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The Devil, His Advocate and Advertising.

Sometime ago, a young man with a vocation in Christian ministry was arraigned in a High Court in Lagos first for attempted murder and subsequently for murder. Prior to this, in the assumption of his spiritual office and possibly to buttress his claims that he was sent of the Most High and was thus qualified to be a shepherd of the lost, this young man styled himself “His Holiness, The Most Reverend Dr. King. As the case went to trial, it was given much coverage by the local print and electronic media, primarily because ‘His Holiness’ had enjoyed some measure of recognition and celebrity before his arraignment in court. His face like most men of God, adorned some of the many posters and billboards on the streets of Lagos advertising his heavenly ability to do the miraculous. During trial, His Holiness completely oblivious to flashing cameras, TV recording crews and pressmen made a spectacle of himself by pointing warning fingers (shaped like a gun) at the press. On an occasion during trial, His Holiness in a fit of anger ran up to a prosecution witness and tried to slap her in the full glare of the court. He was restrained. The media in their usual frenzy lapped it all up. Other than this, Rev. King had a bright smile for everyone. His demeanor and carriage during trial can at best be qualified in Nigerian terminology as that of a ‘big boy’. His attitude of nonchalance and supreme confidence was so apparent that even Fela in his life and career as a rebel would have been impressed. His behavior was utterly devoid of the moroseness, repentance and even an eager desire to have one’s innocence established considering the charge of a crime as serious and grievous as murder.

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_______________________________________________________________________ _ As the trial progressed, His Holiness was always impeccably groomed often seen in three piece suits that would have made many a lawyer or banker look pale in comparison. It is the nature of many young ministers that ‘dressing to kill’ seems to be an integral part of their celestial message. One cannot forget to mention His Holiness’s five inch goatee whose growth was evidently divinely inspired. Rumor has it, or should one say legend has it, that this beard was the source of miracles many devotees had received. His Holiness was an imposing character who in the entire course of the trial, never looked like the accused in a murder trial but more like an actor. Add his dramatics and he would have been eligible for an Oscar. S44 (5) of the 1999 constitution states quite succinctly that “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proved guilty”. Guilt is expected to be established beyond reasonable doubt before any such accused can be convicted more so if the offence one is accused off is a capital one. In this regard, though guilt may seem glaring to the public, its determination is a matter left for the court to adjudicate upon. Therefore, the Devil himself though the whole world knows him to be a devil would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Though the very nature of his person establish his guilt, he cannot be touched until he breaks a law and even at then in a court of law, would be presumed innocent until proven guilty. This section is not intended solely for the protection and benefit of the Devil or devils but quite simply because, it behooves stupidity to cut down laws in order to enforce laws. Sir Thomas More, a one time Lord Chancellor of England phrased it appropriately thus about his own country…

“This country is planted thick with laws…if you cut them down…do you

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really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow...”
Quite clearly, giving the Devil the benefit of the law is not only for his advantage, not only for his good but also for our own safety’s sake as well. Evil Rev. King may visibly be, yet he too shall be entitled to the benefits of the law. Among those benefits are; S44 (1)…entitled to fair hearing by a court constituted in such a manner as to secure its independence and impartiality” and with greater regard, S44(5)c “he is entitled to defend himself in person or by legal practitioners of his own choice. Enter; the advocate. The foremost duty of any lawyer in his office as a lawyer is to his client. The sanctity of his duty and their relationship is analogous to that of the doctor to his patient. The foremost desire of any lawyer is to win his case/s. A counsel to the devil must for that reason not see him as the devil and if he does, he must take greater pains that the court not see him as the devil but rather as an angel; the summation of all things good. If there is a conflict of ethics or personal moral codes, this should be resolved before trial and if irresolvable, counsel must decline to accept the brief of the Devil. Conversely, if he accepts, then he must prepare client before hand to maintain proper and decent behavior, to carry himself with dignity, conduct himself soberly and to observe court etiquette. Anything other than this should be viewed as abhorrence to their case. Counsel is even allowed to prepare his client ahead on how to respond to questions albeit not tempt him nor teach him to perjure himself. In Nigerian courts where trial is mostly adversarial, the objective of either counsel is to do their professionally possibly best to have the best judgment available in their favor. The opposite of this leaves one without a case.

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_______________________________________________________________________ _ Consequently, it may be argued that counsel to Rev. King may have erred when he stood side by side with his client and calmly watched him making ‘I’m gonna kill you’ gestures at the media. Counsel to Rev. King may have erred as he watched his client laugh abrasively before the court in disdain, the very court whose favor and mercy he should have been trying to curry. It may be argued that counsel to Rev. King seems to have erred in his failure to warn him that a principal objective of any counsel in the course of trial was to win over the sympathy of the court and that in doing this, attacking a prosecution witness during trial is gravely injurious to the defense’ case. Counsel to Rev. King seems to have erred in not bringing to his knowledge that though he, (Rev. King) was in the bar, he was not in a bar and that unruly behavior is an anathema before the court. Probably, if all these had been in consideration, Rev. King at the most would have gotten a jail sentence and not a death sentence. Perhaps even a mistrial for faulty representation. A plea of insanity… the possibilities are numerous. A client is thus allowed to the best legal representation he is capable of getting i.e. that which he can afford. The question is how is he to determine the lawyer immediately suitable for his cause / case / predicament? Practitioners of the legal profession are not allowed to advertise. One may say and safely too that the closest the Nigerian lawyer is Chief Fawehinmi’s Bar and Bench in Nigeria; a directory which lists the names of lawyers and jurists and the periods at which they were called to the Bar and Bench respectively. It is not legal yellow pages. The lay person or the common man, in this regard the non-lawyer who requires legal counsel or representation is presented with the Hobsonian choice of the readily available or nothing. These are

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_______________________________________________________________________ _ 1. Engaging the services of a lawyer in a police station which has humorously earned some lawyers the appellation of ‘Charge and Bail’ lawyers. 2. Walking into any law office and engaging one especially if the person seeking legal services has no lawyer within his family. 3. Engaging the services of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria because he unintelligently assumes that the suffix of san is a testament of legal brilliance. Indeed the SAN award is the most prestigious source of advertising available to the lawyer. A lawyer can earn this award either by merit or hook or crook. It undoubtedly increases his client base and his professional fees. This does not however cast aspersion on the dignity of the award for the same occurs in everywhere in the world including the west. The fact is, if one is a bad or mediocre before the award, he will remain so after the award and if one is a good lawyer before the award, one remains the same after the award. 4. The surest and easiest way of advertising open both to both the lawyer and non lawyer is public criticism. Suffice it to say that the surest way of getting public awareness is through criticizing the government particularly its executive arm. While a very large percentage of lawyers do not do this, for the few who do, it has proven exceedingly profitable and immensely viable. One just needs to take a swipe and government policies and censure anything censurable. All in all, there remains no room for the advocate to advertise in the real and commercial sense of the word. Traditionally, the art of the advocate has been considered to distinguished to vulgarize and diminish by soliciting for clients. Indeed, emphasis is ever places on the verity that lawyers do not have customers but clients. ____________________________________________________________________ _ 5

_______________________________________________________________________ _ One of the major characteristics of society is its dynamism; its ability to change. What obtains in the past is not what obtains today. In today’s society, there is clearly a need for the advocate to advertise his legal services. Banks and even churches advertise; (though churches will be eager to point out that what they do is not advertising the end results remain the same.) witness the dynamic growth in both sectors. Advertising does not reduce the nobility of the law profession (for those mired in the slough of legal tradition). Rather, it makes readily obtainable to a prospective client the services available for his peculiar needs. Secondly, advertising will develop and hasten to a more appreciable level the degree of specialization so that a client knows who to approach for what services are required. Hence in matters of constitutionalism or human rights one may seek the services of a Gani Fawehinmi or others, in matters pertaining to election petitions; one may seek a G.O.K Ajayi who may be regarded as an professional there. Even so, these are merely icons. Advertising would lead to such specializations as to warrant specialists in every field not merely in academia but within the real world. The legal profession would then have specialists in criminal law: rape, arson, murder e.t.c., specialists in civil law, tort; divorce, libel, e.t.c. There would be lawyers specializing solely in industrial arbitration, trade unionism, environment and health sectors. Then it need no longer be the case to see a professor of maritime law holding brief in a divorce suit. Then one would consult a lawyer on immigration issues instead of a travel agent. With this in place, the devil Rev. King would have a choice of a defense counsel that would not appear to be working undercover for the prosecution. Nigeria whose population is well over the 100 million mark

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_______________________________________________________________________ _ is overly capable of producing specialist lawyers in all these fields and still, have plenty of business to go round The first thing or rather, among the very first things a student of law will learn is that law is dynamic in nature. This dynamism is a result of the dynamic nature of society. Society is always subject to change. The law accordingly changes to accommodate the changing needs of society getting rid in the process, antiquated, writing new and retaining useful law. If the law is dynamic and subject to change, how much more the lawyer.

Ola Babalola 18 April, 2007

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