The Presidency on Sunday chided a private lawyer, Mr. Nnamdi Nwokocha, for attempting to prejudice public opinion against President Muhammadu Buhari over his alleged lack of secondary school certificate by declaring the president guilty on the pages of newspapers.
Reacting to Nwokocha’s press interviews, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, said it was unfair for a lawyer, who is a litigant to a case in court, to go out of his way to hijack the power of a Judge by declaring Mr. Buhari guilty of what he is accused of.
Malam Shehu pointed out that newspaper pages are not alternative courts where a lawyer can declare anybody guilty of anything when the court has not formally given a definitive judgment on an issue before it.
“The two-pages interview splashed on pages 56-57 of ThisDay edition of Saturday June 11th breaches a lawyer’s ethical code and we hope that the court and the Bar Association will take notice of this”, he said.
The presidential spokesman stressed that any lawyer that sincerely believes in judicial process and the rights of other parties to a case would not have engaged in the inappropriate and unprofessional practice of trial by media, especially a situation where the litigant openly declared Buhari guilty when the court didn’t make that declaration.
He noted that gag orders emerged in the United States on account of lawyers’ inappropriate conduct on trying and convicting people on the pages of newspapers or the court of public opinion.
Mr. Shehu warned that free speech is not synonymous with recklessness and wanton abuse of the rights of other parties to a case in court.
“The litigant’s unabashed claim that he was a card-carrying member of the opposition PDP which lost power in the last election clearly indicates a scheme that seeks power by circumventing the democratic process of elections”, he said.
The presidential aide further warned that Mr. Nwokocha fails to stop his unfair and professionally inappropriate abuse of free speech, President Buhari’s competent team of lawyers will seek the instrumentality of the law in dealing with his unethical actions.
Shehu said that no one should be a litigant and be a Judge at the same time.