A socio-cultural group, Benin Solidarity Movement (BSM) Worldwide, has called on the national and Edo State leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to urgently call one of their colleagues, Barrister Olayiwola Afolabi to order before he destroys the respect and trust the people have for the profession.
The President, Benin Solidarity Movement (BSM) Worldwide,Elder Curtis Ugbo made the appeal in Benin City while speaking with journalists.
Elder Ugbo said he hired the services of Barrister Olayiwola Afolabi to help prosecute Chief Johnson Atseleghe and 7 others for alleged conspiracy, kidnapping and murder of Sunny Etchie, Okheigele of Kolokolo Community in Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area of Edo State.
He said, “last week, the Officer-in-Charge(O.C.) legal at the AIG office called to inform me that there is a petition against me. When l asked who was the brain behind the petition, he said until I come to the office he was not going to reveal who wrote the petition. In view of my time schedule l could not make it to the his office last week.
“On Wednesday, this week, (24th February, 2021), l was with the O. C. legal at the AIG office to respond to the petition. It was there l discovered that Barrister Afolabi wrote the petition that l am accusing him for collecting money from Chief Johnson Atseleghe, the principal accused suspect.
“In the petition, he (Barrister Afolabi) stated that he went to Oko Prison (Correctional Centre) to see one of his clients only for him to be called by the D.C. of Oko Prison, one Mr. Godwin to meet with Chief Johnson Atseleghe.
“He said that Mr. Godwin, the D. C. of Oko Prison, took him to his office to meet with Atseleghe and they sat down to discuss. After the discussion, Chief Johnson Atseleghe offered him an envelop which he said he refused to collect.
Going further, Elder Ugbo added, “I wasn’t there and wouldn’t know if there was an attempt to receive envelop or whether the said envelop was collected from Chief Johnson Atseleghe.
“I suspected something was fishy from Barrister Afolabi’s attitude because he started behaving funny. I had no option than to debrief him.
“To my greatest surprise, Barrister Afolabi was still coming to court even after I had debriefed him to hands off the case.
“I was also surprised the day Chief Johnson Atseleghe was granted bail, l saw the excitement in the face of Barrister Afolabi, he was so happy and I became worried.
“My suspicious became true that Barrister Afolabi has already betrayed my confidence and trust in him when l saw the said petition at the O.C. Legal office written by Barrister Afolabi. In the petition that he wrote with his hand he stated that he went to Oko Prison to see our principal suspect inside the prison.
“I was the one that briefed him on behalf of Benin Solidarity Movement Wordwide,( BSM), and there was an amount agreed upon which is N10 million; l personally paid the sum of N4 million into his account through my personal account Benin Solidarity Movement (BSM) Worldwide,” Elder Ugbo stated.
“I want to ask the national and the Edo State leadership of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) that, is it ethical, professional for a lawyer that is on the side of the complainant to go and sit down at the Oko Prison with a suspect, the principal accused suspect in a conspiracy, kidnapping and murder case?
“What would have lead to the principal accused suspect offering Barrister Afolabi envelop which he claimed he refused to collect?” Elder Ugbo asked.
Going further, Elder Ugbo said, “Two weeks ago he brought up a fiat saying it was the family that briefed, only for us to discover that it was a distant family uncle of the late Sunny Eitche, but luckily the wife of the late Sunny Eitche was present in court that day and the court did the right thing by throwing away the so-called fiat.
In a telephone interview to get Barrister Afolabi’s reaction, he said, “I cannot react to a mere oral accusation. I want a written press statement before l can respond.”