Following the news report by The Metro Lawyer about the withdrawal of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria rank from Lagos lawyer, Kunle Ogunba by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, (read here) a source close to the senior lawyer has stated that the Nigerian Bar Asociation had earlier cleared Ogunba of any professional misconduct made by Honeywell in a similar petition.
According to him, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in its August 5, 2016 response to Honeywell Group’s petition, cleared Ogunba of any wrongdoing.
The NBA, in the letter signed by its then General Secretary Mazi Afam Osigwe, said after a careful reading of the petition, it was found not to disclose any alleged infraction of the Rules of Professional Conduct 2007 by Ogunba.
The NBA said it was satisfied that the suits Ogunba filed did not amount to an abuse of court process as the companies were separate entities, and that the cases were not in respect of the same facts nor did they seek the same reliefs.
The NBA listed the cases, including Ekobank vs Honeywell Flour Mills Plc, Ecobank vs Siloam Global Services Limited, Ecobank vs Anchorage Leisures, Ecobank vs Honeywell Group Ltd, among others.
The association said: “The fact the companies may have common ownership or directors does not make them the same entity or preclude the presentation of petitions against them, if counsel believes grounds exist for doing so.
“A careful examination of the court processes filed by parties at the various suits indicated differences in either parties or reliefs sought, which defeats your (Honeywell’s) allegation of abuse of court process.
“The respondent’s actions are in our respectful view in line with the duty of a counsel to do everything which in the exercise of his discretion he thinks best for the general interest of his client, which cannot be fettered by subjecting him to the disciplinary proceedings…
“We are, therefore, of the considered belief that the allegations contained in the petition under reference do not contain facts indicating any infraction of the Rules of Professional Conduct.
“In the light of the foregoing, we will be unable to further Inquire into the matter by forwarding the petition to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee. The petition is hereby dismissed as it lacks merit.”
It is however not clear whether the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) based their disciplinary action against Mr Ogunba on the earlier petition (for which he was cleared by the NBA) or a subsequent petition by the same company (Honeywell Group)
Below is a copy of NBA’s response to Honeywell Group’s petition…NBA RESPONSE