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Nigeria: NBA Faults Committee Over Aondoakaa’s Suspension

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has faulted the suspension from wearing the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) slammed on former Attorney-General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN).

In a statement signed by the President of the association, Chief Joseph Daudu (SAN), NBA said the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) did not have the power to suspend Aondoakaa from wearing silk.

It noted that even though Aondoakaa was not loved by most legal practitioners and Nigerians, but, “whether saint or villain, the rule of law is constant and on this occasion as with others, the NBA chooses to err on the side of the rule of law,” it added.

LPPC had last Thursday stripped Aondoakaa of the rank of SAN for a period of six months pending the determination of a petition against him which alleged misconduct on the part of the former minister while in office as AGF between 2007 and 2009.

Its present foray in looking at matters of the discipline of a lawyer under the guise of suspending a person of the rank of SAN is ultra vires, illegal, unconstitutional and therefore null and void.

“By way of illustration, the privileges committee has never considered a petition alleging indiscipline made against prospective candidates for the conferment of SAN.

It recognises its lack of powers to do so. What it does is to forward such petitions to the disciplinary committee for actions.”

NBA noted that the issue was not whether Aondoakaa was guilty of the allegations contained in the petition, but it was the basis for the suspension of the rank of SAN which he wore.

The association said: “It is (1) whether the LPPC has ab initio the powers to strip him of the said rank, (2) whether the LPPC has in the present circumstances the powers to suspend Aondoakaa SAN of the said rank?”

It rejected the argument that because the LPPC had the power to confer the rank, it was also empowered implicitly to remove its appointees from office.

Meanwhile, reacting to his suspension from wearing the rank of SAN, Aondoakaa said he was sure that every evil done to him would be redressed.

In a statement signed by his Special Assistant Onov Tyuluugh, Aondoakaa said he was a victim of “an orchestrated campaign of calumny”.

He said he was being targeted because he enthroned the culture of rule of law while serving as the country’s attorney-general and minister of justice.

Despite his current travails, Aondoakaa said his faith in Nigeria and the judiciary remained unshaken.