Ogunba calls for public enlightenment on lawyers’ role in criminal trials

Rickey Tarfa

Rickey Tarfa

…EFCC sets to arraign

Sequel to the allegations of corruption presently rocking the judiciary, especially the bribery trial involving two senior members of the bar by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a Lagos-based Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Adekunle Ogunba, has called for public sensitisation of lawyers’ roles in criminal trial.

Ogunba, who said this in an interview with The Guardian, specifically directed the Nigeria Bar Association, (NBA), through the General Secretary and the Publicity Secretary, to rise up to the challenge, and carry out public enlightenment on what is expected of a lawyer.

According to him, there is growing misconception that once you are seen defending an accused person, then you are accomplice to the crime, which is not the true position.

The role of the lawyer, he said, is to be properly explained within the context of what is unfolding and the fact that the lawyer should be seen to be doing his job. According to him, the lawyer “is to do the best he can to put procedural obstacles to the wheel of the prosecution and try to dig as many holes as possible in their case. “So within that context, I enjoin the NBA General Secretary and the NBA Publicity Secretary to let the public know, the role of the lawyer and the maxim that presumes an accused innocent until proven guilty.

Ogunba also berated what he called attempt to paint the entire brush of impropriety on the lawyer saying it should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

He said a lawyer is expected to do his utmost best, to defend his client to the best of his ability.

“Within that context, if what he does within the court room in the course of that process is impeccable and also in course of that defence, he is entitled to be paid, depending on the terms of agreement.

He declared that it is “not right to criticise the defence lawyer without any attempt to defend anybody or hold forth, adding that the lawyer must be there to provide unfettered access or unfettered professional services to any accused person.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC is set to arraign two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, (SAN), Rickey Tarfa and Joseph Nwobike, before a Lagos State High Court.

They are accused of offering gratification, running into millions of naira to judges to influence decisions in their favour.

In two separate charges filed by the EFCC and sighted by The Guardian yesterday, Tarfa is facing a 27-count of alleged wilful obstruction of authorised officers of EFCC, refusing to declare asset, making false information to an officer of EFCC and offering gratification to a public official. Nwobike on the other hand, is facing a five-count charge of allegedly attempting to pervert justice and offering gratification to public official.

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