A State High Court sitting in Jos has disqualified P.D. Dyek & Co. from representing an accused in a case of ownership of a hospital involving the widow of late Sen. Gyang Dantong.
Late Dantong and one Dr Dalyop Nyango, the accused, had on May 4, 2009, entered into an agreement on allegedly purchased of New Crescent Hospital Limited along Zaria Road, Jos and one Niri Isaac Darong from P.D. Dyek & Co did sign as a witness to the accused.
In the agreement, Datong and Nyango had agreed to source for N25 million as capital of the partnership and joint running of the hospital, whose interest would be on 50 – 50 basis after offsetting the loan along with 25 per cent interest even though he (Dantong) provided the amount as loan.
But after the death of late Datong, trouble began as the hospital ownership became controversial with the Datong’s family members accusing Nyango of claiming ownership of the hospital as he allegedly changed the name to New Star Health Specialist Hospital without their consent.
Nyango had allegedly claimed that late Datong only loan him the N25 million to purchase the said hospital even though they both allegedly agreed to run the hospital together.
The matter was reported to the police, who after several failed attempt to settle the two families, charged the matter to court accusing Nyango of alleged attempt to cheat Dantong’s family.
The case was last heard on Dec. 7, 2016, when Dantong’s widow, Hanatu testified.
Our Correspondent reported that when the case came up again for hearing on Wednesday, the Prosecution Counsel, Mrs Muleng Alex, told the court that it had come to her realization that one of the Counsels to the Accused, Nyango, had stood as a witness in the drafted partnership agreement
Alex argued that going by rule 17 (5) (c) of the rule of Practice, no lawyer from P.D. Dyek & Co. could be qualify to stand in as counsel to the accused.
“My Lord, it has come to my notice that Mr Niri Isaac Darong, the lead counsel to the accused in this case is the very person that stood in for the accused as witness and appended his signature so and therefore is not qualify to stand in this matter.
“His position as counsel in this case will amount to interference with the matter.
“I hereby object to his representation and all other Lawyers from that firm and asked the court to disqualify them from the entire case as well as disregard his earlier cross examination of PW 1 (Hanatu) in our last seating, ’’ she prayed.
Alex queried, “I wonder why learned friend decided to stand for the living as counsel leaving the dead?’’
But Darong objected to her claims arguing that for been a witness to Nyango in the partnership does disqualify him from representing him (accused) in court of law because “I only signed for Dr Nyango and not Dr Dantong, who had his own witness in one Mr Amos M. Jabba.’’
“My Loard, I don’t see any wrong with mine or my colleagues representation in this matter as we have not contravene the rule of legal practice as it stands now
“After all I had never met late Datong nor had any knowledge of him for her to say I stood for the living leaving the dead; I only signed as witness to the accused and not for both of them because he (Dantong) had his own witness too, ’’ he argued.
Darong said asked the court to disregard the submissions of the prosecution counsel and allow them to continue with this matter more so that they had no interest in the case nor anything interior motive as presented by the prosecution witness.
Justice David Mann of High Court III in his ruling said that it was unethical for anybody from that Law Firm having involved in the drafting of the agreement between the two partners standing trial before him to stand as counsel to he accused.
“In the eyes of the law anyone from P.D. Dyek & Co. that acted for the accused during the drafting of the partnership agreement knows something about the matter and it won’t be proper for the same counsel to now act for he accused as representative in matter in court, ’’ the judge said.
Mann said that wth respect to the right of the accused to counsel of his choice, his choice should not had been someone who is connected to the case in one way or the other.
“I therefore hold that it is not ethical for Mr Darong or anyone within the firm to stand for or be involved in this matter, ’’ the Judge declared.
He then adjourned the case to March 8, 2017 for continuation of hearing.
Reacting to the court verdict, Mr Darong said, “we are not satisfied with the court’s ruling and we are going challenge it at appellate court.’’
“The rule of practice, which the prosecution counsel quoted is applicable only when we have an interest in the case, and as it is, none of us has any interest in it.
“We are going to appeal and see whether the rule of professional conduct can take away the right of an accused as provided by section 36 (6)(C) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, ’’ Darong claimed.