By Onozure Dania
A mild drama unfolded at the Surulere Magistrate court, Lagos, after a woman alleged to have presented a dud cheque to her lawyer as payment for his legal services attempted to out smart him.
The woman, a staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, Mrs Nnena Christiana Olusile appeared in court with a new lawyer, prompting the Magistrate, Mrs R.B Lawal, to query why she changed her lawyer who was also present in court without informing the court.
The relationship between the woman and her lawyer, as gathered, went sour following the former’s alleged refusal to pay him for his legal services on the case at hand which bothered on stealing and obtaining items worth N300,000. Mrs.Olushile, a resident of 16, Michael Akinwunmi Street, Alakuko, in the outskirts of Lagos, was alleged to have specialized in hypnotizing sale’s girls and carting away goods in the shops.
However, nemesis caught up with her in August 2012, when she reportedly went to a boutique located at Akerele area in Surulere Lagos, where she met a 20-year-old sales girl and allegedly made away with goods worth N300,000 without paying a dime. It was also alleged that immediately she left, the sales girl realized that she had been duped and immediately contacted her boss.
Policemen from Bode Thomas Station in Surulere that were contacted launched a manhunt for Olushile before she was arrested February this year. The Investigating Police Officers who hinted that the arrest did not come easy, said “ the only thing the girl told us was that she did not suspect anything from the way the woman carried herself and her familiarity with the environment. She said the woman even called her husband on phone and the assurance he gave her made her release the items. The phone number she left, coupled with the information that she is a PHCN employee were the only leads we had to trace and arrest her.
“When we arrested her, she denied ever engaging in any criminal act and at a point, we were afraid whether we had arrested the wrong person. But, the Divisional Police Officer ordered two of our female colleagues to take her inside to establish whether she had tattoos on her body as the sale’s girl earlier disclosed. That was when she owned up that she was the right person. But she said that the goods she bought were worth N70,000 as against the N300,000, the girl claimed.”
Drama in court
Following threat of possible dismissal initiated through a query by her office, after report of her arrest was published in the dailies, she reportedly sought the services of the lawyer, Alonge, who was said to have answered the query, thereby averting the perceived dismissal threat. The case, as gathered, was charged to court where Alonge stood as counsel to the accused and her husband. Along the line, things reportedly fell apart and the centre could not hold for the duo.
The reason for the rift was made public after the Magistrate observed the change of guards on the accused part, when her case was mentioned. The presiding Magistrate who could not hide her displeasure, insisted that the former lawyer, Alonge be paid his fees before the new lawyer would be allowed to appear before her.
“You cannot properly appear yet because he said they are still owing him, I don’t like clients to owe lawyers because that is their office. I don’t like clients jumping from one lawyer to another. I am aware that this matter was published and I tried my best to grant the accused bail in a very liberal term, I hope she is aware that there is a criminal charge on her head,” she said.
On his part, Mr Alonge, explained that “I called the counsel this morning and told him in her presence that she called me a rogue and all sorts of names, which made me to formerly withdraw the matter. I want it to be on record that they are still owing me. I have to take up the case before the new lawyer comes in to the matter, I insist that my fee be paid. It all started when she presented a dud cheque to me and I reported to the police prior to today’s hearing, “he stated.
The court therefore, advised the lawyer to take the case to the Special Fraud Unit, SFU, Ikoyi.