‘There should be consequences for frivolous applications ’
WHEN it comes to advocacy, he is gentle and eloquent. His dazzling tongue is surely the strongest point in his legal practice. Combined with great intelligent, Olumide Oyewole, a Lagos based legal practitioner is hardwork personified. He has made modest contributions to Nigeria’s legal firmament through advocacy.
Through his legal audacity, he secured the freedom of a young man sentenced to life imprisonment at the appellate court. He has been in practice for almost two decades, specialized but not limited to Corporate and Commercial Law. Speaking on how he studied law, the revered lawyer said: “Honestly I never give it a thought at all.
I decided to be a lawyer as far back as when I was in primary three. Nothing else was of interest to me. What motivated me was because I am quite close to my elder brother who also went to train as a lawyer.
He deliberately motivated me so I never thought of anything else. “I cannot remember my first day in court but I think I had a good time because on that day I only went to take an adjournment. It was almost inconsequential. “ Sharing his experience on the most challenging case he has handled, he said: “It is quite an interesting case.
As a matter of fact, I enjoy encountering challenges because I look forward to very difficult cases to handle. In terms of challenges like you mentioned, about seven years ago, there was a young man that was charged for armed robbery and was sentenced to life imprisonment. It was a matter I was so sure that the man is going to be discharged and acquitted. All the allegations against him to my mind was not proved by the prosecution.
We did our own work. Evidence was given and cross examination done. Behold, the court decided otherwise. But the beauty of it was that, on appeal, the judgment was upturned. Our appeal was upheld on the grounds that the evidence against him was not proved beyond reasonable doubt.
By the time the court delivered the judgment, I took ill but I thank God today, it only took us another two years to be able to complete the appeal. At the time the judgment was delivered, we eventually won the case.”
He expressed views about the issue of delay in justice delivery. He said delay in justice delivery system is an impediment that needs to be eliminated by both the bar and the bench. “It is a major impediment to justice delivery system and the only way I think we can improve the justice delivery system is for both the Bar and the Bench to be focused on what they want to achieve.
“Delay is used as a tool by lawyers to achieve some goals for their client. Some clients or parties knowing full well that their case is bad would want to capitalize on delay to frustrate justice for the other party. But if we all change our style, have the Nigerian Bar Association that is active and vibrant, that is alive to its responsibility, we will not have a situation where people would want to take culture of impunity as a norm.
“When you go to court to raise frivolous application with the mind set of achieving delay, at the end of the day you misadvised your client, there should be a consequent. “In other jurisdiction, you don’t just file for the sake of filing, you can’t just take a matter for the sake of taken it.
There is a negative consequence as a matter of fact to an erring lawyer; the practitioner should be reprimanded by the law society. “In our environment there is no such thing, you can wake up and file anything just to delay the cases. And when you delay, you still get away with that wrong doing, nobody takes you up on it.
“ If our colleagues know that in the end, they will be questioned for taken that step, they will be discouraged. I would implore the NBA to put into effect certain rules and guidelines to regulate the conduct of practitioners in court and in the way they handle cases of their client.
That will go a long way to reduce incidences of delay in the administration of justice” he opined. With regards to the judges, he is of the view that they should assist by looking at some applications critically.
According to him, they should ask question whether the counsel is ready to argue the case or not and not to adjourn the matter to some other day because at the end of the day, the court would have assisted the unwilling litigant to progress in not to progress.
In his suggestion to President Buhari in repositioning judiciary sector, he said: “I am excited that we have a new administration in place. I look forward to a re-organization of the whole system not only the judiciary.
When you go to court to raise frivolous application with the mind set of achieving delay, at the end of the day you misadvised your client, there should be a consequent. In other jurisdiction, you don’t just file for the sake of filing, you can’t just take a matter for the sake of taken it. There is a negative consequence as a matter of fact to an erring lawyer; the practitioner should be reprimanded by the law society
“They should improve the infrastructure in the judicial sector, building more court rooms, employ more judges and support staff. Equip the court rooms among other issues and in particular, set up rules to regulate the conduct of both the bench and the bar such that from the day you file your process, it can be determined within time.
The courts can put time frame the moment cases are filed and assigned to a judge. “Take for instance, the Oscar Pictorious case. I doubt if the case lasted for six months from the beginning to the end. From the date the gentleman was arraigned up until when he got judgment, I am not sure he lasted more than six months and that been so, both the accused and the state they got judgment and able to get justice.
We can introduce such in our environment as well. We can look at some applications and conclude that this matter need not come to court. The court registrar can look at certain applications and processes and determine it and make recommendation to judges.
It is not that everything must be determined by the court.” He explained that there are some applications that need not come to court at all.
“I will urged the Buhari administration to look at the possibility of the judiciary, the time been spent on matters with regards to reducing such so that in the end, justice will be served.
On the issue of corruption that has become a cankerworm afflicting the nation, he was of the opinion that our laws should be implemented irrespective of the individual involved.
He noted that the only way government can tackle corruption is by making sure that our laws are implemented. He said: “Laws are not supposed to be meant for certain class of people and then another class of people be exempted.
No matter how highly placed you can be or lowly placed you can be at the same time, once you are caught for one offence or the other, you will be called to question. It is not as if there is no corruption in those other jurisdictions where it seems their laws are working, but the moment you are caught, if you are the prime minister of those country, you will be made to face the music.
“You won’t have a situation where a minister steals and go free. You won’t have a situation where a governor is caught and would say ignore it.
The moment you give impression that laws are made for certain people, some other people are not supposed to be affected by those laws, then our people would continue to encourage corruption.” Oyewole enjoys sober colour which includes: grey, black, white and dark blue.
On his educational career, he has these to say, “I will say I am a Lagos boy but I am naturally from Osun State. I have my education from primary school through to the University in Lagos.
I attended Salvation Primary School, Surulere. I proceeded to Freedom High School, Surulere and then Lagos State University. To acquire more knowledge, I proceeded to the law school. That is mandatory for those who are called lawyers.
It was only one law school when we attended law school, there was no Enugu, Bayelsa, Kano. We only have one then”, he explained. He is a member of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and a member of the Lions Club international.