Posted by Destiny Ugorji | 22 October 2016 | 7,480 times
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 Mr. David Aiyedogbon, the ex-husband of missing Abuja woman, Charity Aiyedogbon.
Trouble started when Mr. Aiyedogbon petitioned NBA, 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”, was addressed to the General Secretary of NBA. It urged the professional body to investigate the matter and invoke appropriate disciplinary actions against the lawyer.
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.
Following the petition, NBA wrote to Mr. Ugwuonye, attaching a copy of Mr. Aiyedogbon’s petition and requesting him to respond to the allegations contained therein. Barrister Ugwuonye 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 20 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.”
Contacted by News Express on Friday, Mr. Ugwuonye replied thus: “First and foremost, I want to say that there were credible and strong evidentiary basis for my investigative conclusions about Mr. Aiyedegbon’s involvement or responsibility in the disappearance and death of his wife, Charity Aiyedegbon. There is substantiation. Everything that I said about this case is true, if a statement of fact, and validly and honestly held if a statement of opinion.
“I understand that Mr. Aiyedegbon does not like the things I said and the opinions I have expressed on the matter. He did not hide his displeasure. He filed three police complaints against me and he walked his complaints aggressively. Hence, I was arrested three times by the police and detained two times and I made three statements to the police on the matter.
“Ironically, the man I accused of involvement in murder was never detained even once. But I was detained twice. How fair is that? And one of the things that offended the police was the fact that I stated that it appeared the police had been compromised. Ironically, the manner the police treated me is a confirmation of compromise.
“Apart from the police, David has used other options to subdue me. He hired lawyers after me who have initiated defamation action against me. He hired social media mob against me and they spread all manner of lies against me. He recently engaged some newspapers and a highly discredited online media platform to wage a nasty smear campaign against me. Finally, he filed a complaint against me with the Bar Association.
“It is okay to do this. It is okay for the Bar to contact me and request a response. What I find extremely troubling was to see how a supposedly confidential bar investigation has become an instrument of smear and propaganda against a lawyer. It is correct to sense that such could lead to a confrontation between the lawyer and the bar. But it is absolutely not my intention to confront bar or to get unduly antagonised with the bar. I have great respect for the bar and understand its role in the society. So, to the extent possible, I shall cooperate maximally with the bar and I shall uphold its virtues, despite any provocation. I am prepared for any lawsuit anyone intends to file on this matter. In fact, I would be relieved if David Aiyedegbon would limit his offensive against me to the court of law.”