As expected, many lawyers are attacking my piece that former Chief Justice of Nigeria was “dangerous” to have provided legal expert services to a company (P&ID) that sued his country. That is their rights; some are even commenting that the man was just doing what retired lawyers do: offer advisory services.
That some people passed through law school without knowing that once you get through a certain level in government, you are barred from some jobs because of uncommon privileged access is unfortunate. If you did an MBA in Nigeria, most schools during the business law component will explain why to you.
To help these people, including the lawyers, I refer them to Section 5 of the Fifth Schedule of the 1999 Constitution:
5. (1) Retired public officers who have held offices to which this paragraph applies are prohibited from service or employment in foreign companies or foreign enterprises.
(2) This paragraph applies to the offices of President, Vice-President, Chief Justice of Nigeria, Governor and Deputy governor of a State.
I expect these people to keep digging. He was a CJN and this firm was not a Nigerian company but a Virgin Islands firm. You decide the legality of his service to P&ID, but my call is that the act is dangerous even if not evidently illegal. I do think it is illegal, though.
The Law: “5. (1) Retired public officers …are prohibited from service or employment in foreign companies …. (2) This paragraph applies to the offices of …Chief Justice of Nigeria, ….”
Argument that Belgore Acted within the law: “…This provision excludes judicial officers upon ceasing to hold office not to appear before any tribunal or court of law in Nigeria. This obviously didn’t preclude them from being solicitors/consultants as in the Alfa Belgore’s case. Belgore was not an employee, not a retainer and not a servant of the foreign company. He acted within the bounds of the law.”
My response: “…n Legal Practice, a service is typically assumed when there is “payment”. If Alfa was paid, irrespective of what you may call it, he had offered a “service”. … In Nigerian business law, most times, contracts are consummated upon payment. Few years ago, I wanted to do a community project. The community offered to give me the land free. I offered to pay them N1 (one naira); they refused. Then, I pulled out. With the one naira, there was a sale by law but without payment, it was a gift which could be withdrawn later.”
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