A legal practitioner, Ajibola Aribisala, whose rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) was recently withdrawn by the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC), has filed a suit at the Lagos High Court challenging the committee’s decision to deprive him the use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