From the CourtPilot Law

NBA leaders ego responsible for scrapping Nat’l legal adviser’s office – Balogun

Chief Rafiu Oyeyemi Balogun was among the pioneer students of the faculty of law, University of Ilorin in 1993 and graduated in 1999, no thanks to the protracted ASUU strike then. He later proceeded to the Bwari campus of the Nigerian law School Abuja and was called to the bar in 2001. After the completion of his NYSC programme at the chambers of the erudite and highly revered Mallam Yusuf Olaolu Ali in Ilorin, he was `retained. After his 7years pupillage, he went ahead to establish R.O Balogun & Co. (Crystal Chambers), Ilorin. In this interview with ACTING EDITOR, MUMINI ABDULKAREEM, he talks about some issues in the legal profession. Excerpts:
As a former legal officer of the national NBA and going by your experience, do you think senior lawyers are ready to take to the advice of the young lawyers?
That is one of the issues I had to deal with during my tenure as the national Legal Adviser of the NBA. Some senior lawyers look at me and queried what advice do I really want to give to a Senior Advocate or the NBA President then. But based on the profession, lawyer called to bar today can assist senior counsel to win a case. You cannot have all the laws in your head even if you’re practicing for hundred years, it doesn’t mean that you know everything. Young lawyers can do better because sometimes that way he view an issue or the way his mind is working might be in consonance with the way the judge sees the case. In our office here and other law chambers, that is the essence of having conference to discuss and harness different views to any particular issue of litigation. So being hundred years at the bar doesn’t mean that you must win your cases no, lawyers will have to assist you through research.
How was it advising your seniors and what was the challenge like?
During my time, we had lot of issues and I think God really wanted me to be there at that time. There was a time one of the lawyers in Lagos went to court to say we didn’t register our constitution in a case that would have disbanded the national NBA. He said the NBA was not registered with CAC and the lawyer wanted to nullify the positions of all those who had been in offices previously for several years and even nullify the election that brought us in to pave way for a caretaker and he got judgment against us at the federal High Court. But it was because of my swift reaction based on my experience in core litigation from the serious training received from my boss who I spent seven years with, Yusuf Ali (SAN). So I already knew what to do and didn’t wait for judgment which did not come immediately. The lawyer wanted to enforce that judgment and we would have been sacked, NBA would have been in disarray then. So I filed notice of appeal immediately same day because I was in court, I was also preparing my notice of appeal as I was listening to the judgment, there and then I prepare my stay of execution and then the pending appeal was filed the following day. So it was a serious battle and I need not wait for the NBA president or the secretary to do that. It was a serious mistake for the NBA to have scraped the office of the National Legal Adviser that it was not necessary. It is a serious mistake on the part of the leadership because somebody must be in charge. People have been suing the NBA and the Legal Adviser is like the Attorney General of the bar who will coordinate other lawyers in the NBA for defense. We have Legal Practitioners Committee in which the legal adviser is also a member and he will act between the team of legal prosecutors and the NBA executives and interface if there is any issue. I think it’s the ego of our leaders that called for such scraping. On the whole, I enjoyed myself as the National Legal Adviser of the NBA during my time because I was able to work. Before I came in, people think there was nothing happening there but when I came in, there were lots of cases and being someone who is at home with litigation, I enjoyed myself. But being NEC member for years has prepared me for future assignments with the NBA at the national level.

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