Law News
Court adjourns legal fee suit against ICPC

A Federal High Court in Lagos will on September 14, 2015 hear the fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission filed by one Eletu family and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. S.B. Joseph.

The applicants are seeking an order barring ICPC from compelling them to pay an alleged unpaid legal fee of $10m to the law firm of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Afe Babalola.

The applicants, who appeared before Justice Mohammed Yunusa last week through their lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, are seeking a court’s declaration that the statutory duties of ICPC do not cover land or civil disputes.

In the affidavit filed in support of their suit, the first applicant, Chief Waheed Eletu, explained that Afe Babalola’s law firm was engaged by the family’s patriarchs in a land dispute case at the Supreme Court.

According to him, Afe Babalola’s law firm won the case for the family on July 12, 2013.

But the applicants, who are seeking court’s protection from ICPC, alleged that the law firm had sent ICPC after them to recover an alleged unpaid legal fee of $10m.

The applicants claimed that they were not signatory to a written agreement which their patriarchs, who are now late, entered into to pay a legal fee of $10m to the law firm of Afe Babalola for representing them in the land dispute matter.

They claimed that their late patriarchs had paid the law firm a sum of N5m, adding that they had also paid an additional fee of N200m.

The applicants’ lawyer, Adegboruwa, who begged the court to bar ICPC from inviting or arresting them over the matter, argued that it is not within the purview of ICPC’s statutory duties to investigate disputes arising from civil or land transactions.

According to him, the invitation of the applicants by the ICPC at the alleged instigation of Afe Babalola’s law firm was a violation of sections 37, 38, 40 and 41 of the Constitution, under which the fundamental human rights of the applicants were preserved.

He also claimed that the invitation violated Articles 4, 5, 6, 9, 12 and 14 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act, Cap. 10, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria.

He urged the court to make an order restraining the ICPC and its operatives from using threat, arrest or detention to compel the applicants to attend any meeting convened by ICPC in respect of the land and legal fee dispute.

The applicants in the suit marked FHC/CS1315/2015 are Chief Waheed Eletu, Alhaji Mudashiru Eletu, Prince Demola Eletu, Prince Kazeem Eletu, Mr. S.B. Joseph, Mr. A.A. Agboluaje and Mr. L.A. Ashimi.

The respondents in the suit are ICPC and the Attorney General of the Federation.

After taking argument from Adegboruwa, Justice Yunusa asked the parties to maintain status quo.

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