A senior lawyer, Chief Ajibola Aribisala, whose rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria was recently withdrawn by Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee, has dragged the committee and Fidelity Bank Plc before a Lagos High Court, challenging the committee’s decision to deprive him the use of the rank of SAN.
When the matter came up before Justice Adefowope Okogie, counsel to the bank, said the objection filed by the bank should be heard first, but Aribisala’s counsel differed, arguing that it should be taken alongside the substantive suit.
The court, meanwhile, adjourned the matter till April 23, to rule on which application to hear first.
Aribisala in the suit, is praying the court to nullify his suspension from the use of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, with its accompanying privileges, which decision was taken by LPPC on February 26, 2013 despite the pendency of an application dated October 19, 2012 seeking to restrain the committee in that regard, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
He is also asking the court to direct immediate restoration of parties in this suit to the status quo ante bellum as at October 22, 2012 when the defendants were served with the originating processes including the motion on notice dated October 19, 2013 seeking to restrain LPPC pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
Aribisala is asking the court to restrain LPPC from giving any effect to or implementing or continuing to implement, or carrying out any act or making any form of publicity relating to his alleged suspension from the use of the rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria pending the hearing and determination of this suit.
He was suspended from using the rank of SAN following a petition against him by Fidelity Bank.
Aribisala denied overcharging the bank, saying 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.”[Vanguard]