By Hammed Shittu
A former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has broken his silence on why the All Progressives Congress (APC) prayed the Supreme Court to review its verdict on the Bayelsa State governorship election.
Olanipekun said his team did not go to the apex court to accuse the judges of fraud, but that the legal teams were there to remind the judges of likely human error in the judgment.
The legal titan told reporters in Ilorin, Kwara State, saying: “For me to have gone to court to present my case in a most forensic manner, profound manner, but addressing the bench with every courtesy, respect.
“The day I would be intimidated, afraid of going to court to say this is what the law says, these are the precedents, that day I will drop my wig and gown.
“The day I will also go to court and mislead the court, may that day never come and if it will come through me, I will say God, take me home. I say this with every sense of responsibility and I mean what I’m saying. I have read in dailies on what happened at the Supreme Court recently.
“But let me say this, in that matter, and fortunately, one of the very best of the very best, Lateef Fagbemi was with me. We committed no wrong. We made no mistake, no error. We were briefed in respect of a matter. We were of the view that the apex court relied on the judgment of the Federal High Court.
“And the Federal High Court did not disqualify their candidate. We looked at it, we set up three teams. Meticulously, we sat and realised that the Federal High Court did not disqualify the candidate of our client. But that will not be enough.
“We had to go through so many precedents and we went back to the apex court use the judgment of the Federal High Court. In some cases, the apex court had reviewed its order and changed the order.
“Those of you who know me can testify that I am not rude to colleagues at the bar. Humility pays. The Bible tells me that God hates a haughty heart. So, if I’m humble, extends courtesy to my colleagues at the bar, how much more to the members of the bench.
“My oral adumbration was punctuated with the physiology, our Lord we are not accusing you of fraud. We are only reminding you of what Esho, Oputa said, quoting that beautiful rendition of the Justices of the Supreme Court of the USA in Adegoke Motors and Adesanya, that you’re not infallible.
“There might be human error, slip. We didn’t do more than that and, all of a sudden, the court said what it said. It’s not my style.
“When I left the court with Prince Fagbemi, hordes of camera men, asked ‘will you not react to what they said?’ I said me? No, I would not. I have passed that stage, but one thing I will say is that I’ve been a builder of this profession and few people can beat their chest that they have contributed more to this profession than people like us. This profession belongs to all of us and we must carry it together.
“We must see it as a big elephant. It must not fall. It’s a very fragile keg with water inside, or egg. We must all defend the profession, both the bar and bench.
What I’m saying is that I’m a leader of the profession. I have a dynasty with my mentees. How will I want the profession to fall? I’m pleading to all of us, through this occasion of my being honoured, to come and reason together.
“Even God would reverse some of His decisions. And a typical and topical one is in the Bible. If God could reverse his decision, no human being could say I will not. There’s only one single profession.
It is only in Nigeria that you have disparity between the bench and the bar. There should not be division.”