Lawyers are truthful

There is a presumption that a lawyer always speaks the truth.


Saraki v. Federal Republic of Nigeria [2016] 3 NWLR (Pt. 1500) 531 at 603-604, paras. G-B, per Muhammad, JSC:

“My lords, it is clear from the records of appeal that at the time proceedings were initiated to prosecute the appellant at the tribunal, there was no person occupying the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation. Mr. Hassan who appeared before the tribunal to prosecute the appellant told the tribunal, in his words: “In the absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Solicitor-General can perform such powers as the Attorney-General. The Solicitor-General is in office and I am authorised to file this action.” This was an information coming from a learned counsel who was speaking from the Bar, and who, as a Minister in the temple of justice, would always be expected to say nothing but the truth. Was he disproved? There is no finding to that effect. Thus, the presumption of regularity must work in favour of the learned counsel, Mr. Hassan, and there was no basis for the tribunal to disbelieve or ignore such information from a gentleman of the Bar.”

Blogger’s Note:

The above pronouncement by the learned Justice of the Supreme Court further strengthens the notion that lawyers are men of high integrity. Lawyers are not liars. It is however incumbent on lawyers to live up to this notion and high expectation at all times, in line with the rules of ethics of the profession.

It is pertinent to note that the important information which the Court believed as true is the information by learned Counsel, Mr. Hassan, that he was authorised by the Solicitor-General to file the charge against the Appellant. See page 608, para. H, where Muhammad, JSC said: “My lords, the presumption of regularity is sacrosanct. Where a legal practitioner informs the court that he was authorised (as did Mr. Hassan), the court/tribunal must believe the counsel. It is left for the party challenging him to prove otherwise.” Therefore, the other information which is that, “in the absence of the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Solicitor-General can perform such powers as the Attorney-General”, is a matter of law which the Supreme Court upon due consideration of the relevant statutory provisions concluded that the Solicitor-General can exercise the powers conferred on the Attorney-General of the Federation where there is none at the material time.

Read the full Judgment.

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