July 18, 2024

Osun lawmaker appeals court judgment barring him from rendering pro-bono service


A member of the Osun State House of Assembly, representing Oriade State Constituency, Kanmi Ajibola, has appealed the judgement of the Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, which barred him from appearing in court to render free legal services for indigent suspects facing criminal charges.

Kanmi, a lawyer and a former Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ilesa Branch, had sought the court’s permission in suit No. FHC/OS/CS/42/2023 to allow him to continue defending clients pro bono even while serving as an assemblyman.

Striking out the suit, Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel had said the lawmaker’s request was against the 1999 Constitution, which prohibits public servants from engaging in self-serving activities or businesses.

Dissatisfied with the lower court judgment, Ajibola filed seven grounds of appeal at the Court of Appeal, Akure.

He argued that the judge erred in law as he looked only in one direction of the case without carefully considering other facts of the matter.

The activist politician in his notice of appeal argued that the pro bono service which he has been rendering since 2000 is a public interest duty and not a personal interest or a private business, trade, or profession for money making.

He noted that the reason he filed the suit was that he was being threatened anytime he tried to defend those who had trumped-up criminal matters but were unable to hire lawyers to defend them in court.

According to him, the two respondents in the case, the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Attorney-General of Osun State, did not deny this fact.

While noting that the lower court misinterpreted and misapplied the provisions of paragraphs 1, 2 (a), and (b) of the Fifth Schedule, Part 1 of the 1999 Constitution in his case, Ajibola said the lower court did not consider paragraph 18 of the affidavit in support of his originating summons where he cited the roles the Prisoners Aid Initiative, a non-governmental organization (NGO) he registered in 2008, has been playing and how several inmates have benefited from his free legal services.

Apart from using this medium to secure the freedom of many innocents who were being subjected to trumped-up charges across the country, Ajibola informed the court that he was using the same NGO to assist the government in the area of prison decongestion.



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