Twenty-nine of the 30 lawyers nominated to be sworn in as Senior Advocates of Nigeria, SANs will on Monday take their oaths of office, despite allegations of unethical practices made against three of them.
According to the Legal Practitioner’s Privileges Committee, LPPC, the swearing-in exercise will involve all those shortlisted for the position of SAN, except one of the nominees, Oluwatoyin Bashorun, who has a petition containing allegations against her which would be investigated before a decision can be made regarding her swearing in.
However, Ms. Bashorun appears not to be the only candidate with unanswered questions hovering around candidacy.
PREMIUM TIMES had in November 2015 reported how one of the shortlisted candidates, a current Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo, Enefiok Essien, was involved in a sex scandal and subsequently indicted by a court of law in 2005.
The University had expelled a female student, Linda Essell, following the incident; but the court of appeal in Uyo later nullified her expulsion and ordered that she be allowed to go ahead with her studies in the university’s faculty of law.
The University never appealed that judgement.
A group, the Civil Society Network against Corruption, CSNAC, in a statement said it had written the LPPC in May, requesting an investigation into Mr. Esien’s case of involvement in the said scandal, but never received any response from the committee.
According to the statement, a petition against Mr. Essien had also been written to the ministry of education in 2015.
CSNAC’s director, Olanrewaju Suraju, told PREMIUM TIMES in a telephone conversation that his group is still waiting for a response, two years after writing the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, requesting that investigation be conducted into the matter.
”They told us at the education ministry that they had forwarded the petition to the governing council of the University of Uyo, to investigate the matter. We have however not received any response yet from the school regarding the investigation.
“The Legal Practitioner’s Privileges Committee has also not responded to our investigation, written since May, despite the fact that we had included in our petition, an affidavit of means,” Mr. Suraj told PREMIUM TIMES.
Also, an online newspaper Sahara Reporters had on Sunday reported allegations of misconduct against two other shortlisted candidates, (alongside that of Mr. Essien), namely, Ms. Bashorun and another nominee, Olusegun Odubala.
Meanwhile, in its statement on Friday, the LPPC said cases against shortlisted candidates were supposed to be made public, within 18 days after it announced the successful candidates.
It added that the committee decided to suspend the oath taking of Mrs. Bashorun, because of the recent information that ”touched on the eligibility or otherwise of successful candidates.”
“Any complaint or petition presented to the honourable Chief Justice of Nigeria and chairman of the Legal Practitioner’s Privileges Committee must be in written and filed within 18 days after publication of the shortlisted candidates for the confirming of the award of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria,” the committee said in its statement signed by the chief registrar of the Supreme Court, Hadiza Mustapha.
According to the LPPC, such a compliment must also be published in recognized media within the stated period.
Reacting to questions as to why the committee ignored the allegations against the other two, Awassam Bassey, who is the spokesperson for the CJN, said he would make the required findings and get back to PREMIUM TIMES.
He was yet to do so at the time of filing the report.