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Had not the Supreme Court itself held in (1991) 5 NWLR (Pt 189) 1 SC at 14 that “it is not every error discovered on appeal that will automatically lead to the reversal of a judgment”?
Had not it insisted in that case that “an error must be substantial before an mappeal is allowed”?
What is more, in (2002) 14 NWLR (Pt 786) that the court will not allow the excuse of fair hearing to abuse the court or irritate the other party.
Indeed, the court of justice has always been cognizant of the fact that it must sometimes not be slavish to procedure in as much as the procedure complained of has done no injury to any of the two limbs of natural justice or fair hearing, which are respectively .
On behalf of Action Congress party, the law firm of M. Banire & Associates wrote a petition dated July 15, 2008 to the NBA, as a result of which the NBA filed a complaint at the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee (LPDC). Kunle Kalejaiye, who was a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), while engaged as counsel in the conduct of the defence of an election petition before the Osun State Governorship and Legislative Houses Election Petition Tribunal, was involved in exchange of voice calls, multi-media services (MMS) and short messages services (SMS) with some members of the tribunal, especially its Chairman, Justice Thomas Naron, without informing the opposing counsel, allowing the opposing counsel to be present and, by so doing, creating the impression of seeking special personal favour from the Chairman of the Petitions Tribunal and, by so doing, failing to maintain the high standard of professional conduct expected of a legal practitioner by engaging in a conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner, all contrary to Rules 1, 15, 30, 31, 32, 34, 36 and 55 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession 2007.
In its direction, the LPDC found him guilty and accordingly directed the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to strike his name off the roll of legal practitioners.
Though it has never been spared by fastidious observers, the Nigerian anti-corruption war has generally remained on course since its inception with the passing of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment, etc) Act 2004 and the Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Act 2000.
The apex court accordingly set aside the LPDC decision.
Thirdly, the Supreme Court decision in the case under review is also unsustainable because it is rather a setback to the anti-corruption war of the Federal Government and of the NBA through the LPDC.
The decision was inconsistent with the erstwhile anti-corruption decisions of the Supreme Court from(2018) 10 NWLR (Pt 1626) 169 SC where it recently held that the burden lies on an accused person to explain the source of the properties that he acquired which are disproportionate to his known legitimate earnings.
After all, our court is not supposed to be just a court of law but also a court of justice.
But where is the precedent to follow to do such substantial justice now that the Supreme Court in the case under review has apparently promoted technicality above substantial justice?