The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, sitting in Apo has held that the suit seeking to challenge the conferment of the rank of SAN on Ms. Oluwatoyin Bashorun lacks merit.
Dismissing the case between Chinwe Adeleke v. Oluwatoyin Bashorun, CJN, LPPC & Ors with Suit No: CV/2872/2017, the court per John Adeniyi J, held that the case lacks merit for non-disclosure of a reasonable cause of action. This is not far from an opinion earlier given on the propriety or otherwise of the decision of the committee.
The Claimant’s case was dismissed on the strength of the Preliminary objection raised by counsel to the 1st defendant, A.J., Owonikoko SAN. It was dismissed entirely considering that even the amended Originating Summons before the court was also found to also disclose no cause of action.
In the court’s view, the appropriate order to make in the circumstances was one of dismissal of the suit in its entirety but with no order as to cost.
Only two of the issues were considered. They were issue number 3 and 4 which bothered on jurisdiction and lack of reasonable cause of action respectively.
Issue three on lack of jurisdiction was resolved against the 1st Defendant, thus, paving way for the court to determine the suit on the merit. The Court, therefore, resolved that it had jurisdiction considering the totality of the claimant’s case.
The case was dismissed on issue 4. The court held that the plaintiff failed to show that she had any civil rights or obligations to be determined by the court in respect of the award of a professional rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria on Ms. Oluwatoyin Ajose Bashorun.
His lordship further held, agreeing with Owonikoko, SAN, that the disciplinary committee and the LPPC (to whom she had repeatedly but unsuccessfully submitted petitions against Ms. Bashorun) cannot be compelled to determine the claimant’s claim timeously or in the exact way the claimant desired or dictated.
TNL recalls that Ms. Bashorun was the only female on the list of successful candidates for the award of the rank of SAN in 2017. Her conferment was, however, suspended on Friday preceding official swearing-in September 2017 owing to two petitions received after the announcement of her success in the exercise.
A panel was set up by the Honorable the Chief Justice of Nigeria to revisit the petitions and report their funding not later than November 2017.
The panel subsequently sat and in its published report, uphold the first petition while though finding Mr. Bashorun NOT guilty of professional misconduct in the protracted tenancy litigation, considered her conduct of dragging recovery of tenanted premises with her landlords unbecoming of an aspirant to the prestigious rank of SAN. She was therefore banned from re-applying for at least 3 years with leave granted to apply for a review to the Legal Practitioners. Privileges Committee.
On the petition which was submitted by the Claimant in the suit dismissed today based on the same complaints, the Investigation Panel struck it out as having been overtaken by events.
Ostensibly, that decision was arrived at because the Claimant later elected to pursue her right by Litigating her claims in court. She declined to prosecute her petition before the special panel.
With this judgment, it appears that the coast is finally clear for Ms. Toyin Bashorun to revive her application or take advantage of the window for review of the sanction of 3-year ban as allowed in the report of the Special Investigation Panel.
Initially, it was under speculation that the conferment was challenged because she was holding 9 months rent, but her counsel, Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), had earlier revealed that the reason Ms. Oluwatoyin Ajose Bashorun was denied the SAN title was because she used her position as a lawyer to frustrate the disposal of the landlord and tenancy suit instituted by her landlord.
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