…sets up anti-corruption unit at NJI
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – In a bid to further sanitize the Nigerian judiciary, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, weekend, vowed to prosecute any judge found to have compromised standard in the dispensation of justice.
To actualize its aim, the commission, inaugurated an anti-corruption and transparency unit at the National Judicial Institute, NJI, which statutorily has the mandate to observe, train and inculcate desired jurisprudential value on judges, Kadis and Magistrates across the federation.
In a similar development, the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, LPDC, has banned four legal practitioners from plying their trade in Nigeria for life, just as it ordered the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to strike off their names from the apex court’s scroll where name of every bonafide lawyer in the country must be found.
LPDC Chairman and former national President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr Joseph Daudu , SAN, maintained that decision to ban the former lawyers for life was stemmed from findings of the panel that the respondents were guilty of judicial misconduct.
The affected lawyers were Dominic Ntiero, Timipa Okponipere, G.C Monye, and J.A Agwuncha.
More so, one Mr Olawole Ajoge-Daniel was suspended for five years after he was equally indicted of judicial rascality.
On allegation against Ntiero, Daudu said the respondent out-rightly failed to appear to defend himself.
“We were however satisfied by the Committee’s Secretary that there was due notice in the Punch Newspaper.
“The respondent’s act violated Rules 47, 50, and 51 of the Rules of Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession 2007 and Section 12 of the Legal Practitioners Act as Amended,’’ he said.
The Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) in its complaint against the respondent alleged that Ntiero issued a dud cheque of N6.3 million to one of his client Rita Edet over a failed agreement.
In the case of Okponipere, Daudu said the respondent sometimes in 2007 admitted to have given unsolicited legal services to Mr Timi Alaibe, an ex-Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC).
He said Okponipere claimed to have nominated Alaibe for National Merit Award and therefore made demands for the sum of N40 million.
Likewise, LPDC, alleged that Monyei, a Principal Partner at G.C Monyei And Co, engaged by GMNL sometimes in 2003 as a debt collector to recover the sum of N9.2 million from the Edo State Ministry of Justice.
On the other hand, Agwuncha, was said to have cheated his client by converting fund meant for the incorporating a company (New Resources Bureau De Change) as a limited liability company, and took advantage of the confidence reposed in him as a lawyer to dupe the unsuspected client.
“You failed to maintain the high standard of the professional conduct expected of a legal practitioner by engaging in a conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner and thereby found guilty of the offence.
“The sum of six hundred and Fifty One Thousand, Eight Hundred Naira be refunded to Lofty Investment Limited by the respondent.
“The Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court is hereby directed to strike off the name of the respondent J.A Agwuncha from the Roll of Legal Practitioners in Nigeria.
“The notice of the directions be immediately brought to the attention of the respondent by service on him personally or at his last known address and by publication in any edition of the Punch Newspaper.
“It should also by publication in the federal Gazette as required by law,’’ he said.
Meantime, while inaugurating the anti-corruption unit of the NJI, ICPC chairman, Chief Ekpo Nta, decried that Nigeria, “has been held hostage by a corrupt few who delight in plundering the resources of our nation.”
According to him, “Nigeria is at a critical stage in her development as a nation state. As a people, we are a t that point where good men and women must stand up and be counted. For too long, our country has been held hostage by a corrupt few who delight in plundering the resources of our nation. For too long, our people have suffered the consequences of corruption foisted on us by a powerful few.