CHIEF OZEKHOME’S RIGHT TO REPRESENT COMPANIES LINKED TO PATIENCE JONATHAN CHALLENGED

Read previous post on case here.

Justice Kuewumi of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos had adjourned the charge against a former special adviser to the President under the Goodluck Jonathan administration, Waripamo Owei Dudafa and six others including four companies allegedly used to retain looted funds to today for hearing of two applications, both seeking to set aside the conviction of the four companies based on the plea of guilty entered by the directors of the company.

The proceedings however took a different turn when after Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN announced his appearance for the companies who in the charge are the 4th to 7th defendants, another lawyer Mr. Luke Aghanenu also announced himself as representing the four companies. He informed the court that he had filed an application to change the representation of the four companies from the chambers of Chief Mike Ozekhome SAN to his. He had however only filed the application yesterday.

 

Chief Ozekhome acknowledged that his office was served with the application yesterday but however decried the delay the late filing of the application would cause. Trailing the trajectory of events in the charge, he stated that on the 3rd of April 2017, the court in a ruling after listening to arguments granted him leave to represent the four companies. He said that there has been no appeal against that ruling. He further stated that on the 10th of May 2017, the prosecution wrote a letter seeking an adjournment of the charge. When the charge came up on the 25th of October 2017, the court directed that all applications seeking to set aside the conviction of the companies would be heard on the 22nd of November 2017. The prosecution did not however file its response to those applications till the 21st of November 2017, a day to the date fixed for hearing. The applications could therefore not be heard on the 22nd of November 2017 and adjourned to today to enable the applicants to the application file their reply on points of law.

He went further to state that Mr. Aghanenu had tried to appear for the companies on the 22nd of November 2017 and had been directed by the court to file the necessary processes as Chief Ozekhome SAN was the one on record as representing the companies. He lamented that despite the time given, Mr. Aghanenu waited till yesterday to file his application knowing that time would be requested to respond to it, thereby necessitating an adjournment of the charge. Chief Ozekhome finally told the court that the position of law as laid down in several authorities including the case of Okwar & Ors v. Ugwu & Ors. (2016) LPELR – 42094 (CA) is that the court has to first resolve the issue of representation before any other application is taken. He therefore requested for time to file his papers opposing the application to change the legal representation of the companies.

The prosecutor, Mr. Oyedepo denied the insinuation that he was causing delay in the charge. He stated that he had written to ask for adjournment only once because he had been out of the country on a training and was always present with his witnesses whenever the charge came up.

 

While Chief Ozekhome SAN was engaged by the company secretary of the company, Mr. Amajuoyi Briggs who is also charged as the 2nd Defendant, Mr. Aghanenu is said to have received his instructions from the directors of the companies who had pleaded guilty on behalf of the companies.

The charge has been adjourned to the 24th of January 2018.

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