Barrister Mobolaji Ojibara is the former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Ilorin branch, in this interview, he discusses with KAYODE ADEOTI measures the association has put in place to check quackery practices in the legal profession among other germane issues. Excerpts:
As the former Chairman of the NBA, Ilorin branch, do you have any regret looking back?
I don’t have any regret over any of the actions that I took. I tried to ensure that everything I do during my time was in accordance with law. I have served in the best capacity. So looking back, I don’t have regret.
Sir, what is your take on the issue of fake practices in the legal profession and the recent slam on the constitution that entrenched the NBA?
The case of fake lawyer in Kwara State is not the only case in the recent time and it’s not only peculiar to us. Of course, there have been fake lawyers for a long time, but we shouldn’t forget also that there are fake doctors, in fact, we’ve had situation in Kwara State where fake doctors were nabbed. The issue is that, we should see the fake practice striving only in the profession, it is everywhere. These are some of highlights of amendment that was made to the constitution. It has introduced a measure in which fake lawyer can be nabbed and this has worked magic over the time. For any document presented by lawyer, customised stamp of that lawyer must be affixed on it and that stamp can only be issued by NBA itself. The stamp can be issued to a lawyer who is certified by the NBA. With the introduction of stamp and seal by NBA, incidences of quackery have reduced greatly, because you can’t file any process or agreement in court unless the stamp is affixed on it. It is now very easy to identify who is actually fake lawyer in the society; you can’t go about with your processes unstamped because people will ask you questions. The scene was becoming too hot for the fake lawyers and that was why one was caught in Kwara State, Ikorodu in Lagos, and in Ibadan. It is this measure introduced by the association that is exposing some the deals of fake practitioners. What has been responsible for their striving in the society was because there is no strict measure before. It is just the 2015 amendment in the constitution of the association that gave birth to this. It is a noble field and it should be seen and treated as such. On the issue of the recent happening in the NBA, the matter in court and I will not want to comment on the validity of the constitution of the association.
What is the position of law over the assertion that it is legal to break into a person’s privacy in order to get incriminating facts?
That is a trespass, you can’t just do that, even law enforcement agencies have warrants, in the case of DSS, they had warrant from the magistrate, Abuja. For security man to arrest anybody, he or she needs warrant. We need to understand that these are serious legal issues. Such action of the DSS or any other security arm have to be perfected in terms of invading privacy of a person, it must follow due process of the law, though I will not want to dwell on the issue.
How do you think the issue of court of equal jurisdiction giving conflicting judgements should be addressed?
There could be various reasons different judgements arise, and we don’t have to blame some of these judges. When a lawyer appears before judge A and present his case, while lawyer B appears before judge B, he gives another set of facts and he proffer another set of law to support argument, it may be reason that warrant the judgement to go the other way. A court is not bound by the decision of its jurisdiction court but its bound by the decision of the higher court. They are not bound by their own decisions.