Attorney-General, Chief Bayo Ojo pleads no contest to charges of professional misconduct in London
Unknown to the Nigerian people, the current Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Bayo Ojo runs a "secret" legal practice based in the UK with a law firm known as "Solicitors Direct". Investigations by Saharareporters have revealed that some of the “official” trips by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Chief Bayo Ojo (who uses his full name -Christopher Adebayo Ojo-in the offshore transactions) to the United Kingdom for which he might have received fat allowances were not official after all. This is because, for some time now the Attorney-general has been secretly defending allegations of professional misconduct levied against him by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal of the Law Society of England and Wales in the matter of Christopher Onyeka Agwu, Christopher Adebayo Ojo and In the Matter of the Solicitors Act of 1974; No. 9337-2005.
According to the findings of the Tribunal obtained by Saharareporters, which was released on February 28, 2007, and signed by I.R Woolfe, Chairman of the Tribunal, Chief Bayo Ojo was initially charged alongside with one Christopher Agwu for various degrees of professional misconduct including: failure to produce accounting records to investigating officer of the Law society, that the books of the Accounts of the firm of solicitors Direct jointly owned by Chief Bayo Ojo and Christopher Agwu were not properly written up contrary to Rule 32 of the Solicitors Accounts Rules 1998, that both solicitors failed to comply with conditions of their practicing certificates, that they both failed to compy with professional undertakings etc.
However, during its hearing on December 14th, 2006, Chief Bayo Ojo who attended the Tribunal’s sitting in company of his attorneys, Messrs Kendal Freeman denied that he had any involvement in the running of the partnership, Solicitors Direct.
He further argued that he first met Mr. Agwu in 1998 while they were both attending seminars in London with a view to becoming qualified as solicitors in England and Wales. At that time, he had been involved, on behalf of commercial clients in arbitration in London and was trying to build up his practice in international arbitration. Mr. Aguw was also a Nigerian attorney but already based in London. It was at that time that Mr. Agwu suggested that it would be helpful to both of them to become involved in the partnership.
According to Chief Ojo, even though, he agreed to form the partnership with Mr. Agwu, he rarely visited the firm’s office in London during the period he was named as a partner. He told the Tribunal that in dealing with the current disciplinary proceedings, he became aware of the earlier proceeding in which both of them had been sanctioned for unprofessional practice although, according to him, his former partner, Mr. Agwu, had mentioned it to him that the Law Society was taking actions against both of them in connection with some ethical issues. The attorney-General therefore urged the Tribunal to dismiss the allegations against him.
In accepting the attorney-general’s defense, the Tribunal dismissed the Charges but substituted them with a new single charge – That Mr. Bayo Ojo permitted his name to be held out as a partner in Solicitors Direct, conduct unbefitting a solicitor. Chief Bayo Ojo pled no contest to the new charge and was found guilty of professional misconduct by the Tribunal.
At the end of its sitting the Tribunal found all the allegations to have been substantiated against Mr. Agwu and found the single new allegation to have been substantiated against Chief Bayo Ojo.
While Mr. Agwu was disrobed as a solicitor and had his name removed from the solicitor’s roll, the Tribunal Ordered that the Respondent, Christopher Adebayo Ojo of c/o Colin Joseph, Kendall Freeman, One Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1JB, solicitor, do pay a fine of £2,000.00, such penalty to be forfeit to Her Majesty the Queen, and it further Orders that he do pay a contribution of £4,000.00 to the overall costs of and incidental to this application and enquiry fixed in the sum of £17,929.00.
This new development might pose a very serious challenge to Chief Bayo Ojo’s membership of the International Law commission and his position as the Attorney-General of the Federation. Efforts made by Saharareporters to reach the Attorney General to get his views were futile as at the time of going to press.