Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The dust raised by the Supreme Court on the Bayelsa State Governorship election is yet to settle as two eminent lawyers, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN) and Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) have formally protested the heavy cost imposed on them and the harsh words directed at them by Justices of the apex court.
Both lawyers had entered their appearance for the All Progressives Congresses (APC) and its candidates in the last governorship election in Bayelsa State – David Lyon Pereworinmin and Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo – in their quest to set aside the judgment of the court that voided their victory in the election.
But in a unanimous ruling delivered on February 26, 2020, a seven-member panel of the court dismissed the applications by the APC and its candidates for lacking in merit. Justice Amina Augie, who read the lead ruling, tongue-lashed both lawyers for bringing such an application and consequently awarded N30million punitive cost against each of them.
The actions of the senior members of the inner bar is contained in their protest letters addressed to the National Executive Council (NEC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), wherein they insisted that they did no wrong by asking the court to take a second look at its earlier judgment.
While seeking NBA’s intervention, they argued that they did nothing unlawful and unprofessional to warrant the harsh words used on them and the unprecedented cost awarded against them for merely carrying out their professional responsibilities as lawyers.
Besides, they warned that the decision of th Supreme Court, as it relates to them, was capable of laying wrong precedence that lawyers could be penalised for merely seeking to explore the justice administration process for the benefit of his/her client.
While Olanipekun personally authored his letter (dated March 10, 2020), Babalola’s letter (dated March 11, 2020) was written by the Managing Partner of his law firm, Adbayo Adenipekun. Both letters are addressed to the NBA President, Paul Usoro (SAN).