6 September 2012

Nigeria: Oceanic Bank Saga - NBA Clears Lawyer of Wrongdoing

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has cleared the former President of the Abuja Chamber of Commerce (ABUCCIMA), Mr. Dele Oye, of any wrong doing in the saga that led to the Central Bank of Nigeria's intervention in Oceanic Bank International Plc in 2009.

The legal body consequently upheld the vindication and innocence of Oye by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the crisis that rocked the bank at that time, which led to the removal of the then Managing Director and Chief Executive, Mrs. Cecilia Ibru.

The NBA in its 2011 to 2012 Annual Report reconfirmed Oye's innocence and professional integrity in the discharge of his professional duties to his clients.

On page 157 of the NBA annual report, under the subtitle 'wrong accusation of Mr. Dele Oye, the lawyers' umbrella body expressed regrets over the inconveniences caused by the false accusation of Oye by Professor Abiodun Adesanya (SAN) and Mr. Femi Falana.

In the report adopted at the annual general meeting of the NBA held on August 30, 2012, the NBA wrote that "Prof. Adesanya's allegation even in the face of the stand of NBA expressing her implicit and complete confidence in the ability and integrity of Oye to discharge his professional duties to the NBA on disciplinary matters having not been a subject matter of any corruption trial anywhere, having not been convicted of any offence, a meeting of stakeholders comprising NBA, represented by my humble self (Victor Nwaugo, NBA legal adviser) and the committee members was convened on February 9, 2012. After our meeting, a resolution was passed and conveyed to the Body of Benchers.

"Following our meeting, Professor S.A. Adesanya was recalled by his appointer, which is the Body of Benchers, and subsequently, by effluxion of time, in the month of April 2012, his tenure as a member of Body of Benchers expired and he was not re-appointed," the NBA report stated.

The association restated its full confidence in the honesty, integrity and dedication of Oye stressing: "It will be recalled that in my report to the Annual General Meeting as contained in the 2010 to 2011 Annual Report of Port Harcourt conference 2011, at pages 88 to 89, I highlighted the special sacrifice and total dedication of Mr. Dele Oye to the prosecution of cases at the committee and the important role he plays as a prosecutor before the said committee."

Oye had been mentioned in a plea bargain in suit number FHC/L/297/2009 between the federal government and Cecilia Ibru having being a legal adviser to the Ibru family prior to the Oceanic Bank crisis. But the EFCC had since then investigated and cleared Oye of any form of complicity in the matter.

The NBA had received a petition from Professor Adesanya, on the likely culpability of Oye in the Oceanic Bank saga and based on that petition, the NBA carried out its independent investigation and communicated their conclusions in a letter dated December 8th 2011, from the NBA (signed by NBA President; JB Dauda (SAN) to the Chairman, Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (Body of Benchers), Honourable Justice Umaru Eri.

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