Lawyers selfish - Jacobs
Rotimi Jacobs (SAN) observed that what the presidency said is visible for all to see. “Despite the fact that there is provision for Section 306 saying that there should be no stay, you see lawyers filing applications for stay upon stay.”
He added that even after such applications were refused by the court, such lawyers would file another one. “This shows our lack of readiness for the system to work. People are still filing frivolous objections that the ACJ prohibited. People are asking for adjournment indiscriminately.” He said that despite the ACJA providing for five adjournments once the trial commences, lawyers still went to courts to seek for adjournments more than what the Act provided.
He said lawyers needed attitudinal change. “Our attitudes need to change if the society must change. We cannot continue to do things in our own ways and expect things to change. It’s not the law that can reform a nation but we must also reform our attitude.”
Jacobs added that the selfishness of some lawyers was not making them look at the interest of the larger society. He suggested that lawyers and judges needed more training to understand the right thing to be done.
Reacting, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) cautioned lawyers against engaging in acts capable of frustrating government’s on-going efforts to curb corruption and impunity.
He advised lawyers not to compromise the professional ethics or aid criminality for personal gains, but must ensure the protection of societal interest at all time.
Sagay, urged lawyers to desist from professional misconduct, noting that where lawyers deliberately work to aid his client escape punishment is unethical.
“The obligation of a lawyer to accept briefs does not extend to the protection of their clients from the consequences of crimes against the society.
“A lawyer who looks at his client and believe that client is guilty of a crime, should advise that client to plead guilty otherwise he should drop the case. He does not have a choice.
“He should not knowingly, or being aware that a client is guilty of an offence, set out to provide the defence of not guilty with the intention of seeing him set free from the consequences of his crime.
“It is therefore unethical to set out to frustrate legal proceedings by exploiting the rules of procedure and regulation. It is unethical to make frivolous application with the hope of delaying the proceedings in a case.
“Defence counsel, should avoid ending up as a partner in the crime by sharing guilt and proceeds of that crime.
“A lawyer’s role should not degenerate from that of a legitimate defence counsel to becoming an accomplice after the fact.
“A lawyer who is over-enthusiastic in the defence of his client and crossing the line from being a lawyer to being to becoming a co-defendant will be prosecuted as such” Sagay said