Pilot Law

My most dramatic day in court

Muhammed Mustapha Akanbi had his LL.B at the Obafemi Awolowo University, (OAU) in Ife, Osun State before proceeding to Lagos State University in 1996 where he obtained his Masters in Law; he also studied in London University where he bagged his Ph.D. He joined the faculty of Law, University of Ilorin in 1998 where he rose through the ranks from Lecturer II to become a Professor in 2012. In this interview, he shares with KAYODE ADEOTI, his most striking moment as a legal practitioner. Excerpts:


It was the day the principal of a neighbour law firm who was very close to my boss sent me to court with the instruction to hold a brief for him. He said to me, ‘go to court and get an adjournment’ afterwards, he briefed me on what to do.

It happened in Lagos around 1997, on this fateful day; I dressed well and did all the necessary rehearsals just for me to have a fulfilled outing. I was a green horn in the profession; so I was feeling cool with the fact that I’m going to court for just an adjournment. The matter was before one popular Justice Akinsanya James, the principled woman who declared interim government illegal in Nigeria. However, going through the case file, apparently, it was a bad case, the man who was handling it had asked for several adjournments and he had been warned that he won’t be given such privilege again. Also, I didn’t see the judge’s comment on the previous proceedings, there was nothing to build on.

However, when the matter was called, I stood up and introduced myself, the lawyer on the other side told the court that the matter is for hearing. I was amazed when I heard that; I told the court that my principal said I should get an adjournment, but the opposing counsel kicked against it vehemently, he said this is the sixth time my principal would be seeking for adjournment which were granted, he urged the court not to grant me the adjournment. I became confused because I was not prepared for that, then I tried to reinstate my position again that I was instructed to get adjournment. The judge looked at me and said, ‘young man, I’m going to step down this case for you to go prepare. When I heard this, my world came crashing, there was no GSM to call, everybody in the court suddenly became emergency lawyers, but lo and behold, she later had to adjourn but she tongue-lashed me.

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