Ebonyi Police Arraign Lawyer, 52, For Allegedly Stealing 5m From His Client

A 52-year-old legal practitioner plying his trade in the Ebonyi State capital, Abakaliki, Barr. Onu John, has been arraigned in court, for allegedly stealing the sum of N5 million belonging to his client, one Igwe Nwokpata, in the state.

He was arraigned by Ebonyi State Police Command in a magistrate court sitting in Abakaliki.

He was arraigned alongside one other suspect on a three-count charge bordering on felony, stealing, and conspiracy.

The first defendant, Onu Onwe, it was gathered, had been a solicitor to the complainant Mr. Igwe Dennis Nwokpata, a businessman based in Lagos for over 13 years.

He was said to have sold his (the complainant’s) piece of land at the rate of N29 million but accounted for N24 million.

The problem started when the lawyer asked the complainant, Mr. Igwe Nwokpata, to sign the Power of Attorney.

It was learnt that the complainant refused to sign the document and the lawyer, realizing the complainant’s unwillingness to cooperate, allegedly forged his signature on the document.

He reportedly committed the offence at Nna Street, Abakaliki, in Abakaliki Local Government Area of the state, on October 25, 2018.

The Police Prosecutor, ASP Mathias Eze, told the court that the offence was punishable under sections 516A (a); 309 (9) and 467 (2)(d) of the Criminal Code Cap. 33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.

The charge read in part, “That you Onu John Onwe ‘m’, and others now at large, on the 25/10/2018, at Nna Street, Abakaliki, in the Jurisdiction of this Honourable Court, did conspire amongst yourselves to commit felony to wit; stealing and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 516A(a) of the Criminal Code Cap. 33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2009.

“That you Onu John Onwe, ‘m’, and others now at large on the same date and place in the aforementioned Magisterial District did steal the sum of N5,000,000.00, property of Igwe Dennis Nwokpata and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 390(9) of the Criminal Code Cap.33, Vol. 1, Laws of Ebonyi State of Nigeria, 2018.”

The defendants, through their counsel and the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (Abakaliki Branch), Barr. Ogbonnaya Okorie applied for the bail of the accused.

ASP Mathias Eze, the prosecuting counsel did not oppose the bail but informed the court of the content of the charge and the amount involved. The court however granted him bail.

The Chief Magistrate, Mrs. Nnenna Onuoha, granted the first accused person bail on self-recognition and granted the second defendant bail of 500,000 with a surety in the like sum. The surety was to show evidence of payment of tax for 3 years.

Both were asked to provide two sureties each, who were resident within the jurisdiction of the court and had tax clearance from 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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