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Unnecessary Frenzy Over Kenyan Law Society’s Foray Into Sheer Nothingness

By Sylvester Udems

Unnecessary Noise and Unfounded Frenzy In Nigeria Over the Kenyan Law Society’s Flimsy Foray Into Sheer Nothingness?

It has just been reported that that Kenyan Law Society (KLS) went to court to get legal services to be classified among “essential services.”

And, immediately, quite expectedly, some Nigerian lawyers have already started attacking and criticizing the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) leadership at all levels, and asking why the NBA is not emulating the KLS.

In my opinion, with due respect to those who think otherwise, the Kenyan Law Society is chasing mere shadows; NBA should not emulate such surface-scratching insignificance.

Respectfully, that kind of judgment obtained by KLS during lockdown over a world-wide-ravaging COVID-19 pandemic is, in my opinon, nothing but a cosmetic, surface-scratching PYRRHIC VICTORY that leads to no where.

Hence, well over 99 percent of the Law Societies and Law Associations in Africa and in the civilized world have not considered such a non-issue path.

To start with, the KLS, before going to court, didn’t bother to consider to what extent (if any) it would be practicable for lawyers to smoothly ply their trade in the middle of a total lockdown of society.

Can we have court sittings in the absence of court registrars, court bailiffs, sheriffs and other process servers, court Clerks, Court Orderlies, Litigants, witnesses, media/press men, and other people who need to be in court?

How can all these ones move around from their houses to courts, and back home, during lockdown, without violating the Social Distancing guidelines ordered by governments the world over, for purposes of containing spread of COVID-19 pandemic?

With/In which vehicles would all court officials come to courts for court sittings during lockdown?

And how would such movements not violate the guidelines put in place to protect our lives and stop spread of COVID-19?

What about other members of the public who may choose to attend courts to watch proceedings? Can we stop them without violating section 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999?

Let’s approach this issue reasonably and objectively.

With respect to the solicitors’ work, we all know that for such legal services (solicitors’ work) to be able to function efficiently and conducted seamlessly, the various Land Registries must be open and functioning, and their workers must be coming to work daily; Corporate Affairs Commission’s (CAC’s) offices across the country must be open and functioning, and their workers must be coming to work daily; Probate Registries across the land must be open and working, and their workers must be coming to work daily.

And so many other offices and places where lawyers need to visit, liaise with or work with, in the course of serving their clients. Indeed, all places where lawyers ply their trade must be left open and working.

HOW ARE THESE POSSIBLE DURING LOCKDOWN? Does the law compel the impossible?

Let’s call a spade by its true name; we don’t need the Kenyan Law Society style here in Nigeria, because it won’t work, and doesn’t work anywhere unless lockdown is called off.

Calling for only lawyers to go to work (in the name of legal services being among “essential services”) is like asking that the impossible should happen during lockdown.

The best approach is, if we want lockdown ended, let’s lobby and persuade our governments to end lockdown and allow all citizens to go out to continue their various jobs and work.

What the Kenyan Law Society doesn’t appreciate is that smooth performance of the lawyer’s job depends heavily on many other peoples’ jobs and offices being and remaining open and functioning.

In view of the aforesaid, what is spectacular about this lawsuit filed, and the judgment obtained, by the Kenyan Law Society?

Besides, how has that insignificant development in Kenya become the trend? Is Kenya now the yardstick for measuring Nigeria, and have Kenyan Lawyers become role models to be copied by Nigerian lawyers?

Since when? What about South Africa? What has the South African bar done in that respect? Have they also gone to court?

Then, what about Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, Egypt, Tunisia, Mali, Ethiopia, Botswana, Morocco, etc. There are over 50 countries in Africa. Why use the actions of only Kenya to judge Nigeria?

Then, what about the Italian Bar, the USA (American Bar Association), the UK Bar, Spanish Bar, Russian Bar, German Bar, Korean Bar, Canadian Bar, Venezuela, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland, Indonesia, India, Queensland, Wales, Mexico, Malaysia, and the other over 180 countries of the world?

What are lawyers doing in those countries, during this lockdown, that we’re not doing better here in Nigeria? Have legal services been declared “essential” in any of those other countries?

Why then do some Nigerian lawyers take pleasure in singling out the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for persecution and vituperations all the time? With due respect, some of us are too unfair to the NBA.

Okay, let’s face it, the NBA has just released 10 percent of BPF (Bar Practicing Fee) to branches to help cushion the harsh effects of this COVID-19 lockdown on some lawyers.

What has the Kenyan Law Society done for its members in this respect? NBA has just set up a national COVID-19 Palliative Welfare Committee. What has the Kenyan Law Society done?

So many NBA branches have taken concrete steps to provide palliatives to their members in need during this Covid-19 lockdown. What has the Kenyan Law Society done?

What sort of comparison are we drawing self, between Kenya and Nigeria? Is Kenya any match for Nigeria? Why can’t some of us be more objective and reasonable in assessing the NBA and its leadership at all levels?

Enough is enough, please! This unfair castigation of the NBA and its Branches is getting out of hand. Unnecessary criticisms and intemperate verbal onslaughts against the NBA ought to stop.

Why can’t we all heartily appreciate our own by encouraging and praising the NBA when it does reasonably well and, as such deserves our accolade? Why not?

Why do some of us hate everything Nigerian? ▪️Imagine comparing Kenya to Nigeria! That is why made-in-Nigeria goods, we don’t want, we don’t like and we do not patronize.

We prefer everything foreign to anything NIGERIAN. Some of us are just too unfair to the NBA and to Nigeria!

Respectfully,
Sylvester Udemezue (UDEMS)

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