Legal Tussle Over N25M Hospital: Court Of Appeal Quashes Decision Of Lower Court

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By; BUHARI B. BELLO, Jos

Court of Appeal sitting in Jos has quashed the decision of Plateau State High Court that disqualified a Defense Counsel, Mr N.I. Darong from representing an accused in a criminal case before the court.

The family of late Sen Gyang Dantong had dragged a medical doctor, Dalyopp Nyango, to Justice David Mann of High court II over the ownership of a N25 million hospital situated in Jos, Plateau State.

Nyango, is being tried for allegedly cornering the hospital for himself after the demise of the late Senator, who passed -on sometime in July, 2012.

But Darong from  P.D. Dyek & Co; who is defending the accused, was on Feb. 7, 2017 disqualified by the lower court from representing him (Nyango) on the ground that it was “unethical’’ since he (Darong) was a signatory to the partnership entered into by the duo (Dantong and Nyango).

Mann had ruled, “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 the accused as representative in matter in court.

“Considering rule 17 (4) of the Rules of Practice,  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 had declared.

In disagreement with the lower court ruling, Darong had filed an appeal before the appellate court asking it (COA) to up turn its (High Court) decision.

Darong argued that the by the ruling of the lower court, the accused was deprived of the counsel of his choice which is a constitutional right under section 36 of the 1999 constitution.

He had urged that, the appeal be allowed and the ruling of the lower court be set aside.

In strong opposition to the appeal, Mr S.P. Idoko, Counsel to Dantong, had prayed the appellate court to dismiss it for lack of merit.

But the Appellate Court, in its judgement before the vocation, allowed the appeal and upturned the decision to the lower court.

The lead Judge, Justice Elfrieda Williams-Dawodu, faulted the decision of the lower court and set it aside.

“There is nothing from the records and the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners referred by the lower court preventing N.I. Darong Esq or of the law firm of P.D.Dyek & Co from representing the Appellant in the circumstances.

“In the light, this appeal is therefore allowed and the ruling of the Court below is hereby set aside, ’’ the judged ruled.

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