Law(yers) and Justice – No recourse against the decisions of the LPDC?

AKINTOKUN v. LPDC
SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
(MOHAMMED; I.T. MUHAMMAD; FABIYI; GALADIMA; PETER-ODILI; M.D. MUHAMMAD; KEKERE-EKUN, JJ.SC)
The Appellant is a legal practitioner who practiced under the name and style of Rotimi Williams Akintokun and Company. A petition was written against him to the Nigerian Bar Association [NBA]. The Appellant was consequently brought before the Respondent. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Respondent directed the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to strike the Appellant’s name from the Roll.
The Appellant was dissatisfied with the decision of the Respondent and appealed to the Supreme Court.
The court raised the issue suo motu that:
 “Whether in view of its recent decision in Jide Aladejobi v. Nigerian Bar Association, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to entertain the instant appeal against the direction of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.”
In order to resolve this issue, a full court was convened and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association were invited to address the court as amicus curiae.
In his submissions, the learned counsel for the Appellant argued that the decision in Aladejobi’s Case to the effect that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain appeal against the direction of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) was given per incuriam. He referred to the case of Charles Okike v. LPDC (No.1). Counsel submitted that the decision in Okike’s Casewas never overruled in Aladejobi'scase, and that the principle of law decided in OkikeNo. 1 is still valid and subsisting and is the law to be followed as regards jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to entertain appeals from the decisions of the LPDC.
He further submitted that the Appeal Committee of the Body of Benchers is yet to be created up till now and an appellant cannot appeal to a non-existing body. He argued that the Legal Practitioners Act Cap. L11, Laws of the Federation, 2004 (“Cap. L11”), did not take into cognizance the substantial amendments made by the Legal Practitioners Act (Amendment) Decree No. 21 of 1994 (“Decree No. 21”) and it does not represent the law. Statutes are not repealed by reference or implication but by direct provision of the law.
Learned counsel for the Respondent also submitted that the judgment in Aladejobi'scase did not take into consideration the court's earlier decision in Okike's case that had completely resolved the matter and that the Supreme Court is vested with jurisdiction to hear appeals directly from the LPDC. He noted that there is some difficulty that is created by the Law Reviewers because the amendments legislated in the procedure for the discipline of erring legal practitioners by Decree No. 21 are omitted in the published compilation.
The Hon. Attorney General of the Federation as amicus curiae submitted that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear any appeal including the instant appeal filed directly against the direction of the LPDC.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as amicus curiae submitted that the inadvertent omission in the compiled laws does not affect the validity and applicability of the statute. He further submitted that there is no Appeal Committee in existence Decree No. 21 replaced "Appeal Committee of the Body of Benchers" with "Supreme Court", thus vesting the court with jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Directions of the LPDC.
Unanimously striking out the appeal, the Supreme Court held that:
“Thus, failure by the appellant to first channel his appeal through the Appeal Committee as established by the Act is defective and affects the competence of the court. See: Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 1 All NLR 587 at 594. The situation in this appeal is akin to the one presented in the case of Ibori v. Agbi(2004) 6 NWLR (Pt 868) 78 where this court reprimanded litigants and their counsel for appealing to the Supreme Court from decisions of High Courts because the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction or power to hear appeals direct from High Court, Uwaifo, JSC (Rtd,) had this to say:
‘it has thus been held that under the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as conferred by Constitution (S.213 of the 1979 Constitution, now S.233(1) of the 1999 Constitution), the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to usurp the function of the Court of Appeal either by hearing an appeal directly from the High Court or by hearing an appeal which though lying before the Court of Appeal is yet to be decided by that court because to do so will amount to a violation of the Constitution and will be null and void.”
I still hold the view that the provisions in the 2004 Laws of the Federation relating to the disciplining of erring Legal Practitioners as contained in Cap L11, LFN, 2004 are the ones that will regulate appeals from the directions of the Legal Practitioners, Disciplinary Committee of the Body of Benchers. If the Appeal Committee is not in existence as argued by some of the counsel involved in the appeal, it is for the concerned Body, i.e. the Body of Benchers to respect and implement the provision(s) of the 2004 LFN, relating to appeals emanating from the LPDC. I still hold that this court lacks jurisdiction to entertain appeals direct from the directions of the LPDC."
Counsel:
Adenrele Adegborioye with Chijioke Uwandu for the Appellant.
A.C. Aguma Esq. with Toyin Bashorun and Williams A. Ataguba for the Respondent.
Okey Wali, SAN with J.S. Okutepa, SAN; Solomon Umoh, SAN; Dr. Garba Tetegi, SAN; Usman Sule; Emeka Obegbolu; Mustapha A. Mairam; John Demide; Dikibujiri Fynface; and Ejura P. Ochimana as amicus curiae.
Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN [Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation; with Taiwo Abidogun and P.C. Okorie as amicus curiae.
This summary is fully reported at (2014) 11 CLRN

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AKINTOKUN v. LPDC
SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
(MOHAMMED; I.T. MUHAMMAD; FABIYI; GALADIMA; PETER-ODILI; M.D. MUHAMMAD; KEKERE-EKUN, JJ.SC)
The Appellant is a legal practitioner who practiced under the name and style of Rotimi Williams Akintokun and Company. A petition was written against him to the Nigerian Bar Association [NBA]. The Appellant was consequently brought before the Respondent. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Respondent directed the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to strike the Appellant’s name from the Roll.
The Appellant was dissatisfied with the decision of the Respondent and appealed to the Supreme Court.
The court raised the issue suo motu that:
 “Whether in view of its recent decision in Jide Aladejobi v. Nigerian Bar Association, the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to entertain the instant appeal against the direction of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee.”
In order to resolve this issue, a full court was convened and the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and the President of the Nigerian Bar Association were invited to address the court as amicus curiae.
In his submissions, the learned counsel for the Appellant argued that the decision in Aladejobi’s Case to the effect that the Supreme Court does not have jurisdiction to entertain appeal against the direction of the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) was given per incuriam. He referred to the case of Charles Okike v. LPDC (No.1). Counsel submitted that the decision in Okike’s Casewas never overruled in Aladejobi'scase, and that the principle of law decided in OkikeNo. 1 is still valid and subsisting and is the law to be followed as regards jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to entertain appeals from the decisions of the LPDC.
He further submitted that the Appeal Committee of the Body of Benchers is yet to be created up till now and an appellant cannot appeal to a non-existing body. He argued that the Legal Practitioners Act Cap. L11, Laws of the Federation, 2004 (“Cap. L11”), did not take into cognizance the substantial amendments made by the Legal Practitioners Act (Amendment) Decree No. 21 of 1994 (“Decree No. 21”) and it does not represent the law. Statutes are not repealed by reference or implication but by direct provision of the law.
Learned counsel for the Respondent also submitted that the judgment in Aladejobi'scase did not take into consideration the court's earlier decision in Okike's case that had completely resolved the matter and that the Supreme Court is vested with jurisdiction to hear appeals directly from the LPDC. He noted that there is some difficulty that is created by the Law Reviewers because the amendments legislated in the procedure for the discipline of erring legal practitioners by Decree No. 21 are omitted in the published compilation.
The Hon. Attorney General of the Federation as amicus curiae submitted that the Supreme Court has jurisdiction to hear any appeal including the instant appeal filed directly against the direction of the LPDC.
The President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) as amicus curiae submitted that the inadvertent omission in the compiled laws does not affect the validity and applicability of the statute. He further submitted that there is no Appeal Committee in existence Decree No. 21 replaced "Appeal Committee of the Body of Benchers" with "Supreme Court", thus vesting the court with jurisdiction to hear appeals from the Directions of the LPDC.
Unanimously striking out the appeal, the Supreme Court held that:
“Thus, failure by the appellant to first channel his appeal through the Appeal Committee as established by the Act is defective and affects the competence of the court. See: Madukolu v. Nkemdilim (1962) 1 All NLR 587 at 594. The situation in this appeal is akin to the one presented in the case of Ibori v. Agbi(2004) 6 NWLR (Pt 868) 78 where this court reprimanded litigants and their counsel for appealing to the Supreme Court from decisions of High Courts because the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction or power to hear appeals direct from High Court, Uwaifo, JSC (Rtd,) had this to say:
‘it has thus been held that under the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court as conferred by Constitution (S.213 of the 1979 Constitution, now S.233(1) of the 1999 Constitution), the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction to usurp the function of the Court of Appeal either by hearing an appeal directly from the High Court or by hearing an appeal which though lying before the Court of Appeal is yet to be decided by that court because to do so will amount to a violation of the Constitution and will be null and void.”
I still hold the view that the provisions in the 2004 Laws of the Federation relating to the disciplining of erring Legal Practitioners as contained in Cap L11, LFN, 2004 are the ones that will regulate appeals from the directions of the Legal Practitioners, Disciplinary Committee of the Body of Benchers. If the Appeal Committee is not in existence as argued by some of the counsel involved in the appeal, it is for the concerned Body, i.e. the Body of Benchers to respect and implement the provision(s) of the 2004 LFN, relating to appeals emanating from the LPDC. I still hold that this court lacks jurisdiction to entertain appeals direct from the directions of the LPDC."
Counsel:
Adenrele Adegborioye with Chijioke Uwandu for the Appellant.
A.C. Aguma Esq. with Toyin Bashorun and Williams A. Ataguba for the Respondent.
Okey Wali, SAN with J.S. Okutepa, SAN; Solomon Umoh, SAN; Dr. Garba Tetegi, SAN; Usman Sule; Emeka Obegbolu; Mustapha A. Mairam; John Demide; Dikibujiri Fynface; and Ejura P. Ochimana as amicus curiae.
Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN [Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation; with Taiwo Abidogun and P.C. Okorie as amicus curiae.
This summary is fully reported at (2014) 11 CLRN

Join in our discussion of the above report at www.commerciallawreportsnigeria.blogspot.com