The Legal Practitioners' Privileges Committee (LPPC) has suspended the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) on Mrs. Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun over her refusal to pay rent for nine years on a rented property she occupied. The committee also announced the withdrawal of the rank from Mr. Kunle Ogunba.
The decisions were announced in a statement signed by Mrs. Hadizatu Mustapha, Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court and Secretary to the LPPC.
The suspension of the conferment of the rank on Mrs. Bashorun was a sequel to an investigation of a petition filed against her. According to the LPPC, the investigation, during which Mrs Bashorun was given a fair hearing, was carried out by a sub-committee of the LPPC.
At its 129th Plenary Meeting, the LPPC upheld the recommendations of the sub-committee, which said the petitioner's complaints were meritorious, having found that Mrs. Bashorun stayed in a rented property for nine years without paying rent.
The sub-committee also held that Mrs. Bashorun conducted herself in a manner that is at odds with paragraphs 18(2)(a) and (c), 19 (a)(b)(c) and (d) of the Guidelines for the conferment of the rank of SAN in 2016.
The stated sections of the Guidelines require applicants for the rank of SAN to be of good character and have no complaints relating to professional misconduct against them.
"A candidate shall be considered ineligible if, in the opinion of the LPPC, the candidate is adjudged to be of the following disposition: a) Bad behavior, 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 (c) Evidence of moral depravity or other socially unacceptable behavior," the Guidelines state.
The Guidelines also require 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.
On account of her conduct, the LPPC barred Mrs. Bashorun from applying for the rank of SAN for three years. She is also required to satisfy the committee that she is of good conduct to make her eligible for application at the expiration of the three years.
In the case of Mr. Ogunba, he was accused of professional misconduct in a petition filed by Honeywell Group. The misconduct he was accused of was characterised by the institution of a multiplicity of proceedings before different judges of the Federal High Court on the same subject.
This was deemed a deliberate effort to abuse the court process and derail the course of justice. The allegation was investigated by the LPPC sub-committee, which found it meritorious. The LPPC, at its 129th Plenary Meeting, took the decision to withdraw the rank and privileges attached to it from Mr. Ogunba.