SAN – Senseless Advocates of Nigeria?

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Jul 25th, 2012

In a recent feel good news credited to Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo, president 99-07, about corruption in Nigeria, couple that with the array of Nigeria legal class made up of legal practitioners and the judiciary, it’s mere toothless bull dogs.


To crown the clowns of Nigeria legal practitioners, a dubious class dubbed SAN – Senior Advocates of Nigeria, ruinously and ridiculously known as – SENSELESS ADVOCATES OF NIGERIA, make nonsense of Nigeria laws. If not, how come it took a British court to indict, try and convict former Delta State Governor Ibori and now a US court is following an order to confiscate what Ibori stashed in US.


As Nigerian lawyers go around with laughable salutation of ‘Learned Colleague’, it is no wonder there is hardly collateral substance in what laws they defend or fight to uphold. They are fair weather lawyers: Anything goes sort of practitioners. They neither understand how laws help a society migrate to higher plane nor enforcement of prosecution/defense of laws to create and enable/enhance stability, deterrent, fairness and equity.


It is a national shame that in 21st century, Nigerians are busy displaying dances and songs in the square while others deploy their resources from remote locations to help create and make sense in a senseless society. What would it have taken for a group of defiant Nigerian lawyers to bring class action law suits against errant public officials as ‘Friends of the Country’, and fight as public defenders of trust to promote probity? Instead, the clamor for legal title is the same as in non legal civil society, consumes their energy. The practice of law should not be based on seniority and or title.


SAN is a dubious title that unduly rewards those that possess it. I have witnessed court proceedings in Nigeria, and it is a joke to see how even a Judge defers to a SAN and stand up to offer their salutation. The privileges extended to SAN is like one accorded a King of the Court. How can justice be dispensed when title and seniority are accorded undue advantage as opposed to judicial procedures and rule of evidence?


The Nigerian Legal Council, assuming there is such a thing, ought to reject SAN designation and if possible by doing away with such. Since SAN holders are same people that take village titles and crave for all others to shore up their profile, maybe it should be awarded to those who will not appear in court. It should be for legal scholars devoted to fighting for legal issues dealing with Nigeria and not to defend any particular litigant. SAN should be seen as a crowing of legal status and given to those whose character and conduct pass commoners test. Some of the SAN are dubious and exploit advantages such confers on them.


To many, they are basically: Senseless Advocates of Nigeria while they pretend to be Senior Advocates of Nigeria. Go Figure!




U.S court orders seizure of Ibori’s assets


The United States Department of Justice has secured a restraining order on the assets of former Delta State governor, James Ibori. The assets in question include more than $3 million looted funds and a mansion in Houston, Texas, U.S. The former governor is currently serving a 13-year jail term in the United Kingdom for corruption and money laundering. He was convicted and sentenced by a British court on April 18.


The department got the powers through an application filed under seal on May 16 in U.S District Court in the District of Columbia, to register and enforce two orders from United Kingdom courts against more than $3 million in corruption proceeds related to Ibori. The Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director, John Morton, disclosed this in a statement on the U.S Justice Department website on Tuesday.


“The application seeks to restrain assets and other proceeds of corruption belonging to Ibori and Bhadresh Gohil, Ibori’s former English solicitor. “Specifically, it seeks to restrain a mansion in Houston and two Merrill Lynch brokerage accounts. U.S. District Judge Lamberth granted the application and issued a restraining order under seal on May 21. “The department was notified today that its application to unseal the restraining order was granted.


“The United States is working with the United Kingdom’s Crown Prosecution Service and the Metropolitan Police Service to forfeit these corruption proceeds,” the statement said. According to the application, Ibori served as the governor of Nigeria’s oil-rich Delta State from 1999 to 2007, and misappropriated millions of dollars in Delta State funds.


He laundered those proceeds through a myriad of companies, intermediaries and nominees in several jurisdictions, including the UK, with the help of Gohil. Although Nigeria’s Constitution prohibits state governors from maintaining foreign bank accounts and serving as directors of private companies, Ibori and his associates accumulated millions of dollars in assets in the UK and U.S, according to the application.


Gohil was also convicted in November 2010 of money laundering and prejudicing a money laundering investigation and was sentenced by a British court to 10 years in prison. “Instead of working to benefit the people of the Niger Delta, Ibori pilfered state funds and accumulated immense wealth in the process,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.


“He conspired with Mr. Gohil to funnel millions of dollars in corruption proceeds out of Nigeria and into bank accounts and assets maintained in the names of shell companies and nominees,” he added.


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