On 1 April 2021, it was reported that the Ogun State Police Command had arrested a 50-year-old man, one Azeez Agboola, for allegedly parading himself as a lawyer before Chief Magistrate B. I. Ilo in the Agbara area of the state.

It is a usual occurrence to find fake lawyers appearing especially in the lower courts all over the country. This situation was one of the factors that inspired the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to come up with the idea of issuing official NBA stamp to lawyers, upon verification exercise conducted in conjunction with the Registrar of the Supreme Court. Every lawyer called to the Nigerian Bar has a unique Supreme Court enrollment number. This is because, upon acquiring a law degree from an approved institution, and after a successful completion of the mandatory training at the Nigerian Law School, a person will be called to the Nigerian Bar as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria by a body known as the Body of Benchers. It is this Call that entitles a person to practice law in Nigeria. 

According to the preliminary police interrogation, it was reported that Azeez Agboola claimed to have acquired a law degree but failed Law School exams which made it impossible for him to be called to the Bar by the appropriate Body. Consequently, Mr. Agboola called himself to the “Bar” by practicing without valid licence. 

Unfortunately and unknown to him, he actually called himself to a bar more befitting for people of his kind. It is left for the Police to prepare to welcome him behind bars. Efforts should be made to see whether he will name his other “Learned Friends” in the illegal profession. The NBA should set up a task force that will follow up on the case to ensure Mr. Agboola receives a proper welcome in prison. This will serve as a deterrent to many others like him out there.

The courts, especially the lower courts, are encouraged to toe the line of Chief Magistrate B. I. Ilo who reasonably suspected from Mr. Agboola’s presentation before the Court that he might be a fake lawyer and alerted the Police. Others like him are still out there. 

Mr. Agboola followed his dream. He was probably exercising his faith in the saying that one should never allow his dream to die. But not this time. He allowed his dream to die the moment he failed to study harder and pass his Law School exams. He overstretched his faith and will now face his fate.


Featured image credit: SaharaReporters

Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.
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