Lawyer Drags NBA to Court, Seeks N10m Damages

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A legal practitioner, Bartholomew Okafor—Oyilo, has asked an Abuja High Court to set aside the findings of the Nigerian Bar Association which recommended him for disciplinary action based on a legal opinion he rendered as Special Assistant to the Deputy Governor of Anambra State (Legal Matters).

The plaintiff in a writ of summon against the NBA and the Secretary of the NBA Disciplinary Committee, Emeka Onyeaka, said he was not given fair hearing before the association made the findings against him.

Okafor-Oyilo, in an affidavit he deposed to, obtained by journalists on Tuesday, said he wrote a legal opinion to the then Deputy Governor of Anambra State, who was also the Chairman of the State’s Boundary Committee on a land dispute between Ukpo and Abba communities in Anambra State.

According to him, the legal opinion was leaked to one of the parties in the land dispute (the applicant for boundary demarcation).

He said, “On June 24 2019, the applicants for the boundary demarcation through their solicitors, wrote to me to recount my legal opinion with veiled threat against my person.

“Owing to my refusal to recount the said legal opinion, the said party through their legal representative, on August 6, 2019, filed a petition to the NBA Headquarters against me and two other lawyers alleging, amongst others, that we filed a motion to re-litigate a matter already concluded by the Supreme Court.”

Okafor-Oyilo said the NBA asked him to respond to the petition and that he filed his response.

However, the lawyer said he did not receive any invitation from the association to enable him attend any hearing against him, only for him to read in newspapers that he had been invited to face the NBA’s Disciplinary Panel.

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He, therefore, asked the court to declare that the findings of the defendants and recommendation as ultra vires, illegal, null and void and of no effect.

He also sought a declaration that he was entitled to own an opinion on a decision of the Supreme Court and such opinion is protected under Section 39 (1) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

Okafor-Oyilo asked the court to hold that he was denied fair hearing by the constitution of the committee and non-service of the notice of hearing of the committee.

While asking the court to set aside the findings and recommendation of the NBA, he also asked the court to award him damages in the sum of N10m against the defendants.

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