Surulere Magistrate's Court, Lagos -- A woman allegedly presented a dud cheque to her lawyer as payment for his legal services in an attempt to outsmart him.
The client, a staff of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), identified as Mrs Nnenna Christiana Olusile, appeared in court with a new lawyer. Unknown to her, her previous lawyer, Charles Alonge, was also in court.
It has been gathered that the relationship between Olusile and her lawyer went sour following the former's alleged refusal to pay for his legal services on the case of stealing and obtaining items worth N300,000.
Olushile, a resident of of Lagos, was alleged to have specialized in hypnotizing salesgirls and carting away goods in the shops.
But in August 2012, she reportedly went to a boutique located at Akerele area in Surulere Lagos, where she met a 20-year-old salesgirl and allegedly made away with goods worth N300,000 without paying a dime.
It was alleged that as soon as she left, the salesgirl realised that she had been fooled and immediately contacted her boss.
Policemen from Bode Thomas Station, Surulere, launched a manhunt for Olushile, and she was arrested in February, 2013.
The Investigating Police Officer hinted that the arrest did not come easy and said, "The only thing the girl told us was that she did not suspect any foul play from the way the woman carried herself and her familiarity with the environment.
"She said the woman even called her husband on phone and the assurance he gave her made her release the items.The phone number she left, coupled with the information that she is a PHCN employee were the only enabling lead to trace and arrest her.
"When we arrested her, she denied ever engaging in any criminal act and at a point, we were afraid whether we had arrested the wrong person. But the Divisional Police Officer ordered two of our female colleagues to take her inside to establish whether she had tattoos on her body as the sales girl earlier disclosed. That was when she owned up that she was the right person but said that the goods she bought were worth N70,000 as against the N300,000 the girl claimed."
Following threats of possible dismissal initiated through a query by her office, after report of her arrest became public, she reportedly sought the services of Alonge, the lawyer who was said to have answered the query, thereby averting the perceived dismissal threat.
The case, as gathered, was charged to court where Alonge stood as counsel to the accused and her husband.
However, when the Magistrate observed the change of counsel after Olushile's case was mentioned, she could not hide her displeasure and insisted that the former lawyer, Alonge, be paid his fees before the new lawyer would be allowed to appear before her.
"You can not properly appear yet because he [Alonge] said they are owing him.
"I don't like clients to owe lawyers because that is their office and I also don't like clients jumping from one lawyer to another.
"I am aware that this matter was published and I tried my best to grant the accused bail in a very liberal term. I hope she is aware that there is a criminal charge against her," she said.
On his part, Mr Alonge, explained, "I called the counsel this morning and told him in her presence that she called me a rogue and all sorts of names which made me to formerly withdraw the matter.
"I want it to be on record that they are still owing me and I inisist that my fee be paid before any other lawyer can continue with the case. It all started when she presented a dud cheque to me and I reported to the police prior to today's hearing."
The court, therefore, advised the lawyer to take the case to the Special Fraud Unit, SFU, Ikoyi.