A Federal High Court in Abuja has directed the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha and the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), to appear before it in view of their inability to agree on who should instruct a lawyer to defend the governor in court.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed gave the directives yesterday when the lawyers instructed separately by Okorcha and Ume could not agree on who should legitimately represent the governor in a suit brought against him by his former party, the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
When the case was called, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN) announced appearance for Okorocha, shortly after which another lawyer, Sunday Olabode also announced appearance for the governor.
While Akintola insisted he was instructed to handle the case by the governor, Olabode claimed to have equally been instructed by the state s Attorney General to handle the case.
In view of the disagreement, the judge asked the two lawyers to inquire why they both announced separate representations for the governor.
Akintola, who held out a letter from the office of the governor (with which he said he was instructed to conduct the case) expressed surprise about Olabode’s continued insistence that his firm, Theolice Solicitors, was duly instructed by the state’s Attorney General to represent the governor.
He told the court that the governor instructed him to handle the case for him (Okorocha), as he had done in most political cases involving the governor.
Akintola showed the court a copy of the letter containing the instruction from the governor, written on the state government’s official letter head paper dated May 5, 2014 and signed by the Principal Secretary to the governor, Dr. Pascal C. Obi.
He also drew the court’s attention to a letter he wrote to the Attorney General date June 12, 2014 informing him that his firm (Adeniyi’s) had been instructed by the governor to handle the case, and that the case was a private suit brought against the governor in personal capacity.
Akintola argued that the Attorney General of Imo State was wrong to have sought to impose a lawyer on the governor in a case against the governor in his personal capacity and not against the state government.
He described Ume’s conduct as ambulance chasing, which he said was unethical.
Akintola queried the legitimacy of the Attorney General insistence on imposing a lawyer on the governor in a case not involving the state government.
“The important thing is that this man (Ume) is a serving Attorney General. Yet he has come to court to file processes in a private matter involving the governor.
“This is wrong. This is ambulance chasing, it is unethical and the rules of professional conduct frowned at this.
“I have never seen this kind of thing in my years of practice.”