Olumide Akpata, the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), says the Attorney-General of the federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, may be stripped of his senior advocate rank if he is found to be involved in the raid of the home of Mary Odili, a supreme court Justice and wife of former Rivers state governor, Peter Odili.
Recall that on October 29, security operatives comprising of the police and Army stormed the Abuja home of the OdilisÂ on the claim that â€œillegal activitiesâ€ were going on there. The EFCC and Malami both issued different statements denying any involvement in the incident.
While speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on Friday, Akpata said
â€œWe are calling on the president, the head of the executive 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,â€ he 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?
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.
â€œIf 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.
When asked if the NBA has the power to discipline the AGF, Akpata said
â€œThere is a mechanism, and that is for us to bring him before the LPDC 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.â€
Akpata also added that action will be taken against Emmanuel Iyanna, the chief magistrate who issued the search warrant leading to the invasion of Odiliâ€™s home.
â€œQuestions 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 a prima facie evidence that the search warrant ought not to have been issued in the circumstance,â€ he said.