F. Baba Isa, Esq: NBA Cautions ICPC on Undue Interference with Lawyer-Client’s Privileges- Stop Harassing Lawyers
The Nigerian Bar Association has been informed by one of its members, F. Baba Isa, Esq., an Abuja based legal practitioner, who alleged that he is constantly being harrassed and threatened by personnel of the Independent Corrupt and Related Offences Commission (ICPC) regarding his activities as a lawyer to his client, one Mrs Roseline Uche Egbuha.
The NBA is further informed that ICPC placed a PND [post no debit] on the personal and corporate accounts of Baba Isa Esq. at Guaranty Trust Bank without any order of court.
The NBA has been shown processes confirming that a fundamental right enforcement proceeding was commenced against GTB and ICPC at the Federal High Court, Abuja and all the parties were duly served. The matter was later settled between Baba Isa’s client (Mrs. Roseline Uche Egbuha) and a consent judgment was entered on the basis of terms of settlement executed between the said Mrs. Roseline Uche Egbuha and GTB, one of the terms being the defreezing of the accounts of Mrs. Roseline Uche Egbuha.
Records indicate that ICPC was in the know of the out of court settlement moves and Consent Judgment was entered accordingly without any objection from ICPC. ICPC did not also object to the discontinuance of the action against it. ICPC, we were informed, was present in court on the day of adoption of the terms and never raised any objection to the proceedings.
Eventually the sums in the bank accounts were transferred by GTB to the client’s account of FBI Legal, the law firm of F. Baba Isa Esq.
The NBA states that it is very important in the administration of justice for agencies like ICPC to adhere to the provisions of the laws setting them up. Doing otherwise would be tantamount to resorting to illegality, which is an abuse of power.
Sections 39 of the ICPC Act makes it mandatory that it is only a court of law that can order a legal practitioner to disclose information in his possession relating to his client. Moreso, the position of the law is well settled on lawyer/client’s communications, which are protected by law.
The NBA urges the ICPC to stop harrassing lawyers just for the fact that they are performing their professional duties to their clients. The threat to arrest and prosecute Baba Isa Esq, for performing his professional duties would be considered an abuse of power if it is to compell him to divulge privileged information about his client without any valid order of court.
The NBA enjoins prosecuting agencies of goverment to respect the decisions of the courts. The Courts in Nigeria have several times condemned the penchant of investigating and prosecuting agencies of government to freeze bank accounts of persons they are investigating without any valid order of court. This should not be encouraged. The NBA therefore views the freezing of the bank accounts of F.Baba Isa Esq without a valid order of court as wrongful.
National Publicity Secretary, NBA