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YOUNG LAWYERS’ FORUM: ‘Poor justice delivery system hampering law development’

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Lucky Chima-Cole, an indigene of Abia State, obtained his LL.B from the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State. He was called to Bar in 2017. Chima-Cole shares his post call experience, pupilage, career and sundry issues with JOHN CHIKEZIE

 

Background

My name is Lucky Chima-Cole and I am from Abia State, who was born in Ajegunle, Lagos.

I attended Ajeromi Ifelodun High School, Olodi-Apapa Lagos. I obtained a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in 2016. I am a legal practitioner, who was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2017.

Why law?

I saw the legal profession as a profession I can learn how to and actually make impact on lives within my immediate community.

I have a strong desire for social and economic welfare and development; and I always feel that my knowledge of law would be very instrumental in these respects.

I also love human rights activities. During my childhood, I had a feeling that by becoming a lawyer, I could change some of the anti-social vices prevalent in my immediate community; like Gender-based violence, Women and Children’s (Girls’) rights.

 

What aspect of law interests you and why?

Although I presently major in Corporate Commercial law and work for a law firm that provides company secretarial and advisory services to major clients in and outside Nigeria, my greatest love is still International Law, Development and Social Policy.

I am presently pursuing a Masters’ Degree in Gender and Development in a bid to further my career in International Law and Development.

I also have interest in FinTech (Financial Technology). I love corporate financial transactions and how they play a huge role in determining the level of growth and decline of an economy.

The main aim of FinTech is to ensure a very wider spectrum of financial inclusion at all levels of the economy. So, I love studying how it works and how much positive social policies can help in making this possible.

Pupilage
It has been great thus far, I have worked under lawyers at different levels, and I must say at those times, I remained humble and cultivated the spirit to learn more and not judge.

My pupilage has been wonderful and still on because as lawyers, our knowledge of the law is influenced by who we are and where or what we have been through.

I’ve been privileged to serve in firms like: Benjamin Odeh and Associates, Surulere, Lagos from September to November 2017 as a Graduate Intern and as a Full Associate in November 2018 to January 2019; Ministry of Justice, Jos, Plateau State from December 2017 to March 2018; Christopher Obuh & Co., Jos, Nigeria from March 2018 to May 2018; and Logistix Solicitors, Lekki, Lagos from May, 2019 till date.

Challenges facing young lawyers

It has not been easy. For me, having to keep up with the trend of law in this fast paced system seems to be a challenge every day.

It is even more compounded in a place like Lagos, where there are many young lawyers with the zeal for excellence just like me. I see this as a t challenge to be better.

The legal profession isn’t as conventional as it used to be. There are many aspects of law that have gained relevance and prominence recently because of the nature of businesses springing up as a result of the encouragement on financial inclusion at every level.
This means that at every step of the way, a lawyer needs to constantly think of solutions to meet up the needs of his clients.

Also, having to deliver on every job I am entrusted with. Most people, senior lawyers and clients alike find it hard to believe that young lawyers can deliver on a job. So, it is a constant challenge to deliver very well on any job given.

 

Justice delivery system and prolonged trial of suspects

I would say the system of justice in Nigeria is relatively poor.

As regards trial, it is the saying that justice delayed, is justice denied. We find instances where cases stay for years before being decided, that is even if it ever happens.

The disadvantage in this kind of situation is that over time, the relevant facts or evidence needed to ensure justice might be tampered with, altered or even lost in some cases. This becomes more of a disadvantage to the defendant or accused person in a criminal matter.

Over time, the administration of Justice also changes; and then it becomes difficult to know which law to apply in trying suspects after prolonged trial. In some other cases, the matters are transferred to other courts. All this in no way favour the suspect, who is also supposed to be a major consideration in ensuring justice is reached as he is still a suspect until proven guilty.

Police and parade of suspects

I feel this has become a normal procedure in the dispensation of criminal justice by the Nigerian police, which ought not to be so. A suspect is only a suspect until he is actually tried in court and proven guilty.

Therefore, I believe that it is utterly wrong. It is a breach of their fundamental human rights. They are only suspects and have not been proven guilty. And even after the arraignment, if the court has not pronounced them guilty of the offence, after trial, then they should not be paraded as criminals.

Article 7 1 (b) of the African Charter says “every individual shall have… the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty by a competent court or tribunal. This is also in line with Section 36 (5) of the Constitution.

Pre-trial media parade of criminal suspects is a violation of the suspects’ right to being presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Future ambition

For the short term, I want to become a well-grounded corporate lawyer while I try to build my portfolio for the long term.

For the long term, I want to be an International development lawyer that would be consulting for international organizations on developmental issues and social policy.

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