By Sunday Isuwa, Abuja
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) House of Justice, Barr Gloria Ballason has said that freedom of expression as enshrined in Nigeria’s constitution must be respected when it comes to litigation.
Specifically, Gloria said litigation filings need to demonstrate how respect for freedom of expression is mutually beneficial for both citizens and the governments and should highlight the hope it holds for democracy.
In her paper presented at the media defence Sub-Saharan Africa Litigators Convening, Johannesburg, South Africa, Gloria who is a lawyer and media practitioner, said it is important that they move from litigation that is merely academic to arguments that are humanely persuasive, forcefully egalitarian and sustainably propagating in judicial ideology.
“The office of the Attorney General needs to be invited through legal filings to define whether he is counsel to the client or government and must be persuaded to lead in the respect of rights including but not limited to the enforcement of judgments,” Gloria said adding that countries which have ratified international and regional treaties and government officials who swear to uphold the rights and constitution of their countries should be estopped from violating the rights.
“They cannot go to the international and regional communities and commit to uphold the rights and return to violate them. The styles in which we craft our pleadings and our litigation strategy must ensure governments are made to lead in the respect of fundamental human rights and International Laws and Conventions, including, but not limited to the right to freedom of expression and the imperative to not wilfully deny citizens access to the internet through draconian regulations and arbitrary use of power,” he said.
“Our litigation strategy must ensure that the Court of Law is always the Court of Justice. Some lawyers across the African continent tend to be skeptical about how the Court dispenses justice and the independence of the judiciary, without discounting some of the realities, it must also be re- emphasized that the Court is not ‘Santa Clause ‘ and so cannot give what is not asked.
“Filings must therefore be robust, arguments succinct and the need for three-way justice: justice for the victim, the accused and all of society should be the goal of our litigation.
“The court, the litigants and counsel must all connect at that human intersection and crave for democratic ideals if we are all to be the better for it,” she added.