Court Nullifies NBA, LPDC Actions Against Lawyer, Citing Alleged Conflicting Ex Parte Order
An Abuja High Court sitting in Apo, has declared the report of the Nigeria Bar Association Investigative Panel, Committee which led to an originating application against a legal practitioner, Chibuzo Chukwueroka Ezike before the Legal Practitioner Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) delineated No. BB/LPDC/809/2022 null, void and of no effect whatsoever.
The presiding judge. Justice A.A Halilu had further declared that the report of the investigative panel led to the originating application before the LPDC with No. BB/LPDC/809/2022 against Chibuzo Chukwueroka Ezike constitute a breach of his right to fair hearing pursuant to Section 36(2) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Articles 7 and 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right.
Justice Halilu made this declaration while giving judgment on an application for the enforcement of fundamental rights filed before the court by Chibuzo Chukwueroka Ezike against five people; Registered Trustees of Nigeria Bar Association, Dr. Babatunde Ajibade (SAN), Mr. Oluwaseun Abimbola (SAN) as member of the NBA Investigative Panel, Dr. Monday Ubani and the Legal Practitioner Disciplinary Committee.
The court however ordered that parties to bear their costs, adding that it will not act on speculation and award damages against the respondents for publishing or authorising a publication subjecting the applicant to ridicule in the eyes of the public since it couldn’t lay its hands on the said publication in other to rely on it to enable it award the damages of Five Hundred Million Naira
The court further held that while there is no doubt that the NBA is saddled with the responsibility of investigating its members upon a complaint made against them, the procedure adopted by the respondents having failed to adhere to the principle of natural justice for failing to afford the applicant fair hearing has made their entire action in that regard is null and void and of no effect whatsoever.
“The purported report that led to the filing of originating application to LPDC against the Applicant referred to as BB/LPDC/809/2022 is also declared null and void and of no effect whatsoever having failed to pass through the legitimate means of making the same,” the court held.
The court also stopped the LPDC from acting on the pending originating application against Chibuzo Chukwueroka Ezike before it as it has been declared null and void and of no effect whatsoever
The court held that Ezike has a legal duty to seek timely judicial protection whenever he smells danger and not to wait until the rope is tight around his neck for execution and does have to wait for the LPDC to act on the NBA’s report that indicted him without hearing his own side of story, without availing him with the copy of the complain written against him and without giving him a copy of the NBA Report sent to LPDC
“I am of the view that the respondents breached the rules of natural justice for their failure to communicate the complaint to the applicant and give him reasonable time to react to the same.
“The respondent’s notice of preliminary objection dated 10-6-2022 is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit. Accordingly, judgment is entered for the applicant against the respondents,” the court ruled.
Chibuzo Chukwueroka Ezike had filed a suit through his legal representative, Emeka Ozoani (SAN), before the court, asking for a declaration that the Investigative Report NBA Panel to investigate conflicting judgments on some political cases which indicted him of professional misconduct and led to the filling of Petition No BB/LPDC/809/2022 against before the LPDC, which was widely published in different media platform without affording him the opportunity of being heard throughout the period of the purported investigation is a breach of his right to fair hearing as provided under section 36(2) of 1999 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Articles 7 and 9 of the African Charter On The Human And Peoples Rights (Ratification And Enforcement) Act Cap A9, Laws Of The Federation Of Nigeria 2004 and encapsulated in Latin Maxim Audi Alterem Partem.
In his reaction, Ezike’s counsel, Emeka Ozoani (SAN), stated that “the judgment was incisive, well considered in substance and a proof that the court is the last hope of the common man. We commend his lordship.”