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Malami may be sanctioned over Odili

Malami Abubakar, Nigeria’s Attorney General, may face severe sanctions over raid on Justice Mary Odili’s Abuja residence by security agents.

Anthony Iwuoma
The Nigerian Bar Association has said it may compel the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to face severe sanctions, including loss of right to legal practice and the reverred title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, if found culpable in the invasion of Justice Mary Odili’s residence in Abuja.
Addressing a special press briefing in Lagos on Friday, the President of the NBA, Olumide Akpata, described the invasion as flaggrant and sinister.
He recalled how the homes of seven judges were raided by operatives of the Department of State Services in 2016 as well as the manner Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen (retd.), was was removed from office as Chief of Nigeria just before the 2019 general elections.
Malami rejected the denials of complicity from all corners, including the Attorney General of the Federal and security agencies and insisted that the NBA must unravel those behind the assault on the judiciary and punish them.
The NBA, Apata added, also rejected the panel being set up by the AGF to investigate the invasion of Justice Odili’s home since the AGF himself could have been involved and cannot be a judge in his own case.

Rather he urged President Muhammadu Buhari, to set up an independent panel to investigate the matter the actors behind .

“We are calling on the President, the head of the executive government arm of government, to set up an independent panel of inquiry, to look into this assault on the judiciary, which is another arm of government because there is a dark cloud hanging and all fingers are pointing at the executive as being behind this action,” the NBA president said.

“It behoves Mr. President to step in immediately, to set up this panel of inquiry, which, at the minimum, will have a judicial officer and the NBA involved so that we can get to the bottom of this issue and ask: who gave that instruction?

“In the event that we find that any lawyer was involved in this unfortunate incident, that lawyer will be subjected to our disciplinary mechanisms and that lawyer will definitely face the music.

“We note that the Attorney General of the Federation has reportedly agreed to make himself available for investigation. This is consistent with the position of the National Executive Council of the NBA, to the effect that the Attorney General definitely has questions to answer. However, he cannot subject himself to a panel that he sets up. This is why the panel to be set up by the President is very necessary.

“If the Attorney General is found culpable, then as a lawyer, we will take him before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee; because if indeed, he is found to have given the directives that led to the invasion of the home of the Justice of the Supreme Court, then he is not fit to hold the office he occupies presently and continue to be the recipient of the privileges the profession has accorded to him.”

On whether the NBA has the power to discipline the AGF, Akpata added, “There is a mechanism, and that is for us to bring him before the LDPC and what does the LPDC do? What is the ultimate sanction, amongst others? He can be stopped from practising law. What does the LPPC do, amongst others? The LPPC can strip him of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and also the Body of Benchers can reconsider his life membership of that body. So, without mincing words, those are the steps that the NBA can take.”

Also speaking on the Abuja magistrate, Emmanuel Iyanna, who issued the search warrant authorising the invasion of Justice Odili’s house, Apata added: “Questions must be asked of the quality and sufficiency of the materials placed before His Worship before issuing the search warrant in the first place. The NBA National Executive Council believes that even on a cursory reading of the materials placed before His Worship, there is prima facie evidence that the search warrant ought not to have been issued in the circumstance.”