Facing NBA petition, Olanipekun says lawyers’ disciplinary committee not for settling personal scores
Body of Benchers (BoB) chairman Wole Olanipekun advised lawyers not to view the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) as a forum for settling scores with perceived enemies.
Mr. Olanipekun, Senior Attorney of Nigeria and former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), made the appeal on Wednesday in Abuja at the bar admission ceremony for 1,491 new lawyers, organized by the BOB at its secretariat in Jabi.
He made the call amid raging controversy over an alleged act of attorney misconduct at his law firm, a case the NBA recently reported to the LPDC.
The NBA, in its petition to the LPDC, asked the disciplinary body to sanction the lawyer, Adekunbi Ogunde, and also to determine the possible guilt of Mr. Olanipekun and other associates of the firm in the case.
In a separate letter signed by its president, Olumide Akpata, the NBA called on Mr. Olanipekun to resign as BOB chairman, given his association with Ms. Ogunde.
Mr Olanipekun reportedly expressed his displeasure with the NBA’s actions, reading an ulterior motive in the association’s letter which he said had not been served on him before it was leaked on social media.
The senior attorney, in his capacity as chairman of the Body of Benchers, played the culmination of the bar admission ceremony on Wednesday, admitting new wiggs into the legal profession.
Some said the development meant Mr Olanipekun and other BoB members had rejected the NBA’s call for him to step down.
In a veiled reference to the NBA’s action on Wednesday, Olanipekun said the LPDC, as an independent agency of the BOB, is not a vehicle for dealing with perceived enemies or airing grievances. against fellow lawyers on personal matters.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Olanipekun said the LPDC only served as a means to discipline wrongdoing lawyers.
He said: “Over the years, the LPDC has continued to operate as an independent arbiter, enjoying absolute independence in carrying out its mission.
“The Corps of Advisors does not and will not interfere with any proceedings or the results of such proceedings before the LPDC.
“It is important to emphasize that the LPDC is not a means of dealing with perceived enemies or airing grievances against fellow lawyers over personal matters.
“The LPDC’s decision is known as the instruction, and any appeal against the instruction goes directly to the Supreme Court.”
In the scandal that Mr. Olanipekun’s law firm has been embroiled in, an associate at his firm was caught soliciting briefs for his law firm in a leaked letter she allegedly wrote on behalf of the law firm in June in alleged violation of the code of professional conduct. for lawyers.
Triggering a public outcry against an act widely seen as a case of influence peddling, lawyer Ms. Ogunde advised potential client, Saipem Contracting Nigeria Limited, that Mr. Olanipekun’s presence in a case “will significantly change the things in favor of Sapiem”.
Ms Ogunde later apologized for her action, adding that she had written the letter without the law firm’s permission or Mr Olanipekun’s knowledge.
The law firm had also issued a disclaimer saying Ms Ogunde was on her own.
The NBA, in its petition to the LPDC, said Ms Ogunde’s conduct exposed “the entire legal profession to national and international public ridicule and abhorrence”.
Speaking on Wednesday, Mr Olanipekun said the Body of Benchers was concerned about what he described as the unethical practice of forum shopping and hinted at plans to change regulations to address the problem.
“You are no doubt aware of the disturbing trend of forum shopping in Nigeria, a very reprehensible conduct introduced recently into the practice of law.
“It is the act by which litigants and legal practitioners seek ‘friendly places and judges’ to file and litigate otherwise frivolous and questionable cases, allegedly arising from the jurisdictions where actions are ultimately filed, prosecuted and continued.
“This ugly practice permeates the entire Nigerian legal landscape, resulting in the regular production of conflicting orders and decisions from courts of coordinated jurisdictions.
“As a result, the legal profession is discredited and disgraced, resulting in tirades, venoms, derogatory remarks and condemnations against the legal profession and some of our judges.
“Be advised that the BoB, under the powers conferred upon it by Section 10(1)(c) of the Legal Practitioners Act, has now established a Regulatory Committee, empowered to make regulations for the decent practice of law in Nigeria.”
He also said the committee had submitted draft regulations to the BoB and that the regulations, once approved, would become binding on all legal practitioners.
This, he said, would limit them to initiating and filing causes and matters where said causes of action arise or as required by the rules of the courts of competent jurisdiction.
The Senior Counsel emphasized the need for lawyers to always uphold the proven moral and ethical standards of the legal profession.
Also speaking, the director general of the law school, Prof. Isa Hayatu-Chiroma said the ceremony had to be moved from Bwari to the BOB complex due to threats from terrorists and bandits to attack the law school. right.
He said the graduates were deemed worthy of character and learning, hence their induction into the Nigerian Bar as lawyers.
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