Chief Bayo Ojo SAN By Seyi Clement
Have you always wanted to be a lawyer and what actually made you go into law? I initially wanted to be a pharmacist and I took physics, chemistry and biology up till school certiﬁcate level. However, an incident that occurred when I was in Form four changed the course of my life and made me want to be a lawyer. I was on holiday from school and would get up early in the morning to wash my dad’s car before he went to work. So one early morning, as I was washing the car, a man walked into the gate of our house and attempted to abduct me. Fortunately my father came to my rescue and the man was arrested and charged. I was required to appear in court to give evidence. It was the ﬁrst time in my life that I would ever enter a court room. I was scared to death.
But when I got inside the court and saw the Chief Magistrate in a nice suit sitting and conducting proceedings, and the lawyers neatly dressed in very nice suits appearing for their clients, I knew within me immediately that this was what I would want to be in future. To be a lawyer. What do you remember about your ﬁrst day in court? My ﬁrst appearance in court was during my NYSC programme (National Youth Service Corp, Nigerian national services programme) in Enugu, in 1978. Although I was posted to the Ministry of Justice for my primary assignment, the Legal Aid Board had just been established then and we were required to spend six months with the Legal Aid Board handling
cases for those who could not afford legal representation. My very ﬁrst case was a case in which I defended a secondary school student who was alleged to have raped another student. The judge who presided over the case was retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Honourable Justice Anthony Iguh. He was then a High Court judge. At the end of the day, he found my client guilty and convicted him. One thing I do recall is that in my allocutus on behalf of my client before he was sentenced, I passionately pleaded with the judge not to impose the maximum sentence as it was my ﬁrst case in life. Moreover I said my client was a young person who could still be reformed in life. I guess this made an impression on the judge who sentenced my client to ﬁve years imprisonment. I did not appeal as I was happy with the outcome.