CHRSJ drags lawyers before NBA’s disciplinary committee over unethical practices

..Calls on police, EFCC, others to probe widow, lawyers for forgery, intimidation, harassment

A human rights organization, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) has dragged two legal practitioners before the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) over an allegation of forgery of the Will of a deceased client to favour one of the wives over the other.

This is coming just as CHRSJ has also called on the Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Alkali Usman Baba to direct the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Mr. Abiodun Alabi to put in place measures to protect members of the family and tenants of the estate of late Major Raphael Adeolu ‘Bisi’ Owolabi (rtd.) from coming into harm’s way.

In statement issued by the Executive Chairman, Comrade Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman in Lagos on Wednesday, CHRSJ is also calling on relevant anti graft agencies to investigate the widow, Mrs. Kemi Owolabi (+234 8035282795) who is the second wife of the deceased for illegally obtaining the retirement benefit of her spouse to the detriment of children of the other wife.

Sulaiman in the statement issued to newsmen also on Wednesday pointedly accused the widow, Mrs. Kemi Owolab and the lawyer to the deceased, Mr. Taiwo Morakinyo Abegunde of GMT Abegunde & Co (+234 8033151900, +234 8057472595) of conniving together to alter the Will of late Major Owolabi to favour the widow to the detriment of the children of the elder wife, late Mrs. Olamidun Dupe Owolabi.

Specifically, CHRSJ is accusing Kemi Owolabi and Abegunde of altering the contents of the Will of late Major Owolabi dated 17th of July, 2019 to favour Kemi Owolabi who has since taken over the property of her late spouse while excluding the children of her senior wife from benefiting.

CHRSJ added that the two also connived together to collect some sums of money from tenants of the flats allotted to the children of the first wife without remitting same to them who are the actual beneficiaries and not Kemi Owolabi.

According to CHRSJ the two have been bypassing the Executor of the Will, Mr. Banji Owolabi (+234 9153861189, +234 8093450257) who is the first son of the deceased to illegally take over the belongings of his late father.

CHRSJ stated that the two forged a letter dated 26th June, 2020 titled, “Notification of Death and Burial Date of Major R.A Owolabi, N6526” addressed to the Chief of Administration, Nigerian Army, Area 7, Garki, Abuja to claim the benefits of the deceased without the knowledge of the first son, Mr. Banji Owolabi who is the Executor of the Will.

The group further added that from the information available to it, the signature in the said letter belonging to Banji Owolabi is said to have been forged by the two, a development that prompted the executor to threaten to arrest his step mother before the family stepped in to plead with him.

Apart from that the children of the first wife have constantly complained that Kemi Owolabi and Abegunde have been stripping the properties of their late father by taking valuable assets away and in one of such occasions, the security man attached to the property, one Mr. Gbolahan (+234 8136852762) was maltreated when they stormed the building located at N02, Olunfunmilola Okikiolu Street, Ikeja to cart away a generating set without informing them.

“They (the children of the deceased) even told us that all efforts to get a comprehensive financial statement of their father upon his death for proper accountability and records from the two have proven abortive as they have not been forthcoming when asked.” Sulaiman said.

CHRSJ added that all the atrocities of Abegunde prompted the children of the deceased to write a letter to him dated 17th of March, 2022 titled “Re: Termination of Management Agreement of Property At No2, Olufunmilayo Okikiolu Street, Off Toyin Street” terminating his management contract with the family.

“We have it on good authority that they have been collecting rents from the tenants of the first wife of Owolabi located at 2, Olufunmilayo Okikiolu without remitting the collected sum to the real beneficiaries who had by January 2020 taken possession of the said property,” CHRSJ wrote.

The group added that the contents of the termination letter cover other properties owned by the deceased especially the one located at 37, Oluwaleyimu in Ikeja, adding that despite the fact that his management contract with the family had ceased, he went ahead to issue a quit notice to a tenant, Mr. and Mrs. Enobong Okon Ekefre (+234 8023234008) on a number of occasions.

Sulaiman stated that the first letter of eviction was issued on 31st of March, 2022 and the second on the 3rd of April, 2022 and a final one on 11th of October informing them (the tenants) of their impending eviction on 19th of October, 2022.

According to CHRSJ, the process of ejecting the tenant is illegal as they have not apply the stipulated procedure for such which is through a valid court order, adding that “What Abegunde is doing runs contrary to the law and laid down procedure. It is nothing but resorting to self-help.

“We are aware that the tenants are annual rent paying tenants who are entitled to six months statutory notice in accordance with the Lagos State Tenancy Law. We are using this platform to call on security agencies, particularly the police commissioner, Mr. Abiodun Alabi to deploy all the resources at his disposal to protect the Ekefres living at 37, Oluwaleyimu, Ikeja, Lagos from harm.

“CHRSJ is also promising to assist them with the needed legal assistance to check this fragrant abuse of the law and their fundamental rights by someone who is a custodian of the law who ought to act with dignity and caution but who has decided to subvert the law,” the group wrote.

“We are sad to note that a lawyer who is supposed to uphold the ethics of the law and principle of fair play and decency is now the major breaker of the law. We have watched the activities of Mr. Kemi Owolabi and Mr. Taiwo Morakinyo Abegunde since the demise of Major Owolabi in January 7th, 2020 and we are sad to report the nefarious activities of these persons.

“Of particular interest to CHRSJ is Abegunde who ought to be giving sound professional advice to the widow of the deceased but has opted to be a partner in crime for pecuniary gains and benefits. We have reported him and his other cohort Charles Okei (+234 8023007625, +234 703623179) to the NBA’S Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC),”
Sulaiman said.

The group stated that the move to report the two became necessary with a view to ensure sanity in the legal profession and to serve as the needed deterrent to other dubious practitioners who might seek to drag the esteemed reputation of the profession in the mud.

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