A Lagos-based lawyer, Ikemefuna Stephen Nwoye Esq., has dragged his former employers and Aluko & Oyebode law firm to court for allegedly intercepting his conversations in his class WhatsApp group. (Nigerian Law School 2010-2011 Set).

According to the report by Stephenlegal, Nwoye, alleged that on 16 August 2021, he was served with some documents – an originating application dated 14 May 2021 – submitted to the Nigerian Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee (LPDC) which was by the Firm of Aluko & Oyebode, through Hamid Tosin Abdulkareem.

The petition to the LPPC partly stated:

“37. The Respondent did not stop there in a WhatsApp Chat Forum which he shares with his classmates who are also lawyers, the Respondent continued his unprofessional conduct. After he had reported the ruling of the Federal High Court in Suit No. 748, a member of the forum wrote as follows, “Also is the law firm incorporated as a company or it is a partnership? If it is the latter, can it be wound up and/or subjected to the provisions of the CAMA?” In response to this, the Respondent wrote, ‘in this case, a law firm (i.e., the Applicants) is being used as an instrument of fraud, fake monthly payslips where (sic) issued claiming that PAYE taxes have been remitted.”

Nwoye was in 2011 engaged by Aluko & Oyebode Law Firm during his National Youth Service Corps and he worked with the firm for some years before he resigned to start up his own practice.

“However, in his claims, Nwoye, alleged that he suffered some maltreatment in the firm which ultimately led to his exit.

“Subsequently, the irreconcilable differences led to the filing of some cases – litigation, regulatory investigation, and disciplinary proceedings. Incidentally, there have been several attempts at amicable settlement which failed,” as reported by Stephenlegal.

He is also seeking the sum of N100,000,000. 00 (One Hundred Million Naira), as general damages.

In the fundamental rights suit No: LD/12066MFHR/2021, Nwoye is seeking reliefs which are connected to the alleged interception of WhatsApp group chats, and others are:

1. A DECLARATION that the 1st Respondent through its agents the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Respondents harassed, threatened, battered and intercepted electronic private correspondence (WhatsApp and SMS messages) and interfered with the right of association of the Applicant thereby breaching the Applicant’s right of dignity of human person, right to privacy, right to expression and right to association guaranteed by Sections 34, 37, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Sections 5, 6, 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human And People’s Rights Act.

2. A DECLARATION that the 1st Respondent through its agents, privies, collaborators and cohorts posing as officials of the Obalende Local Council Development Authority (LCDA) of Lagos State did unlawfully detain, harassed, vandalized the car and extorted NGN10,000 (Ten Thousand Naira) from the Applicant thereby breaching the Applicant’s right to personal liberty and right to movement guaranteed by Sections 35 and 41 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Sections 6 and 12 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights Act.

3. A DECLARATION that the 2nd Respondent acting for the 1st Respondent harassed, threatened and intimidated the Applicant and without lawful authorisation subject the Applicant’s property to search without a lawful warrant during meetings held at the Georges Hotel, Ikoyi in 2019, thereby breaching the Applicant’s right to dignity of human person and right to personal liberty guaranteed by Sections 34 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Sections 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human And People’s Rights Act.

4. A DECLARATION that the 3rd Respondent battered, harassed and placed the Applicant in constant fear of further battery and bodily harm during his employment with the 1st Respondent by his action of attacking (‘hitting’) the Applicant from behind with a hardcover textbook pulled out from one of the books stacked on the librarian’s desk thereby breaching the Applicant’s right to dignity of human person guaranteed by Sections 34 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Sections 5 and 6 of the African Charter on Human And People’s Rights Act.

5. A DECLARATION that the 4th Respondent intercepted electronic private correspondence (WhatsApp and SMS messages) and interfered with the rights of thoughts and conscience; expression and association of the Applicant and other members of the Nigerian Law School, Class of 2010/2011 WhatsApp Group, when he unlawful obtained privately exchanged WhatsApp messages and used them for various unauthorised purposes including for purposes of submission of an Originating Complaint to the Nigerian Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee thereby breaching the Applicants right to private life, right to freedom of thought and conscience, right to expression and right to association guaranteed by Sections 34, 37, 39 and 40 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) and Sections 5, 6, 9 and 10 of the African Charter on Human And People’s Rights Act.

6. AN ORDER OF PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Respondents, their officers, privies, agents, collaborators and cohorts by themselves or through any person(s) whomsoever from interfering with, interrupting, obstructing and or taking any action capable of breaching or meddling with the Applicant’s right dignity of the human person, right to liberty, right to privacy, right to freedom of thought and conscience; right to freedom of expression and right to association and other fundamental human rights in any way whatsoever.

7. AN ORDER for NGN100,000,000. 00 (One Hundred Million Naira) only as general damages in favour of the Applicant against the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Respondents, jointly and severally, for the various breaches of the Applicant’s Fundamental Rights.

8. AN ORDER for NGN10,000,000.00 (Ten Million Naira only) being costs of this litigation.

Other Respondents are. Gbenga Oyebode, Mr. Mark Mordi, and Mr. Hamid Tosin Abdulkareem.

Aluko & Oyebode as well as other Respondents are expected to file their defence to the suit. It is left for the Court to decide the issues of law posed in the case after hearing both sides.

Aluko & Oyebode, one of Nigeria’s top-tier Law Firms.

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