LEGAL DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE DEROBES LAGOS LAWYER
The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee Body of Benchers has struck off the name of a Lagos based lawyer, Ike Chinwuba, from the roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria.
While delivering its judgment in a petition brought before it by the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) against Chinwuba for behaving in an 'infamous professional way,' the disciplinary body of the bar, which was presided over by retired Justice Umaru Eri, struck off his name for taking actions inappropriate of a legal practitioner.
'This Committee considers as very serious the complaints against the respondent as his conduct affects the reputation of all members of the legal profession in general. There is a duty upon the Committee and an urgent need to bring the current wave of professional misconducts under some meaningful control for the good of the nation in general.
'The Committee finds as proved the complaint of the NBA that the respondent is liable for professional misconduct contrary to Rule 1, 15 and 21 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal profession and section 12 of the Legal Practitioners' Act as amended.
'The committee hereby directs that the name of Ike Chinwuba be and is hereby struck off the role of legal practitioners in Nigeria and the respondent shall pay the petitioner all such sums of money that are due to him as rent within 30 days' the disciplinary committee held.
While acting as a solicitor for one Henry Ogugua, a tenant at a property situated at Plot 1977, 7th Avenue, Festac Town, Lagos State, the derobed lawyer was said to have rented out the said property to one Chukwuebuka Jonathan for a period of two years without the consent of the property's owner, one Alhaji Lateef Jimoh, after colluding with Ogugua.
According to the NBA in its information before the Committee, in 2003, Alhaji Lateef had dragged his tenant, Ogugua to court in order to recover the rent arrears he owed. Ogugua, however, allegedly failed to appear before the Rent Tribunal throughout the trial, despite efforts by the Tribunal Chairman, F.O Abegude, to make him attend the trial. While the suit was still pending, Chinwuba allegedly conspired with Ogugua and rented out the main building in the premises without the consent of the landlord at N1, 080, 000 for two years and escaped.
In his defence, Chinwuba told the committee that his client instructed him to rent out part of the property. He stated that his dealings with Ogugua were based on his understanding of the law and that he had no pecuniary interest in the matter.
While saying that he deliberately used the instrumentalities of the legal process to oppress the petitioner, the disciplinary body held that the legal practitioner's action was reprehensible and indefensible.
It held that he was aware of his client's status and lack of authority to sublet the property since Ogugua had vacated the premises and was currently living in Kaduna State. But, according to the committee, he 'took benefit of the oppressive situation to gain financial benefit and this is not the best conduct expected of a legal practitioner, it said.
'There are certain conducts that the legal profession would not tolerate and that includes abuse of judicial process with a view to profiting or benefiting or conducts which bothers on oppression of innocent and or exploitation of the weak and innocent persons, in whatever form it may be.'