Law  

‘How disrobed SAN faced double jeopardy’

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The petition, upon which the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) withdrew the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) from Mr Kunle Ogunba, The Guardian learnt, was also sent to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) the same day.

The petitioner, Honeywell Group sent the petitions to both bodies on April 7, 2016 with exact content and wordings, without any indication that the petition was copied to any other body.

Ogunba, in his response to LPPC, drew its attention to the fact that the same petition was earlier sent to the NBA “word for word”, alleging double jeopardy.

He told the committee: “It is my fervent belief that it is against the constitutionally established rule against ‘double jeopardy’ for me to be subjected, for the second time, to respond to the same petition though differently addressed.”

He noted that the petition had no identifiable signatory, as it was signed by an “authorised signatory” who was not named, even as the letter headed paper had no list of a board of directors.

Ogunba argued that petition amounted to an originating process, and was “grossly defective” for not being properly endorsed as required by law.

He told the LPPC that the petition was sub-judice as most of the cases complained about were on appeal, including at the Supreme Court.

Besides, he said Honeywell’s suit before Justice Idris was “a bid to perpetually tie the hands of the bank,” adding that his client’s decision to file several actions against the individual companies was supported by judicial authorities even as the suits did not have the same parties.

His words: “The suits have to be separate because winding up petition is ad-hominem to each individual company and can thus not be lumped together by a collective action,” Ogunba told LPPC.

On the issue of abuse, Ogunba noted that almost every lawyer would be culpable, considering that the Constitution allows litigants to approach the court and the fact that what constitutes an abuse is “infinite”.

However, the NBA in its August 5, 2016 response to Honeywell Group’s petition, signed by its then General Secretary Mazi Afam Osigwe, said it would not refer Ogunba to its Disciplinary Committee because the petition “failed to disclose any alleged infraction of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 in respect of which Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN) could be called upon to offer an explanation.”

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