The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, OON, SAN has reiterated the readiness of the NBA to pursue and ensure justice in the murder cases of Omobolanle Raheem (a lawyer) and Gafaru Buraimoh, both of whom were killed in December, 2022 in separate incidents by police officers attached to Ajiwe Police Station in Ajah, Lagos State.
Mr. Maikyau made this remark yesterday, 4/1/2023, in his address in Ilorin at the valedictory court session held in honour of the retired Chief Judge of Kwara State, Hon. Justice SD Kawu, OFR who bowed out of the judiciary after 38 years of service.
In his words: “The NBA under my leadership is determined that the status quo must change. There must be consequences for any life taken by the police, not just for the likes of Omobolanle, who is a lawyer, but also and even more so for the likes of Gafaru, who is not a lawyer. Gafaru represents the ordinary Nigerians, who have no one to speak for them; their stories never make the headlines, nor get the attention of the Attorneys General, the Governor, or Inspector General of Police. These are the ones whose families are frustrated by the police in their quest for justice as they keep having doors shut in their faces until they go home and “leave it for God”. It is for such persons that we must speak and fight to ensure that justice is done in their cases.”
Suggesting solutions to the menace of extrajudicial killings by police officers in the country, the NBA President stated that speedy prosecutions of the murder cases will serve as deterrent to others. He noted that lawyers in the Police Force would have been readily suited for this assignment, but that most lawyers in the Police are not well placed to aid the Police Force in this very important process. According to Mr. Maikyau, “if the NPF had promoted and properly placed and deployed all the lawyers in the Force in the proper Officer Cadre, in consonance with the Police Act 2020, such incidences would have reduced drastically. This is a call I made when I visited the Police Service Commission and I will certainly bring it up with the Inspector General of Police (IGP) at my earliest opportunity of meeting with him, and this will be soon.”
On the role of the legal profession in the forthcoming 2023 general elections, Mr. Maikyau noted that both the Bar and the Bench “owe Nigerians sincere and honest participation in all the stages of the electoral process.” According to him, “we also owe ourselves the duty to preserve the legal space for the next generation of lawyers. For this reason, we must shun all forms of unprofessional and unethical practices that may cast the legal profession in bad light and undermine our place in the society. We must be deliberate about not misconducting ourselves, whatever be our involvement in the process.” The NBA President further urged lawyers and judges to make the rule of law their watchword as the country counts down to next month’s general election.
In similar vein, the NBA President deprecated the “growing tendency for aggrieved litigants to take to the mass media to insult and denigrate the Courts and the Judges with uncomplimentary remarks about any judgment that is not in their favour” and he described lawyers who engaged in such as “doing great harm to the legal profession and the people.” The NBA President stated that “whilst it cannot be denied that some judges may sometimes be found to have misconducted themselves or breached the judicial code of conduct in the discharge of their duty, we must nonetheless frown at the unwholesome practice of screaming blue murder each time a case does not go in one’s favour. We must make peace with the reality that at the end of an adjudication, one party is bound to win while the other party goes home a loser. It thus cannot be in every case where a party loses that the judge or panel of judges have been compromised. And, even where there is proof of misconduct, proper reporting channels must be followed, and the alleged misconduct duly established by evidence; media crucifixion of judges must be shunned and discouraged.”
The NBA President described the retired Chief Judge of Kwara State, Hon. Justice Sulyman Kawu, OFR as a cerebral scholar who has left an indelible judicial footprint, particularly in the aspect of justice sector reforms. Mr. Maikyau congratulated the former Chief Judge on a long and fulfilling judicial career and wished his lordship sound health and strength in retirement.