Lawyer whose SAN title was revoked heads to court

The Nigerian lawyer said the decision to withdraw his ‘SANship’ is illegal since there is a restraining order.

A lawyer, who was stripped of his Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, rank has headed to the Lagos High Court, Igbosere, to reverse the decision.

Ajibola Aribisala was barred from parading himself as a SAN by the Legal Practitioners and Privileges Committee, LPPC, of the Nigeria Bar Association, last month, after a petition by Fidelity Bank Plc.

The bank alleged that Mr. Aribisala charged it legal costs, for services rendered, which were excessive and in breach of Rules of Professional Conduct in Legal Profession.

Mr. Aribisala denied the allegation. The LPPC, after its investigations, found him guilty and withdrew his ‘SANship;’ which effectively deprives him of the privileges that come with the position.

Joined as defendants in the suit by the embattled lawyer are the bank and the LPPC.

Mr. Aribisala said that the decision to suspend him was illegal since there was an application pending since October 19, 2012, seeking a restraining order against the LPPC.

With his legal team comprising of Tayo Oyetibo, Roland Otaru, and Dipo Opeseyi, all SANs; Mr. Aribisala also urged the court to order a mandatory injunction to set aside or nullify his suspension from using the SAN title with its attendant privileges.

He also wants an injunction restraining the LPPC and its agents from giving any effect to or implementing its decision of suspending him from using the title of a Senior Advocate.

In denying the allegation by the bank, Mr. Aribisala insisted that his bill was in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners (Remuneration for Legal Practitioner Documentation and other Land Matters) Order.

While Fidelity Bank Plc had filed its own defence, LPPC is yet to respond.

Counsel to Fidelity Bank, Seyi Sowemimo, stated that the bank cannot be prevented from invoking the LPPC’s disciplinary powers.

“Aribisala’s claim discloses no reasonable cause of action and constitutes an abuse of the court process,” said Mr. Sowemimo, a Senior Advocate.

During Monday’s proceedings, Mr. Sowemimo told the court that he had filed notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

Efforts by Mr. Sowemimo to compel the court to hear the suit was vehemently opposed by Mr. Oyetibo.

Justice Dotun Adefope-Okogie adjourned till April 23 to decide on which application that takes priority.

In February, Mr. Aribisala became the second Senior Advocate to lose his title after Michael Aondoakaa, the infamous former Attorney General of the Federation, whose title was withdrawn in 2010 after a petition by the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights.

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