Conferment of SAN: Why Toyin Bashorun’s Name was Dropped

Olwuatoyin Bashorun

Facts have emerged as to the reason why the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee deferred the swearing in of Mrs. Toyin Bashorun as Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

DNL Legal and Style has been reliably informed that Mrs. Bashorun’s deferement is not unconnected with allegation of professional misconduct against her by some individuals including the one filed by one Mrs Chinwe Adelekan.

It would be recalled that sometime in July, 2017, the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC)  announced the conferment of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on 30 Legal practitioners. However, on the 15th of September, 2017, the he LPPC on Friday deferred indefinitely the swearing-in of Madam Oluwatoyin Ajoke Bashorun who incidentally was the only female, among the 30 individuals earlier announced.

Deferring her swearing in, the LPPC in a statement signed by its Secretary , Mrs. Hadiza Mustapha, who is also the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, revealed that Bashorun’s is being investigated and would have to await the outcome of the investigtaion. the statement added that more facts about her eligibility emerged after she had been announced among the 30 successful candidates in July.

According to the statement, Bashorun will be investigated by a panel set up by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Honourable Justice Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen, who doubles as the Chairman of the LPPC.

The complaint against Mrs Bashorun by Mrs Chinwe Adelakan with CASE NO: 40/2014 was filed in 2014. The facts of which are stated below:

By a letter dated May 24, 2013, one Mrs. Chinwe Adelekan (the Petitioner) wrote to the Honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria, alleging several cases of professional misconduct/infamous conduct against one Ms. Toyin Bashorun (the Respondent) practicing under the name and style of Churchfileds Solicitors, and craving the indulgence of the Honourale Chief Justice to intervene in the matter to ensure the Petition dated August 20,
2007 which had been submitted to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee of the Nigerian Bar Association on August 26, 2007, is heard.

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By another letter dated February 14, 2014, the Petitioner also wrote to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) seeking to draw the attention of the NBA President to the above referenced Petition which had been submitted to the NBA almost 7 (seven) years prior, and also pointing out the Petitioner’s grievance at the Respondent becoming a Prosecutor for the NBA despite the subsistence of the Petition.

The Petitioner states that the Estate in issue is the Estate of her late husband, Mr. Peter Adelekan, who until his death on board the ill-fated  Bellview Airlines plane crash on October 22, 2005, was the Regional General Manager (North-East) of Intercontinental Bank Plc.

The Petitioner further states that the Estate of her late husband was desirous of maintaining an action against Bellview Airlines for the irreparable damage it had occasioned the Adelekan family, and the services of Ms. Toyin Bashorun was recommended, after which Churchfields Solicitors was appointed as Solicitors to the Estate.

The Allegation against Bashorun from the petitioner are
Unprofessional conduct in refusing to abide by the instructions of her client to cease further dealings with Intercontinental Bank Plc on behalf of the Estate.

Falsely representing herself as solicitors to the Petitioner, after being debriefed.

Deceitfully withholding the Petitioner’s items/property.

Receiving Share Certificates/money for and on behalf of her former Client and appropriating same to herself by failing to disclose its existence.

Inciting disaffection and causing division among the family members/beneficiaries of the Estate.

Upon consideration of the complaint, the five member panel who investigated the allegation concluded that:

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The allegations by the Petitioner against the Respondent are valid and supported by evidence. It is clear from the evidence provided by the Petitioner and the inadequate Reply of the Respondent that the Respondent had no valid reasons for committing the acts alleged by the Petitioner. It is trite that Counsel must at all times act professionally without being unduly or personally involved in the Client’s matter as to take it personal to the extent of refusing to be debriefed by the client. The Respondent ought to have acted in a more dignified manner and accepted to be debriefed by her client who in actual fact had been the sole person to rightfully and validly instruct her in the first place, and negotiated her fees for work already done based on the Quantum Meruit principle.

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