, Op-Ed: The Journey So Far As An Intern - Ghalib Chamber At 30 By Abdulrauf Abdulbasit Obisesan -

Op-Ed: The Journey So Far As An Intern – Ghalib Chamber At 30 By Abdulrauf Abdulbasit Obisesan

I frequently follow Ghalib Chambers on their Facebook page to stay updated with the firm’s activities when I am unable to be there physically, often due to school commitments. This habit led me to check their page on the evening of May 14, 2024, where I saw a post captioned: “Yusuf O. Ali & Co., Ghalib Chambers will be 30 years old on June 1, 2024.” It struck me that this chamber, which I have been visiting for almost eight years, is even older than I am.

I was introduced to Ghalib Chambers by a practicing lawyer there, Mr. Taofik Kayode Olateju, Esq., who is now a Senior Associate at Yusuf O. Ali & Co., (Ghalib Chambers). He has been a mentor to me and many of my classmates at the College of Arabic & Islamic Legal Studies. We first met in 2017 during my compulsory Court Attachment when he appeared before Judge Mokana (as he then was) at the Area Court, Grade 1, Ilorin Judicial Division. Since then, I have developed a keen interest in learning directly from him by visiting Ghalib Chambers, where he works as an active legal practitioner and comrade.

In 2020, after completing my Diploma in Law, I sought to join the chambers formally as an intern through Taofik Olateju, Esq. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was unable to visit the chambers at that time. Consequently, I completed my internship at Ralawal & Co. (Amubiaya Chamber).

In 2023, I finally joined Ghalib Chambers formally for my internship. This opportunity allowed me extensive access to the library, where I spent most of my time. It afforded me the chance to read extensively about the principal founder of Yusuf Olaolu Ali & Co. (Ghalib Chambers).

Without sugarcoating, Prof. Ali, SAN’s contributions to the body of knowledge in law speak for itself. His impact on our democracy is equally unmatched. To date, very few people are aware that he played a major role in eliminating the culture of unconstitutionally removing Deputy Governors in Nigeria through his legal research and contributions to the body of knowledge in the case of INAKOJU V. ADELEKE (2007) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1025) Pg. 423. In this case, he established before the Supreme Court that, although the Court lacked the vires over the activities of legislative bodies, it had the power to determine whether such activities contravened the provisions of the law.

In Inakoju v. Adeleke (supra), commonly referred to as “The Ladoja Case,” the case halted the practice in our democratic system where Governors were being unconstitutionally removed from office under the guise of impeachment or removal as provided for in Section 188 of the Constitution. It was successfully argued that for Section 188(10) of the Constitution, which excludes the judicial powers of courts over the removal of Governors and Deputy Governors, to be applicable, the legislature must show that they have duly complied with the provisions of Section 188(1)-(9), as a section of a statute cannot and should not be construed in isolation from the other parts of the statute. This principle is succinctly captured in the legal maxim “Noscitur a Sociis.” Allow me to digress for a moment; the esteemed Silk has served as an adjunct Lecturer at the University of Ilorin since 1998. Earlier this year, during his visit to my faculty to lecture both the 100-level and 200-level law students, he significantly enhanced our understanding of the applicability of the legal maxim “Noscitur a Sociis” through numerous cases he had handled, during classes on Legal Method and The Nigerian Legal System, respectively. Next?

This case not only saved the day for a Governor who was unconstitutionally removed by a fraction of the legislative house supposedly sitting in a hotel but also halted a trend where Governors were being removed by political machinations using the provisions of Section 188(10) as a shield. In effect, Ghalib Chambers used this case to enrich our jurisprudence and deepen our democracy.

By striking out Section 141 of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), the decision in LABOUR PARTY V. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION (supra) emphasized that the correct consequential order the Supreme Court ought to have made in JEV V. IORTOM (2014) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1428) Pg. 575 was to declare the 1st Respondent the winner of the election and order him to be sworn in rather than being subjected to another round of fresh elections. The question then arose, “WHO WILL DARE APPLY FOR THE REVIEW OF THE DECISION OF THE SUPREME COURT ORDERING FRESH ELECTION?” The 1953 pronouncement of the Supreme Court of the United States of America in the case of MARBURY V. MADISON, 344 U.S. 443 (1953), at 540, which has since been domesticated by our own Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, J.S.C in the case of ADEGOKE MOTORS V. ADESANYA (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109) 250 at 261, stating that the Supreme Court is “not final because we are infallible, rather we are infallible because we are final,” further dampened whatever courage we had left. NOW, WHO BELLS THE CAT?

Prof. Ali, SAN rose to the occasion and applied to the almighty Supreme Court to review its own judgment. Relying dazzlingly on Order 8 Rule 16 of the Supreme Court Rules, he brilliantly marshaled his submissions before their Lordships in a full panel of seven Justices of the Supreme Court presided over by the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Mahmud Mohammed (G.C.O.N). At the end of hearing the application for review, the Supreme Court unanimously agreed, and my Lord, Okoro, J.S.C succinctly concluded his lead judgment thus:

“On the whole, it is my well-considered opinion that this application is meritorious and is hereby granted as prayed. Accordingly, the consequential order No. 2 made in the judgment of this court in appeal No. SC. 164/2012 delivered on 30th May 2014, which ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election into the vacant seat of Buruku Federal Constituency of Benue State in the House of Representatives is hereby set aside.”

Other cases on Election Matters are AVADI V. INEC, FAYEMI V. ONI, and the position of Malami in IZEYAMU V. INEC; the position in IZEYAMU is now reflected in S.137 of the Electoral Act, 2023.

Another case worth mentioning is Belgore v. Ahmed (2013), which has greatly influenced the state of the law of evidence in Nigeria. I encountered this very case during my first engagement with A. O. Adelodun, SAN, along with some other colleagues from the Faculty of Law, UNILORIN before I later took my time to read the whole case. The purpose of our engagement with him will not be revealed for some reasons.

However, the whole gist is that the learned silk, A.O. Adelodun, SAN, categorically told us that he, Prof. Yusuf Olaolu Ali, SAN, & other colleagues handled the matter up to the Supreme Court, and they won. They argued the issue of improper certification of the documents, contending that they fell short of the requirements of Section 104 of the Evidence Act, 2011. It was specifically contended that the documents bore a “stamp impression bearing engraved characters that are being offered as the signature of the officer certifying the documents” and that “affixing a stamp impression on these documents does not satisfy the requirement of a signature as an authenticating gesture.”

I further asked why the officers opted for stamping instead of signing, and he explained that the officers were in a hurry and chose to affix a stamp on some ballot papers to avoid wasting time signing them one after the other as required by the law. The case is now a precedent for other election petition cases.

As Ghalib Chambers celebrates 30 years of legal excellence, I reflect on my journey with them and the profound impacts of their work on our legal system. My time at the chambers has not only shaped my understanding of the law but also deepened my respect for those who uphold justice in our society.

AbdulRauf AbdulBasit Obisesan,
300Level Combined Law,
Faculty of law,
University of Ilorin, Nigeria
2nd of June, 2024.
Contact via Obisesan666@gmail.com or

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