Samuel Okuneye read law at Lagos State University. Okuneye, who hails from Epe, Lagos State, was called to Bar in 2017. He shares his law journey with JOHN CHIKEZIE
My name is Samuel Okuneye and I am a lawyer with bias for commercial and business law practice. I have special interest in Taxation, Labour Law, Competition Law, Fintech and Data Protection Law.
I am a graduate of the Faculty of Law, Lagos State University and was admitted into the Nigerian Bar in 2017.
I hail from Epe, Lagos State, Epe.
Choice of career
My urge for law was borne out of the passion to be different from other products of my secondary school. My twin and I decided to showcase the good that can come out of Nazareth and we chose law.
Quite often, my secondary school teachers would say we (my twin and I) would be better in science class and that Law is only meant for the rich. But we successfully challenged that thought pattern.
Law school, experience and grading system
At the Nigerian Law School, I appreciated the teaching pattern but the then grading system was hurtful, heinous, and unfair. While the grading system reflected excellence, it also undermined excellence in itself and substantial effort.
I studied hard, like every excellent student would, knowing full well that my least grade would determine the outcome. I also prayed hard because I needed God to succeed.
However, when I saw that I had a 2:2, I was really downcast. I had to apply for the result breakdown then I realized I made distinctions in all the courses save for one (criminal litigation).
During this time, I could only lean on God and trust His ability in me for the best. And with the help of the relationships I had, I was able to move on.
But nevertheless, in all, I enjoyed my stay and training at the Kano Campus.
I see the Nigerian justice system as retarded, slow and subject to vagaries.
By retarded, I mean slow and limited in development. It does not embrace the reality of civilization sometimes.
For instance, some jurisdictions have promulgated laws to encourage litigation funding whereby litigants with no means can approach investors to sponsor their cause in court but same is not applicable in Nigeria. Hence, sometimes, people with meritorious claims are not able to pursue the same because they cannot afford the cost of litigation.
Hence, there is undue delay in the dispensation of justice. And this is also a clog in the wheel of our justice system.
COVID-19 and border closure
I must mention that I am unaware of any constitutional provision or law that empowers various States (Executive or Legislature) to close their various borders even in this pandemic era. The 1999 Constitution is crystal clear on the control of Aviation and Federal roads being within the exclusive power of the federal government.
Furthermore, by virtue of Sections 2 and 3 of the Quarantine Act 2020, the President has the power to make regulations on situations such as the COVID-19. Section 8 of the same Act empowers the various state governors to make similar regulations in the absence of the Federal Government’s regulation in this regard.
However, such powers must be exercised within the ambience of the Constitution. Border Control in my opinion falls within items 3 and 63 of Part 1, Schedule II of the Constitution (the exclusive legislative list). This means that no state government can legislate or make regulations on same.
On the effect of the border closure on business contracts and performance, most businesses in Nigeria thrive on mobility of people; restricting/banning the right of ingress and egress of people into different States will obviously frustrate performance of some contracts which cannot be done online.
The ripple effect of this is that it results into economic loss and influx of legal actions on the determination of rights and liabilities of the parties under the contracts.
At the moment, many interstates businesses cannot thrive as they are not able to operate fully during this period and this may eventually result in their death.
My ambition is to own a commercial firm of international repute and a tax consulting firm. I equally intend to go into politics in the nearest future.