Odili Invasion: Malami may lose SAN rank if found culpable: Akpata

The Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami may lose the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) if found culpable over the invasion of Supreme Court Justice Mary Odili’s residence, the national president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Olumide Akpata has said.

Mr Malami, like the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said to have spearheaded the operation, distanced himself from the October 29 raid.

He feigned ignorance and said there was nothing called “Joint Panel Recovery” under the Justice Ministry he oversees, adding that the issue is now being investigated.

But disagreeing with Mr Malami in setting up the panel that will investigate the incident, Olumide Akpata, the national president of the legal body called on President Muhammadu Buhari to set up the panel rather than the Justice Minister whom he described as a suspect.

“We are calling on the president, the head of the executive arm of government, to set up an independent panel of inquiry, to look into this assault on the judiciary, which is another arm of government because there is a dark cloud hanging and all fingers are pointing at the executive as being behind this action,” Mr Akpata said on Friday in Lagos at a press briefing. “It behoves Mr president to step in immediately, to set up this panel of inquiry, which, at the minimum, will have a judicial officer and the NBA involved so that we can get to the bottom of this issue and ask who gave that instruction?

“We note that the attorney-general of the federation has reportedly agreed to make himself available for investigation. This is consistent with the position of the National Executive Council of the NBA, to the effect that the attorney-general definitely has questions to answer. However, he cannot subject himself to a panel that he sets up. This is why the panel to be set up by the president is very necessary.

“If the attorney-general is found culpable, then as a lawyer, we will take him before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee; because if indeed, he is found to have given the directives that led to the invasion of the home of the Justice of the Supreme Court, then he is not fit to hold the office he occupies presently and continue to be the recipient of the privileges the profession has accorded to him.

“There is a mechanism, and that is for us to bring him before the LPDC and what does the LPDC do? What is the ultimate sanction, amongst others? He can be stopped from practising law. What does the LPPC do, amongst others? The LPPC can strip him of the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria and also the Body of Benchers can reconsider his life membership of that body. So, without mincing words, those are the steps that the NBA can take.”

Akpata also added that action will be taken against Emmanuel Iyanna, the chief magistrate who issued the search warrant leading to the invasion of Odili’s home.

“Questions must be asked of the quality and sufficiency of the materials placed before his worship before issuing the search warrant in the first place. The NBA National Executive Council believes that even on a cursory reading of the materials placed before his worship, there is a prima facie evidence that the search warrant ought not to have been issued in the circumstance,” he added.