The Supreme Court yesterday read riot act to some erring lawyers warning that henceforth any counsel who lie in the open court to mislead it would be referred to the appropriate bodies for de-robbed.
The Apex court warned that lawyers as ministers in the temple of Justice should learn to be decorous, decent in their conduct and abide by their code of conduct.
The anger of the court arose when a lawyer, professor L. A. Izebi Undie, appearing for a former governorship candidate in Cross Rivers State accused the court of being gross unfair to his client by denying him justice in a case brought before the apex court.
The lawyer who initially refused to be called to order by the Justices of the Supreme Court alleged that his client Chief Usani Usani of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was robbed of justice by the court.
He insisted that his client filed a brief of argument in a case challenging the election of Governor Liyel Imoke but that the case of his client was never heard or consolidated with any other before a judgement was delivered.
Professor Izebi-Undie claimed that the action of the court was painful as the door of justice was shut against the governorship candidate.
He asked the court to set aside section 285 of the 1999 constitution to set aside the alleged offending judgement and reverse itself.
Trouble however arose for the lawyer when a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Paul Erokoro read out the judgement especially the portion where Professor Izebi-Undie during the hearing of the case gave an undertaking to abide by the outcome of the decision of the apex court on another governorship election case.
Justice Mahmoud who presided over the court yesterday accused the Professor Izebi-Undie of deliberately telling lies in the open court in order to discredit and mislead the court.
In the ensuing drama, the lawyer was subjected to series of questioning on whether the Supreme Court has power to amend the constitution as he sought and whether the 5 man panel of Justices can over-ride the decision of 7 man panel of Justices.
The lawyer instead of answering the questions, advise the Supreme Court not to allow itself to be tied down or be made work backward by the National Assembly.
The Justices who one after the other tongue-lashed the Professor asked him to go and advise his client to take his case to heaven if he was not satisfied with the earlier decision he subscribed to.
Justice Mohammed said “There is now way we can go back on our earlier decision that your client has no case before us. The time is over. Section 285 of the constitution has killed and buried his case”
“For your information, we have no power to amend the constitution here. If you have an axe to grind with the constitution, go to the National Assembly and leave us alone if the constitution is un-constitutional we all have to abide by it until when amended by the National Assembly”
The counsel later profusely apologized to the court for the embarrassment his conduct might have caused the Justice.
“I seriously apologize for any argument I may have made to the embarrassment of the Court. I never intend to deliberately mislead the court.
Chief Damian Dodo SAN also joined the Professor in the apology to the court not to refer him to any disciplinary committee.
His motion seeking order of the court to invalidate section 285 of the constitution was withdrawn by the lawyer “upon the wisdom flowing from the court to me” and was struck out.
Justice Mohammed warned that any lawyer who deliberately bring frivolous matters to Supreme Court would henceforth be dealt with adding “we need a good conduct from the bar”