More than 700 Lawyers have mobilised to defend Paul Usoro SAN in event the news flying around about 10th of December arraignment is true.
There are concerns that the news about the arraignment may be fake . In the morning of 5th of December, a day before the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the NBA, fake news hit the internet that the President of Africa’s biggest Bar has been arrested. That was later discovered to be false as the President was busy at the time inspecting the venue of the NEC meeting.
Subsequently, unverified news made its way to the internet that the President will be arraigned on the 10th of December 2018 over the legal fees he received from Akwa Ibom Government which was shared among other lawyers who worked in the cases for the state.
The President of the NBA , Paul Usoro SAN, a top litigation Lawyer has served as a counsel to the Government of Akwa Ibom .The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is questioning why he should charge legal fees running into millions of Naira. This is very disturbing to Lawyers.
According to an aide close to Mr Usoro, more than a hundred lawyers have called Mr Usoro in the past four hours pledging their desire and support for him. According to a very senior Lawyer and former president of the NBA,”..this is not about Paul Usoro, this is about our Profession and no agency even the NBA itself has the right to regulate Lawyers’ fees. If we allow this to fly, we will be allowing our profession to fly away from our grip”
Another Senior advocate of Nigeria who promised to mobilise as many lawyers as possible told Mr Usoro “… You know I did not support your Presidency, but in this case, I will stand with the profession. Not necessarily you. We must stop this nonsense of questioning lawyers’ fees by agents of government..”
Across more than 30 social media platforms, more than 600 lawyers have shown interest to support and defend the incursion of government agencies into the legal profession especially how they charge their clients.
However, as Lawyers are getting ready their gun powder for a show down with the EFCC, there are indications that the news may be fake. There are loopholes in the information. A senior Lawyer based in Warri has questioned why the EFCC will have to announce the date of arraignment in the media without even informing or inviting the defendant.
A very senior Lawyer in Abuja has advised that EFCC should be forced to put this case to an end whether they mean it or not; that the Bar cannot continue to be subject to the blackmail of the organisation.
He said that the relationship between a lawyer and his client is contractual and if there is any issue of over payment, the locus standi lies with the party to the contract and not a government agency.
As at the time of filing this report, top lawyers were having a meeting in a hotel in Abuja to chart a cause for the showdown.Though Mr Usoro is absent from the meeting