Court fines Police, others N20million for harrassing, threatening Lawyer
A Rivers State High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, has slammed a ₦20m fine against the Nigerian Police and former chairman of the Host Communities Association of Nigeria (HOSTCOM), Professor Jasper Jumbo, for harassing and intimidating a legal practitioner, Emmanuel Asido.
Asido had filed a Notice of Application for an Order enforcing a fundamental right, with the accompanying processes filed in Suit No. PHC/311/FHR/2023.
Joined as defendants in the notice of application were the Inspector-General of Police, CP Akika Augustine and Professor Jasper Jumbo.
The applicant also prayed the court to award him the sum of N50m, being and representing damages for the threats, harassment and intimidation visited upon him by the 1st and 2nd respondents, based on the unwarranted instigation by the 3rd respondent.
Asido told the court that he was being threatened, harrassed and intimidated by the trio to answer for the allegations against L.E. Nwosu, SAN, after his demise in connection with a personal agreement between L.E. Nwosu, SAN, and Jumbo Major House for the recovery of rent/compensation for Jumbo Major House from Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited.
Jumbo had, on his part, filed a counter-affidavit and later a Notice of Preliminary Objection, through his counsel, Mudiaga Onakpoya, seeking the court to withdraw itself from entertaining the suit.
He claimed that the court was not properly constituted in line with the provisions of Order II, Rule 2 of the Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure), Rules 2009, Order I, Rule 2 and Order 3, Rule 1 of High Court of Rivers State (Civil Procedure) Rivers, 2010.
After hearing arguments from counsels of both the applicant and respondents, the presiding judge, Hon. Justice Chinwendu Nwogu, who upheld Asido’s application, however, slammed the trio with a fine of N20m.
Nwogu gave additional N50,000 in favour of the applicant following what he described as time-wasting Notice of Preliminary Objection.
The judge said: “I find no merit in the time-wasting Notice of Preliminary Objection and so is hereby dismissed.”
On the substantive issue for determination, Nwogu agreed with the applicant’s counsel, Anthony Enyindah, that late L.E. Nwosu, SAN, obtained the brief in his personal capacity as a lawyer admitted to practice law on the Roll of Lawyers in Nigeria and not in the name of the Applicant and/or any other, lawyer in the law firm of Lucius E. Nwosu, SAN & Partners.
The Court ruled: “I agreed with the applicant’s counsel, Anthony Enyindah, that late L.E. Nwosu, SAN, obtained the brief in his personal capacity as a lawyer admitted to practice law on the Roll of Lawyers in Nigeria and not in the name of the Applicant and/or any other, lawyer in the law firm of Lucius E. Nwosu, SAN & Partners, while the Applicant only performed/carried out his duties in this matter based on his court-room duties assigned to him as a lawyer in the chambers of Lucius E. Nwosu, SAN & Partners.
“Lucius E. Nwosu, SAN, as the sole proprietor of his business name, was also the sole signatory to all his business accounts, including Account Number 0000834411 with Access Bank, which said account the 3rd Respondent (Chief Prof. Jasper F. Jumbo) referred to in his counter-affidavit.
“I had the authority and consent of Jumbo Major House masses of Grand Bonny Kingdom with the exception of a few and Judgement debtors, to depose to this affidavit for myself and on their behalf…that there is a gentlemanly deal struck between him and L.E. Nwosu, SAN.
“The 3rd Respondent’s alleged gentlemanly deal between him and Messrs Lucius E. Nwosu, SAN & Partners, in the words of the 3rd Respondent, is the investment/
expenses which he seeks to recover from the office of Lucius E. Nwosu (SAN) Partners.
“That the 3rd Respondent’s claims for alleged debt-recovery of investment/expenses is personal to him and his alleged Jumbo Major House masses of Grand Bonny Kingdom, based on his alleged gentlemanly deal struck between him and late L.E. Nwosu, SAN and not on behalf of the chiefs and entire members of Jumbo Major House.
“The 3rd Respondent’s claims of investments/expenses upon which his complaint against L.E. Nwosu, SAN, is predicated upon is strictly personal and a civil matter between the 3rd Respondent and late L.E. Nwosu, SAN only”.