Fit and proper, a con­di­tion prece­dent

Daily Trust - - LAW - By Daniel Bu­lus­son, Esq

“An im­por­tant re­quire­ment for ad­mis­sion as an at­tor­ney or ad­vo­cate is to be a ‘fit and proper per­son’. Lawyers are also struck from the re­spec­tive rolls of ad­vo­cates or at­tor­neys if they cease to be ‘fit and proper’. www. sci­

By virtue of the Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers Act, a per­son shall be en­ti­tled to be called to the Bar, if he sat­is­fies the Benchers that he is of good char­ac­ter. The fit and proper test is a test aim­ing to pre­vent per­sons of ques­tion­able char­ac­ter to be called to the Nige­rian bar, to pro­tect the sanc­tity, no­bil­ity, and im­age of the le­gal pro­fes­sion.

A trend­ing case in the le­gal en­vi­ron­ment is the ex­pul­sion of one Mr. Oluse­gun Kay­ode Bello by the coun­cil of Le­gal Pro­fes­sion from the Nige­rian Law School, for lack­ing the at­tributes of a per­son ‘fit and proper’ to be called to the Nige­rian Bar As­so­ci­a­tion.

In a state­ment signed by the Nige­rian Law School, Head of In­for­ma­tion and Pro­to­col, Mr. Chinedu Ukekwe, some­time in March 2017, there was an al­ter­ca­tion be­tween Mr. Kay­ode Bello and one of his fe­male col­leagues over a pre­ferred seat in the venue of the lec­ture, be­cause of his disor­derly be­hav­iour, a query was is­sued to him by the Head of Stu­dents Af­fairs Depart­ment, rather than ad­dress­ing the is­sue, he went into ir­rel­e­vant nar­ra­tion, al­leg­ing bias by the of­fi­cials.

His con­tin­ued dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour raised con­cern amongst his col­leagues, in con­se­quence, the Stu­dents Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Coun­cil is­sued a dis­claimer of his ac­tions which was ad­dressed to the Head of Aca­demics on March 21, 2017 and reads in part as fol­lows;

“This is to bring to your no­tice that the SRC… dis­tances it­self to­tally from the un­nec­es­sary and in­or­di­nate acts of one Mr. Kay­ode Bello. This is com­ing af­ter the SRC through the ap­pro­pri­ate com­mit­tee met with the said Mr. Kay­ode Bello to ag­gre­gate in­ter­est, but he walked out on the com­mit­tee.”

Con­se­quently he was in­vited to ap­pear be­fore the Stu­dents Mis­con­duct Com­mit­tee, for var­i­ous in­frac­tions of the Stu­dents Code of Con­duct, even though he re­ceived the letter of in­vi­ta­tion, he re­fused to ac­knowl­edge receipt of it and failed to ap­pear the com­mit­tee, de­spite re­peated in­vi­ta­tions. At the con­clu­sion of its de­lib­er­a­tion, the com­mit­tee found Mr. Bello li­able of al­le­ga­tions against him, it noted;

“The Coun­cil of Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion was mag­nan­i­mous in its de­ci­sion to ap­prove the ad­mis­sion of Mr. Bello to the Nige­rian Law School, de­spite the ad­verse re­port from his uni­ver­sity … Mr Bello lacks the at­tributes, dis­po­si­tion, and com­port­ment of an as­pi­rant of the Bar.” It there­fore rec­om­mended his ex­pul­sion from the Nige­rian Law School.

The re­port of the com­mit­tee was con­sid­ered by the Coun­cil of Le­gal Ed­u­ca­tion at its meet­ing of July, 11, 2017, which ap­proved the rec­om­men­da­tion.

Mr. Bello’s pen­chant for mis­be­hav­ior was also brought to the fore via a letter from the prin­ci­pal part­ner (a Se­nior Ad­vo­cate of Nige­ria), of the law firm to which he was at­tached, dur­ing the just con­cluded ex­tern­ship ex­er­cise by all stu­dents of the Nige­rian Law School. The firm was con­strained to ter­mi­nate his stay there even be­fore the pe­riod ex­pired be­cause of Mr. Bello’s in­cor­ri­gi­ble be­hav­iour.

Ac­cord­ing to Mr. kay­ode Bello, “it is quite shock­ing and shame­ful that the Nige­rian Law school which ev­ery­one should see as a bea­con of light and hope for jus­tice had de­graded to an arena of lies and de­cep­tion”, he fur­ther stated how he got ad­mit­ted into the Nige­rian Law school and chal­lenged the Nige­rian Law School “to prove that I had es­tranged re­la­tion­ships with my col­leagues. It is trite that he who as­serts or al­leges must prove.”

A wise man once said, “If you have a prob­lem with ev­ery­one around you, then the prob­lem is with you.” It is true that the Nige­rian Law School should firstly be fit and proper be­fore de­ter­min­ing who is ‘fit and proper’, this does not give any as­pi­rant of the bar the right to act in a man­ner un­be­com­ing of a gen­tle­man.

The fact that Mr. Kay­ode could not give his seat to a lady, al­ready shows he does not have the at­tribute of a gen­tle­man, se­condly, the fact that he al­lowed an is­sue of seat to es­ca­late to his ex­pul­sion shows he lacks the com­port­ment re­quired of a gen­tle­man.

Uni­ver­sity of Ibadan or Nige­rian Law School might be wrong in their con­duct of the mat­ter lead­ing to his ex­pul­sion, but what about the law firm that ter­mi­nated his ex­tern­ship be­fore the due time? Did they also con­spire against him?

To my mind and with­out judg­ing the said Mr. Kay­ode Bello, if he had the at­tributes and com­port­ment of a gen­tle­man, the is­sue would not have reached the level it got to, he would have acted like a gen­tle­man as­pir­ing to the Bar and try to set­tle the is­sues am­i­ca­bly.

Do send your com­ment{s}, ob­ser­va­tion{s} and rec­om­men­da­tion{s} to daniel­bu­lus­ or like us on www.face­ younglawyer­scol­umn

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