Aesthetics they say in ‘literature’ has a relationship with ‘beauty’. That is, a work of art that relates to art or beauty. In other words, what appeals to the senses of man or the viewer or the reader. Also, ‘work of art’ includes ‘writings’. Therefore, legal writing is specie of artistic work which just like the typical nature of an artistic work, aesthetics is a common feature. Furthermore, this paper is of the courage and recommendation, most respectfully, that legal writings which are written by lawyers either inform of: articles; journals; books; comments; opinions; etc, should be done in such a way that it has the quality of aesthetics and the aesthetics that this paper envisages are that that has to do with correcting wrongs and encouraging development and improvement of the system, in other words, those writings that have the effect of reforming the societies. Writings in my humble view, should not only be for writing sake rather, but there should also be societal benefits which readers of such work/writing would gain on their having the opportunity to read the said writing.
In my humble view, the ‘writing’ is a way of expressing oneself and such ability to express oneself is a guaranteed right to freedom of expression as entrenched in sections: 38 and 39(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended)-herein after referred to as the Constitution. Nevertheless, lawyers know that this right to freely express oneself is not absolute as it is conditional upon the derogations provided in section 45(1) of the Constitution. Furthermore and emphatically, section 38 guarantees every citizen of Nigeria right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and section 39(1) of the Constitution has guaranteed every citizen the right to freedom of expression and the press. Meaning that every citizen is free to reason, have opinions and express himself or his thoughts by whatever means or by whatever medium or media, whether in words or action or conduct or by any part of his body or by the intellect. He does not require any permission or control from any other person or authority to express himself. Peaceful protest in writing (much more is to the facts that by aesthetics in writing, peaceful protest can also be done through writing) is freedom which does not require the permission of any authority or person. The press or the media and the media practitioners too are free to operate and practise or express themselves in writing without fear or favour, except to such extent as restricted and or derogated by section 45 (1) of the Constitution under any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society— (a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or (b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons. This, in my humble view, means that no reason can be given under any law aside from the Constitution (as provided under section 45(1)) for the taking away of such right of writing as any of such reason will be unlawful, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect.
Furthermore, I must say that the freedom to write or of writing is claimable and entitled to by every citizen of Nigeria whether as a child or as a person of eighteen years and above, whether male or female or whether rich or poor or whether as maid or servant or master under the Constitution without even considering the guarantee of such right under the Child’s Rights Act, 2003 or under any other statute. Also, this right is guaranteed under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. For instance, Article 18 provides for the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Article 19 provides for the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
Furthermore, what we see as ‘writing’ today do not appreciate or appeal to senses in any way! Writings (even some of those written by some lawyers) are not more than political writings and criticism of the government in power. Hate speeches and inciting comments are almost everywhere: on social media or via any other media platforms or the press. Government being fed-up with these developments is making efforts to regulate social media and a part of the public is in opposition to such regulation. All these cannot continue to be while societies suffer as a result of those kinds of writings. There is need for us as lawyers to add ‘aesthetics’ to our writings in such a way that such writings would: sensitise members of the public on what the true position of law is on a particular subject matter; what the society needs to do improve; what are legalities and what are illegalities; what are the fundamental rights of citizens and the limits to such rights; what are social justice and what are jungle justice; what developments have met the other countries and where we in Nigeria as a nation is lagging behind and what solutions available to us; among others.
Such writings could also be a form of recommendations to the government on what would aid or assist the government to form good policies or regulations. Such writings could also be a sort of petition to the government on the public’s demands or grievances about the government’s policies or functions. What are our writings doing about: bad roads; discomforting economy; kidnappings; rape; and other criminalities?! The situation now in my humble view, has gone beyond only the government must think and act! Rather, all hands must be on deck! The government requires more ideas from us all as citizens on the best way to combat all these crimes for a society to enjoy peace and comfort! That is what writings ought to be used as a tool for, if I may suggest, with due respect! All these are what I envisage that legal writings ought to be, hence, I decided to encourage and remind lawyers of this vital role as stipulated in Rule 1 of the Rules of Professional Conducts for Legal Practitioners, 2007.
Finally, I believe that as lawyers, we have a great role to play in reforming the societies and our legal writing is a tool to achieving this reform if we all desire a peaceful and serene society where we are respected for our professionalism and humanitarian services to humanity. If we add more aesthetics as recommended in this paper to our writings, it beautifies our work more in a more fashionable and appealing to the senses of a common man and in such an easily recognisable manner. If we allow the society to be destroyed and we all fold our arms without doing anything about the situation (in reform), even by our writings, what then will be left for our children yet to grow and our generations yet to come to inherit?! It is high time that we all must reason and take action! Change begins with me and you! By this brief writing, I have done a part of my role in this societal reformation, I expect more from you too!