Afe Babalola Drags Former Lagos Solictor-General Before ICPC

CHIEF Afe Babalola, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), has dragged former Solicitor-General of Lagos State, Mr Lawal Pedro, before Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), for allegedly taking briefs which resulted in his law firm losing $10 million in professional fees.

Babalola asked the ICPC to investigate how the family of Gbadamosi Eletu of Osapa Village, Lagos, substituted his law firm for that of Pedro, thereby depriving his firm of the professional fees.

He made the request in a petition he addressed to the chairman of ICPC, Mr Ekpo Nta, detailing how the former solicitor-general allegedly abused his office and hijacked the briefs he handled for the family of Eletu in Supreme Court while his professional fees had not been paid.

As contained in the petition, Babalola asked the ICPC to investigate what he termed corrupt practices in respect of the settlement of some lawsuits, which he said Pedro allegedly concluded in connivance with the Eletu family and other parties to allegedly defraud his law firm of its professional fees.

He also alleged that Pedro used his private law firm to hijack the negotiation of Suit No: LD/4897/2014 between Beach Resorts and the Eletu family, adding that the Eletu family, as a result of the development, deprived his law firm of its professional fees of $10 million.

Explaining how the Eletu family approached his law firm through a lawyer, Mr Ademola Koko, in 2005, asking him to appeal against the decision of a Court of Appeal involving 254 hectares of land, Babalola said after he agreed to handle the appeal at the Supreme Court, he asked the Eletu family for a professional fee of $20 million, which he said was reduced to $10 million after the family pleaded.

But when asked to pay part of the professional fees, the senior advocate noted that the Eletu family offered to give him land to cover the payment, which, he said, was rejected in favour of a cash payment of fees.

Upon agreement, the senior advocate requested an agreement on his professional fees to be in writing and that the agreement should be executed before a magistrate, to which the family complied with as proof of good faith.

He added that his law firm prosecuted the appeal for eight years before the Supreme Court delivered judgment on July 12, 2013 and awarded 216.7 hectares of land in favour of the Eletu family.

Babalola said the attempt by his law firm to pursue the execution of the Supreme Court judgment stoked diverse litigations and protests, which perhaps compelled the Lagos State government to intervene in the dispute.

He noted that the suits, which arose from the decision of the Supreme Court secured by his law firm for the Eletu family, were settled without his knowledge and with the involvement of Pedro.

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