By Umani Uwemedimo
The Nigerian Constitution has attempted to provide answers to almost all questions concerning the government and the governed, most importantly, insisting that nobody is above the law.
The recent case of defamation concerning one Kufre Carter is one that the Constitution has a strong voice against and the consequences are stated expressly. But what is of great concern to us is the manner by which the defendant’s so called lawyer, Inibehe Effiong is making noise about the case. The young school leaver appears more energetic dragging his arguments and sentiments to the social media, with little or nothing left to be presented before their lordships.
A brilliant lawyer knows that judgements on the social media do not translate to judgements in the court. The court is only bound by the volume of evidences before it and not the quantity of paid insults and verbal abuses on the internet which have already pronounced victory for the accused. The misfirings by the attention seeking facebook lawyer, is a warning to sane minds, never to engage a lawyer who only knows how to make empty noise fused with insults. The accused, from indications may have hired a lawyer who is more interested, not in solving the matter, but flapping for recognition. Egoisitic lawyers only bury their clients in the deep waters and move on to look for other unsuspecting preys.
Cases are won through accurate presentation of facts. What is the essence of jumping into a case without proper preparation? How does a thousand insults hurled at the Governor of his state, help the case by Inibehe and his client? Is the trial judge on Facebook? What is the Twitter handle of the Chief Judge?
The law is the framework by which the system of government exists and no matter how much noise one makes in the media, it will not alter the operation of the law. Common sense demands that Inibehe Effiong should leave his quest for popularity as this case is beyond seeking sympathy from the media and other individuals who are guided by emotions. It is beyond converging emergency court sessions and making unnecessary press releases on Facebook and Twitter. Is Inibehe Effiong a social media lawyer?
Since the case was instituted, I have followed the defendant’s lawyer with keen interest and come to realize that instead of following legal processes to see to the success of his case, he is showing a clear sign of ineptitude, gross incompetence with a recourse to playing to the gallery.
One attribute of good lawyers is that they give their clients good counsel. They seek possible ways of winning cases, and not to aggravate the situation. I make bold to say that if a smart lawyer was sought to mediate for Kufre Carter and not Inibehe Effiong, the case would have become history by now.
I am not a lawyer, but the application of common Sense would make one to understand that there is no way the SSS would release Kufre Carter without meeting his bail conditions. Again,the court was silent about where Kufre Carter should be kept, hence his stay in the custody of the SSS. Instead for the defendant’s lawyer to see it in this light, he is abusing and insulting everyone.
Even the Honourable Minister of Information Lai Mohammed in his reaction had clearly affirmed that once someone is charged to court, there is nothing that can be done than plead for clemency or allow the rule of law take its course. This is the kind of lecture needed by textbook lawyers like the infant in this purview. Instead, he has chosen to blow his trumpet the way he feels and devised illegal and emotional means to facilitate the release of his clients. Winning election on the social media does not culminate to winning election at the polling unit. This is a lesson I have learnt over the years, and I had expected our brother and his cohorts to understand this much, if actually he is learned.
This brings us to the issue of a video by Mama Carter allegedly at the precinct of the Uyo State Security Headquarters. It is enough to appreciate that there must be that natural love of a mother who cherishes and has emotional attachments with her son. There is no mother that won’t be emotional about her son who is incarcerated, but for a lawyer to use that as his strong argument is a display of incompetence. But is this part of the facts that Inibehe will present before the court tomorrow?
I am not saying that the mother should not visit her son, neither do I support that she be denied access, on the contrary, all suspects have the liberty of controlled visits by their counsel, relatives or concerned individuals. However, parents should see the opportunity of the freedom and uninterrupted access they have with their children to caution them against putting themselves on the wrong side of the law. Whether on the social media, regular media or ora media, the laws of defamation, sedition, obscenity and other violation of other people’s rights, suffice.
We should not be oblivious, that those hurt in the course of the media onslaught are equally people with parents and families.
Since nobody is above the law, whoever is seeking equity, should first wash his hands clean.
Mr Umani, a human rights advocate writes from Uyo.