NO PERSON IS ABOVE THE LAW :
By: Mr. Sunday Emenike
When the #Police go through the hazards of catching armed robbers after a terrible robbery operation which must have involved the killing of civilians and or the Police and the Nigerian Police apprehend and arraign the hoodlums before the court, some #lawyers are briefed by these criminals who would unashamedly strive to release the robbers through legal technicalities. It is unfortunate that they (the lawyers) would accept to defend them in the first place.
When these thieves who are hardened criminals are released off Police hook, the later become their enemies while the lawyers are regarded as their friends –"companions of thieves" as the book of Isaiah ch 1 v 23 calls them.
But if a lawyer who is supposed to know the rudiments of the law and particularly the administration of criminal justice violets the law in an attempt to effect the release of a criminal through bribery then he must be held culpable for any breach of the law and be tried as well in a court of law. In a democracy and under the rule of law, no one is above the law other wise there will be #Anarchy and #Destruction.
Why not the lawyers or magistrates be detained by the Police?
The protest by lawyers in Owerri last week Tuesday that a Magistrate was detained was uncalled for.
Therefore if a lawyer knows that a person is a notorious armed robber and goes to advocate for for his release, it means he has a seared conscience. That is, he has made a ship wreck of his conscience and such a counsel who takes a brief from a criminal and helps to release him through legal technicalities, as said above, has committed what I may call "a crime of crimes". In the same vein, if a Judge/Magistrate who has no scruples perverts justice in the administration criminal justice to release a criminal because his hands are tired by the allure of lucre, he has equally committed "a crime of crimes". That is, he has laundered the image of the armed robber to be virtuous. The Bible says in Proverbs 17 v 15 and I quote "He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an àbomination to the LORD.
WAY FORWARD ARE:
1. The Nigerian Judiciary Council must compell judges and magistrates to complete cases in their courts within a certain time frame otherwise they will be queried and or sanctioned.
2. It is a known fact that NJC has recommended the forceful retirement/dismissal of corrupt Justices.
3. The NJC should apply the same measures in para 2 above to the state magistrates since all of them passed through the same legal education and training.
4. It is necessary that the Police lawyers should always oppose the release of notorious armed robbers and where such order is given to release them, the Police should immediately put up a notice of appeal to a higher court of competent jurisdiction citing previous case(s) of crimes committed by the criminal and the danger he poses to the Police and the society at large.
Maintaining of Legal Reputation :
A good Counsel who knows his worth would not want to smear his reputation by
(1) accepting a brief from an armed robber or hard drug barron
(2) not readily defending his innocent client in his case
(3) not using all the instruments of law at his disposal to win a good case for his client without seeking too many adjournments to earn transport fees apart from his legal fees.
(4) being aware that no one is above the law.
And (5) knowing that in most advanced jurisdictions and here in Nigeria any one who breaks the law,the Police have the Constitutional right to arrest the law breaker and arraign him before the court for trial, no matter who he or she is.
Conclusion: The Police in Owerri has the constitutional right to detain a Magistrate if he is found to break the law otherwise it would amount to #Impunity if he does something wrong (which an ordinary person does and he is detained) and the Magistrate or Judge goes scot free.