Three Senior Advocates of Nigeria who protested against the ruling of the Code of Conduct Tribunal last week during the case against the senate president, Bukola Saraki, have been cleared of wrongdoing by the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), which is the umbrella body for lawyers in the country.
Saka Issau, Ahmed Raji and Mahmud Magaji had led 23 other junior lawyers out of the courtroom on Thursday in protest against a ruling of the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal directing Saraki’s trial to continue despite his pending appeal at the Supreme Court. They allegedly accused the tribunal of “judicial rascality” before storming out.
NBA President, Augustine Alegeh (SAN), told The Punch newspaper in a telephone interview that the lawyers involved had given a response which it found satisfying and so no further action would be taken against them. “We wrote to the lawyers who were alleged to have walked out. And they replied us stating clearly that they have applied to the tribunal to withdraw. Their application was granted and therefore they had to leave the court,” Alegeh said. “They also said they did not leave the court with an empty bar because there were other lawyers in court. When a lawyer has applied to withdraw appearance from that court they have no other business to remain in that court and they are free to leave. The lawyer is free to leave the court.”
Alegeh said that the NBA did not confer with the tribunal judges and did not see a need to, since the NBA did not receive any complaint from the tribunal members. He said that the NBA will only take further action against the lawyers if “new information” becomes available.
The NBA president refused to describe the action of the lawyers as a walkout since they “withdrew their appearance for Saraki before taking their leave from the tribunal.” He however called on the tribunal judges to notify the NBA of “conducts of lawyers they consider to be improper. It is the duty of the tribunal if it feels such thing transpired to notify the NBA. The NBA owes a duty to the tribunal members who we have the duty to protect and to the senior advocates and to the entire bar. We won’t take side with one against the other.”