PEPC Judgment: Oladele caution lawyers not to reason like social media commentators. 

Sep 11, 2023 - 13:20
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PEPC Judgment: Oladele caution lawyers not to reason like social media commentators. 
Photo Credit: Premium Times

By Adetokunbo FAKEYE 

An international lawyer, Hon. Kayode Oladele has described the recent judgment of the Presidential Election Petition Court that upheld the election of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as sound in law and reasoning with a call on lawyers to protect the judiciary and not reason like social media commentators. 

According to him, a former federal lawmaker, in a statement given to journalists at the weekend, the judgment generally has all the essential fundamentals of a good judgment that contains all the facts and substantive issues as pleaded by the parties were well assembled and "painstakingly examined and specifically addressed while all applicable legal principles were well articulated and applied by the court", he said.

He added, "As a lawyer, what I look for in a decision is not the volume of the judgment or how long it took the judge to read his decision but rather whether the judgment and ruling of the Court, particularly its analysis of the pleadings, facts and evidence as well as the heart of the briefs and issues as formulated by all the parties were well considered and whether the rule of law was syllogistically applied to the set of established facts and evidence. 

"I look at the ratio decidendi, the legal reasoning within a judgment on which the outcome of the case depends. I examine the principles used by a court to arrive at its decision or the rationale behind a particular judgment or decision. This is how I appraise a case and of course, I believe it’s the most reasonable way to predict its potential outcome and credibility. It’s not by emotions, sentiments or what we generally call, ‘the common sense,’ ‘should have,’ ‘ought to have,’ or beer parlor arguments". 

According to Oladele, who was appointed by then-President Umar Yar’Ardua in 2009 to liaise with the relevant United States authorities with regard to the Halliburton bribery investigation, he has read the full judgment of the tribunal and in his view, he is convinced that the court’s ruling and reasoning are absolutely sound and unassailable.

"I have read the whole judgment and I’m convinced the process of arriving at its ratio decidendi was based on a well-articulated and correctly thought analysis of the issues presented as well as facts and evidence provided by the parties. 

"The court examined every issue; even the minuted ones were specifically and critically considered in great detail. That in my opinion, is very important and this has consequently made the court’s decision to be watertight, sound and unassailable.

"The decision has all the fundamental ingredients of a fair and impartial judgment. In my view, it followed the rule of law and I don’t see any appearance of bias or prejudice in favor of President Bola Tinubu.

"Rather, the indications are very clear that the judgment is yet another example and demonstration of judicial intellectualism and independence in Nigeria. I hasten to say that lawyers who do media trials and prefer to prosecute their cases in social media may not agree with this view.

"Be that as it may, the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Court is very impenetrable and I have no doubt that it can stand any legal scrutiny and review by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. While the petitioners, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi have their Constitutional rights to appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court, I don’t see any possibility of it being overturned by the apex court. I see any appeals from this judgment as a wide goose chase", he stated.

He counselled lawyers particularly those representing Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Mr. Peter Obi to desist from making inflammatory statements to intimidate and indict the judiciary, noting further that as lawyers, their duties are fundamentally and primarily to the rule of law and justice.

"At some point, lawyers should draw a boundary between professional fee and rules of professional conduct and ethics.  While Professional fee can be tempting and sometimes may compel lawyers to descend below their professional standards, they should have it at the back of their minds that legal profession is the only profession that I know where members swear to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law. As such, they must maintain the highest standards of ethical conduct.

"It is, therefore, very important that lawyers must not reason like social media commentators. We must protect the judiciary and defend our judges from unfair comments, reckless assaults and political attacks. While others can defend themselves in the social media, judges can’t; they don’t have crisis managers and social media handlers as others do", Oladele stated.

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