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Suspended Advocate Mpale Mpoki Shares His Side of Story: ‘This Is Not About Me.’

He says he’ll convince fellow TLS members to convene the Bar’s extraordinary General Meeting to deliberate on his suspension, which he says has “dangerous and wide-ranging” implications.

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Dar es Salaam. Senior advocate Mpale Mpoki on Thursday outlined several measures he’s planning to take in response to the six-month suspension the Advocates Committee imposed on the revered lawyer. The decision has been condemned by Tanzania’s legal fraternity and human rights defenders in general.

During a press conference at the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) premises, Mr Mpoki told journalists his suspension, which he deems unconstitutional, cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged, warning of its “dangerous and wide-ranging” implications to lawyers and advocates in Tanzania.

He said he’ll use the six-month ban to convince fellow TLS members to convene an extraordinary General Meeting to deliberate on the “unconstitutional” suspension that the chairperson of the Advocates Committee “illegally and unethically” sanctioned.

“My suspension has nothing to do with me,” Mr Mpoki told reporters. “It is an attack against all advocates [in Tanzania]. It is an attack against the [legal] profession. It is an attack against advocates’ freedom. We’re not going to let it pass unchallenged.”

Mr Mpoki, enrolled into the Roll of Advocates on December 15, 1989, with Roll No. 506, was suspended on Monday during the proceedings involving advocate Boniface Mwabukusi. The Attorney General brought Mwabukusi before the Advocates Committee over his language in criticising the intergovernmental agreement between Tanzania and Dubai.

READ MORE: Organisations Condemn Suspension, Mistreatment of Advocate Mpale Mpoki

The Attorney General is looking to have Mwabukusi disbarred, citing his unprofessional conduct, and the hearing started Monday with Advocate Mpoki leading a team of ten attorneys defending Mr Mwabukusi, himself an advocate, in the case that has attracted much attention from the public.

During the hearing before the Advocates Committee, Advocate Mpoki, upon instructions from his client, raised points of preliminary objections on the jurisdiction of the Committee. The Committee overruled three points of preliminary objection, and the rest was partly upheld. 

In response to this ruling, Advocate Mpoki, again, upon instructions from his client, expressed his client’s intention to appeal against the verdict to the High Court under section 24A of the Advocates Act.

However, instead of granting the right to appeal the Committee’s decision, the Chairperson suspended Advocate Mpoki’s practising certificate for six months starting November 20, 2023.

Appealing the suspension

On Thursday, Mr Mpoki said his first step was to appeal against the suspension at the High Court of Tanzania. Senior advocate Rugemeleza Nshala will lead the appeal process, assisted by advocate Stephen Mwakibolwa.

READ MORE: Lawyer Fatma Karume Emerges Victorious In a Case Against Advocates Committee

He described his suspension as “unlawful,” noting that it violated his fundamental right to be heard. He told journalists: “I don’t even know my charges. I was never charged officially. The right to be heard is fundamental and should be granted to anyone before punishment.”

Mpoki said the Committee Chairperson violated the ethics of his job, and he’ll file a complaint with the Judges Ethics Committee to seek remedy for what the advocate considers a “massive ethical breach.”

“I’ll also initiate a constitutional case at the High Court against the Committee Chairperson because his suspension has violated my right to work,” Mr Mpoki told reporters. 

“Practicing law is my job,” the senior counsel added. “A groundless suspension such as mine, which violates the established procedure, violates the country’s constitution. [The suspension] has also violated my right to life, for without work, how will I live?” 

Mr Mpoki will also file another constitutional case at the High Court opposing some sections in the Advocates Act, which he says violates advocates’ fundamental rights.

READ MORE: Lawyer Who Opposes Dubai DP Word-Tanzania Port Deal Summoned by the Advocate’s Disciplinary Committee

“This is an outdated law,” the lawyer said of the Act. “It doesn’t coincide with the Bill of Rights enshrined in our Constitution. It should be scrapped off Tanzania’s law books.”

“You can’t have a [Advocates] Committee where a complainant can become a prosecutor and a judge simultaneously,” he added. “It erodes all the principles of a fair hearing.”

He will also file a petition at the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), claiming that his suspension violates Article 6(D) of the Treaty establishing the East African Community (EAC), which guarantees the protection of human rights as indicated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

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