Chief Kanu Agabi, SAN, former Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, on Wednesday, gave reasons lawyers in the country are bound to defend suspects charged with crimes and corruption.
Agabi made the remarks at the commissioning of Mahmud & Co Law Office in Abuja.
According to him, we are bound by professional duty to defend even those we believe to be guilty.
“People cannot understand why we defend crime or criminals. People wonder whether we serve the true ends of justice when we successfully defend those accused of criminal offences.
“What are we to do when called upon to defend those who are stigmatised as corrupt or who have come under suspicion and been charged to court?
“Because the constitution presumes all accused persons to be innocent until proven guilty we are not allowed to condemn them until a court of competent jurisdiction has done so.
“We are not judges. We are lawyers. And what a dreadful day for the nation if we were to take upon ourselves to condemn people and to refuse to defend them on the ground of our conviction that they are guilty even before they are tried,” the former minister said.
Agabi, however, said that it was disheartening that lawyers had come under justifiable suspicion of aiding and facilitating the corruption that now threatened the very foundation of the nation.
“The question that every lawyer must ask himself now is whether he or she is using the knowledge for the benefit of the country and his fellow man or woman.
“If we are not able to use our knowledge and learning for the benefit of the nation and fellow citizens, then we should give up our books and take to other professions,” he said.
He described the law office as “fantastic.”
In his remark, Magaji said the ultramodern chamber was part of his contribution to law practice in the country .
He said he was motivated by first-class chambers in the U.K., the U.S., among others, and decided to replicate same in Abuja.
He paid tribute to Ahmed Raji, SAN, who motivated him to have a chamber of his own.
Edited By: Sadiya Hamza
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