NIGERIAN army has ordered all civilian lawyers appearing before its Special Court Martial, SCM to be fully dressed as barrister during the event. In a convening order for the SCM sent by chief of army staff, Tukur Buratai all civilian lawyers are expected to appear before the court robed. Reports by stated that Buratai citing Section 131 (2)(d) of the Armed Forces Act Cap A20 laws of the federation of Nigeria said the SCM will assemble at the Army Headquarters Garrison Conference Hall at Mogadishu Cantonment in Abuja. Aside the civilian lawyers, the order stated that: “All officers are to wear No. 4 dress while soldiers are to wear No. 5 dress throughout the duration of the court.” “All lawyers are to be robed. However, serving officers and soldiers who are lawyers have the option of wearing either No. 4 and 5 dress respectively,”
Buratai said. While the chief of army staff did not give reasons for the order the army spokesperson, Sani Usman could not be reached for comments on the said directive. It has been a Norn that Nigerian lawyers are fully dressed only when appearing before a Federal High Court or state High Courts. It was also observed that lawyers who appear before the some courts like the magistrate courts, election tribunals and the Code of Conduct Tribunal do not wear their robes and wigs but are rather seen on dark coloured suit. A senior lawyer who spoke to said the chief of army staff’s order is a “very wrong” directive. The lawyer said: “That directive is an attempt to look down on the legal profession.” He added that the law forbids lawyers to appear in any court where the judge is not robed.
FORMER President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Most Rev. Peter Akinola and many other religious leaders have declined to attend the meeting of Christian elders scheduled for Uyo, Akwa Ibom State tomorrow, investigations have revealed. The meeting was convened by the Catholic ArchBishop of Abuja Diocese and former President of CAN, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, at the residence of a former President of CAN and ex-Primate of the Methodist Church, Sunday Mbang. Onaiyekan, in his invitation letter, however, admitted that he has “no authority” to summon any national meeting of CAN. Apart from Akinola, it was learnt that most of the senior religious leaders and elders have vowed never to attend the meeting because of its illegality. In a letter to Onaiyekan and
obtained yesterday in Abuja, Akinola said he would not attend the meeting because the information got to him very late. “I waited to hear from you the response of others to our proposals; your mail arrived my inbox late midnight in Nairobi. I am very sorry to have to say that I might not be able to attend the Uyo consultation. I have been travelling rather extensively within and outside these shores in the last few weeks. In point of fact, I just came back from Nairobi exhausted, having spent two sleepless nights due to flight delays. “My two knees are wobbling. My doctor suggests that I take off at least the next one week to rest because as of this moment, I am physically unfit to undertake any further travels in the next few weeks.” Although it is not part of its constitution, the usual practice and
tradition is that the Vice President of CAN automatically takes over (through election) from the President whenever the tenure of the latter expires, . The National Director of Christ Redeemers Union, Dr. Ebenezer Olusola Abednego, had faulted its legality, alleging that the meeting which had also invited the outgoing President of CAN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, was aimed at scuttling the inauguration of CAN’s President-Elect, Supo Samson Ayokunle. But both Onaiyekan and Mbang, have however denied the allegation. “When Primate Akinola, from the Anglican Church, ran for a second tenure as CAN President, he was defeated by Onaiyekan following a gang-up against him by the Catholics. When Onaiyekan ran for a second tenure in CAN Presidency, he was defeated by Ayo Oritsejafor from the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria. Oritsejafor has stabilised CAN and his Vice President, Ayokunle won the election. You can see the selfishness there in the meeting”, a source said. It would be recalled that while Ayokunle, President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, contested the CAN presidential election under the platform of the Christian Council of Nigeria, his Vice-President-Elect, Prof. Joseph Otubu, of the Motailatu Church Cherubim and Seraphim Movement, contested under the umbrella of the Organisation of African Instituted Churches. The inauguration of the new leadership of CAN will hold on July 20 during the forthcoming General Assembly of CAN in Abuja to be presided over by Oritsejafor, who is the Founder of the Word of Life Bible Church in Warri, Delta State. In the invitation letter, Onaiyekan
said, “Three of us, Prelate Sunday Mbang, Primate Peter Akinola and John Cardinal Onaiyekan, all former Presidents of CAN), consulted among ourselves over the past week-end, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. “We know that we have no authority to summon any national meeting of CAN. But we feel that the spirit is challenging us to do our best for the good of the community of Christians. “The people we are inviting are as follows: all other former CAN Presidents, and all former Vice Presidents. The present incumbents (President and Vice President); Heads of the five blocks of CAN or their representatives and a few other major Church leaders, (about five), not included above. We expect it to start at 5.00pm and end by 9.00pm. It will be a closed door meeting, with no publicity.”
“Like the Code of Conduct Tribunal; any court where the judge is not robed, no lawyer appears before that court wearing wig and gown. “That is why you see that even lawyers appear before the magistrate court and even other courts headed by serving justices without robes. “You can only robe in superior courts that is, high courts because the judges there are also robed,” he said. Also in his reaction, a senior advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozekhome said the order must affect the judge – a military officer who is also a lawyer – presiding over the court martial for it to be effective. Ozekhome said: “If the Special Court Martial is presided over by an equally robed military- lawyer officer, then it is all well and proper for lawyers to be robbed while appearing before him.” “If however, he (the judge) wears his usual professional
military uniform, then it becomes infra dig (below dignity) and abominable for a fully robed professional lawyer to appear and take a bow before a khaki-wearing military officer,” Ozekhome said. “That will be demeaning and a great insult to the revered legal profession,” he said. Ozekhome also said the legal profession does not allow such practice. “It’s akin to requiring a reverend father wearing his priestly cassock to take a bow before a chief priest who wears no such cassock, but his “Dibia” (native doctor) regalia, in his shrine. That is absolutely not acceptable,” the senior advocate concluded. Another senior advocate of Nigeria, Ogwu Onoja said he is not aware of the said order, he however noted that such order is strange to the legal profession. He further called on lawyers to boycott the army’s order.