A lawyer who was arrested and taken away by police officers outside the Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday has said he was “abducted” to prevent him from appearing in a ₦100 million suit he filed against the police.
Olukoya Ogungbeje, known for representing the alleged billionaire kidnapper, Chukwudumeme Onwuamadike (popularly known as Evans), was arrested as he was about to enter the court premises and whisked away.
The lawyer later told PREMIUM TIMES he was held for over four hours at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, in Yaba.
Mr Ogungbeje’s client, Ibrahim Kabiru, had also been arrested by the police at the court premises days ago while waiting to appear in a fundamental rights enforcement suit he filed against the police.
The police said Mr Ogungbeje was arrested on the grounds that he was not qualified to represent Mr Kabiru because the latter had transferred his brief to another lawyer, Wole Smith.
Mr Ogungbeje said he had secured a ₦200 million judgment sum against the police for the extra judicial killing of Mr Kabiru’s brother, Waheed.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Waheed was arrested and detained by the police during a raid in the Ikorodu area in November 2015. He has not been seen ever since.
Messrs Ogungbeje and Kabiru are also appearing as plaintiffs in a suit against the police for the forceful abduction and detention of Mr Kabiru.
Joined as respondents are the Inspector General of Police; the Nigeria Police Force; the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State; Yetunde Longe, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Panti; Effiong Asuquo, O/C legal, Panti; and Mr Smith, a senior advocate of Nigeria.
In the affidavit in support of the suit, Mr Kabiru claimed he was arrested and tortured solely because the police and its agents abhorred his decision to maintain Mr Ogungbeje as his lawyer.
Mr Kabiru accused Mr Smith of using agents of the Nigeria Police Force to harass him because he never appointed him as his lawyer and that the documents tendered in court to that effect were falsified.
He said Mr Smith was working with the police to ensure that the judgment against the Force is not enforced.
“We were about to get an order absolute to declare the respondents judgement debtors when the sixth respondent Wole Smith showed up with an application for change of counsel claiming that I had given the brief to him.
“I never appointed the sixth respondent as my counsel. The second applicant has been my counsel from the beginning of the case against the IGP and remains my counsel.”
When contacted, Mr Smith told PREMIUM TIMES he was out of the country and all enquiries be directed to his chamber.
Mr Kabiru said he was released on September 7 only after Mr Ogungbeje wrote a petition to the Assistant Inspector General of Police Zone II.
The judgment in the matter was delivered by Mohammed Idris who awarded the sum of ₦200 million to the family of Waheed Kabiru to be paid by the Nigerian Police Force.
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