LPPC Restores Aribisala’s SAN Rank After 20 Months

Ajibola_aribisalaThe Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC) has restored the rank of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria of a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Ajibola Aribisala after a 20 month suspension.

A statement by the Secretary of the LPPC and the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr. Sunday Olorundahunsi, said Aribisala’s SAN rank was restored at the meeting of the committee held on Monday.

The statement added that the decision to restore the lawyer’s SAN rank followed the withdrawal of the petitions against him and the consideration of the terms of settlement between parties concerned in the petitions.

Aribisala’s SAN rank was suspended by the LPPC on February 26, 2013 after it received two petitions of “allegations of flagrant breach of professional ethics and professional misconduct” made against him.

Part of the allegations against the Aribisala was that the charges for certain legal services he rendered to Fidelity Bank were excessive and in breach of Rules of Professional Conduct in the legal profession.

The statement said “you may all recall that on the 26th day  February, 2013 the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee at its General meeting suspended Chief A. A. Aribisala(SAN) from further use of the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria based on two petitions received by the LPPC on allegations of flagrant breach of professional ethics and professional misconduct.

“On the 27th day of October, 2014 the Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee at its General Meeting have decided to lift Chief A.A Aribisala’s suspension, after consideration of all material facts (Notices of withdrawal/discontinuance and subsequent letter of withdrawal of petition and terms of settlement).

“Pursuant to the committee’s decision, Chief Aribisala is hereby restored to the Rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria with effect from the 27th day of October, 2014.

“Futhermore, the committee hereby declares that any future act by Chief Aribisala that runs foul of paragraph 22 of the LPPC rules shall attract a stiffer sanction.”

Aribisala Asks Court to Nullify Order Suspending His SAN Rank

A legal practitioner, Ajibola Aribisala, whose rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was recently withdrawn by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), has filed a suit at the Lagos High Court challenging the committee’s decision to deprive him the use of the SAN title.

Ajibola A. Aribisala stripped of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)

He listed Fidelity Bank Plc and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee as defendants.

In his statement of claim, Mr Aribisala is asking the court to nullify the suspension of his use of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, with its accompanying privileges, a decision which was taken by the 2nd Defendant, the LPPC, on 26 February 2013 despite the pendency of an application dated 19 October 2012 seeking a restraining order of interlocutory injunction against the 2nd Defendant in that regard, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

He is also asking the court for an order of mandatory injunction directing immediate restoration of parties in this suit to the status quo (ante bellum) as at 22nd October, 2012 when the Defendants were served with the originating processes seeking a restraining order against the 2nd Defendant pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.

The lawyer also asked the court for an injunction restraining the LPPC from giving any effect to, implementing or continuing to implement, or carrying out any act or making any form of publicity relating to the alleged suspension of his use of the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of this suit.

It would be recalled that Mr Aribisala was suspended from using the rank of SAN following a petition against him by Fidelity Bank.

In his statement of claim however, Mr Aribisala denied overcharging the bank and insisted that his bill was in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Practitioners (Remuneration for Legal Practitioner Documentation and other Land Matters) Order.

He said that he made several demands on the bank to pay up his legal fees after helping the bank to perfect its documents in respect of different properties acquired by the bank.

He argued that the relationship between him and Fidelity Bank was contractual and could not be a basis to deny him the right to use his rank as an SAN.

According to him, the law allows him to deduct monies owed him by the bank from the money he recovered for the bank.

He said: “The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee is a creation of law, vested with certain powers, the same cannot be extended to cover matters which ought to be submitted to the Court for adjudication and have indeed been so submitted, in this case, and that once a matter is sub-judice nobody is allowed to comment, investigate or do anything about it except the court before which the matter is pending.”

When the matter came up before Justice Adefowope Okogie, counsel to Fidelity Bank, Seyi Sowemimo, said the objection filed by the bank should be heard first.

However, Aribisala’s lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo held a contrary view.

The trial court consequently adjourned the matter to April 23 for the determination of which application to hear first.

Another SAN Stripped Of Rank

The Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) on Tuesday stripped Ajibola A. Aribisala of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Ajibola A. Aribisala stripped of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)

This is the second time a member of the Inner Bar would lose the prestigious title that makes the holder the first among equals during court proceedings.

The first SAN to lose his title was a former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, who was stripped of the title on October 7, 2010 by the same LPPC.

Mr. Aondoakaa was stripped of the title after his response to a petition written against him by a non-governmental organisation, the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR).

A statement from the Media Aide of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ahuraka Isah, said the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and Secretary, Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, Sunday Olorundahunsi communicated the decision at the end of the Committee’s meeting on Tuesday in Abuja.

The LPPC’s decision was taken following a petition by Fidelity Bank against Mr. Aribisala and after hearing his response to the petition, the Committee decided that he should be suspended from using the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

By this decision, Mr Aribisala loses all privileges attached to the rank pending the outcome of the Court case impeding investigation by the Sub-Committee set up by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee.