Osun lawmaker barred from defending clients, due to constitutional law

The judge stated that it is against the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) for public servants to engage in self-serving activities or businesses, which would earn them income.

A Federal High Court in Osogbo presided over by Justice Nathaniel Ayo-Emmanuel, has struck out the suit filed by Kanmi Ajibola, asking to be allowed to continue appearing to defend clients after becoming a lawmaker.

In the suit, No. FHC/OS/CS/42/2023, Ajibola, who is now a member of the Osun House of Assembly, sought to be allowed to continue to defend clients (pro bono), even as he remains a lawmaker and public servant.

In his ruling on Thursday, the judge said it was against the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) for public servants to engage in self-serving activities or businesses, which would earn them income.

He said though Ajibola stated in his application that he would be rendering pro bono services in criminal cases involving the indigent, the law did not allow him to perform outside his public office.

Ayo-Emmanuel said that the lawmaker, in the affidavit attached to his application, stated that an opposing counsel told him in 2023 that after his swearing-in as a lawmaker, he (the opposing counsel) would stop him from practising.

He maintained that Ajibola’s claim was inconsequential in the face of the constitution. Although the lawmaker appreciated the decision of the court, he, however, vowed to take the case to the Court of Appeal.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports Ajibola, a lawyer, became the lawmaker representing Oriade Constituency in the assembly on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the 2023 general elections.

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