By Debo Adebayo
The National Assembly Election Petition Tribunal in Lagos has struck out a case of contempt against a lawyer, Barrister Oladotun Hassan who falsely alleged that documents tendered in the tribunal by Mr. Segun Adewale, the PDP candidate for Lagos West Senatorial District against the election of Senator Solomon Adeola has been stolen by the lawyers of Senator Adeola, APC and INEC.
Barrister Hassan representing the Concerned Stakeholders of Lagos West Senatorial District had petitioned the chairman of the tribunal, Justice S. C. Oriji alleging that the team of APC lawyers led by Dr. Muiz Banire conspired with both INEC lawyers and officials of the tribunal to steal vital documents which were duly tendered as evidence and the same was published in Daily Independent Newspaper as well as on the social media.
The lawyer of Senator Adeola Barrister Kunle Adegoke had file a contempt case against Barrister Hassan and at the last sitting of the Tribunal, Justice Oriji ordered that a retraction of the false allegation be published by Daily Independent before he can rule on the culpability and possible sanction for the erring lawyer.
When the case came up for hearing today, a copy of the retraction as published by Daily Independent on August 19, 2015 and an apology letter by Barrister Hassan was tendered to the Tribunal and duly accepted by all the counsel in the litigation as mitigating enough for the offense of contempt.
In his ruling Justice Oriji scolded Barrister Hassan for accepting brief from a faceless group that is not registered and therefore not a juristic person stressing that he was lenient with him based on the fact that he is just 3 years old at the Bar as he ought to know what to do with a brief in a case that is presently before a court.
The tribunal chairman however ordered that his apology letter in whole should be published in Daily Independent newspaper on or before Tuesday 25th, 2015.
In his comment Barrister Adegoke while accepting the ruling and apology of Barrister Hassan said it is unfortunate that he only saw the apology letter in court as he has already petitioned the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary
Committee (Body of Benchers) on the conduct of Barrister Hassan for appropriate action.
In his own comment Dr. Banire who is the APC lawyer commended the chairman on his adroit handling of the matter targeted at the reputation of the Tribunal and counsels adding that his view on at least 5 years mentoring of young lawyers should be taken seriously by the legal profession to avoid this kind of cases.
Dr. Yemi Oke, the lawyer representing Mr. Adewale while agreeing with the ruling of the tribunal said that as a law teacher it is bad for counsel to take briefs from faceless people or group as happened in this case.
After the hearing of final submissions from all the counsels in the case between Mr. Adewale and Senator Adeola before the tribunal, the Tribunal chairman fixed September 18, 2015 for judgment.