THE absence of suspected billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike, a.k.a. Evans, counsel, on Thursday stalled a N300 million fundamental human rights suit he filed against the Inspector General of Police and others.
The case, which was scheduled for hearing on Thursday morning before Justice Abdulaziz Anka of the Federal High Court in Lagos, could not proceed as Evans’ lawyer, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, was absent in court.
Ogungbeje had written to the court, seeking an adjournment on the grounds of ill health.
Displeased, Justice Anka awarded a punitive cost of N20,000 against Ogungbeje for what he described as unprofessional conduct.
The judge noted that while Ogungbeje wrote to the court, seeking an adjournment on the grounds of ill health, he did not send a copy of the letter to the counsel for the police.
According to the judge, it is unprofessional for a lawyer to communicate with a judge without carrying the other parties along.
The judge warned Ogungbeje to desist from such conduct.
“The court has noted the conduct of counsel, who wrote to the court without copying other parties. This is unprofessional. The court hereby warns the counsel to desist from such a conduct,” the judge ruled.
He awarded a punitive cost of N20,000 Ogungbeje, holding that the money must be paid before the next adjourned date, otherwise, the lawyer would not be given audience.
When the case was called, an Executive Litigation Officer from Ogungbeje’s law firm, Mr Stephen Abunike, who appeared in court, told the judge that his principal was indisposed and had written a letter seeking an adjournment.
Abunike added that he had attempted to give a copy of the letter to the counsel for the police, Mr Emmanuel Eze, but the counsel declined service.
Responding, Eze who said he had just sighted the letter in court, noted that the letter was signed by one Saheed Sanni, a lawyer in Ogungbeje’s law firm, who said their principal took ill and other lawyers in the office were engaged.
Eze urged Justice Anka to reject Sanni’s excuse and to consider it as an affront to the court, saying it showed that the law firm was not serious.
“My Lord, I think it’s an affront to this court and in view of this, we are of the view that the applicant’s counsel is most unserious with this application.
“I pray this court to award a punitive cost of N100,000 against the applicant and his counsel,” Eze said.
The case was subsequently adjourned till July 20.
In his fundamental rights enforcement suit, Evans, through his counsel, Ogungbeje, is seeking a court order directing the police to charge him to court immediately or release him on bail, while also asking for N300 million damages against the police.
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