Prof of Law, Company in legal battle over N73m legal fee
A professor of law and a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Prof. Yemi Akinseye- George and a private indigenous company, NACENN Nigeria Limited are locked in a fierce legal battle over disputed N73M legal fee.
The legal battle is holdingl before a High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja on payment of N73m professional fee.
While the claimant, Prof Akinseye-George in his suit marked HC/CV/2055/2020 claimed that the company is indebted to him to the tune of the N73m, being his outstanding professional fee, the company in it’s counter claim, has however accused him of fraudulently inflating his professional fee from 10% to 20%.
In his writ of summons dated July 3, 2020, he narrated how he was engaged by the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Company, Engineer. Greg Ezulike (now late) through one Maduka Anigbogu, to help in recovering some long standing debts owed the company by the Federal government.
That by a letter dated February 28, 2018, he was engaged to recover the debts in the sum of about N2 billion.
He stated in his statement of claim that pursuant to the letter, he was to be paid 10 percent of any payment received from the Federal government on or before March 30, 2018.
That at the expiration of the time frame, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the company asked him to continue to carry on with the assignment.
That although he was paid the agreed 10 percent professional fee in respect of some payments he secured for the company, his professional fee amounting to N73m subsequent recoveries has not been paid to him.
That he has suffered great financial inconveniences as a result of the company’s refusal to pay the balance of his professional fee, which has impacted negativity on the running of his law firm.
However, it it’s counter claim filed by it’s counsel, Godwin Omaka (SAN), the company informed the court that the letter of payment did not stipulate that it will pay the claimant 10 percent of any payment received from the Federal government on or before March 30, 2018.
That rather, the letter stipulated that the company’s obligations (including payment of 10 percent of any recovered sum) to the claimant shall terminate automatically after March 30, 2018 from the date the claimant receives the letter, if the company does not receive payment of the total sum of N2 billion from the Federal government.
The company said it received payments from the Federal government in the sum of N100m and N150m respectively and paid 10 percent of the said sum to the claimant as agreed fees, in June 2018.
It stated however that, “following the death of it’s former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Late Chief Ezulike, the claimant, by a letter of demand dated November 27, 2019, demanded from the company among other things, the sum of N100m, being 20 percent (instead of agreed 10 percent) of the N500m recoverd from the Federal government on its behalf in November 2019.
That the new management of the company ignorantly paid the N100m to him, acting on the belief that 20 percent was the agreed fee due to him under the letter of engagement, having not seen or read the letter of engagement for his services in this regard.
That the claimant making the demand of 20 percent of the said recoverd sum took advantage of the situation of the death of the former Chairman of the company.
That upon discovering the letter of engagement and reading the terms contained therein, Afam Ezulike, the son of the late Chief Ezulike, who succeeded his father to become the new chairman, discovered that the claimant misrepresented that he was entitled to 20 percent of the recoverd sums from the Federal government, when the letter of engagement provided that he will be entitled to only 10 percent.
Consequently, the company is asking the court to declare that the conduct of the claimant in misrepresenting that his professional fee is 20 percent of the recovered debt value was unjustified and wrongful.
A declaration that the conduct of the claimant vitiates his engagement with the company the sum of N59m with accrued interest as prevailing bank rate from November 28, 2019 till the time of final liquidation.