THE MAKING OF A SENIOR ADVOCATE OF NIGERIA: THE GOD FACTOR (2)
As part of the requirements for consideration for elevation to the prestigious Rank of SAN, an applicant must furnish a number of final judgments from the High Court up to the Supreme Court.
I handled a case for an elderly widow whose daughter connived with others to sell her only house, thereby rendering her homeless. We won in the High Court, after about seven years of trial. The defendant appealed to the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division, and after so many years of rigmarole, the appeal was listed for hearing on a particular Monday, in 2017.
I had briefed a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, to lead me in the appeal, pro bono, so he had the original case file with him.
On the day of hearing of the appeal, I rushed to the court very early and quickly scanned the environment. The appeal was listed as No.1 on the Cause List, being the oldest case. The SAN who was to lead me had not yet arrived, but his junior colleagues were already in court and we all endorsed our names. On the Cause List I noticed that the name￼ ￼of Chief Anthony Idigbe, SAN, was already endorsed for another appeal, and his junior colleagues were already in court, with his files neatly arranged on the front row in the Inner Bar. What can I do?
So I started praying; first that Chief Idigbe, SAN, will be arrested (my exact words) by the traffic, second that the justices will sit on time and third that I’ll find favour before the Appellant’s counsel. So I searched out for the Appellant’s counsel, my strategy being to sit next to him so I could use his file to argue my Respondent’s brief when the court sits. As soon as the Appellant saw me with his lawyer, he quickly called him outside, presumably to warn him not to associate with me, but God prevailed and the counsel agreed to sit with me. I intensified my prayers, checking the court entrance so often, if Chief Idigbe, SAN, or another SAN, would stroll in.
On this particular day, the justices came into the court around 8:58am (I was watching the time), did all the preliminaries of bowing and greeting counsel and then the presiding justice asked the Registrar to call case No.1 on the list. It turned out that the counsel sent to argue the appeal on behalf of the appellant was not very well familiar with the facts of the case so I had to help him sort out the records of appeal and his appellant’s brief and the reply brief, to avoid another adjournment.
Then it was my turn to oppose the appeal. I practically had to stretch to be able to get across the to appellant’s counsel to have access to the respondent’s brief inside his file, as I had a preliminary objection to the appeal also. The appellant was all the while fuming, but there was nothing he could do at this time. I opposed the appeal and then assisted his counsel to guide him to adopt the reply brief and we concluded the case and judgment was reserved.
As I was stepping out of the courtroom, I saw Chief Idigbe, SAN, rushing in from the staircase to enter the court. I greeted him and he inquired from me if the court was already sitting, explaining that he was held up in Lekki traffic. I told him that I was the one that “arrested” him with my prayers and we both laughed it off, but in truth, he didn’t get the gist of my testimony.
Judgment was eventually delivered in our favour and the appeal was dismissed and I used the judgment as part of my documents for my application for elevation as SAN.
In Hebrews 11:6, it is stated that those who come to God must believe that He is and God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
If you have the faith to believe anything and you indeed work towards it, the reality of that thing is a matter of certainty.
God is alive and REAL, to those that believe in Him.
God bless you all.
Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, SAN