By Tobi Soniyi
The Legal Practitioners’ Privileges Committee (LPPC), has withdrawn the rank of Senior of Advocate of Nigeria from Beluolisa E. Nwofor for allegedly conducting himself in a manner, unbecoming of the holder of the esteemed rank.Â
The statement withdrawing the rank was signed by the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court and Secretary of the LPPC, Mr. Ahmed Gamo Saleh.Â
Saleh said the decision to withdraw the rank from Nwofor was taken at the committee’s 126th general meeting held on yesterday, the 22nd June, 2017 acting on a petition filed against the senior lawyer by the Court of Appeal.Â
The committee however, did not give details of the alleged misconduct for which Nwofor was punished.
Â ItÂ said that it took the decision after considering “extensively the complaint filed by the Court of Appeal against Nwofor, with his response to same and all material facts.”Â
However, the petition against Nwofor may not be unconnected with the cases involving the two factions of the Peoples Democratic Party over who should be the governorship candidate of the party for last year governorship election in the state between Eyitayo Jegede of the Ahmed Makarfi’s faction and Jimoh Ibrahim of the Ali Modu Sheriff faction.
Nwofor was one of the lawyers who represented parties loyal to Sheriff. He represented Biyi Poroye and others. Nwofor had protested the decision of the court to hear the appeal filed by Jegede after brushing aside delay tactics being employed by the Sheriff’s group to stall the trial. At a point, Nwofor told the justices that it would amount to judicial rascality if they went ahead with the hearing.Â
The justices were irked and were embarrassed by his statement.
He also had altercation with the justices. Lawyers in court on the said day viewed the verbal exchanges as disrespectful to the court.
There were free exchanges of abusive languages between Nwofor and the justices. A member of the panel hearing the appeal described Nwofor as audacious counsel that had no respect for the bar and the bench.
Nwofor replied and asked the panel whether the justices required a timid lawyer who could not stand and defend the law.
It took the intervention of other senior lawyers â€Žto restore peace. This may have been Nwofor’s undoing that led the court to refer him to the committee.