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SAN: Big Win for A'Ibom as Emmanuel Enoidem takes Oath of Office

 

By Tom FredFish

 

On Monday 27th day of November 2023, the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LC) under the Chairmanship of His Lordship, the Hon. Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Olukayode Ariwoola will swear in 58 new Senior Advocates of Nigeria at the main courtroom of the Supreme Court.

One of the 58 Legal Practitioners elevated into the Inner Bar for demonstrating clear qualities of leadership and loyalty to the Legal Profession is Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem, the immediate past PDP Legal Adviser from Akwa Ibom state.

 

Enoidem, an indigene of Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom state has been a former commissioner and member of the State Executive Council from 2007 to 2017. He has been in legal practice for 31 years after establishing a Private Legal Practice, Enoidem, and Associates in 1992.

 

The conferment of SAN to Barr. Enoidem did not come as a surprise to many because of his penchant for excellence and diligence in anything he does, primarily the legal practice. According to Barrister Samuel Okon, of White Waters Chambers, Uyo, “Enoidem is one of the most intelligent lawyers in Akwa Ibom state who is actively involved in politics, but very consistent with the legal practice. He stood out from the crowd, particularly from his base of practice in Uyo, and positively used the PDP’s platform as its legal adviser to “show up” at our courts remarkably the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court handling very complex cases”.

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria is a title that is conferred on legal practitioners who have distinguished themselves in legal practice. A few benchmarks are compulsory for one to satisfy to qualify for elevation into the Inner Bar. A lawyer must have spent 10 years at the Nigerian Bar; presented at least 3 crucial cases at the Supreme Court, 6 at the Appeal Court; and 8 High Court cases of exceptional background. Similarly, the legal practitioner must have embarked on “Pro bono” cases (free trial advocacy) and must own a State-of-the-Law Chambers with at least 5 junior lawyers.

 

Considering Enoidem’s deep involvement in politics, his elevation took a few persons by surprise who mulled over how he satisfied the criteria for SAN, having juxtaposed his active role in politics for the past 20 years and that of his legal profession.

 

Did politics influence Enoidem’s elevation to the inner Bar? The answer is in the negative. As the PDP National Legal Adviser, Barr. Enoidem had a successful four-year tenure winning 90% of litigation across the country. A brief analysis of the successes recorded by this quintessential legal luminary during his term as the PDP NLA showed off a total of 122 cases. About 88 of those cases were undertaken to completion at the Federal, Appeal, and Supreme Courts. Barr. Enoidem fully superintended over 44 cases at the Court of Appeal to completion – winning 42 and losing 2. He was instrumental and at the forefront of the winning of 27 cases at the Supreme Court. Of the 88 that were completed at the various High Courts in Nigeria, Enoidem and team won 78 of them, further winning some of the cases that they lost at the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court except for one.

 

Barr. Emmanuel Akpan, a lecturer at the University of Uyo and legal practitioner at Enoidem and Associates, also threw more light on how Barr. Enoidem qualified. He explained that “The conferment of the status of Senior Advocate of Nigeria is a purely professional issue that has nothing to do with politics. Barr. Enoidem was a Commissioner and a member of the State Executive Council till 2017 but he plunged himself fully into legal practice during his time in politics and thereafter. His assumption of office as the National Legal Adviser of the PDP offered him a veritable platform to handle hundreds of cases of intra and inter-party disputes in Courts all over the country even up to the Supreme Court.”

 

Continuing he pointed out that “Enoidem has within a few years, handled hundreds of cases throughout the country, including pro bono criminal trials which is one of the requirements for conferment of the rank. In fact, when it comes to the requirement of litigation, he had many more cases than required. Added to the other specific and distinguishing requirements for qualification for the conferment which included the possession of a good law library for research, a good and well-structured law office, among others.” Neutral observers expressed that Enoidem and Associates has one of the best law libraries around the south south of Nigeria.

 

Barr. Okon concurred toeing the same line as Barr. Akpan on Enoidem’s professionalism and ability to deliver. He pointed out that Enoidem who lectured “Law of Evidence” at the University of Uyo is an intellectual when it comes to delivery in court and with this elevation, “I see him taking a big role and centre stage in the legal profession in Nigeria.”

 

Will Barr. Enoidem, who lost the Ikot Ekpene Senatorial District election in February 2023 to the current Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio gropes over the loss, Barr. Okon totally disagrees with that assertion. According to the scion of the former Chief Judge of Akwa Ibom state, Justice Steven Okon (rtd), “I have witnessed Enoidem’s presentations in court several times and I can attest to his brilliance and ingenuity in submitting cases before the Court and I strongly believe that he would be fulfilled as a SAN than if he had gone to the senate because SANship will put sumptuous meals on his table throughout his stay on earth, unlike a four years sojourn in the Senate.”

 

What does the conferment of a SAN title portend to Enoidem and Akwa Ibom state? There are enormous benefits to the state as Enoidem adds to the list of indigenous-based lawyers who have made the Inner Bar. Barr. Akpan opined that his attainment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria is good news to the people of Akwa Ibom State. It has enhanced and positioned him for better service delivery to the State he loves, particularly in terms of legal practice and it will also encourage other lawyers that attainment of the SAN rank is possible despite our geographical disadvantage as per the location of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal. Enoidem’s drive for excellence is legendary. He’s also a very nice and compassionate person. He loves people and likes to see them grow”.

 

“The SANhip will give Enoidem food for life and open new doors for him as it relates to briefs. Akwa Ibom state will benefit as it is now clear that if a lawyer based in Uyo strategizes well with good briefs that take him or her ‘upstairs’ to the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal regularly, there is a possibility that in no time, the converted stools may also be on the cards of the lawyers. Enoidem SANship has opened a vista of possibilities for Akwa Ibom lawyers who are greatly motivated by his consistency and exceptional brilliance in the legal practice,” submitted Barr. Okon.

 

 

_Dr. Tom FredFish is a public affairs analyst_

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Emeh James Anyalekwa, is a Seasoned Journalist, scriptwriter, Movie producer/Director and Showbiz consultant. He is the founder and CEO of the multi Media conglomerate, CANDY VILLE, specializing in Entertainment, Events, Prints and Productions. He is currently a Special Assistant (Media) to the Former Governor of Abia State and Chairman Slok Group, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu. Anyalekwa is also the National President, Online Media Practitioners Association of Nigeria (OMPAN) https://web.facebook.com/emehjames

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