish thing to happen?” At this point Oluyede rose and grabbed the microphone. Umar cut in: Sit down! Sit down! Sit down! I am not talking to you.” Umar told the defense team: “How can you allow such a thing to happen when you know that motion, he filed it as his own. The motion is thrown out, it is of no consequence. We are here for justice, why should we allow this kind of thing that will derail justice. How can you allow such thing to happen. It is shameful.”
Oluyede stood up and grabbed the microphone again. Now incensed Judge Umar told Oluyede “Sit down! Sit down! But Oluyede refused to yield and said a lot of things were wrong with the way the judge has been handling the trial and he will not be allowed to continue. The visibly angry Judge Umar threatened to send Oluyede to prison for contempt. “I have said I will not listen to that motion. I would have sent him to prison for contempt in the face of the court,” says Judge Umar. “You will commit me for contempt for doing my duties?”asks Oluyede. Agabi begged Umar not to be annoyed with Oluyede.
Majority of Nigerian lawyers – the Senior Advocates of Nigerian Lunatics – already have a bad enough reputation as corrupt professionals. Oluyede's unnecessary sparing and outright contemptuous conduct to the judge is uncalled for. His jaw-dropping outrageous conduct demonstrates lack of civility and courtesy. Like a battering ram, he continued to talk over Judge Umar and falsely accused the judge of criminal conduct into berate him to disqualify himself from Mesujamba Saraki's case. For such unprofessional behavior, I believe lessons in etiquette and civility should be included as required courses at the Nigerian Law School. There are two people you do not want to make angry: a judge in a courtroom and a police officer no matter right or wrong, they have total control over you and can make your life miserable due to their legal power. It is common knowledge that lawyers who behave like jerks to judges don't succeed more than lawyers who remain polite. When a lawyer is rude to a judge, you risk making people dislike you. No doubt, Oluyede has punched another hole in his already dented career.
Oluyede in his arrogance and insulting vexations against Judge Umar had substituted invective for legal reasoning. His petulant outburst is an embarrassing professional act to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA). Oluyede crossed the line when he called the integrity of Judge Umar into question implying that the judge cannot be trusted. Putting on a wig should not entitle Oluyede to speak and act without consequences. Oluyede's behavior is indicative of why Nigerians have poor perception of lawyers particularly the SANL. What's the point for Oluyede in criticizing Judge Umar to his face for a petition the court and EFCC had absolved the judge? Is it more likely to cause him to rule in his favor? It serves no purpose other than to disrupt the proceedings like Orubebe tried to hijack the 2015 presidential election results. Oluyede's rudeness, hostility, crudeness, and lack of professional etiquette qualify him as a patient for psychiatric counseling. Discipline of Oluyede is warranted because his comments under cut the judge's authority.
We need intelligent, civil, and professional attorneys and not political lackeys like Oluyede. Yes, Oluyede has right to disagree with the court or the EFCC which cleared Judge Umar of any corruption, but this can be done with acceptable decorum. Yes, Oluyede should defend Mesujamba Saraki to the best of his ability. There is nothing wrong with that. That's why he's being paid eye-popping fees. However, effective and zealous representation does not require antagonistic or acrimonious behavior. Oluyede violated every aspect of civility and professionalism. His disrespectful, accusatory, argumentative, and rude behavior fell below the professionalism expected of lawyers of the NBA. A lawyer can be professional and aggressive without being obnoxious.
Oluyede should be reminded and reprimanded that the practice of law remains a high calling with lawyers invested in not only the service of individual clients, but also the service to the public good as well. A good lawyer can protect his or her client's rights and interests without being a disrespectful ass. Nigerians are profoundly concerned about the lunacy of lawyers like Oluyede. His behavior is annoying, irritating, and disgusting. Such a public disrespect for a judge and court should not be tolerated. Oluyede's unprofessional conduct is an embarrassment to all members of the NBA. His spirited effort to denigrate and humiliate Judge Umar should attract stiff sanction from the NBA.
Judge Umar should have ordered Oluyede to be whisked to Kuje to serve as a lesson to the Senior Advocates of Nigerian Lunatics defense team of Bukola Abiku Mesujamba Saraki. Lawyers like Oluyede should be exiled from society.