Former AG of Cross River, Joseph Abang, Debarred

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The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) has ordered the removal of former Attorney General of Cross River, Mr. Joseph Abang, from the roll of legal practitioners in the country. The legal body gave the order after it found that the former AG engaged in an “infamous conduct”.

It ordered that the respondent should no longer enjoy the status of a legal practitioner or accorded audience in that capacity.

The decision against Abang followed a complaint that was lodged against him by the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).

The NBA, in the complaint it entered before the LPDC on June 26, 2020, noted that Unity Bank Plc had engaged Abang as a lawyer to help it to recover a debt that was owed it by Bilwadams Construction Company Nigeria Limited.

The construction firm which was a customer of the bank was said to have been indebted to the defunct Bank of the North and Intercity Bank Plc (some of the legacy banks that merged and firmed Unity Bank Plc).

According to the NBA, despite the instruction of the bank to the effect that recovered sums should be paid directly into its accounts, the respondent, diverted the sum of N6,666,666.66 he recovered on October 29, 2010, into his own personal account and never remitted same to the bank.

It alleged that the respondent also received another N66, 666, 666. 71 in 2012, but never remitted same to the bank as at August 2013.

The LPDC was told that upon intensified demand by the bank, the respondent, on September 23, 2013, remitted N45million with a promise to pay the outstanding sum of N23, 249,620. 80.

“The respondent, without the petitioner’s express or implied instructions and despite the subsisting judgment with the petitioner’s customer to pay the sum of N110,000,00000 only, in full and final settlement of the outstanding indebtedness which as at July 2013 was in the sum of N392, 202, 379. 82 only, and that till date the Respondent is yet to remit to the Petitioner the outstanding sum of N28, 333, 333.00 only”.

Consequently, the NBA Disciplinary Panel found that the respondent’s conduct constituted an infraction of the acceptable standard of behavior or ethics of the legal profession.

Meanwhile, the respondent pleaded not liable to a five-count charge that was preferred against him before the LPDC.

In its verdict, the committee which was led by Chief Emmanuel Ukala (SAN), found him guilty.

Other members of the committee were Justice Hussein Mukhtar of the Court of Appeal, the Chief Judge of Bauchi State, Justice Rabi Umar and two lawyers- Ebenezer Obeya and Boma Ayomide Alabi.

“We are satisfied that the appropriate order to make in the circumstance is to direct the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court to strike out Abang Joseph Oshie from the Roll of Legal Practitioners in accordance with Rule 22(a) of the LPDC Rules 2020 and we so order.

“The Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court is hereby directed to effect the above order and to make a notation of this direction against the name of the respondent, Joe Abang, that is, Abang Joseph Oshie on the Roll of Legal Practitioners.

“This Order shall forthwith be brought to the attention of the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court”, the Committee held.

It further directed that the other should be brought to the notice of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, heads of different courts in the country, as well as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Attorneys-General of all the 36 states of the federation.