It has come to my attention that there has been some unfounded, utterly baseless and false allegations made against Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN by one Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu Esq. for “hijacking” the brief in the above referenced matter. It is within my knowledge that Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu Esq. has lodged two different frivolous and unsubstantiated petitions against the Learned Silk.
Below are the true facts that transpired in the referenced matter:
- Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu represented Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Ltd as Plaintiff in Suit no: FHC/ABJ/M104/202 before the Federal High Court wherein judgment was delivered in favour of Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Ltd on 11th March 2014. Being dissatisfied with the judgment of the Federal High Court, an appeal was filed by the interested parties being Appeal No: CA/A/258/2014 Union Bank of Nigeria Plc v Petro Union Oil & Gas Ltd & 3 Others and Appeal No: CA/A/258A/2014 Central Bank of Nigeria v Petro Union Oil & Gas Coy Ltd & 3 Others respectively.
- Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN was introduced to Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu sometime in September 2017 by the Late Johnny Egwuonwu, SAN who happened to be a former Managing Partner of J-K Gadzama LLP. The Learned Silk was informed by Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu of the unrealized judgment debt in favour of Petro Union Oil & Gas Coy Ltd and the pending appeals.
- Subsequently, Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu requested that the Learned Silk lead him in the pending appeals. This request was reduced in writing in form of a letter dated Monday, September 18, 2017. The Learned Silk accepted his request via a letter dated Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
- Subsequently, Petro Union Oil & Gas Coy Ltd further instructed Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN by a letter of engagement from the company itself dated Saturday, February 17, 2018.
- Contrary to the false assertions of Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu, neither the Learned Silk or his firm J-K Gadzama LLP acted outside of the limits of their engagement and neither did they seek to defraud, snatch or hijack the judgment sum by false misrepresentation. The Learned Silk’s engagement was not merely to conduct proceedings in the Court of Appeal but also to lead the entire debt recovery process.
- Petro Union Oil and Gas Coy Ltd on its on accord decided to debrief Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu by a letter dated Monday, January 20, 2020. However, despite this Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu persisted in wrongfully attempting to represent Petro Union Oil & Gas Company Ltd and filing unwarranted petitions against Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN for discharging his professional duty as required under the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners.
- Furthermore, Petro Union Oil and Gas Coy Ltd by another letter dated Monday, June 28, 2021 wrote to the Chief Registrar of the Supreme Court confirming the Learned Silk’s appointment as lead counsel in SC/632/2021 & SC/CV/188/2021.
- I know for a fact that the Learned Silk has made genuine efforts to settle this matter amicably between lawyers as encouraged by the Rules of Professional conduct; however, the settlement attempt yielded no result as Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu has not cooperated.
- Similarly, when this matter came up before the Supreme Court on Monday, January 11, 2021, this Court (Coram: Hon. Justice Ariwoola (presiding), Hon. Justice Augie, Hon. Justice Abba Aji, Hon. Justice Garba, and Hon. Justice Oseji) directed the counsel involved to make an effort to resolve the issue amicably. The Court tasked Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN with mediating the settlement.
- On Thursday, February 4, 2021, there was a settlement meeting held and attended by Asiwaju Adegboyega Awomolo SAN, Damian Dodo SAN, Mr Onyechi Egwuonwu and the Learned Silk.
- Thus, the Learned Silk was therefore surprised when, at the sitting of the Court on Monday, June 28, 2021, Mr Onyechi Egwuonwu stood up and announced that he would not appear with Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN as he claimed to be the Counsel to the Petro Union Oil & Gas Coy. LTD.
- In fact, on two different occasions, Monday, June 28, 2021 and Thursday, October 7, 2021, the Supreme Court demanded that Petro Union Oil and Gas Coy Ltd unequivocally confirm their Counsel before the open Court and the Company’s Directors clearly stated that they only engaged J-K Gadzama SAN of J-K Gadzama LLP to represent them in Court.
- Subsequently, the Supreme Court immediately removed Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu as a cousel in the matter and Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN handled the matter on the said date.
Thus, from the facts stated above and backed up with proof, it is crystal clear that Mr. Onyechi Egwuonwu has misrepresented facts to suit his purpose in a bid to taint the image of the Learned Silk.
The Eminent Silk, Joe-Kyari Gadzama, SAN being a minister in the temple of justice will forever maintain and abide by the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners specifically Rule 26 which states that “lawyers shall treat one another with respect, fairness, consideration and dignity.”
CHUKWUDI PRINCE OLI, Esq.
D.G Vox Populi Foundation