Corruption and Underdevelopment

Tackle graft, delay in litigation, Okutepa urges NBA President-elect

By Paul Michael

President-elect of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN, has been urged to tackle issues of corruption, bribery, and delay that usually bedevil the litigation aspect of the Nigerian law practice, especially at various Court registry.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, J.S. Okutepa, who gave the charge in a statement at the weekend noted with dismay the endemic corruption that bedeviled the court registry, the first collapse of Justice in the country.

He expressed dissatisfaction with the unprofessional of most Court bailiff-official process servers, as well as the difficulty and frustration at most registries in serving court documents from companies, working in connivance with some legal practitioners, using untraceable addresses and directors as hurdles in serving court processes.

Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau, SAN

He said, “Whether you are young, or old, SAN or not, we all face these militating and excruciating experiences in practice. When you file processes, you go through hell to have them served. The process servers in most court registries, otherwise called bailiffs, are in most cases something else.

“Justice starts getting murdered from this stage. The frustrations you face when they act in collaboration with some lawyers on the other side are in most cases nightmares. Yet, without service, no proceedings can take off.

“It is worse when you are to serve companies that have no traceable addresses but have registered addresses on record; no traceable directors but have directors’ names in CAC record.”

The learned silk further decried the frustrating antics of trials in the hands of lawyers whose only brief may just be to frustrate the hearing of matter while accusing some legal practitioners of deliberately employing these tactics when expedient.

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“If and when you manage to get judgments, you may discover that there is no justice in the judgments. You then want to go on appeal. Here you are face to face with another hurdle.

“Certified true copies of some judgments are not ready to be collected for months after delivery. Some judges in Nigeria now have the habit of claiming to be correcting judgments after they have been delivered.

“Whether these practices that have acquired notorious status across Nigeria are constitutional and legal are yet to be tested.

“The Nigerian Constitution says we are entitled to a copy of a judgment within 7 days of its delivery. In some cases, you don’t get copies of these judgments/rulings for months.

“Yet, inability to obtain or get copies of judgments on time has been held not to be a good ground for extension of time,” he added.

Okutepa urged the incoming NBA under the watch of Yakubu Chonoko Maikyau SAN to come to the aid of core litigation lawyers.

He stressed that lawyers must be seen as doing right, as well as “clearly defined boundaries for the judex, the registries and legal practitioners” in other to bypass the collective difficulty experienced by all.

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