The rank and file members of the Body of Senior Advocates of Nigeria (BOSAN) was last week depleted following the withdrawal of the coveted title from two members of the Body over allegation of professional misconduct. FOLUSO OGUNMODEDE reports
For about 43 years, the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC), empowered by the Legal Practitioners Act 207 Section 5 (1) had not stopped conferring the title of Senior Advocates of Nigeria on lawyers, who had distinguished themselves in the practice of law.
And to be considered for the coveted title of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a lawyer must have been in legal practice or academics for not less than ten years. Its composition includes the Chief Justice (as Chairman), the Attorney-General, a Justice of the Supreme Court, President of the Court of Appeal, five of the Chief Judges of the states, Chief Judge of the Federal High Court and five legal practitioners who must be Senior Advocates of Nigeria.
Besides, Legal Practitioners Act 207 Section 5 (1) requires applicants for the rank of SAN to be of good character with no complaint relating to professional misconduct must be against them.
It also requires candidates to demonstrate professional and personal integrity, be honest and straightforward in professional dealings, be of good character and reputation as well as be candid with clients and professional colleagues.
It says: “A candidate shall be considered ineligible if, in the opinion of the LPPC, the candidate is adjudged to be of the following disposition: “Bad behaviour, whether in or out of court; poor temperament or propensity to insult or assault people or cause bodily harm or put them in a state of fear of bodily harm and evidence of moral depravity or other socially unacceptable behaviour.”
However, LPPC in its 43 years had churned out no fewer than 479 distinguished lawyers, adorning them with silk wig with other revered privileges.
It had its first Senior Advocates on April 3, 1973 when it bestowed the prestigious title on two lawyers—the late Chief Fredrick Rotimi Alade Williams and Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas, who had distinguished themselves in the profession of law.
Two years after Williams and Graham-Douglas bagged the coveted title, 13 other distinguished lawyers joined the privileged BOSAN.
They are the late Premier of the defunct western region, Chiefs Obafemi Awolowo and R.A. Fani-Kayode. Others were the late Baba Oba of Lagos, T.A. Bankole Oki, E. A. Molajo, Kehinde Sofola, Chief Richard Akinjide, Chief G.O.K. Ajayi, Chief Olisa Chukura, Dr. Nwakanma Okoro, Dr. Mudiaga Odje, P.O. Balonwu, Professor Ben Nwabueze and Dr. Augustine Nnamani.
All were conferred with the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on December 1, 1978.
43 years on, no fewer than 464 distinguished lawyers had bagged the title.
Although majority of the first generation SAN title holders have passed on, LPPC as at October 2017 had conferred the title on 479 other lawyers, who had distinguished themselves in the practice of law.
But between 2010 and 2018, the Body of Senior Advocates suffered a dent following misdemeanor of some of its members which had prompted the LPPC to strip them of the coveted title.
No fewer than five Senior Advocates had been sanctioned by the privileges committee in the last eight years.
BOSAN members, who had received LPPC’s big stick, were a former Justice Minister and Attorney-General, Chief Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, Chief Ajibola Aribisala, Otunba Kunle Kalejaiye, Adekunle Babatunde Ogunba and Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun.
While Aondoakaa, Aribisala’s titles were suspended by the LPPC, Kalejaiye and Ogunba were stripped of their titles just as Bashorun’s nomination for the coveted title was not only withdrawn but barred from applying for three years on the grounds of misconduct.
Adekunle Babatunde Ogunba was elevated into the Inner Bar as Senior Advocate of Nigeria alongside foremost activist lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome and 17 others on December 4, 2009.
Nine years after, Ogunba was stripped of the coveted title by the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) over allegation of professional misconduct.
The decision of the committee which was with immediate effect was contained in a statement dated January 11 and issued at the end of its 129th plenary meeting.
The statement signed by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court and Secretary of the LPPC, Mrs. Hadizatu Mustapha, stated that the decision to strip Ogunba of his rank was based on a petition filed against him by a firm, Honeywell Group.
Honeywell Group had accused Ogunba of professional misconduct following “institution of multiplicity of proceedings before different judges of the Federal High Court on the same subject with the deliberate aim of abusing the process of court and derailing the course of justice.”
This, the statement said the committee had found merit in the allegation.
Like Ogunba, Mrs Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun also lost the privi
lege of being admitted into the privileged rank.
Reason: The LPPC found a petition of misconduct against her meritorious.
It, however, announced the withdrawal of her nomination for the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate.
According to a statement, the committee found that the petition against her was meritorious “having found that the respondent stayed and continued to stay in a rented property for nine years without paying rent and that Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun Esq. being an officer in the temple of justice and an aspirant to the exalted position of Senior Advocate of Nigeria has conducted herself in a manner which is clearly in contravention of the provisions of paragraphs 18(2) (a) & (c) and 19 (a) (b) (c) & (d) of the Guidelines for the Conferment of the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria 2016.”
At the last emergency meeting of September 15, the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) by virtue of Section 5 (1) of the Legal Practitioners Act CAP L11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 as amended, decided to suspend the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun Esq. pending the investigation of all petitions filed against her.
However, after a thorough investigation, the body came to a conclusion that the nomination for conferment of the award of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun Esq. on July 6, 2017 should be withdrawn.
The committee also barred Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun from applying for the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria for the next three years or three applications beginning from 2018, after which she would only apply for the rank subject to good behaviour as assessed by the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee.
He was in 2010 suspended by the Legal Privileges Committee (LPPC) from using the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria for two years following a petition by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) and a ruling by a Calabar Federal High Court on June 1, 2010, which declared him unfit to hold the office of the Attorney General or any public office in Nigeria.
LPPC said it decided to suspend him from the use of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and all other privileges attached to the rank pending the outcome of an investigation by the sub-committee set up by the LPPC.
Although Aribisala’s title was restored on October 27, 2014, the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) put the title and privileges attached on hold for 20 months.
While restoring Aribisala’s SAN title, the then LPPC’s Secretary and Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr. Sunday Olorundahunsi in a statement said Aribisala’s SAN rank was restored at a meeting of the committee held on Monday October 27, 2014.
According to the statement, the decision to restore the lawyer’s SAN rank followed withdrawal of petitions against him and consideration of the terms of settlement between parties concerned in the petitions.
Aribisala’s SAN rank was suspended by the LPPC on February 26, 2013 after it received two petitions of “allegations of flagrant breach of professional ethics and professional misconduct” made against him.
In the allegations, Aribisala charged for certain legal services he allegedly rendered to Fidelity Bank which were in excess and breach of Rules of Professional Conduct in the legal profession.
The statement reads: “You may all recall that on the 26th day February, 2013 the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee at its General meeting suspended Chief A. A. Aribisala (SAN) from further use of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria based on two petitions received by the LPPC on allegations of flagrant breach of professional ethics and professional misconduct.
“On the 27th day of October, 2014 the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee at its General Meeting has decided to lift Chief A.A Aribisala’s suspension, after consideration of all material facts (Notices of withdrawal/discontinuance and subsequent letter of withdrawal of petition and terms of settlement).
“Pursuant to the committee’s decision, Chief Aribisala is hereby restored to the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria with effect from the 27th day of October, 2014.
“Furthermore, the committee hereby declares that any future act by Chief Aribisala that runs foul of paragraph 22 of the LPPC rules shall attract a stiffer sanction.”
Kalejaiye lost his coveted rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on May 21, 2015 following allegation of misconduct initiated against him.
Having found guilty of the allegation, LPPC stripped him of the title.
Kaleijaye allegedly exchanged text messages with an election tribunal judge, Justice Thomas Naron during election litigation between former governor Olagunsoye Oyinlola of Osun State and his successor in office, Governor Rauf Aregbesola.
Kalejaye, who represented Oyinlola at the tribunal, had faced an inquiry into his unethical conduct since 2008 when a series of text messages between him and the judge were made public.
He was not only stripped of the SAN title but the LPPC also directed the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to immediately remove his name from the official list of legal practitioners in the country.
The committee also directed that its decision should be served on the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Chief Judges of all the states of the federation, the Chief Judge of Federal High Court, Chief Judge of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Inspector General of Police (IGP) and all states’ Commissioners of Police. It also directed that the decision be published in the media for public consumption.
The verdict passed on Kalejaiye followed the conclusion of work by a five-man investigative panel led by the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa.
The panel had swung into action following a complaint against Kalejaiye by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), represented by Jibrin Okutepa (SAN).
Unveiling the directive of the Committee, the then Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Ekiti Division, Justice Paul Galinje held that the prosecution h
ad proved a three-count complaint beyond reasonable doubt as Kalejaiye violated provisions of Sections 1, 15, 30, 31, 34 and 55 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners (2007).
However, Kalejaiye’s counsel, Niyi Owolade, a former Attorney General of Osun State, faulted the decision of the Committee, saying his client was about filing his appeal at the Supreme Court.
According to the Legal Practitioners Act (LPA), Kalejaiye had up to 28 days to appeal the decision, failing which it would become effective.
Section 11(8) of the LPA states that “a directive of the disciplinary committee under subsection (1) or subsection (2) of this section shall take effect: (a) where no appeal under this section is brought against the directive within the time limited for the appeal on the expiration of that time; (b) where such an appeal is brought and is withdrawn or struck out for want of prosecution on the withdrawal or striking out of the appeal; and (c) where such an appeal is brought and is not withdrawn or struck out as aforesaid, if and when the appeal is dismissed, and shall not take effect except in accordance with the foregoing provisions of this subsection.
Kalejaiye had between March and June 2008, while representing the Peoples Democratic Party candidate in the Osun State Governorship Election Tribunal, engaged in “confidential, private and confidential telephone conversation with the tribunal’s Chairman, Justice Thomas Naron, without the knowledge of the other party.
It was at the tribunal which heard the petition by the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and its candidate at the 2007 governorship election.
Justice Naron had since been compulsorily retired having been found guilty of professional misconduct by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
Kalejaiye’s defence was rejected by the LPPC on the grounds that his telephone number was cloned while he was able to show, by expert evidence, that spoofing, as a general phenomenon was possible, he failed to show that spoofing was possible on the MTN network which owned the lines with which Kalejaiye and Naron communicated rather than demonstrating such possibility with Etisalat and Glo networks.
Kalejaiye’s documentary evidence, mostly newspaper publications including advertorial sponsored by Kalejaiye, faulting the authenticity of the call log from MTN, was also punctured by the Committee.
According to the Committee, it would have been more helpful had Kalejaiye applied and got his call log from MTN to prove that the one tendered by the prosecution was not the actual one.
B. I. Nwofor
The decision to withdraw Nwofor’s SAN tittle was taken at the LPPC’s 126th general meeting held on June 22, 2017. The decision was contained in a letter from the privileges committee signed by the then Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Ahmed Salleh.
Nwofor was a lawyer to the sacked National Chairman of PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
The Committee had noted then that it considered extensively a complaint filed by the Court of Appeal against B. E. I. Nwofor with his response to same and all material facts and had decided that B. E. I. Nwofor conducted himself in a manner unbefitting of a holder of the esteemed rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.
It was based on this reason that the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, including all its privileges was withdrawn from B.E.I Nwofor.
Sunset on Ademola, Tokode’s career
TUNDE OYESINA reports that almost 35 years in active judicial service, two judges of the Federal High Court at the weekend had their career terminated over allegation of misconduct
After days of uncertainty, two Judges of the nation’s Federal High Court were shown the way out as President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend approved their disengagement from the judiciary.
The judges–Justices Adeniyi Ademola and O.O. Tokode were on February 9 given the boot.
While Justice Ademola escaped sack following an approval of his retirement, Justice Tokode was dismissed.
Justice Tokode of the Benin division of the Federal High Court was not only sacked but compelled to make a refund of salaries and allowances earned illegally from December 2, 2015.
The National Judicial Council had last year recommended compulsory retirement of Justice Ademola to the President and Tokode’s dismissal.
For Justice Ademola, his travails had commenced in October 2016, when the DSS raided his house in Abuja where a pump action rifle and some monies were recovered.
The Federal Government thereafter arraigned Justice Ademola, his wife, Olubowale and his family lawyer, Joe Agi SAN before an Abuja High Court.
After prosecution had called about 18 witnesses, Justice Ademola and others filed a no case submission.
The trial Judge, Justice Jude Okeke upheld the no case submission and consequently discharged and acquitted the defendants.
Months later after his acquittal, Justice Ademola sent in his voluntary retirement to the NJC.
The judge tendered his letter of voluntary retirement from the Bench of the Federal High Court.
The judge was due for his statutory retirement next month but suddenly turned in his letter of resignation dated December 6, 2017.
Although his one-paragraph letter was received at the Office of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, on December 7 the letter stated that his retirement took effect from December 6, 2017.
The letter did not disclose reasons for the judge’s decision.
The letter entitled‘Letter of voluntary retirement’, reads, “I hereby voluntarily retire from the bench of the Federal High Court with effect from December 6, 2017.”
The footnote of the letter added, “this letter supersedes my previous notice of retirement from the Federal High Court of Nigeria dated 25/09/2017.”
A day after Justice Ademola turned in his letter of voluntary retirement, the NJC recommended him for compulsory retirement over act of misconduct.
But for Justice Segun Tokode, the NJC recommended him for outright dismissal.
The Council said its decision to compulsorily remove Ademola from the Bench was pursuant to findings on allegations contained in a petition written against him by a group of eight persons under the name of the Committee of Anambra State PDP House of Representatives Members-Elect.
According to NJC, the petitioner alleged that Ademola heard their Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/177/2015 which was adjourned for judgement on 25thMarch, 2015;
“That on the adjourned date, His Lordship did not deliver the judgement but adjourned the case sine die, to await the decision of the Supreme Court on another matter on the same issue on the list of PDP candidates for Anambra State for the general election of “That His Lordship speedily heard and delivered judgement in another case in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/254/2015 filed later on the same issues, with intent to confer undue advantage on the plaintiff who is from a family with which the respondent has relationship;
“That the Certified True Copy (CTC) of the judgement ultimately given to the petitioners contained a paragraph that was not read in open court by the Hon. Judge and that a phrase was altered, all to address an issue raised in the appeal that had already been filed by the petitioner before the issuance of Certified True Copy (CTC);
“That some of the reasoning and conclusions of the Hon. Judge were summersaults; that the respondent finally delivered judgement in the case on 8th July, 2016, five (5) months after the Supreme Court delivered the judgement he was awaiting contrary to the constitutional provisions that judgements should be delivered within a period of 90 days.”
NJC stressed that although the petitioners subsequently withdrew their petitions in accordance with Regulation 16 of the National Judicial Council Judicial Discipline Regulations of 9th March, 2017.
It said the “Council viewed His Lordship’s action of non-delivery of judgement within the stipulated time as misconduct contrary to Section 292 (1) (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended and Rules 1.3 and 3.7 of the 2016 Revised Code of Conduct for Judicial Officers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
It said: “The public is hereby informed to disregard news circulating on some news media that Hon. Justice Ademola has voluntarily retired.
The purported voluntary retirement is clearly an afterthought as Council had taken action before his decision to forward any voluntary retirement letter.”
Likewise, NJC stated that Justice Tokode of the same Federal High Court was also recommended to President Buhari for compulsory retirement from office with immediate effect sequel to findings on allegations contained in petitions forwarded by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) and one Miss Abimbola Awogboro.
“The petitioners accused the Hon. Judge of misleading the Federal Judicial Service Commission and the National Judicial Council, by submitting six judgements he claimed to have personally conducted while practising as a lawyer; a pre-requisite for his application for appointment as a Judicial Officer, and was so appointed.
“The Investigation Committee of Council, however, found that the Hon. Judge personally conducted only one of the six cases submitted.
It was on this note that the Council decided to recommend his compulsory retirement and a refund of salaries and allowances he had earned since his purported appointment to the position of a Judge to the coffers of the Judiciary.
“In the interim, the National Judicial Council in exercise of its power under paragraph 21 sub-paragraph (d) of the Third Schedule of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, has suspended Justices A. F. A. Ademola and O. O. Tokode from office with immediate effect.
After about two months, the President acted on the letter of the Council by approving its recommendation.
The President’s verdict was contained in a statement issued in Abuja by the President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu.
Shehu said that the President’s approval followed recommendations from the National Judicial Council (NJC).
“The disciplinary actions on the two Justices are in pursuance to Section 292 (1) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Justice O. O. Tokode is also to refund all salaries and allowances earned illegally from December 2, 2015 when he was sworn-in as a Judge of the Federal High Court to date.’
The presidential aide quoted Buhari as urging “judicial officers to be alive to their responsibilities and eschew corruption in the discharge of their duties.’’
Alarm over renewed corruption charge against CCT chair, Umar
TUNDE OYESINA writes on the dust being raised by an alleged corruption tag on the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Barr. Danladi Umar, who was once cleared of the same allegation by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
For the Chairman of the Code of Conduct Tribunal, Danladi Umar, it is indeed a trying moment.
Reason: He is facing allegations of bribery and corruption which he was last year given a clean bill of health.
But all that changed a few days ago as the nation’s anti-graft agency–the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had about two weeks ago filed a corruption charge against him before a Federal High Court.
Interestingly, the charge is coming shortly after the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division returned a graft case initiated against Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki to the tribunal.
The appellate court asked Saraki to defend himself on three counts of the 18 counts bothering on false assets declaration slammed on him by the federal government.
Initially, the tribunal had discharged and acquitted Saraki of the 18 counts on the grounds that no prima facie case was established against him as the prosecution had failed to link Saraki with the said charge.
Apparently dissatisfied with the clean bill of health granted Saraki, the federal government through its lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Jacobs, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria had approached the appellate court.
In its ruling, the three member panel Court of Appeal led by Justice Tinuade Wilson reversed the acquittal and held that Saraki should go back to the tribunal to defend himself on three of the 18 counts of asset declaration initiated against him by the federal government.
While the trial of Saraki was to commence on February 6, the Federal Government on February 2 slammed a corruption charge on the CCT Chairman barely two years after he was cleared of any corruption allegation by the EFCC through a letter shortly before Saraki’s trial commenced in 2016.
Umar’s travails began when one of Saraki’s lawyer, Ajibola Oluyede had at the beginning of his trial asked Umar to disqualify himself from presiding over the matter on the grounds that there was a pending corruption charge against him by the anti-graft agency which was at the same time prosecuting his client.
But EFCC dismissed the allegation against the CCT chairman, saying there was no strong evidence of corruption that would provide basis for Umar’s prosecution, describing the allegations as “suspicious” and “insufficient.”
Specifically, in a letter addressed to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, the EFCC said Umar was being cleared the second time after its officers had carried out a thorough investigation on the petitions against the tribunal chairman.
The letter reads: ‘‘We would like to reiterate the Commission’s position in regard to this matter as earlier communicated to you and stated that the allegations levelled against Mr. Umar were mere suspicious and consequently insufficient to successfully prosecute the offence.”
The letter, with reference number EFCC/P/NHRU/688/V.30/99, and dated April 20, 2016, was signed by the secretary to the commission, Emmanuel Aremo.
The letter dated April 20, 2016 was the second written to federal authorities by the EFCC to clear Umar after the first letter dated March 5, 2015 through Babachir Lawal’s predecessor, Pius Anyim.
In the letter, the EFCC said there was no strong case against Umar but that there was prima facie evidence to prosecute Umar’s Personal Assistant“, who could offer no coherent excuse for receiving N1.8million into his salary account from an accused person, Taiwo standing trial at the Tribunal.”
Umar had, however, come under intense scrutiny since the commencement of trial of Saraki with many accusing him of being equally tainted and calling on him to excuse himself from Saraki’s case.
Besides, a group, the Anti-Corruption Network had accused Umar of useing his office to purchase N34.9million exotic vehicles, furniture and other household items without recourse to due process.
The ACN, led by Senator Dino Melaye, an ally of the Senate President, dragged Umar before the House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions over the allegations.
Umar denied the allegations in its entirety.
But in all of these, the nation’s Justice Minister and Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami could not put Umary on trial as he said there was no “material fact” to put Umar on trial.
According to Malami, it was difficult to initiate any criminal petition against the CCT chairman following his defence against the Melaye-led CAN’s petition and the EFCC’s verdict on the matter.
Malami said: “Deriving from the conclusions, it became difficult for any prosecution to be initiated on the basis of facts as they were presented.
“The position of the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation is that in the absence of further material fact in the allegations, we find it very difficult to prosecute Alhaji Umar in the circumstances against the background of his presentation and further conclusion arrived at by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.”
But in a twist, the anti-graft agency through a private prosecutor, Festus Keyamo SAN on February 2 filed fresh corruption charges against Umar.
The charge came two years after the anti-graft agency absolved Umar of any wrongdoing in a case of judicial bribery and racketeering.
Umar was alleged in the charge to have collected N10million from Rasheed Taiwo, a former Customs official who was facing false assets declaration charges before the Code of Conduct Tribunal sometimes in 2012.
The prosecution also accused Umar of receiving N1.8 million of the N10million bribe through one of his personal assistants, Gambo Abdullahi.
The two counts of fraud, however, contradicted Section 12(1) (a) and (b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2003 as stated by Keyamo in an affidavit prepared on January 25 and stamped on February 2 at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The penalty for the said charge if convicted could attract up to seven years’ imprisonment.
However, examination of the fresh charges indicated that they carry the same substance as the grounds for which anti-graft detectives had earlier cleared Umar.
Umar, while reacting to the fresh charges last Tuesday said he was prepared to fight off the corruption charges filed against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Umar, in his comments claimed that he was facing “trumped up charges,” but was nonetheless prepared to vigorously defend himself in courts.
“We’re waiting for the court summons and which judge the case will be assigned to.
“After that, we’ll see how this would play out”, he stated.
He, however, accused the EFCC of “unstable” tactics, saying the charges were brought against him after he had been twice cleared by the same agency.
Umar said he wondered why Keyamo suddenly became the prosecuting counsel in the bribery case, especially since his law firm had been standing as defence counsel for Taiwo.
“Mr. Keyamo was the defence counsel for the ex-Customs official that was charged for falsely declaring his assets,” Mr. Al-Hassan said. “But now he has suddenly become the EFCC prosecutor to charge the CCT chairman for the allegations that his client brought.”
Umar noted that Keyamo appeared for Taiwo until recently when he stopped coming.
“Still, lawyers from his chambers stilled appeared for Taiwo in the last two hearings.”
Umar further stated that the EFCC had nothing on him since it was bringing up the same charges in which the anti-graft detectives had cleared him of any wrongdoing at least two different occasions in the past.
Meanwhile, Saraki had sympathised with Umar for his travails in the hands of the EFCC which suddenly woke up four days to the resume his own case.
In the same vein, the House of Representatives has condemned the seeming manipulation of the nation’s legal system by the Attorney General of the Federation and minister for justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami and the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Alhaji Ibrahim Magu in the latest prosecution of Umar.
At the same time, members of the House of Representatives from Kwara state had urged both the AGF and the EFCC chairman not to compromise the cases being handled by the CCT chairman.
The House resolution was sequel to a motion under matters of urgent public importance sponsored by Hon. Yakubu Barde (PDP, Kaduna) on the “need to ensure sanity in the administration of justice system in the fight against corruption in Nigeria by the Attorney-General of the Federation.”
Leading debate on the motion, Barde, who expressed concern that the chairman of the CCT, Umar had been charged with two count charges of corruption before the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court by the EFCC explained that the same EFCC and the Attorney General had previously cleared Umar of the same allegations which formed the basis of the fresh two count charge.
Any possible convictions or findings which the CCT may make from the same Danladi Umar being charged, may be rendered null and void by the court of Appeal and thereby frustrating the course of Justices,’’Barde said.the shenanigans and intrigues in the CCT and the trial of the Senate president is laughable. No doubt there is connivance between the AGF and the EFCC against the Senate president.’’
Supporting the motion, Hon. Ahmad Aliyu Pategi (APC, Kwara) said that the case against the Senate President was an instance of political manipulation. `EFCC and CCT are political tools used by the present Government to witch hunt perceived enemies,’’ he said.
In his contribution, Hon. Razak Atunwa (APC,Kwara), said
Others who supported the motion were Hon. Albert Adeogun (APC, Osun), Hon. Abubakar Kannaike (APC, Kwara) and Hon. Gabriel Onyenife (APGA, Anambra),
However, Hon. Mohammed Monguno (APC, Borno), opposed the motion submitting that “the presumption of innocence gives the judge the right to go ahead in preside over the matter.’ He argued that the case against the Senate President Bukola Saraki was a retrial so Umar could preside over it.
The motion was therefore, adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker Yakubu Dogara.
Meanwhile, the Kwara lawmakers in the House led by Hon. Razaq Atunwa, Hon. Mohammed Zakari and Hon. Abubakar Amuda Kannaike at a press briefing explained that the motion was not about the trial of the senate president but the seeming double standards both the EFCC and the AGF were playing out.
Addressing the media, Atunwa said it was ‘manifestly absurd to allow a judge who was undergoing trial to sit in judgement against others’ as according to him, any judgement given by such judge would be a subject of controversy.
Atunwa maintained that “any judgement or conviction or acquittal by the CCT presided over by Danladi Umar will be ‘null and void’ adding that it ‘is manifestly preposterous’ for the judge to continue with the cases he is handling.
‘Where is the morality in this scenario? On the one hand, the EFCC believes that Danladi Umar is corrupt and on the other hand, he can sit on a case being prosecuted by the EFCC.”
He said both the EFCC and the CCT operates under the Presidency and it will be wrong for the person heading the CCT to be handling cases being prosecuted by the EFCC and at the same time facing allegations of corruption from the same body.
Also speaking at the briefing, Hon. Zakari Mohammed bemoaned the manner both the AGF and the EFCC chairman were handling the CCT chairman’s case, describing as unethical.
The matter is yet to be assigned to a judge.
‘My worst moment was when police assaulted me’
She is an alumnus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where she obtained LL.B in 2014. Chiamaka Caroline Nwangwu, who was a victim of police brutality penultimate week, told JOHN CHIKEZIE how her journey into the profession of members of the wig and gown began
She is from Anambra state. Chiamaka Caroline Nwangwu obtained an LL.B degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 2014.
In 2015, she obtained her Barrister at Law and she was called to the Bar.
She said: “My name is Chiamaka Caroline Nwangwu. I am a native of Ajalli in Orumba North Local Government Area, Anambra State. I am from a very small family comprised my father, a retired broker, mother, a retired Administrator General of Public Trustee in Anambra State.
“My only brother, who is a medical doctor and my humble self, grew up and lived part of our lives in Onitsha. I attended All Saints’ Primary School and later proceeded to Federal Government Girls College, Onitsha for my post-primary education.
“I was called to the Bar in 2015 after my LL.B in 2014 from the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, UNEC Campus.”
I had numerous expectations for choosing law. First of all, my mother’s tutelage as a little girl spurred up the attraction I found in the legal practice. I was tutored by my mother and on several occasions, watched interview of clients especially in settling disputes both in and outside the court.
Although some lawyers see the legal profession as a lucrative business or a means of extorting money from clients, I understand the profession as a medium of adding value to clients and helping citizens understand the laws vis-à-vis redressing their matters before the court.
Sometimes, I take up Pro Bono work to help those who cannot afford a good legal representative. I loathe injustice and that is the major reason I am studious in both learning and understanding most of the Nigerian laws in order to ensure that some obnoxious laws that are repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience are duly reviewed.
First court appearance
My first court appearance was very memorable because I was before Justice Rita Ofili-Ajumogobia of the Federal High Court Ikoyi. On that very day, my senior in the office just gave me the file and asked me to strike out the matter, but also warned that the Judge is an encyclopedia of law. I took the file to the Chambers opposite us and met the principal of the Chambers, a Yoruba man that liked my passion for practice. He gave me a clue and guided me on my line of action.
On that fateful day, after much rehearsals and mentoring, I found myself acting calm and speaking out boldly, with my emotions coming to play. The Judge felt amazed by my disposition and had no option other than to strike out the matter in my favour.
I returned to the Office with my head held high while my head of Chamber, Barr. Tosin was very happy with me and told me on how the matter had delayed for too long. I was so happy that I made this possible for the chamber, added with the joy that my name was written on the court records.
The major challenge I have been facing as a female lawyer is getting sophisticated or reasonable clientele base. The reason is that clients tend to have more confidence in male lawyers than female lawyers.
I remember how a man walked into our office, looking for a lawyer to manage his property, when he saw me and a female colleague, he said he did not like female lawyers managing his property.
On another occasion, someone approached me to help resolve a legal issue and when I was about taking steps, he changed his mind because I am a female lawyer and felt I could not handle it.
The truth is that most of my clients now are mostly my old school mates, especially the males who still accord me with a high level of trust because they describe me as a diligent but strict person.
They know I don’t tolerate unruly people and that’s why I boldly look at them in the face and tell them the truth despite their heights and achievements.
Yes of course, but it’s part of the profession. My most awful moment was when I was assaulted and beaten up by police officers while attempting to secure my client’s bail. Although it was a terrible experience for me, it, however, made me stronger, broadened my legal knowledge and solidified my courage in the legal profession.
I only hope and will make sure that my colleagues, especially young lawyers like me do not face such embarrassment because such stories if not tackled will end up soiling our nobility. We can’t just be Intimidated while carrying out our duties at the Police Station.
People should not relent or give up while fighting for their rights, to ensure justice is done. Justice built on the altar of God; I stand for the truth and nothing but the truth. The same way God gave Solomon wisdom to handle the case of a stolen baby in the Bible is also the same way He bestows wisdom on the incorruptible Judges. Let’s not forget that Judges are human beings like you and I, it is also our duty to pray for them as the citizens of Nigeria.
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