The Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) is a coalition of over hundred and fifty anti-corruption organizations whose primary aim is to constructively combat corruption and ensure effective monitoring of anti-graft agencies charged with the fight against corruption and enthronement of transparency, accountability, probity towards the eradication of corruption in Nigeria.
Mr. Chairman, this network, in a petition addressed to your Committee and dated 23rd September, 2015, demand yours urgent intervention in the investigation and possible sanction of Senior members of the Nigerian Bar Association allegedly involved in professional misconduct. Specifically, these members of the inner bar were accused of “On Friday 18th September, 2015 the Code of Conduct Tribunal summoned the senate president, Senator Bukola Saraki to appear before it to stand trial. The accused person did not appear at the Tribunal. Instead of advising his client to honour the summons Mr. Magaji SAN headed for the Federal High Court where he unsuccessfully sought an order ex parte to restrain the Tribunal from hearing the criminal case scheduled to commence on Friday, September 18,.2015. As the accused person did not appear in the Tribunal the Inspector – General of Police was directed to produce him.”
For his part, “Mr. Joseph Daudu SAN had undertaken to produce his client on Monday, September 21, 2015, he rushed to the Court of Appeal where he unsuccessfully sought an ex parte order to prevent the Tribunal from sitting. On that same day the Federal High Court refused to stop the Tribunal from sitting. Once again, the accused person did not appear at the Tribunal. In defending his action for treating the Code of Conduct with contempt in the circumstance, the Senate President disclosed to Nigerians that he did not appear at the Tribunal on the advice of his lawyers. The lawyers of the senate president are being led by Mr. B. Daudu SAN and Magaji SAN. Other senior advocates in the team are S.B Ali SAN, Adelodun SAN. None of the senior advocates has challenged or controverted the serious allegation of professional misconduct levelled against them by their client.” These were contained in our petition in reference.
The actions of these senior members of the inner bar, who are by all standard, expected to be role model for upcoming junior members, were considered a betrayal of their Oath as Senior Advocates by advising their client to treat the Competent Court of jurisdiction and by extension the judiciary with disdain. We had demanded their sanction to serve as a deterrent to other legal practitioners in the country.
Mr. Chairman, as at the time of writing this follow up letter, our network is yet to receive and acknowledgement letter or update on this matter from your committee. Having led their client to defy the summons of the Code of Conduct Tribunal we urge the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee to sanction Messrs Daudu and Magaji as their conduct is a total betrayal of the Oath taken by them as legal practitioners. The discipline of the two senior advocates of Nigeria will serve as a deterrent to other legal practitioners who are in the habit of advising their clients to treat court orders with disdain.
Mr. Chairman, as at the time of writing this letter, our network is yet to receive neither an acknowledgement nor an update from your Committee. Your delayed treatment of this petition in reference has further embolden these lawyers involved in the trial to subject the country to international ignominy and desecration of the judiciary with unprofessional conducts not experienced in the history of legal practice in Nigeria.
Again, on Thursday November 5, 2015, these Senior Lawyers were alleged to have walked out on the Code of Conduct Tribunal after the tribunal refused their application. for stay of proceedings in the asset falsification trial against the Senate President. There is no doubting the role of Sakari’s lawyers to serve the best interest of their client but should be done in a manner that would uphold integrity of the administration of justice and the judicial system. If the allegation of walking out on the Code of Conduct Tribunal is correct, It offends the basic rule that lawyers should act with integrity and professionalism, maintaining his or her overarching responsibility to ensure civil conduct.
Senior lawyers, especially have a responsibility to act as custodian of ethics and professionalism in the profession. Their unruly work on the Tribunal was reported to have embolden Senators on the entourage of the accused person to heckle the Tribunal, causing unprecedented stampede of the court process. These continuous undermine of rule of law and attempt at undermining the Court is a threat to our democracy and criminal.
Where some of these lawyers are in the process of filing notice of appeal at the Supreme Court, challenging the ruling of the Court of Appeal, another set of Lawyers were before a Federal High Court in Lagos shopping for an injunction to restrain the Tribunal from proceeding with trial. Their acts are not only unbecoming but capable of setting the Judiciary against itself. Failure of the NBA internal mechanism to rein in its errant members spells danger for the association, and by tension the profession. If at all these senior lawyers are dissatisfied with the ruling of the Tribunal there are laid down processes to follow for redress and also to demonstrate their role as officers in the temple of justice rather than subjecting the judge and Tribunal to public disgrace and disrespect.
We are by this reminder urging the LPDC/NBA to urgently investigate previously submitted petition and the latest development as it concerns these Senior Members of the Bar and apply appropriate sanction