By Amaka Ezeno

It may interest you to know that the way you write your name can make you someone else.

Does it sound funny?

This was established in the celebrated case of Esenowo v. Ukpong [1999] 6 NWLR [PT. 608], 611.

The fact of the matter was that one Dr. E. J. Esenowo applied for reimbursement from Nigerian Medical Council but the Council, because there is no E. J. Esenowo but Esenowo, J. E. in the Register of the Council, denied him his demands.

He approached the High Court and was refused his prayers.

On appeal, Court of Appeal held that what the first defendant wrote in Exhibit H was true because the professional register for 1980 and 1981 entered the name – “Esenowo, J. E.” and not “E. J. Esenowo”.

In professional matters, it is always of great importance to have one’s name inserted correctly and or consistently.

The Court of Appeal therefore held that the Dr. Esenowo in the register of medical practitioners was J. E. Esenowo and not E. J. Esonowo, a correct statement of fact. It is true that the Register of Nigerian Medical Council for 1980 and 1981 did not contain plaintiff/appellant’s name.

There is a world of difference between “J. E. Esenowo” and “E. J. Esenowo”.

The surname is Esenowo, the first and middle names being “Johnson” and “Esenowo” respectively.

This will be rendered into “Dr. J. E. Esenowo” not “Dr. E. J. Esenowo”, which names the appellant used in his pleadings and evidence, which he clearly claimed to be the correct names.

Open further Appeal to the five Justices of the Supreme Court,

the Apex Court unanimously refused him his prayers because of this fact and agreed with the Council, that the way someone’s name is written makes a whole world of difference.

The Court held as follows –

“The surname is Esenowo, the first and middle names being “Johnson” and “Esenowo” respectively. This will be rendered into “Dr. J. E. Esenowo” not “Dr. E. J. Esenowo.”

That whole world of difference that the arrangement of one’s name makes, led the Supreme Court to hold specifically that “Dr. E. J. Esonowo is not registered with the Nigerian Medical Council.”

The normal way of writing your name follows a specific order – First name (first) Middle name or Middle names (next) Surname (last) all of which constitute your name not names as it is also wrong to say, “my names are Johnson Esenowo Esenowo. The right way to say your name is, “my name is Johnson Esenowo Esenowo.

The said normal way of writing your name should change only where any form or document you are required to fill out specifically states that you should write your surname first. In that case, the proper order is: Surname (followed by a comma), First name Middle name

Example: Esenowo, Johnson Esenowo.

But where the form or document provides boxes or different places labelled “Surname”, “First name”, and “Middle name”, simply write the required name (do not add any comma after your surname). Example: (1) Surname: Esenowo (2) First name: Johnson (3) Middle name: Esenowo.

Never write your middle name before your first name.

It does not matter whether you are writing just the initials of your first name and middle name instead of their full version.That was the mistake of Dr. Johnson Esenowo Esenowo.

The Supreme Court held that he was Dr. J. E. Esenowo, not Dr. E. J. Esenowo. You can imagine the huge costs, embarrassment, and loss that the “simple” or “little” mistake of writing his name in the wrong order caused him.

Be careful, therefore to ensure that you write your name (whether in full or initials) in the proper order always and everywhere. Remember, the way you arrange or write your names can make you someone else, as it happened, unfortunately, to Dr. Johnson Esenowo Esenowo.

This is the law and a lesson why you should write your names properly.