A lawyer, Onyeamaechi James, has petitioned the Nigerian Bar Association to sanction a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Aliyu Umar, for alleged professional misconduct the Punch newspaper reports.

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Chief Justice Walter Samuel Onnoghen

Umar is the Prosecution Counsel in the six-count of false assets declaration filed against the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

The petitioner said the Senior advocate was a bad example for young lawyers for his role in the case that was “dead on arrival.”

James, in the petition, addressed to the NBA Secretary-General, argued that the conduct of Umar violated Rule 15(3)(a)(b) and (c) jointly or severally of the Rules of Professional Conduct for legal practitioners.

Besides, he said the proceedings commenced by Umar was in disregard to a judgment of the Court of Appeal.

He stated, “In Nganjiwa vs FRN, the Court of Appeal held that a prosecution cannot be commenced against a serving judicial officer who is subject to the disciplinary powers of the NJC unless the NJC has first considered the facts or circumstances that form the subject matter of the proposed prosecution. That is the position of the law today until set aside by the Supreme Court.”

James recalled that the CCT in 2018 in an earlier case involving Hon. Justice Sylvester Ngwuta had relied on the judgement to strike out the charges then pending against him.

He urged the NBA to have a detailed investigation made into the role of the SAN in the matter.

James added, “By order 15(3)(c), a lawyer shall not ‘knowingly advance a claim or defence that is unwarranted under existing law’, but he may advance such argument or defence if it can be supported by argument in good faith for an extension, modification or reversal of existing law.

“Mr. Aliyu in prosecuting the CJN in the code of Conduct Tribunal is knowingly prosecuting a case that was dead on arrival and it cannot be said that he probably intended a modification or reversal of existing law because the CCT being inferior to the Court of Appeal cannot modify or reverse the Court of Appeal’s decision.

“Clearly the conduct of the learned SAN brings the legal profession into disrepute. It is a precedent that if allowed will encourage lawyers nationwide to embark on litigation that will serve to subvert legal institutions and make mockery of the litigation process.”

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