Our attention has been drawn to a publication made by one Emeka Arinze, Ibori’s new lawyer employed by Chief James Onanefe Ibori to join in his defense team sometime in September, 2009. The said Emeka Arinze alleged in his publication that he was Chief Ibori’s lawyer who wrote to the Asaba Federal High Court to obtain facts about Ibori’s case which he allegedly transmitted to his senior Lawyer in London.
Be as it may, and before we proceed to highlight and uncap the mischievous and premeditated intension of the acclaimed writer of the said letter, one cannot but observe the gawky and untidy way in which the said Emeka Arinze’s letter was composed as it is littered with inexcusable mistakes unexpected of a lawyer.
To start with, we have come to realize that in the letter, Emeka Arinze claimed to be making an attempt to set the record straight on Ibori’s trial. One cannot but understand the fact that there is nothing so difficult to twist and manoeure, like a straight and publicly acknowledgeable fact.
We would like to start by observing that the method the acclaimed writer of this rejoinder and the known set of people behind the arrangement decided to employ to confuse the informed public is nothing but an exercise in crudity without modicum of regards to established norms and values.
Emeka Arinze in his letter, asserted:
“Sometime in September 2009, I (Arinze Emeka) was briefed and my services retained by Chief James Onanefe Ibori for himself and for all the accused persons to join the defense team in the on-going trial at the Federal High Court, Asaba, Delta State and where the need arises to relate with his legal team in London where a similar trial is going on in a London Court”
One is worried and embarrassed that a lawyer who has been fingered for more than two (2) years ago as part of the allegation of Money Laundering involving Prime Chambers is now trying to hoodwink discerning Nigerians by coming forward to present himself as being only engaged sometimes in September, 2009 to join the legal team of James O. Ibori, when in actual sense, he happened to be one of the names that constitute the body of evidence of the same charge preferred against Ibori.
It is therefore immoral and fraudulent for Emeka Arinze to present himself as a new lawyer to Ibori whereas he has been part and parcel of the conspiracy to loot the treasury of Delta State Government.
For his nuisance value, Arinze may be quoted again in paragraph 5 of his letter:
“To be fully acquainted with the development of the trail (sic), I wrote a letter to The Federal High Court, Asaba dated the 23rd September, 2009 seeking confirmation of the proceedings. I specifically required confirmation on when briefs were filed and exchanged by all the parties; the date to which the matter was adjourned and the purpose for which it was adjourned. A copy of the letter is enclosed for ease of reference”.
One even need to ask also if it is not unethical for a counsel to write the court when he is only joining a formidable legal team of Senior Advocates of Nigeria and of which all the answer to any of his queries can be answered to simple contact to the lead counsel or through the procurement of Certified True Copies of the processes filed and record of proceedings of the trial court.
In order to deceive the public the more and also to complicate their pre-arranged plan, he perfectly coined his words in the letter using the word ‘brief’. No lawyer is barren of the fact that so many courts’ processes could be referred to as ‘brief’ in law practice.
It starts from preliminary objection, motion for amendment; motion to quash a proceedings, substituted service, service outside jurisdiction etc. Thus, the word brief would not absolutely mean pleadings in its strict sense.
Then, one would swiftly sieve the truth that Arinze, in his letter to the Federal High Court was calculated to deceive the London court to the calculated fact that pleadings in Ibori’s case has been exchanged and what left was the final judgment. What a malafide and crafty demeanour.
Our conclusion above may not be well appreciated unless one make a reasonable recourse to the response of the Registrar of the Asaba Federal High Court, Barrister Ifeoma B. Esogbue, of the Honourable Court’s response to Arinze’s letter to wit;
“Sequel to the approval of your application by Hon. Justice Mercel I. Awokulehin. Be it confirmed that the prosecution filed their brief on the 17/8/09 while Counsel to the Accused Persons filed theirs on 4/8/09 and both parties have duly exchanged their briefs. On 6th August, 2009, the matter was further adjourned to 26th October, 2009 to enable all the parties in the case (the Prosecution and defense) to adopt their respective briefs.”
At this juncture, one would like to question who is this Emeka Arinze, Chief Ibori’s lawyer? Is it the Emeka Arinze who was in Prime Chambers of Prof. Amos A. Utuama now Deputy Governor of Delta Sate? And whose name appeared in Prime Chambers Statement of Account in Zenith Bank PLc as stated below:
(i) On 24/6/04, Emeka Arinze deposited the sum of N4 million in Prime Chambers A/C in Zenith Bank, No. 275, Nnebisi road, Asaba with A/C. No. CA6012901256
(ii) On 23/11/04, Cheque No. 543 for N500,000.00 was withdrawn
(iii) On 10/01/05. The same Emeka Arinze received N500,000.00 for Prime Chambers with the same Account Number at Nnebisi , Asabe with Cheque No. 565.
(iv) On 15/03/05 – He again received N500, 000.00 with Cheque No. 576
(v) On 18/04/05 Emeka Arinze received N195, 000.00 with Cheque No. 51.
It would be recalled that Prime Chambers is one of the subjects of charges against Chief James Onanefe Ibori for money laundering through the looting of Delta State treasury. It is interesting therefore, that the said Emeka Arinze’s services has now been secured by Chief Ibori in September, 2009 to join the team of a defense counsel with SAN and surprisingly, has been entrusted with the Federal high Court Judge of communicating between the Federal High Court in Asaba and Ibori Senior Defense Counsel in London instead of the Senior Advocate in Ibori’s team of defense lawyers who have been handling Ibori’s case as soon as he was charged to Federal High Court, Kaduna.
We have therefore became curious as to who this Emeka Arinze is when in a fundamental issue as it relates to who should write to the court in Asaba and in London instead of Ibori’s case he was reported to have been selected by Ibori in spite of the several Senior Advocates of Nigeria in his legal team to actually act on his behalf on the issue.
The question to us then, therefore, became; who is Emeka Arinze? The media has portrayed him as one of Ibori’s solicitors. Indeed, enquiries reveal that he parades himself as principal partner in the firm of “Emeka Arinze & Co”. Solicitors, Advocates and legal consultants, situated at 11B Gilbert Odior Street, Thomas Estate Ajah, Lagos and his mainland office as; 33 Tafawa Balewa Crescent, Surulere, Lagos.
Enquiries however reveal that there is no legal office known as Emeka Arinze & Co. in these addresses. No sign boards were displayed remotely indicating that a law firm practicing in the name and style of “Emeka Arinze & Co., operate from these addresses, where the gates were found empty and firmly locked to the public.
A close study of the names of legal practitioners called to the Bar from 1960 to date revealed that no such name as “Emeka Arinze” is on the roll. One Chukwuemeka Joseph Arinze was however discovered to have been called to the Bar in July 1983.
If this Chukwuemeka Joseph Arinze is the same “Emeka Arinze” presently in issue, which we also dispute, it follows that all documents, processes, letters etc signed by “Emeka Arinze” on behalf of Chief James Ibori in his capacity as his lawyer and in the name and style of “Emeka Arinze & Co”, remains illegal and runs foul of the law because the only name on the roll that bears semblance with this name and which can give legality to these processes is that of Joseph Chukwuemeka Arinze as contained in the roll.
It is also curious hat a purported lawyer with over 27 years post call experience and found worthy to represent a purportedly big client like Chief Ibori in a matter of such national significance, can be found not to operate from any visible address and indeed the name he operates with “Emeka Arinze” to be found not to exist in the roll of legal practitioners in Nigeria.
We therefore call on the Inspector-General of Police and the President of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) to help clear the insinuations surrounding the said “Emeka Arinze” as it relates to whether the said Emeka Arinze actually exist and or whether we have the case of a fake lawyer in our hands or more importantly, if it is the case of somebody actually practicing law under a fake name not enrolled in the Supreme Court of Nigeria and to find out if by coincidence if this is another case of conspiracy without fair, just and open trial. Our prayer is, let justice take its normal course.
KAYODE AJULO & CO. CASTLE OF LAW
ANDY BEKEDEREMO ESQ.
PLOT 991/992 ZAKARIYA MAIMATARI STRET