The cyclone of cupboard cleansing currently permeating the Nigerian Judiciary, recorded fresh victims last week, as the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, LPDC, in a decisive move, handed life ban to four legal practitioners.

The four ex-lawyers, who were expressly barred from either practicing the legal profession in Nigeria or ever identifying themselves as lawyers again, were said to have engaged in sundry acts of corruption that brought the legal profession  to immense disrepute.

Delivering the verdict, Chairman of LPDC and former National President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Chief Joseph B. Daudu, SAN, maintained that the Committee unanimously agreed that Mr Dominic Ntiero, Timipa Okponipere, G.C Monye, and J.A Agwuncha, deserved to be axed from the noble profession, having proved themselves as highly ignoble both in conduct and character.

Consequently, the Committee mandated the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr Sunday Olorundahunsi, to strike off their names from the apex court’s scroll where name of every bonafide lawyer in the country must be found.

Besides, the LPDC handed 5-year suspension to one Olawole Ajoge-Daniel after he was equally found guilty of judicial misconduct.

Specifically, the 1st accused lawyer, Ntiero, was said to have shunned invitation to appear before the panel to defend himself, “we were however satisfied by the Committee’s Secretary that there was due notice in the Punch Newspaper,” Daudu noted.

*Cross section of Lawyers

Cross section of Lawyers According to him, “the respondent’s act violated Rules 47, 50, and 51 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession 2007 and Section 12 of the Legal Practitioners Act as Amended.”

Meantime, the petition that culminated to the sanction that was imposed against Ntiero was forwarded to the LDPC by the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, which is the umbrella body of legal practitioners across the federation.

NBA in its petition accused him of issuing a dud cheque of N6.3 million to one of his client Rita Edet over a failed agreement.

In the case of Okponipere, Daudu said the respondent had sometime in 2007 admitted to have given unsolicited legal services to the ex-Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Corporation, NDDC, Mr Timi Alaibe.

Okponipere had claimed to have nominated Alaibe for National Merit Award and therefore made demands for the sum of N40 million and allegedly resorted to threats and intimidation, a conduct the Committee said was unwholesome.

LPDC insisted that Okponipere failed to maintain the high standard of professional conduct expected of a legal practitioner. Similarly, NBA alleged that in the case of Monyei, the Principal Partner at G.C Monyei And Co, he was engaged by a company, GMNL, sometimes in 2003 as a debt collector to recover the sum of N9.2 million from the Edo State Ministry of Justice.

NBA alleged that, the money was an amount being the value of a Kodiak Bedford Vehicle (Black Maria) supplied to the Ministry, noting that whereas Monyei had collected the sum of N5 million on behalf of GMNL since May 3, 2005, as a part payment of the debt, he converted it to his personal use. Thus LPDC, as part of its verdict on the petition, ordered that the respondent should forthwith refund a total sum of N4million to the GMNL. On the other hand, Agwuncha was said to have cheated his client by converting fund meant for  incorporating a company (New Resources Bureau De Change) as a limited liability company. LPDC held that Agwuncha took advantage of the confidence reposed in him as a lawyer to dupe the unsuspected client.

“You failed to maintain the high standard of the professional conduct expected of a legal practitioner by engaging in a conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner and thereby found guilty of the offence. “The sum of six hundred and Fifty One Thousand, Eight Hundred Naira be funded to Lofty Investment Limited by the respondent.

“The Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court is hereby directed to strike off the name of the respondent J.A Agwuncha from the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria…

By Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Abuja

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