Dankwambo v. Abubakar [ 2016] 2 NWLR (Pt. 1495) 157 at 208, paras. C-F, per Ariwoola, JSC:
“There are many senior legal practitioners and Judicial Officers whose first name as it appears on the roll of legal professionals of the Supreme Court of Nigeria has been abbreviated as it stands today, yet that abbreviation has not robbed and could not rob them of their status as legal practitioners nor can it be said that they have contravened the Legal Practitioners Act. Many first names such as Oluwole, Olukayode, Akinolu, Christian, Okechukwu, Joseph, Samuel, Emmanuel, Omotayo, Olajide, Oladele, Olabode, appear in the roll but today stand abbreviated as first name of legal practitioners as Wole, Olu, Akin, Chris, Okey, Joe, Sam, Emma, Tayo, Jide, Dele, Bode. Until the contrary is proved, abbreviated first name or initials before family name used on documents for filing processes in court or announced as appearing for litigants remain valid and proper forever.”
“To my mind, the provisions of section 2(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act simply prohibit persons who have not been called to the bar or registered as legal practitioner to practice law in any respect. Once a person whose competence or eligibility is tested and evidence abound that he is a registered Legal Practitioner, it will be absurd or injustice to deny him the permission to exercise his functions as a legal practitioner, simply because he decides to abbreviate his name….”
The above position taken by the Supreme Court is quite commendable. Read the full Judgment here. It is important to note that the Supreme Court made a clear distinction between an abbreviated name and alias. The Court adopted the definitions as contained in dictionaries and concluded that an ‘alias’ is a false, assumed, or different name used when a person, especially a criminal or actor, is known by two names. Abbreviated name is one which is either shortened by removing some letters or by the use of initials. According to the Court, abbreviated name is legal and permissible. The implication therefore is that the use of ‘alias’ is not legal and therefore impermissible. Finally, the names listed by learned Justice Ariwoola in his Judgment are clearly for examples only.
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