The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) is threatening serious sanctions against Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, if indeed he was instrumental to the raid on Supreme Court Justice, Mary Odili’s home by security operatives.
One of the NBA considerations is stripping him of the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).
President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata, gave the indication at a media briefing in Lagos on Friday, November 5, 2021.
The NBA President, who condemned the raid, described it as an ominous dark cloud over the judiciary as the development was reminiscent of that carried out by the Department of State Services (DSS); on the homes of seven judges in 2016.
Also, he stated that it was a throwback to the disgraceful removal of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria; Justice Walter Onnoghen (retd.) from office ahead of the 2019 general elections.
While vowing that the NBA would not rest until the identities of those behind the raid on Justice Odili’s residence was revealed; the NBA President disclosed the body’s rejection of the panel set up AGF to investigate the matter; noting that the AGF is a person of interest in the matter and, as such; cannot be a judge in his own case.
Akpata urged President Muhammadu Buhari to set up an independent panel to probe the matter; adding that Malami would face that panel and if found culpable, may likely have his SAN title stripped.
‘According to him, “We are calling on the President, the head of the executive government arm of government; to set up an independent panel of inquiry, to look into this assault on the judiciary; which is another arm of government because there is a dark cloud hanging…
”All fingers are pointing at the executive as being behind this action.
“It behoves Mr President to step in immediately, to set up this panel of inquiry, which; at the minimum, will have a judicial officer and the NBA involved; so that we can get to the bottom of this issue and ask: who gave that instruction?”
“We note that the Attorney General of the Federation has reportedly agreed to make himself available for investigation. This is consistent with the position of the National Executive Council of the NBA; to the effect that the Attorney General definitely has questions to answer. However, he cannot subject himself to a panel that he sets up. This is why the panel to be set up by the President is very necessary.
“If the Attorney General is found culpable, then as a lawyer; we will take him before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee; because if indeed, he is found to have given the directives that led to the invasion of the home of the Justice of the Supreme Court; then he is not fit to hold the office he occupies presently and continue to be the recipient of the privileges the profession has accorded to him.”
Akpata, disclosed that there is a process of discipline within the ranks of the NBA; noting that Malami would be made to face the process, if deemed culpable.
“There is a mechanism, and that is for us to bring him before the LDPC and what does the LPDC do? What is the ultimate sanction, amongst others? He can be stopped from practising law. What does the LPPC do, amongst others? The LPPC can strip him of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and also the Body of Benchers can reconsider his life membership of that body. So, without mincing words, those are the steps that the NBA can take.”
He also said that action would be taken against the Abuja magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna, who issued the search warrant in the first place.