Monday, February 23, 2015

English Law and the African Temperament By Adesina Ogunlana

The philosophy(es) behind many concepts of law and legality of the British are quite noble. It appears there is a special commitment to uphold and promote regularity. predictability and certainty in the swing of the law.

In addition, British legal concepts tend to hold “due process” in the highest esteem. Now obeying the rules and following the dictates of due process becomes especially difficult where you have no skin for patience and meticulousness.

Perhaps for you to understand the point better, I illustrate. You have before you a wrapped up loaf of bread. How do you get at your bread? Do you carefully unknot or untie the wrap, slowly sorting out the twists and ties, taking care that the wrap does not tear and reap your reward or do you rip the wrap apart and tug forcefully at the binds to have the loaf?

Your choice boils down to the type of person you are. If you are of the take-it-easy cast, you go for option one. But if you are the “hurry-hurry” type you employ the yank and tear method!

However the second option often leads to mess and waste as the impatience driven haste creates unnecessary “mayhem” along the way to getting the bread as the binds are torn, the wrapper raped and loaf unduly exposed.

Due process, fair hearing, legal notice etc., are all indicators, regulators and stipulates of Orderliness. In SOCIETY, you not only attain orderliness but maintain it as well by Due Process and Respect for Constituted Authority. In the JUNGLE on the other hand, orderliness is an anathema and is as such not practiced. Everything is about power and might, little wonder life out there is short, nasty and brutish.

I am sorry to say this, but it appears to me that in 2015, close to 150 years after the first Nigerian became a legal practitioner of the British legal system, most Nigerians, including lawyers lack the mind set fit for existence in the city of Due Process. You doubt me? Then read this tale.

An association of lawyers in a great city of the South West had the good fortune of a donation of well equipped law chambers made to it by a senior lawyer some years ago. The arrangement was that the chambers would be occupied free of charge by new wigs and other young lawyers, who would move out when they become full fledged seniors.

Unfortunately, when it was time for former fledglings (now mature) to leave the perch, they decided to stay put. Entreaties, admonitions failed to move the recalcitrant lawyers, much to the angst of their colleagues.

The only option available to the association of legal minds against their selfish and irresponsible members was EVICTION.

The question now is which manner should the eviction be? Should it be a recourse to court of law or a recourse to the arena of self help?

To my deep sadness and embarrassment, the branch chose the Arena of self help and proudly announced their choice. Now if lawyers prefer the route of self help, what will non lawyers do?

If you care to know, I was privileged to attend the Annual General meeting of the NBA Ibadan Branch in January 2015.

Thank you so much for your kind attention.

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