13th October, 2011
In a bid to recover his professional legal fees, a Lagos lawyer, Barrister Oje Alexander Uzebu, has filed an application before a Lagos high court, urging it to enter judgement against one Senator Levi Ikwuagwu Nwokeafor on the ground that the senator has no defence to his claims of N32 millions.
Mr. Uzebu in his affidavit in support of his application for summary judgement alleged that sometime in August, 2006 he was invited by Senator Levi Ukwuagwu Nwokeafor to act as leading counsel in the handling of a case of conspiracy, stealing and money laundering in which one Madam Nancy Nwosu was held at EFCC office at Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Consequently, it was agreed that he should lead another lawyer, Praise George, in providing legal services for Madam Nancy Nwosu held by EFCC for stealing and laundering the sum of N102 million, he accepted the brief and secured the bail of Madam Nancy Nwosu.
Thereafter, the family members of Madam Nwosu were alleged to have forwarded the EFCC’s letter dated 17 August, 2006 to the claimant requesting the Bayelsa State government to produce Madam Hama Offor and Godwin Oba to the EFCC office, Abuja. In view of this development, a meeting was held under the supervision of one Honourable Kio Tams while Senator Nwokeafor acted as the representative of the suspects.
Mr. Uzebu presented a legal fee of N35 million. The family members of the suspects paid N6 million out of the professional fee, leaving a balance of N29 million.
It was later agreed that the defendant should keep the entire professional fee in trust pending when further investigation of other suspects is completed at the EFCC office in Abuja.
The family of the suspect then instructed and arranged that one Innocent Oba should go to Yenegoa in Bayelsa State to bring the remaining legal fees of N29 million and additional N1 million as travelling expenses from Lagos to Abuja.
The N30 million was brought from Yenagoa by Innocent Oba in the name of Senator Levi Nwokeafor in a Union Bank draft which he handed over to his account officer, Mr. Endwell, for clearance at First City Monument Bank Plc, 33, Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos.
The defendant admitted this fact in paragraph 12 of his statement of defence.
The claimant averred further that five suspects, Hannah Offor, Godwill Oba, Innocent Oba, Uche Isekwe and Chief Akuro George, who was one time the first Vice President of the Nigeria Bar Association were detained for various periods until he secured their release from detention.
When the suspects were released, the defendant and his account Clerk, Mr. Chucks were arrested and detained by EFCC over the same offence of stealing and money laundering and the lawyer also secured their release.
However, after the release of the suspects and EFCC decided to put the case file on hold, Mr. Uzebu said he requested for his legal fees which was kept with Senator Nwokeafor and the Senator paid only N3 million with a promise to pay the balance after the EFCC would have declined the prosecution of the case. N1 million was also said to have been paid to Mr. Kio Tams.
Thereafter, the EFCC declined to prosecute all the suspects interrogated in the cause of the inquiry and the said N102 million which triggered the inquiry was released to the owners but the senator refused and neglected to refund the legal fees of N32 million despite repeated demand.
The claimant averred that when he petitioned the police, the defendant alleged that Mr. Praise George and Honourable Kio Tams have accepted to be compensated with political appointments to be given by his wife, Mrs. Bolore Nwokeafor, who was appointed to the then Bayelsa State government, but the two of them denied the allegation.
Meanwhile, the presiding judge, Justice Lawal Akapo, has adjourned the case till 24 November, when the application to enter judgement against Senator Nwokeafor would be heard.