There are strong indications that Lagos Lawyer, Emeka Ugwuonye and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) may be in for a showdown, following NBA’s invitation to him over a Petition filed by ex-husband of missing Abuja woman, Charity Aiyedogbon, Mr. David Aiyedogbon.
Trouble started when Mr. Aiyedogbon petitioned the Nigerian Bar Association, alleging unprofessional publications against his person by Emeka Ugwuonye.
The letter dated 22nd August 2016, captioned: “Petition against Emeka Ugwuonye for unprofessional publications and false allegations”, addressed to the General Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, urged the professional body to investigate the matter and invoke appropriate disciplinary actions against the lawyer.
Following the petition, the Nigerian Bar Association wrote to Mr. Ugwuonye, attaching a copy of Mr. Aiyedogbon’s Petition and requesting him to respond to the issues. He is to appear before the NBA disciplinary Committee on the 26th of November, 2016, according to the letter.
The NBA’s letter, published by Mr. Ugwuonye on his Facebook Group, The Due Process Advocates, requires him to submit twenty copies of his defence to the allegations made against him to the NBA National Secretariat.
The letter, dated 29th September, 2016 and signed by the Association’s General Secretary, Isiaka Abiola Olagunju, Esq, reads in part:
“You are specifically required to respond to the allegations made against you, considering the provision of Rule 33 of the Rules of Professional Misconduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.”
“Take note that you shall state your full name, Supreme Court Enrolment number, your contact address, e-mail and phone number (s) in your response. Your Call to Bar Certificate should also accompany your response to the Petition.”
In his response, contrary to the provisions of Rule 33, as cautioned in the NBA’s letter, Mr. Ugwuonye published both the NBA’s letter and Mr. Aiyedogbon’s petition on his Facebook Group, The Due Process Advocates, alleging that the NBA is being used against him.
His post captioned: “David Aiyedogbon’s Bar Petition against me” queried: “How could the Bar be put to such unlawful use?”.
“Normally, bar disciplinary process is a confidential process, especially where the Bar has not determined that there is probable cause or that there is evidence that you violated any rules of professional conduct. But in my case, everything must be different…….. Yet,….the petition is an inchoate allegation that I defamed the petitioner…How could the Bar be put to such unlawful use”?
“By generating such fuss over a phantom, they are seeking to give undue traction to a complaint that seeks to make the Bar an arbiter of a claim for defamation.”
“It is only natural that I take steps to reduce the speculation and gossip by placing before the people the so-called magic complaint of Aiyedegbon, a man I believe murdered his wife in cold blood after years of running marital problems.”
Sources close to Ugwuonye reveal that the Lagos Lawyer may be approaching the Courts to restrain the Nigerian Bar Association from investigating him on the matter.
All efforts to reach the NBA National Secretariat for comments proved abortive, as the mobile numbers associated with it (07098211663, 09084445444) were said not to be valid by network service providers, while the number on the letterhead (234 9291 3832) was switched off at the time of filing this report.
It would be recalled that Mr. Ugwuonye had accused Mr. Aiyedogbon of having a hand in the sudden disappearance of his estranged wife, Charity Aiyedogbon, a claim he is yet to substantiate.
Apart from the NBA investigation, Ugwuonye may be facing about three other suits bothering on defamation of character, false information and criminal concealment.