A review of TIT-BITS OF ADVOCACY: A Book in Honour of HON. JUSTICE DAHIRU MUSDAPHER (GCON), Chief Justice of Nigeria
Author/ Editor: Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru SAN, FClarb, KSC
Reviewer: Chidozie Chukwubuike
Publisher: Imo Law Publishers, Owerri
Year of Publication: 2012
Number of Pages: 336
The general perception of law and the legal profession as a battle field where jaw-breaking jargons are unleashed to make arguments and counter arguments has over the years repulsed the ordinary citizens from materials and books from that discipline. They resort to reading such fantastic and sensational fictions as John Grisham’s as alternative. However the emergence of TIT-BITS OF ADVOCACY: A BOOK IN HONOUR OF HON. JUSTICE DAHIRU MUSDAPHER (GCON), Chief Justice of Nigeria is an exciting contradiction to that long borne prejudice. The fluid blend of legal concepts and creative literary employment of craft and the exceptional style of presentation distinguish it as an innovation in modern writing.
This book of 28 chapters is in my understanding subconsciously divided into three parts where part one is an uncommon tribute to Hon. Justice Dahiru Musdapher (GCON), Chief Justice of Nigeria, part 2 is an expose of the legal profession and part 3 is the conclusion. In the first part, Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru, SAN suddenly captures the interest of the reader with a graphical portrait of the chief justice of Nigeria. He shocks us into sudden realization with a record of Justice Musdapher’s vehement renunciation of the dubious concept called “plea bargain” sneaked into the Nigerian legal system to serve the interest of people he described as “high profile criminals who loot the treasury entrusted to them.”
This riposte naturally induces the reader to heave a sigh of relief at having at last been compensated with one of their own – a kindred spirit. This empathy then relaxes the reader to release himself to be entranced in the charm and beauty of the book. Again, in page 3, the Chief Justice in consonance with the revolutionary image already imprinted on the mind of the reader lashed out at the judiciary over perceived miscarriage of justice. He said, “…matters should be decided on their merit and not technicalities. Judiciary’s responsibility is to do justice without technicality.” The Chief Justice struck a chord with the reader as a man outraged by the odouriferous decadence in the Nigerian Judiciary and boiling with a determination to put a stop to it. This evokes the reader’s empathy the more. Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru, SAN concludes his tribute to this great Nigerian, who it seems, is his role model by presenting to the reader Justice Dahiru Musdapher’s intimidating curriculum vitae.
Also commendable is the seamless manner with which the writer moved into the second part of the book. This part, though not categorically stated, for me, is sub-divided into 2 parts, namely; requirements for Legal practice and the practice proper. In a very creative manner, the writer interestingly blends authorial thoughts and convictions with authorities cited from a wide range of thoroughly researched sources. The legal profession is glamourized and made so attractive to the reader that the laity is suffused in admiration while the lawyer becomes eager to practice his profession.
In pages 8 and 9, the author impresses it on the reader that lawyers draw from every domain of learning, and are informed or at least aware of the multitudinous and the multifarious forces with which society is concerned and which affects society. Despite the glowing picture of the profession painted in the book, the author in his characteristic forthrightness makes no pretension about the presence among lawyers of unscrupulous elements, aptly described in the book as “people who grow rich by chicanery and plunder.” However, the author quickly adds by quoting Dr Amaechi Nwaiwu SAN that, and I paraphrase, history vindicates the integrity of the legal profession despite the efforts of the press and imaginative literature to hinge on the few bad eggs to ridicule the entire profession.
Throughout the entire book, and particularly in chapter 3, the author deftly weaves in and out of legal discourse relevant passages from enduring works of fiction, and even the Holy Bible.
Through this book, lovers of classical literature become nostalgic with poetry and speeches from Socrates, Shakespeare, Milton, Tennyson, and Alexander pope.
Encouraging younger lawyers in page 23, the book stresses advocates’ hard work and patience as what the young lawyer needs to get to the top of his profession. He emphasized the need for pupilage. In frightening sincerity he talks about his experience in deviling- a practice of working for experience as opposed to working for money. One can imagine the author warming up to his favourite preoccupation, discussing law. He quickly dispenses with the part dealing with requirements for legal practice, and in one breath delves into the practice proper. The most outstanding achievement of this book is the, almost, total reliance on the Nigerian judicial records for facts to buttress his points. This is a novel achievement judging from the fact that in Nigerian law books are filled with British experience as though the Nigerian Judiciary started yesterday. Having creditably discussed the practice of law in a most stimulating manner, Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru, who himself is a distinguished senior advocate concludes his work with a discourse on the trend towards written advocacy in civil practice.
In conclusion, I think that by first presenting us with the impeccable personality of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, then unsuspectingly leading us into the awesome world of the legal profession, there is no higher lesson than showing aspirants and practitioners alike that there is no short cut to greatness other than hard work.
This book is a treasure to the lawyer. It is that long desired permanent companion that has demystified the legal profession for the erstwhile repulsive laity. It is a collector’s delight, and an indispensable reference material in libraries. Though there are negligible printer’s devils, all in all, the work is unimpeachable!