ADDRESS BY HON. JUSTICE S. U. ONU, JSC CHAIRMAN OF THE BODY OF BENCHERS AT THE CALL TO BAR CEREMONY OF THE NEWLY GRADUATED STUDENTS OF THE NIGERIAN LAW SCHOOL ON JUNE 14TH 2005.

HON. JUSTICE S. U. ONU, JSC

My Lord, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice M. L. Uwais, GCON,

Hon. Past Chairmen Body of Benchers,

Hon. Attorney General of the Federation, Chief Akin Olujinmi,

Chairman Council of Legal Education, Hon. Justice Omotayo Onalaja, JCA (Rtd.),

Life Benchers and other Distinguished Benchers,

Hon. Justices of Supreme Court,

Court of Appeal and Hon. Chief Judges of various High Courts here present,

Hon. Attornies General of various States here present.

My Lords, Judges of Superior Courts of record,

Members of the Inner and Utter Bar,

Traditional and Spiritual Leaders here present,

Proud Parents, Guardians, Families and Friends of Applicants,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.

Before we commence the deliberations of this day which by their nature and timing should be brief and circumscribed, our main preoccupation is the Call to the Bar of the successful students who sat in the April 2005 resit examination. 1,220 sat in the examination while 719 passed.

May we all rise to observe one minute of silence in honour of Chief Frederick Rotimi Alade Williams, C.F.R, S.A.N, a legal colossus, father of Advocacy, a renowned member and past Chairman of the Body of Benchers, a model and paragon in the practice of the law who no doubt, has bequeathed to this Nation and for succeeding generations to come, an indelible and indestructible legacy of patriotic legal service as well as an enduring loyalty to duty and dedication laced in excellence as well as an exemplary performance worthy of emulation. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PERFECT PEACE.

I next wish to deal with the virtue Chief Williams bequeathed to lawyers, which you as new entrants, must endeavour to emulate, that is to say, a good set of Chambers the like of which has brought Chief F.R.A. Williams’ fame in Chamber running. Chief F.R.A. Williams’ Chambers was and still remains one of the best-organized legal practitioners’ chambers in this Country. It adorns a table popularly known as the ‘Black Table’ where conferences or discussions are held by practising members, and where the young as well as the old alike, go to ground their legal research.

Following your call to the Bar today you are hereby admonished to borrow a leaf from this proponent of the ‘Black Table’ concept of the practice of the law – that is that, you are admonished to put heads together by way of forming partnerships, where possible in the communal practice of the law. Where, however, this becomes impossible, counsel should be encouraged to yield place to individual practice by dissolving the practice of the law.

As Barristers and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, you are therefore advised:

  1. To set up chambers of your choice with persons/people of like minds where possible, and to endeavour to make a success of it.
  2. To endeavour to keep notes in the form of a timetable of court works so as not to miss your days for doing what, when and how.
  3. To liaise with the opposing counsel of the other set of chambers so as to avoid misunderstanding and clashing of interest.
  4. Argue your cases with conviction, forthrightness and zest, remembering always that you are an officer in the Temple of Justice who should assist in arriving at just decisions rather than complicate them.
  5. That your arrival in court before the hour of nine o’clock in the forenoon is a desideratum, punctuality being the soul of business.
  6. That in the argument of your cases you should avoid antagonizing the court with objections, unnecessarily long-winded arguments with learned counsel on the other side by stating the law and placing the facts in their true setting and perspective.
  7. By conceding simple straight-forward points while equally arguing with zest candour and conviction areas where matter needing the court’s decisive resolution in a ruling devoid of a compromise, ought to be made. Remember that it is the court that ultimately decides matters in controversy while disingenuous arguments that lead to a cul de sac ought to be avoided.
  8. Be ready to take hints from the court, as needless antagonism will spoil a good argument any day leading to the loss of the entire case.

Thank you.

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