​FREE LEGAL SERVICE; PRO BONO OR CHARITY?

Ranking as one of the most common legal terms among non-lawyers is the word pro bono. You may be surprised that even an individual who might never have seen inside the four walls of a school but has dealings with a lawyer understands this phrase. It is not hard to see why. Pro bono service means legal service offered without a fee. So, if lay men know the meaning, don’t be amazed. Love for free things is a denominator common to all of us. Education and language are no barrier to understanding “free of charge“.

However, this same word has both been misused and misunderstood even among lawyers. So, as one in the know, I do feel an obligation to conduct a pro bono legal education and public enlightenment.

Firstly, let me disabuse your knowledge and understanding. Pro bono does not mean “completely free of charge”. Don’t be shocked! It only means as a lawyer, I won’t charge you for the fee I’m entitled to for the legal service I will render or have rendered. It only means I won’t charge you for the fee that is supposed to go into my wallet for the training and experience I have garnered both from the rigorous years of legal education and from practice. This pro bono does not cover other expenses in the process of rendering my service.

For instance, pro bono does not cover filing fees, expenses for service of Court processes, incidental fees that arise in the course of conducting your matter and other similar expenses. In actual fact, some lawyers still collect appearance fee for pro bono cases. My principal collected one recently and the best part was when he turned the money above his shoulders to the back for the junior lawyers to share. Such moments are ecstatic.

This is the logic for pro bono. There are different types of fees a lawyer charges. Professional fee, appearance fee, consultancy fee and others. When litigation is concerned, professional fee is the fee for what the lawyer does in his law office in preparation for your case and what he does inside the courtroom in order to win it. And this is what he was trained for. So, if a case is pro bono, it is this professional fee that is affected and not any other. 

However, as some of us believe, due to exposure, the challenges bedevilling the legal profession are not due to the nature of the profession but individual differences, unlike what we have been made to believe. For instance, regarding the lingering issue of poor welfare package for lawyers, especially young lawyers, we have been made to believe this is the way and modus operandi of the profession. However, it is noteworthy that some lawyers still see it as a duty that they have good welfare packages for their lawyer-employees not because they are excessively rich but because they know that is the right and proper thing to do.

In the same vein, some lawyers may still conduct your case pro bono without collecting a dime in any form. Then, this is no longer pro bono but charity (lol). All the pillars of life encourage this. The solemn bank accounts of some lawyers don’t encourage it.

So, when next a lawyer tells you he is not going to charge you for his services, verify by asking, “Barista, eskis sah, shey na pro bono or charity?” So you won’t cry foul later: “lawyers are liars.” Well, that’s already a mantra for those who cannot sit with us #picksrace

 S.O.J. Fadipe,

A young lawyer currently practicing in Benin City, Edo State.
You can connect with him via Twitter and Instagram: @inspiredsunfad and fadipesunday@yahoo.com

CAN YOU BE A NECROPHILIAC AND GO SCOT FREE IN NIGERIA?

After seeing the topic of this article, I expect one of three things from you: either consult your dictionary if you have one handy like I do always; or click the link of the article hoping to learn a new word today like I always try to do; or finally, if you do not belong to any of the foregoing categories, click the link because you wish to know the position of the law regarding necrophilia
Whichever is your lot, welcome on board because some days ago, I fell in all of the categories when I first saw the word on a video uploaded by Pulse TV on social media. I consulted my dictionaries to learn a new word and then set out on a voyage of worthwhile discovery to know the position of the law on something as disgusting, yet real as this. The outcome of my discovery is this article you are reading. 

Firstly, necrophilia is a pathological attraction to dead bodies, especially sexual attraction or intercourse. Another dictionary of mine defines it as sexual interest in dead bodies. Now, you may wonder what my fascination is with the word that spurred an article. It’s simple. The video of the Ghanaian morgue attendant who confessed to such debased act ended with the question: “is there any law against this shameful act?” As a lawyer, that whetted my legal appetite and spurred my interest in researching on the subject, as Lord Denning, the Master of Rolls said, “God forbid that a lawyer knows all the law, but a good lawyer is one who knows where to find the law.”

However, before we go on, it is pertinent to ask, who in their right senses sleep with or have sexual interest in dead bodies? If you say it may be for ritual purposes, I won’t dispute. Our society is yet to be fully divorced from crude practices. But if it is not for such, then the most reasonable explanation for people who do such is this: “aye n se won”, with the cannot-do-justice-to-the-real-meaning interpretation of “they are under a spell.” 

It didn’t take me much time to find out that apart from the fact that necrophilia might be a pathological disorder or might have a spiritual connotation, it is a crime and it is outlawed by the Criminal Code Act of Nigeria which applies only in the Southern part of the country. Sadly, there is no equivalent provision in the Penal Code, the operative legislation in the North. Section 242(1) (b) of the Criminal Code provides as follows:

Any person who without lawful justification or excuse, the proof of which lies on him, improperly or indecently interferes with, or offers any indignity to any dead human body or human remains, whether buried or not is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for two years.”

A cursory look at this provision shows that sleeping with dead bodies is not the only act contemplated by this provision of the law. In actual fact, it is the opinion of a colleague that the legislators may not even have contemplated “sleeping with dead bodies” due to the paucity of specificity in this provision. For instance, a comparative look at the provision for the offence of rape shows otherwise. Section 357 of the same Act provides that: 

Any person who has unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl, without her consent, or with her consent, if the consent is obtained by force or by means of threats or intimidation of any kind, or by fear of harm, or by means of false and fraudulent representation as to the nature of the act, or, in the case of a married woman, by personating her husband, is guilty of an offence which is called rape” (emphasis mine).

This provision on rape is explicit and specific, especially with the highlighted words above as touching having “unlawful carnal knowledge of a woman or girl.” However, it is not unsafe to interpret, it violates no interpretation rule and it is obviously right that “improper or indecent interference or offering of any indignity” referred to in section 242(1) (b) of the Act covers the subject of this article. In actual fact, Black’s Law Dictionary, Tenth Edition, defines “indecency” as the quality, state, or condition of being outrageously offensive, especially in a vulgar or sexual way.

Away from that, I have two grouses against this provision. Firstly, the statement, “without lawful justification or excuse”, means that the drafters of the legislation might have envisaged a situation where a necrophiliac would have a lawful excuse for engaging in such act. The question is, which lawful justification would a human have for sleeping with dead bodies? I’m yet to come up with one. Though in another way round, a lawful justification for improper or indecent interference or offer of any indignity to any dead human body might be in the form of a pathologist performing autopsy, but definitely not sleeping with a dead body.

Secondly, the punishment of two years seems like a slap on the wrist for offenders. Imagine mourning the death of a loved one and some debased humans somewhere are sexually feasting on the body. Two years is definitely not commensurate with this inconceivable and unimaginable act but I am far from surprised. The same Criminal Code Act prescribes the ludicrous punishment of N100 for some offences, yet we still have lawmakers in the hallowed chambers.

Definitely, morgue attendants would be much more prone to such an ungodly and unhuman act, but it is better to seek help or flee, like the Bible commands, than be a necrophiliac and even a proud one like the Ghanaian morgue attendant. What can be worse than sexual intercourse with a dead body?

If you sleep with dead bodies, you are toying with two years behind bars. But wait, who would even arrest and prosecute you? Everybody would think you dine with the devil himself.

S.O.J. Fadipe, Esq. 

Fadipe is a young lawyer currently practicing in Benin City, Edo State.

You can connect with him via Twitter and Instagram: @inspiredsunfad; and fadipesunday@yahoo.com or sunfadesq@gmail.com

OF LINES AND RHYMES

For brothers in muse…

When I started writing poems some years back, I was literarily drunk in rhymes. For each line, words must entwine like the stems of a vine.

However, along the line, my interest in rhymes faded and I discovered that I could even write better and finer without rhymes. Lending credence to this, I have seen great poets and poems focusing less on rhymes and the results are masterpieces.


Unfortunately, I have seen and read many budding poets and poems chasing rhymes to a fault. Many lose their message in the needless pursuits of rhymes; forced rhymes at that. These days, unconsciously, I only skim through rhythmic poems trying to discover the patterns rather than uncover the message.
So, this is my one cent to upcoming poets, ditch the rhymes, if they are not flowing. Allow your mind and muse the latitude to wander and discover the beauty of words weaved together like braids on an African woman’s head. 

Festive euphoria; how plans fade with it!

Over the years, I have discovered that I have become more reserved in celebration, most especially in festive periods as this. Rather than jump up and down, I, with a straight face but deeply engaged mind, ponder on the mistakes and breakthroughs of the past, the challenges and prospects of the unfolding days, and of course, with a heart of gratitude.

It’s a season of euphoria that brings with it plethora of ‘news’ – “new me“, “new life“, and the common “new year resolutions” – many of which turn out to be fickle. As the euphoria dwindles, the fickleness becomes conspicuous.

However, in my reserved state, I’ve come to the realization that in making giant strides in a new year, it’s beyond some deceptive spur-of-the-moment decisions that will simmer down with the euphoria. You have to be intentional. You know when someone tells you that “you did it intentionally“, it means there’s a sense of deliberateness.

So, you have to be deliberate about every one of your plans. Every one! Be daring and raring to go at each one, not because the atmosphere is electrifying but because you’re charged from within to become a better person; not because it’s a new year but because the breaking of each day demands a better you.

BE DELIBERATE. Write down your ideas as they come. Write them! Ponder on them before you launch. Consult extensively. Strategize. Re-strategize. Execute.

 It’s not going to be easy. That’s why you also should not find it easy to fade with the festive euphoria.

Happy new year!
Fadipe S.O.J.

If Arsenal Were A Woman…

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For more times than I can remember, I’ve wondered, albeit silently, how I became an Arsenal fan. The recurrent heartbreaks; the usual weekend headaches; the dashed hopes; the too many promising footballing seasons that ended up in our customary league position ( you all know it).

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The Invincibles

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Captain Vieira lifting the EPL Trophy won in 2003/2004 season

However, things have not always been like this. This club was once the toast of English football; this club at one point in time went a whole season without losing to any team. Yes! The team lost no match during a whole season and racked up 49 games unbeaten. A feat even the arguably greatest team to have ever played the game, Barcelona, have not been able to achieve. This club is the record holder of the English FA Cup, though this was recently achieved.

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Several other feats have accrued to the badge of this club. But unfortunately, they all seem to be overwhelmed by the failure of the team in the past few years. As many predicted, this season is on the verge of going down the same lane. One of the most, if not the most promising seasons for the club in recent times is already faltering, failing and falling like a pack of dominoes. The team is about to break our hearts in a grand style again and this is the inspiration behind the title of this piece, “if Arsenal were a woman…”

Relationship experts have held that the cliché, “opposites attract” do not really apply to relationships. So sincerely, if Arsenal were to be a woman, with her flashy colours and adornments, I wouldn’t have been moved and attracted. I have a reservation for flashy women. I prefer the conservative third colour of the blue side of London. But we may be friends, just friends. Definitely not more than friends. No intimacy.

If Arsenal were a woman, with her conspicuous attitude of being too demanding; overly demanding more than every other woman in the neighborhood, trust me, we would not even be friends. No one likes a woman who knows no boundary in making demands, especially pecuniary. No one does. No one. (Arsenal match tickets are the costliest in England)

However, if despite her gaudy and needy nature, the untamed man in me still went ahead to win her heart,
she would have long returned to her father’s house, maybe with bruises and swollen face, for no heart deserves to be broken incessantly like Arsenal does ours.

If Arsenal were a woman, breaking hearts as if they are plastic, no man, not even the most patient and callous of men, would hear of her professionalism in heartbreaking and still be interested.

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Listless performances when a win matters the most; the too many outings that suggest lack of belief from the team; the many humiliating results in the hands of both big and small teams. The list is endless. The heartbreak seems ceaseless.

But, like a woman enduring an abusive relationship without an explanation, we are here to stay. This love is unshakeable. We’ve been battered and bruised but we remain allegiant. It might be inconceivable to others why we are so obstinate, but WE ARE THE ARSENAL and this is our team!

However, my only prayer is that I may find a woman to love like Arsenal. That despite her too many shortcomings and inconsistencies,  I’d remain faithful and loyal to her till my last breath.

So, if Arsenal were a woman, with this kind of love oozing in my heart for her, her mistakes are forgiven, even before they are made, and my loyalty to her will be unflinching.

May I find her, like I found Arsenal!

Will You?

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What if?

What if on a day like this I take you out on a date? A date for two. At a private corner on Broad Street. In the eventide.

The path leading to the well-adorned table; paved with jasmine of soothing smell, and chocolate cosmos of light vanilla fragrance. Both creating a tender sensation under our feet.

Your right arm under the protective cover of my left. We walk gracefully.

The corner; dimly lit with candles tardily burning to the rhythm of the atmosphere.

Soul music plays at the background.

From across the table, you look radiant. I’ve never seen you like this. The smile that forms at the corners of your lips melts my masculinity.

Let not this perfect moment be ruined. “Should I pop the question?” “Yes I should”.

I go down on one knee. I start:

“Baby, among many you stood out.”
“I tested many waters but all drowned me; you stood out”.
“I almost gave up on love. But my final trial became my perfect trial. You stood out.

I dip my hand into the inner breastpocket of my jacket.

” Baby, will you?” She gasps for breath

“As I have made you smile with this fantasy date today, will you make others smile in reality in 2016 with a genuine show of love?”

“Will you lift others up when they are down?”

“Will you still believe in others even when they fall short of it?”

Will you?

With love from The B.E.L.I.E.F. Initiative.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a 2016 reeking of dogged feeling of possibilities.

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Email us: thebeliefinitiative@gmail.com

Few Weeks to Law School… There’s No Better Time

Law School logo

After several months of waiting for Law School (especially for those of us who should have gone since last year), the wait is now gradually winding down and the big day is almost here. As expected, there is huge anticipation and anxiety in the air and preparation for resumption is in top gear.

However, apart from the expected anticipation, anxiety, eagerness and fear for some, there is a growing trend among the Law School hopefuls which is worth mentioning. This trend will be illustrated in these three fictitious but real cases;

  1. Isaac Odugbemi v. Queen Esther: In this case the “petitioner” is a friend of mine who has been courting the “respondent” for an intimate relationship for a period up to 10 months. During this period, both parties were going out and acting as couples but the petitioner was not satisfied and wanted to be sure of the real state of things before the next big thing in his life. So, few days ago, he asked again for an explicit answer and was cocksure of getting a positive reply but as fate would have it, he got an emphatic “NO”. It was a hard pill to swallow but surprisingly after a few days, he was praying the trial judge, saying, “There’s no better time for judicial separation”.
  2. Abednego Kanu v. First Bank: Both parties had been judicially noticed as couple for some months even though there were pressures from third parties to dissolve their “marriage”. However, after a few months of being away from each other, mistrust crept into them and the petitioner started accusing the respondent of bigamy. Few days ago, the petitioner petitioned for dissolution of their marriage but the respondent had no iota of objection and could not hide her joy, saying, “At least, I’d be free for the next one year”.
  3. JOE & 17 ors v. FFA & 17 ors: Some months ago, the respondents got a decree absolute against the appellants but the latter appealed the decree which has been before the Court of Appeal since then. But few months ago, the appellants brought an application before the court to withdraw the appeal on the ground that “the decree absolute is a blessing in disguise”.

From the foregoing, I believe strongly that you already know the trend. So, the question is, “why are many Law School imminent students fleeing from boarding the “ship of relation”? Ships of relation whose anchor could not hold are getting hit by the iceberg.  The imminent ones still trying to set sail are backing down. But I begin to wonder, what then should singles who are married do? We all know them. Should I mention names?

wpid-img_20150815_220202.jpgWords of Onele Joseph, Esq.

The stories of the arduous, rigorous, voluminous and expensive nature of Law School won’t stop ringing in our heads. As a result, no one wants Iya Kayode’s money or Baba Aanu’s sweat to be in vain. No time for pestering and peevish complaints of “Are you now seeing another person over there?” or “you did not even call me since last week, isnor good o.” “Wait, why should I call you?” “Se ota aje ni iwo ni? “Are you an enemy of progress?”

However, it is worth noting that as there are two sides to a coin, it is the same with this issue at hand. Just as some are fleeing, some are prepping to board this ship or as they always say, “love finds us in least expected places”. I heard one of our brothers found the woman that now makes his heart skip a beat in this same Law School we are talking about.

So, I just think each person should do according to what pleases him or her. But for some of us, during the next one year our emotions will be under lock and key while the key will be left at home.

Few weeks to Law School, give him quit notice and he’ll gladly tell you, “There’s no better time.”

Few weeks to Law School, we can’t wait!

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