The Immaturity In Interdicting A Learned Friend’s Right To Hold An Opinion Devoid of Mudslinging: A Surrejoinder To Caleb Daniel -Oghenetega On Steve Sun- Sylvester Udemezue

(A). INTRODUCTION OF MAJOR ACTORS:

▪️Dear Caleb Daniel-Oghenetega, you’re supporting Mr. Olumide Apata in the upcoming 2020 NBA Presidential Election. ▪️I am also aware you had worked as a counsel/employee in Templars (Olumide Apata’s law firm). ▪️Mr Steve Sun is supporting Deacon Dele Adesina, SAN. ▪️I myself am supporting Dr Babatunde AJIBADE, SAN,

(B). BACKGROUND:

After reading your initial unwarranted mudslinging against Steve Sun, I did a short commentary titled, “Stop Insulting Steve Sun Even If You Do Not Like His Opinion; We Cannot Grow the Bar By Interdicting Dissent.” ▪️In the commentary, I had advised you thus, inter alia: “I think it would have been more appropriate and more gentlemanly if you had focused on the issues raised by Steve Sun by advancing superior argument to displace Steve Sun’s, instead of attacking or insulting him merely for holding or expressing his views to which, you know, he’s entitled.” ▪️You (Caleb Daniel-Oghenetega) then replied with what came as a rejoinder, but actually meant to pour out more invectives and insults, this time, against both Steve Sun and my humble self. ▪️You failed to address relevant issues therein. So, I will not waste much time on you. I leave you with these SEVEN (7) surrejoinder-pieces of advice:

1️⃣. For the following reasons, I will NOT reply to the insulting aspects of your so-called rejoinder. I DO NOT EXCHANGE INSULTS for insults. I don pass that level. Besides, you’re just busy pouring insults against me and saying nothing meaningful. Imagine what you said; that you would have called for my resignation as a Law Teacher. Is this not akin to leaving the real issues and digressing to empty irrelevancies? Unknown to you, such digressive resort to insults and ad hominem only energizes and encourages me to RemainFocused on the right, relevant path. ▪️Moreover, as Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said, “insults are arguments employed by those who are in the wrong.” Socrates had recognized that “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.” Accordingly, I would rather reply your childish and evasive mudslinging with only a kiss. I conclude this section by referring you to an earlier-published commentary of mine titled, “On the Irresponsibility of Replying Critics & Divergent Opinions with Insults & Mudslinging (a word of caution).” In that piece, I had concluded thus:
“In conclusion, I pray all our colleagues to not forget that, notwithstanding difference of opinions, we all are still Learned Gentlemen and Noble Colleagues, Barristers and Solicitors of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, who have a prime responsibility to not fight dirty and wash our dirty linen in public. We are the light of society to whom other members of the public look for guide, in actions, speech and behavior. No doubt, it is part of our business to argue and disagree. This is why Joyce Carol Oates, an American writer, once observed: “a lawyer is basically a mouth, like a shark is a mouth attached to a long gut. The business of lawyers is to talk, to interrupt one another and to devour [oneanother] if possible.”Nevertheless, it is my humble view that, as learned shining examples, we ought to learn to talk and argue and disagree with due respect. Argumentum ad hominem (argument to the person) is an informal logical fallacy that occurs when someone attempts to refute an argument by attacking the claim-maker, rather than engaging in an argument or factual refutation of the claim,by attacking the source of the claim rather than attacking the claim or attempting to counter arguments. .. If one hopes to win supporters to one’s side in an argument or debate, one ought reasonably and objectively to dwell on relevant issues of substance and not on irrelevant issues of personalities and characters, except one has motives other than those related to sane, logical deduction and respectful, legal reasoning. Everything boils down to the words of the renown US journalist and writer, Don Lemon, which I recommend to guide us: ‘if I have my opinion about something, you have your opinion about something, we don’t have to fight over it. And we can have a conversation. We can also disagree without being disagreeable, and we can just disagree, which is fine. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like you, or you don’t like me. We just disagree.’”
(see https://www.thenigerianvoice.com/amp/news/273772/on-the-irresponsibility-of-replying-critics-divergent-opi.html).

2️⃣. As I had said in my initial writeup, dear Caleb Daniel-Oghenetega, sir, you have NO right to tell your Learned colleague to shut up. Even if you think Steve Sun talks anyhow, then take note that even people who talk anyhow are entitled to coexist with us and to air their opinions freely without insulting anyone. No one has the right to shut them up. ▪️I now refer you to my commentary titled, “Gov. Makinde’s, VP. Yemi Osinbajo’s Pledge To Waive Their Immunity & Related Stories: Matters Arising (A Legal Opinion)” wherein I stated as follows:
“We must respect people’s right to hold their individual opinions, however erratic or unfavourable such may be Section 39 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended provides that ‘every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.’ Although section 39(3) CFRN provides some exceptions to this right, As ‘Voltaire’ was stated to have declared, ”I May Disapprove of What [One] Says, But I Will Defend to the Death, [One’s] Right to Say It”’ (see https://thenigerialawyer.com/gov-makindes-vp-yemi-osinbajos-pledge-to-waive-their-immunity-related-stories-matters-arising-a-legal-opinion-by-sylevester-udemezue/)

3️⃣. Steve Sun had only challenged Mr. RMD to prove that he (RMD) had been actively participating in NBA affairs. Such may be an unfavorable comment. But STEVE SUN DID NOT INSULT MR. RMD. We all respect MR. RMD as a lawyer, as a notable actor and even as a politician. Steve Sun has no right to insult RMD and Steve Sun did not insult RMD in this very instance. I do not know if your camp (Olu Apata’s camp) has other grouses or grievances against Steve Sun, but such are irrelevant to the present discussion. My question remains, please show us the insulting words if you think Steve sun insulted you. In fact, for the avoidance of doubts, permit me to reproduce Steve Sun’s words as contained in his Facebook publication under reference: “I, S. U. Nwankwo Esq., (also and more commonly known as Steve Sun ?) do hereby make oath and state that i shall vote for Mr. Olumide Akpata, If Mr. RMD produces any evidence of having attended 10 Monthly General Meetings of any Branch of the NBA within the past two years. Thank you.” ▪️Dear Mr Caleb Daniel-Oghenetega, could you point out the insulting aspects of the above publication to justify the mudslinging you’re unrestrainedly brandishing your respected learned friend, Steve Sun. Or, you just do not want any opposing view from colleagues? Unfortunate. Finally, the legal profession is about holding opposing views, PROVIDED THERE ARE NO INSULTS. This is why we have two sides to every dispute in court— the claimant and the defendant, each vehemently opposed to the other without any personality exchanges. Lawyers who practice true courtroom advocacy and who have gathered a robust experience in active litigation, would appreciate what I am saying.

5️⃣. The allegations you raised against Steve Sun are totally irrelevant to the fact in issue or the real issues in the present discussion. A Simple Illustration will help: In a trial in a claim for breach of contract, when a lawyer is cross-examining a witness, and the lawyer now begins to ask the witness, “is it true that you have married and divorced three wives. Is it true you used to quarrel with your wives always because you used to return very late in the night?” ▪️Please, dear Mr Daniel-Oghenetega, should the court now leave the BREACH OF CONTRACT hearing/trial and start investigating accusations or allegations of “MARRIAGE and DIVORCE” and “keeping of late nights, which are completely irrelevant to the present matter? No! That’s not the law. The rules governing (cross-)Examination forbids raising or asking of IRRELEVANT QUESTIONS. Specifically, by virtue of section 224 of the Evidence Act, 2011, the court is under an obligation to warn the witness that he is not obliged to answer such questions . ▪️Again, Indecent or scandalous questions are disallowed inlesss RELEVANT. see section 227 Evidence Act, 2011. ▪️Further, questions intended to insult or which are needlessly offensive are disallowed. (see section 228 of the Evidence Act, 2011)▪️ And then, under section 226 of the Evidence Act, 2011, the judge/court is empowered to report any legal practitioner who asks such questions to the Attorney-General of the Federation or to any other authority to which the legal practitioner is subject for relevant disciplinary actions. You see my point now, dear Mr. Daniel-Oghenetega

6️⃣. I denounce all forms of corruption and professional misconduct. However, where a lawyer is alleged to have engaged in an unprofessional conduct, such as that a customary court “judge” was “sacked” for “corruption,” there are proper channels for making allegations against such a lawyer so that proper disciplinary procedure could be activated. Rule 55 (1) of the RPC, 2007 states that “if a lawyer acts in contravention of any of the rules in these Rules or fails to perform any of the duties imposed by the rules, he shall be guilty of a professional
misconduct and liable to punishment as provided in Legal Practitioners Act, 1975.” ▪️Finally, by virtue of Rule 55(2) RPC, “it is the duty of every lawyer to report any breach of any of these rules that comes to his knowledge to the appropriate authorities for necessary disciplinary
action.” ▪️Dear brother, Daniel-Oghenetega, opportunity were there (and are still there) for you to have explored these beautiful provisions if you felt that Steve Sun had fallen short of the standard set by the Rules of Professional Conduct, 2007, which represents our Legal Ethics. You could have acted pursuant to the powers conferred on you by Rule 55 (2) RPC and dragged the guy to the relevant legal disciplinary authorities for appropriate sanction. ▪️You did not do this. You instead resorted to insulting him and making irrelevant accusations, which is pure ARGUMENTUM AD HOMINEM as I explained above. May I repeat that I respectfully do not agree with Steve Sun’s reasons as given in his letter to respected RMD, but Steve Sun is entitled to his opinion. Who are you to shout him down or try to shut him up, all in the name of your desperate politicking?

7️⃣Finally, it is a huge sign of immaturity on your part for you to have mentioned me or expected me to start commenting, believing, dwelling or relying on your unproven allegations against Steve Sun. I should refer you to sections 131, 132 and 133
of the Evidence Act, 2011, the combined effect of which is that the burden of
proving the existence of any facts lies with the person who alleges that the facts exist. The allegations against Steve Sun was made solely by you (Mr CALEB DANIEL-OGHENETEGA: an OLU APATA supporter) and not by udems. He who alleges has the onus of proof. So, you (not udems) have the obligation to substantiate the allegations you made. Besides, section 135(2) of the Evidence Act, 2011 provides that the burden of proving that any person has been guilty of a crime or wrongful act, is on the person who asserts it. Go and read the law and leave me out of your legal burdens. At this point, I think I need to do some more education on the relevant issues; I deal only with relevant issues. Please pay close attention to this. In an article by me, titled, “The Lawyer`s Place In Mismanagement Of Media Misinformation In Democratic Nigeria,” I had started this way:
“If any lawyer believes (without any doubt), and acts on a mere allegation in the news or social media (which is yet obviously unconfirmed by any documents and unsubstantiated before any competent court of law), then that lawyer is hardly fit to be called by the name “Lawyer.” He simply should hand back all his law certificates to the institutions that awarded them, and move back to his village to join in the farming business. My humble opinion. The Canons of Legal Ethics, approved by the Canadian Bar Association, states in its preamble that “the lawyer is more than a mere citizen. He is a minister of justice, … and a member of an ancient, honourable and learned profession.” Lawyers, by the very special nature of their calling, have a responsibility to educate the public on the core demands of “law of evidence,” “due process,” and “rule of law.” Specifically, the lawyer has a duty to accentuate the difference between a mere “accusation,” a “speculation,” and verified information or statement. Suspicion alone, however strong or deep, it is said, is not sufficient to render an “accused” guilty. It is unfortunate to imagine that a qualified lawyer, on reading a story on a newsprint or on the social media, especially such that bothers on criminal allegations against another or other persons, would begin (relying solely on that story) to form opinions and draw definite conclusions that could only be validly and legally drawn from proven facts and legally established data. If lawyers believe everything they read or hear in the news media, without asking for proof, what then do we expect the ordinary non-lawyer to do? This is my point. When issues in the news or media have to do with law or the legal, and especially touching on allegation(s) laced with criminal savor, unverified facts, mere stories, and unsubstantiated claims must be treated with absolute caution. A lawyer ought to handle with utmost circumscription any information in his possession in respect of which there are yet no sufficient bases. It would amount to a deliberate abdication of his responsibility for the lawyer to begin to propagate or disseminate such information in a manner that presents the same as already established. It’s for this reason that THOMAS PAINE once wrote (about America) in his famous book, COMMON SENSE: “…that the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the King is law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other.” Like America, Nigeria is a constitutional democracy founded on respect for the rule of law. Section 1 (1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “This Constitution is Supreme and its provisions shall have binding force on all authorities and persons throughout the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” In Military Governor of Lagos State vs. Ojukwu (2001) FWLR (Part 50) 1779 at 1802, para B-E, Obaseki, JSC, stated that “the Nigerian Constitution is founded on the rule of law, the primary meaning of which is that everything must be done according to law. Nigeria, being one of the countries in the world, … which profess loudly to follow the rule of law, gives no room for the rule of self help by force to operate.” (per Obaseki JSC in page 1799, para. C – E). It is therefore obvious that the rule of law is not a vehicle by which private individuals, governments or government agencies can wield and abuse their powers; on the contrary, rule of law establishes principles that constrain the power of private INDIVIDUALS, governments and public bodies, obliging each to conduct himself/herself/itself according to a series of prescribed and publicly known rules. Besides, the Nigerian (criminal) legal system is accusatorial and adversarial, and not INQUISITORIAL in nature. Ours is a system in which the prosecutor or accuser must necessarily establish the guilt of the accused person by credible evidence independently and freely secured, and not on pages of newspapers or on social media or by mere RUMOUR. An accused person is thus presumed innocent unless and until his guilt is established beyond reasonable doubt before a court of law in line with the requirements of section 36 (5) of the Constitution.” (see https://thenigerialawyer.com/the-lawyers-place-in-mismanagement-of-media-misinformation-in-democratic-nigeria-by-udemezue/)

CONCLUSION:

May I ask you again, dear Caleb Daniel-Oghenetega, what sort of leadership are you and your group aspiring to provide the NBA? Or perhaps, you guys do not yet understand that it’s a major part of good leadership to welcome dissent and to respect other people’s right to freely air their views or even question the leader’s actions. May I assure you that neither DR BABATUNDE AJIBADE, SAN, nor any of his supporters would EVER gag opponents or insult opponents merely because of the opponents’ opinon. I thank God for leading me to support DR AJIBADE, a gentle, extensively endowed, pragmatic, visionary, not haughty, not boastful, — OLUWA , Ose ooo!!; Chukwu daalu; Nagode, Allah; Oghene, thank you oo. I can now see why Dr AJIBADE stands out. Very tolerant and accommodating. Dear Nigerian lawyer, the choice is now yours— to choose between a lawyer who (as the NBA President) would trample upon your inalienable right to hold or offer your opinions and another lawyer (like DR AJIBADE ) who would allow your right to freely express yourself. Between a lawyer who would resort to mudslinging and persecution against his opponents with a view to silencing them and another lawyer (like DR AJIBADE) would not persecute nor harass you for being different. The choice is ours. Please, let’s make a good, wise choice. I trust your judgment. Nigerian lawyers are very mature in reasoning and enlightened in approach. I beg us to choose wisely. It was John C. Maxwell who said that ”Life is a matter of choices, and every choice we make makes us.” One is entitled to make one’s own choices, but one must be prepared to live with the consequences of those choices. Cathlin Shahriary said, ”all great choices are made with great risks. One must decide for oneself if the consequences are worth the action one is willing to take.” For the avoidance of doubts, I assure us again that Dr Ajibade would NOT condone NOR support any form of corruption or professional misconduct; he would uphold respect and obedience to all aspects of law, and legal ethics. But, he won’t persecute any lawyer merely on account of the opinion he holds. He’s different. God bless the NBA. Respectfully,
Sylvester Udemezue
(udems)
➖➖➖

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