By Destiny Ugorji
There are strong indications that Lagos lawyer, Mr Emeka Ugwuonye and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) may be in for a showdown, following NBA’s invitation to him over a petition filed by Mr David Aiyedogbon, ex-husband of missing Abuja woman, Mrs Charity Aiyedogbon.
Trouble started when Mr Aiyedogbon petitioned the NBA, alleging unprofessional publications against his person by Mr Ugwuonye.
The letter dated August 22, 2016 and captioned ‘Petition against Emeka Ugwuonye for unprofessional publications and false allegations’ addressed to the General Secretary of the NBA urged the professional body to investigate the matter and invoke appropriate disciplinary actions against the lawyer.
Following the petition, the NBA wrote to Mr Ugwuonye, attaching a copy of Mr Aiyedogbon’s petition and requesting him to respond to the issues.
He is to appear before the NBA disciplinary Committee on the November 26, 2016, according to the letter.
The NBA’s letter, published by Mr Ugwuonye on his Facebook Group, The Due Process Advocates, requires him to submit 20 copies of his defence to the allegations made against him to the NBA National Secretariat.
The letter, dated September 29, 2016 and signed by the association’s General Secretary, Mr Isiaka Abiola Olagunju, reads in part:
“You are specifically required to respond to the allegations made against you, considering the provision of Rule 33 of the Rules of Professional Misconduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.”
“Take note that you shall state your full name, Supreme Court Enrolment number, your contact address, e-mail and phone number (s) in your response. Your Call to Bar Certificate should also accompany your response to the Petition.”
But in his response, Mr Ugwuonye published both the NBA’s letter and Mr Aiyedogbon’s petition on his Facebook Group, The Due Process Advocates, alleging that the NBA was being used against him.
His post captioned ‘David Aiyedogbon’s Bar Petition against me’ queried: “How could the Bar be put to such unlawful use?
“Normally, bar disciplinary process is a confidential process, especially where the Bar has not determined that there is probable cause or that there is evidence that you violated any rules of professional conduct. But in my case, everything must be different…….. Yet,….the petition is an inchoate allegation that I defamed the petitioner…How could the Bar be put to such unlawful use?
“By generating such fuss over a phantom, they are seeking to give undue traction to a complaint that seeks to make the Bar an arbiter of a claim for defamation.
“It is only natural that I take steps to reduce the speculation and gossip by placing before the people the so-called magic complaint of Aiyedegbon, a man I believe murdered his wife in cold blood after years of running marital problems.”
It was learnt that the Lagos lawyer may be approaching the courts to restrain the NBA from investigating him on the matter.
Meanwhile, all efforts to reach the NBA National Secretariat for comments proved abortive, as the mobile numbers associated with it (07098211663, 09084445444) were said not to be valid by network service providers, while the number on the letterhead (234 9291 3832) was switched off at the time of filing this report.
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