Solanke, Kolade, seek restoration of legal ethics



Nigeria’s first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and legal luminary, Chief Folake Solanke, yesterday expressed worry about allegations of misconduct against some members of the Bar and the Bench.

The revered lawyer, who spoke yesterday in Lagos during the presentation of Oral & Written Advocacy: Law & Practice. Traditional & Modern Trends in Advocacy, a book co-authored with Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN) of KENNA Partners, urged lawyers to pay attention to being learned both in appearance and language.

Lamenting that some members have polluted the stream of justice in gross violation of the cherished and universal ethics and tradition of the learned profession, the octogenarian, however reminded the public not to lose hope in lawyers as there are many members of the learned profession whose professional practice is beyond reproach.

According to her, there had been an enormous multi-dimensional investment of time, money, energy and other resources in the writing of the book, which is an academic addition to legal literature and a wake-up call to the entire members of the learned profession to re-dedicate themselves to what veritable and superior advocacy is all about for the restoration of the golden age of the profession when it was corruption-free.

She said: “I confess that the performance of some lawyers on the television screen often embarrasses me by their untidy appearance, inept performance and incoherent statements. Sometimes last year, while watching a television discussion, I was aghast that a lawyer appeared not to be aware of the newly-promulgated Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 with its revolutionary and innovative provisions inter alia on stay of proceedings.”

According to her, the profession must therefore engage in continuing legal and professional education so that lawyers can be current in their legal knowledge in order to perform admirably in any situation.

She, therefore, urged the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) national body and the branches to tackle these unacceptable professional lapses for the sake of the legal profession and the society.

The octogenarian, who used the event to celebrate her 84th birthday, appealed vehemently to the youths to desist from the supposition that the older citizens have had their turn and should therefore disappear or go to sleep in order to give way to the youths to perform.

She stressed that any society, which abandons or neglects its older generation, does so at its peril.

According to her, the new book is a product of the accumulated experience, scholarship and application of the golden years on one part and the vibrancy and learning of the youthful years on the other with a total of 78 years of compelling and superior advocacy.

In his own remarks, Chairman of the event and former Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom (UK), Dr Christopher Kolade, described the authors as respected people of outstanding quality.

According to him, through the works of the authors, there is a clear message to others that they have a duty to make sure they are quality people.

Also, Lagos State Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade, represented by Justice Mojisola Obadina, expressed appreciation and support for the book described as a new addition to the legal knowledge.

According to her, the book came at the time of decreasing standard of legal practice in and outside the courtroom. She expressed the state’s commitment to reforms, accountability and improved delivery of justice.

In his review of the book, former Lagos State Attorney-General, Olasupo Shasore (SAN), said the role of lawyers and advocacy is good for our society and therefore cannot be legislated against.

He described the book as useful to everybody because advocacy is far too important to be left only to the Law School and should be continuous.

Dignitaries at the event include presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, Justice Amina Augie; Justice Helen Ogunwunmi; President, Nigerian Bar Association, Augustine Alegeh (SAN); former Lagos State Attorney-General, Harriet Balogun; Chief Felix Fagbohungbe (SAN); professor of Political Economy, Prof. Pat Utomi; Femi Falana (SAN) and family members of Chief Solanke led by her elder sister, Chief (Mrs.) S. O. Odesanya.

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