How I spent my NYSC allowance to renovate my father’s house —Adesina
Mr. Julius Oladele Adesina, a Senior Advocate Of Nigeria (SAN), is the principal partner at Dele Adesina & Co., a law firm established in July 1992. In this interview, he told SEGUN KASALI of his experiences at the bar for over 35 years, among other things.
AS a lawyer, you must have come from a privileged background.
No. In fact, my growing up was nothing spectacular, but then it wasn’t all bread and butter. I grew up as a village boy in Ilawe- Ekiti, Ekiti State. I attended primary school and secondary school in the same town where I was born, but God gave me a father and a mother who believed in education. My mother was always ready to sell anything to raise money for education, just as my father would borrow from anybody to pay my fees, even though I didn’t pay school fees in primary school. They are both late now. From there, I went to the University of Ife, now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU). We started paying in secondary school and like a typical boy from a family that lived on subsistence farming, there was little to play with. So, most times, the resources both of them were able to put together was never enough to pay the fees. My mother would approach any of her colleagues during their age-group meetings and took loan, which she added to whatever my father had and we used it to pay my fees. But before I completed secondary school, God intervened as I was given the Western Nigeria Scholarship.
While in primary school, did you think for once that you would become a lawyer later in life?
Yes. Towards the end of my primary school, I used to tell myself that I didn’t know what else I would become if not a lawyer because I never thought of any other profession except Law. I used to follow my father to Ado-Ekiti when I had the opportunity. He had a younger brother who came from Ghana. That brother had a little issue and you know in extended families, when your brother has a problem, the entire family sees it as their problem. My father had to follow him to the court in Ado. I accompanied my father as a young boy. When I got to the premises, they told me it was a court. I saw lots of lawyers and also saw the enthusiasm, the excitement on their faces when the proceedings were going on. I came out and I saw big cars in the parking lot of the court and I was told that the cars belonged to most of the lawyers. I was so fascinated with their wigs and gowns because until then, the only gowns I knew about were those worn by the choir members. I was a member of the choir of Anglican Church in my hometown. All of these attracted me and I told my father that one day, I would own cars like those lawyers and would defend people like they did. From that day, I never thought of any other profession.
Did you also go to farm with your parents?
Anytime we were on holidays, we had no business staying at home when our father was at the farm. In fact, I remembered very well that when we were in secondary school, we used to do what was called aaro, where you have two, three, four or five others coming together to go to each other’s father’s farms. If it was my turn, all of them would follow me to the farm. We used to clear the cocoa farm and helped in laying heaps for the planting of yam and all that. We usually spent one or two days on my own father’s farm and the following day, we would go to another friend’s father’s farm. By so doing, we were able to effectively help our parents.
Was there any shocking experience while in the farm?
There was a particular incident when we were on the cocoa farm and, out of curiosity, I saw a heap of leaves on a branch of a cocoa tree. I didn’t bother to find a stick to rustle the leaves. I tried to climb, used my cutlass to cut through the leaves, hoping that it was a rat that was there, but what I saw was a snake. I threw the cutlass away, jumped down in another direction far away from the cutlass, while my father kept shouting at me, asking me what had happened? I was just shouting: snake, snake, snake. He asked me the direction it went and I pointed it to him. My father threw a stick in the direction so that it could escape. I was usually a backbencher when it came to hunting because of the fear of something like my nasty experience, but I had friends who could chase a snake to kill it.
Memorable events during your school days?
It was when we left Ife for Lagos to protest over loss of something at the Central Bank at that time at the National Assembly, which was at that time at the Tafawa Balewa Square. What made it interesting for me was my being part of the demonstration team. To make matters worse, the buses we seized from the maintenance works department were driven by students from Ife to Lagos and back.
How did you meet your wife?
I met her in 1981. I was at the Nigerian Law School then. I chased her from 1981 to 1983 before I finally won her over. I left Lagos for Ekiti for the church harvest. I was sitting with a friend, Tunde Akindele Alo. Not long after, a lady came and knelt down. I greeted her, but she responded casually and left the church almost immediately. I asked my friend who the lady was. The first thing that fascinated me about her was how she conducted herself. Anyway, my friend just said; “what’s your business? Even though she refused to give me her contact that day, she later found out that I persisted in my efforts at knowing who she was and how desperately I wanted to meet her. Later, after I returned to Lagos, she gave me her details. When I got back to Lagos, I went to meet her at Ife. I had discussions with her. I remember I told her pointedly that I was not looking for a girlfriend but a wife and gave her my reasons, but she told me that she was not looking for a husband.
Was there been any event that happened in the course of your Law practice that makes you thank God?
Yes. One day, I was in court for a land matter in Ikeja. During the course of the proceedings, some of my clients ran into the court and whispered into my ear that the other side was in a 504 wagon with a herbalist chanting incantations. He was worried. I asked him if I should take an adjournment. He said no, that he only wanted to tell me what was going on outside the court and I said okay, thank you very much. I continued with what I was doing as if nothing happened and by the time we finished in court, I came out and I told them, it is not that I didn’t hear what you said, neither that they didn’t exist because the Bible says there are principalities and powers, but thank God who causes us to triumph over all principalities and power. I believed that statement made an impact on the person who ran inside. By the time we finished that case and judgment was rendered, it was in favour of my client. A witness in the case was so impressed that he walked up to me, asked me what he could do for me because of the way I handled the woman’s matter and decided to give me a plot land on which I built my first house in Lagos.
Any embarrassing moment in the course of your practice?
That was in 1996. I went to Osogbo to handle a matter, which was a business that transformed into a criminal action between two brothers, who were managing a company together. One made away with the company’s money and the other went to court to get an order to take it back. I appeared for the person who wanted to court to return the company’s property. We got an order which they took to Osun State to execute. My lawyer followed a sheriff and they saw the other man driving one of the cars that were supposed to be handed over to the court premises. They followed him to his home where he finally handed the car over. The deputy sheriff and my lawyer brought the car to Lagos. As they were driving to court, the man was also driving to the State Intelligence headquarters in Osogbo to say that he had been robbed. So, the police came to Lagos to arrest my junior lawyer, arrested the deputy sheriff and arrested the man. We went to court again. I now had to go to Osogbo myself. We were taking the argument for bail about two or three days to Christmas Day that year and I told the judge that this was a business arrangement that went sour, more importantly, between two brothers. Number two, that the man that ran to Osogbo to make the allegation of robbery knew that there was no robbery. Three, I said I was aware that there was an unholy meeting between the complainant and the Attorney- General of this state and that my fear was that the whole machinery of justice in Osun State would not collapse in the course of the case. This is because it was the first case. I would know where three legal opinions had been rendered. The Director of Public Prosecution said there was no case to answer, but the Attorney-General went to him and insisted that they must change that pronouncement. The man refused and the Attorney- General wrote another opinion personally to say there was a case to answer. The Federal Director of Public Prosecution got the matter transferred to the Federal Ministry of Justice and said there was no case to answer in another legal opinion. I said by the time we start the hearing, I would put the Attorney-General in the box to ask him how many legal advices or opinions he had written before this one and how many he had written after this one. By the time this was done, we would know whatever got him to bend the law the way he was doing. The judge looked at me and was very angry. He said he had been following my argument all day, but now, I was making disparaging comments against the Attorney- General of the state, who was not there to defend himself and would not hesitate to send me to prison. I said My Lord, to where? To prison? I said some of us, before we took any matter up, always made up our mind, ready to sink or swim with the client. I told him to send me to prison, but before I got there, many lawyers from Osun State would be waiting there for me. Everywhere was charged. After about 30 minutes, the court rose to consider its ruling. Surprisingly, the court came back 4 pm and gave a ruling admitting the client to bail three days to Christmas Day in 1996.