The Supreme Court on Friday restored the wig and gown of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Kunle Kalejaye, who was disbarred by the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee in 2015.
The LPDC had punished Kalejaye with disbarment for engaging in “conduct unbecoming of a legal practitioner” involving private communication with the Chairman of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal in 2008 while representing the Peoples Democratic Party and its then candidate, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
But a five-man panel of the apex court led by Justice Dattijo Muhammad, on Friday, unanimously overturned the decision of the LPDC on the basis that the constitution of the committee which handed down the sanction breached Kalejaye’s right to fair hearing.
Justice Centus Nweze who read the lead judgment of the apex court held that failure of a member of the LPDC to participate in the trial but contributed in the final judgment of the panel was a breach of the appellant’s right to fair hearing.
The LPDC had on May 21, 2015 disbarred Kalejaye after finding him guilty of professional misconduct.
Kalejaye was said to be guilty of misconduct which he allegedly committed in 2008 while representing the Peoples Democratic Party and its then candidate, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, at the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal.
The then-candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, had challenged Oyinlola’s victory in the 2007 poll.
Kalejaye was said to have engaged in a “private and confidential telephone conversation” on MTN network with the Chairman of the Osun State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, Justice Thomas Naron, without the knowledge of the other party.
He allegedly engaged in the unprofessional act between March and June 2008 and Justice Naron with whom he committed the misconduct had since February 20, 2013, been compulsorily retired by the National Judicial Council.