The Supreme Court Tuesday warned lawyers to avoid making statements that are capable of misleading the court even as it threatened to refer lawyers that intentionally mislead the court to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).
The apex court warned that lawyers as ministers in the temple of justice should learn to be decorous and decent in their conduct and abide by their code of conduct.
The anger of the court arose when a lawyer, Professor L. A. Izebi Undie, appearing for a former governorship candidate in Cross Rivers State, accused the court of being unfair to his client by denying him justice in a case brought before the court.
The lawyer, who initially refused to be called to order by the justices of the court, alleged that his client, Chief Usani Usani, of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) was denied justice by the court.
He insisted that his client filed a brief of argument in a case challenging the election of Governor Liyel Imoke but that the case of his client was never heard or consolidated with any other before a judgment was delivered.
Professor Izebi-Undie claimed that the action of the court was painful as the door of justice was shut against his client.
He asked the court to set aside section 285 of the 1999 Constitution and to set aside the alleged offending judgment and reverse itself.
Trouble however arose for the lawyer when Chief Paul Erokoro, SAN read out the judgment especially the portion where Professor Izebi-Undie during the hearing of the case gave an undertaking to abide by the outcome of the decision of the apex court on another governorship election case.
Justice Mahmoud who presided at the sitting yesterday accused Izebi-Undie of deliberately telling lies in the open court in order to discredit and mislead the court.
In the ensuing drama, the lawyer was subjected to series of questioning on whether the Supreme Court had the powers to amend the constitution as he sought and whether the five-man panel of justices could over-ride the earlier decision of the court.
The lawyer instead of answering the questions, advised the Supreme Court not to allow itself to be tied down or be made to work backward by the National Assembly.
The justices, who one after the other tongue-lashed the professor, asked him to go and advise his client to take his case to heaven if he was not satisfied with the earlier decision he subscribed to.
Justice Mohammed said: “There is now way we can go back on our earlier decision that your client has no case before us. The time is over. Section 285 of the Constitution has killed and buried his case.
“For your information, we have no power to amend the constitution here. If you have an axe to grind with the constitution, go to the National Assembly and leave us alone if the constitution is un-constitutional, we all have to abide by it until when amended by the National Assembly.”
The counsel later profusely apologised to the court for the embarrassment his conduct might have caused the justices.
“I seriously apologise for any argument I may have made to the embarrassment of the court. I never intend to deliberately mislead the court," he said.