The Supreme Court has set aside the conviction of three lawyers, who were tried for professional misconduct before the Legal Practitioners’ Disciplinary Committee (LPDC).
The lawyers Mamman A. Waziri, Olayori Muideen and Dr. Osaretin George Izegbuwa were tried by the LPDC for misconduct.
The five-man panel of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Mary Odili, was unanimous in allowing the three appeals filed by the lawyers.
The lawyers had claimed among others, to have been denied fair hearing on the grounds of distortions in the membership of the panels that heard their cases.
The Supreme Court, after setting aside the decisions of the LPDC on the lawyers’ cases, ordered that the matters be returned to the LPDC for them to be tried afresh by new panels.
Justice Ejembi Eko authored and read the lead judgments in the three appeals, marked: SC/469/2017; SC/454/2018 and SC/334/2019.
The Justice agreed with the appellants that the LDPC was wrong to have been inconsistent in the constitution of its panels that heard the three cases.
The appellants, whose complaints were similar, argued in the main, that the LPDC was not consistent in choosing members of its panels that heard their cases.
They said some members, who never witnessed the testimonies of some witnesses, participated in the delivery of the panels’ decisions.
Justice Eko, who relied on past decisions of the Supreme Court on the issue, particularly that on the appeal by Kunle Kalejaiye (SAN), held that such practice by the LPDC amounts to the denial of the appellants’ right to fair hearing.
Justice Eko suggested the reduction in the number of members of each LPDC’s panel to three or four to prevent the alteration in membership, complained about by the appellants, which he noted, was becoming rampant.