28th February, 2013
The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee has dismissed Justice Ibironke Harrison’s objection challenging her invitation to respond to an allegation of N117.5 million property fraud.
Mr. Joseph Daudu (SAN), the Chairman of the committee, gave the ruling in Abuja on Wednesday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Harrison is a serving judge in the High Court of Lagos.
Daudu held that the objection was baseless because the alleged offence was committed when the judge was a lawyer in 2008.
“The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee Act is empowered to try any reported acts of misconduct by legal practitioners.
“The objection is, however, over-ruled and the judge is expected to file her defence on the allegation.
“The matter is hereby adjourned to March 6 and March 7 for continuation,” he said.
Mr. Solomon Onwukwe had in 2008 approached the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) with a complaint of alleged fraud by Harrison over the sale of his property.
Mr. Jibril Okutepa (SAN), counsel to the NBA, said that Harrison had allegedly sold a property located at 24 Iroko Awe Road, Ikate, Illasan, Eti-Osa, Lagos, without authorisation.
Okutepa further said that the judge failed to remit the whole sum to the owner of the property after an agreement was reached between the parties.
He submitted that Harrison allegedly issued cheque to the complainant that was returned unpaid.
Okutepa, therefore, urged the committee to discountenance the objections raised by Harrison.
He said: “NBA Disciplinary Committee found that the action of the legal practitioner was in breach of Rules 1, of the Rules of the Professional Conduct in the Legal Profession.”
On her objection, Harrison claimed that the committee lacked the jurisdiction to handle the matter by virtue of her position as a judge of a High Court in Lagos.
The objection further claimed that only the Nigerian Judicial Council (NJC) could handle any allegations of misconduct against judicial officers.