The Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee says it has stripped a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ogunba, of the SAN rank.
The body, in a press release dated January 11, 2018 by its Secretary and the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Hadizatu Mustapha, said it found merit in a petition alleging professional misconduct against the senior lawyer.
According to the press release, the petition leading to the striping of Ogunba of the SAN rank was authored by Honeywell Group.
The firm was said to have accused Ogunba of instituting “multiplicity of proceedings before different judges of the Federal High Court on the same subject matter with the deliberate aim of abusing the processes of court and derailing the course of justice.”
Mustapha said after investigating the petition, the LPPC sub-committee “decided that the petition was meritorious,” which culminated in the LPPC’s decision to withdraw the SAN rank from Ogunba at its 129th plenary.
However, a letter from the Nigerian Bar Association dated August 5, 2016, made available to our correspondent by Ogunba’s law firm, indicated that the NBA had earlier absolved him of any wrongdoing.
The NBA, in the said letter signed by its General Secretary, Mazi Afam Osigwe, and addressed to Honeywell, said after it carefully read Honeywell’s petition, it found that the petition did not disclose any alleged infraction of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 by Ogunba.
The NBA said it was satisfied that the suits Ogunba filed did not amount to an abuse of court process as the companies were separate entities and that the cases were not in respect of the same facts nor did they seek the same reliefs.
The NBA listed the cases, including Ekobank vs Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, Ecobank vs Siloam Global Services Limited, Ecobank vs Anchorage Leisures, Ecobank vs Honeywell Group Ltd, among others.
It said, “A careful examination of the court processes filed by parties at the various suits indicated differences in either parties or reliefs sought, which defeats your (Honeywell’s) allegation of abuse of court process.
“The respondent’s actions are, in our respectful view, in line with the duty of a counsel to do everything which, in the exercise of his discretion, he thinks best for the general interest of his client, which cannot be fettered by subjecting him to the disciplinary proceedings.
“We are, therefore, of the considered belief that the allegations contained in the petition under reference do not contain facts indicating any infraction of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
“In the light of the foregoing, we will be unable to further inquire into the matter by forwarding the petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee. The petition is hereby dismissed as it lacks merit.”
Meanwhile, the LPPC also said it had rescinded its move to confer the SAN rank on Mrs. Oluwatoyin Bashorun, who it earlier listed among those it considered to confer with the rank last year.
It said after considering a petition against Bashorun, it concluded that the senior lawyer had “conducted herself in a manner which is clearly in contravention of the provisions of paragraphs 18(2) (a) and (c) and 19 (a)(b) and (d) of the Guidelines for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria 2016.”
The body said it found that Bashorun “stayed and continue to stay in a rented property for nine years without paying rent.”
It said it barred Bashorun from applying for the SAN rank for three years but said she might be considered after three years “subject to good behaviour as assessed by the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee.”