*Says Bank Acct Of The Law Firm Was In Used Before Letter Of Administration Was Granted– Witness
The trial of two Lawyers accused of stealing from the Estate of the Law Firm of Mogbeyi Sagay continued today at the Ikeja Special Offenses Court.
Today at the hearing of the case against Tom Awhana, the former Head of Chambers for the Law Office of Mr. Mogbeyi Sagay, a late Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Paul Okoro, a former lawyer in the law firm for allegedly stealing N188.7 million and N3.6 million respectively, belonging to the law firm of the late senior lawyer, there were startling revelations.
The first prosecution witness, Barr Chris Okafor, who is presently the Head of Chambers at the Law firm, during cross-examination, by the Lead Lawyer to the First defendant, Barr. Robert Emukpoeruo, confirmed in court that the consultant to the estate, Prof. Itsejuwa Sagay, opened an Access bank account for the law firm and used it for its operations even before the letter of administration was granted to the Administrators of the Estate.
The witness testified that signatories to the account included non-Lawyers, among them Cliff Kokogho, the accountant of the law firm, Mr. Monima Sagay, another non-Lawyer and Prof. Itse Sagay himself.
This raised the question as to whether non-Lawyers could join Lawyers to run a Law firm.
The witness also testified that the Administrators of the late SAN’s estate, including Nneka Sagay, Lawson Jack and the accountant Cliff Kokogho, were all non-lawyers and signatories to another account opened with Zenith bank for the law firm alongside Tom Awhana (the head of Chamber), after their appointment. But before then, the Zenith bank account was not operated as a result of the demise of the Senior Lawyer. Also, the account name was changed to the Estate of Mogbeyi Sagay after the appointment of the administrators.
Mr. Okafor also confirmed that salaries were paid by 1st defendant (Awhana) in cash to him and other staff members of the firm. He said the estate pays the staff salaries through Tom Awhana.
The witness could not give a convincing statement as to how the estates were paying Tom Awhana and affirmed that there were documents available in the office showing that monies came from the estate for salaries.
He also said the first defendant claimed he used personal funds to run the office and was aware the estate requested for expenses report from him (Awhana).
The Lead counsel of the defendant Barr. Robert Emukpoeruo pleaded that the case be adjourned till tomorrow 12th of September 2019 so Mr. Chris Okafor will provide the documents showing how the estate was sending money to Tom Awhana for salaries to be paid as it was a very important part of the defense.
Justice Mojisola Dada, after hearing from all parties involved, adjourned the case till tomorrow 12th of September 2019 in order for the witness to make available the requested documents.