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3 lawyers charged for impersonating CBN and Unity Bank in debt to N52m ruling

Three legal practitioners in Abuja have been charged by the Federal Government before the Federal Capital Territory High Court, FCT, with four counts of felony, bordering on false information with intent to mislead the court to enter an N52m consent ruling in their favour.

The prosecuting agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), informed the court that the offenses were in contravention of Sections 96 and 140 of the Northern Nigeria Team Code Act as applied in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

The attorneys are Messrs. Maxwell Obara, Gold Nwankwo, and Gobelat Obasikin, all of whom practice in the law firm of Maxwell Obara & Associates.

The charge filed, marked CR/444/2022 and by the prosecuting attorney, Ibrahim Buba, followed a petition from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the Chairman of the European Electronic Commerce Commission, accusing the lawyers of fraudulent representation and impersonation.

They were alleged to have made fraudulent appearances in favor of CBN and Unity Bank Plc, without the consent and authorization of the banks in an appeal in relation to the booking action involving the sum of 52 million naira, in the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.

The proceedings were in relation to Appeal No: CA/A/18M/2017, Mr. Goodwin Emanuel v. Chris Obbott. Ambo Top Nig Ltd, Unity Bank Plc and CBN.

The appeal arose from formal proceedings, CBN was filed with Nisi Order dated 3 November 2015, by the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Gwagwalada, Abuja.

The Court of Appeal had granted CBN leave to appeal against the lower court’s judgment on the condition that the entire award amount of N52 million be deposited to the Deputy Registrar to be held in an interest yielding account at a commercial bank within 30 days from the date of the judgment pending determination of the appeal.

CBN said it was surprising to learn that the case came to hearing on September 9, 2020, and that on that day, at the request of the creditor’s attorney, Maxwell Obara, the court ordered that the judgment amount be released to the judgment creditor.

The Bank maintained that its concern was the fact that neither the Bank nor its counsel had been notified of any notice of hearing in connection with the September 9, 2020 proceedings.

that it has also been informed that CBN was apparently represented by Gold Nwankwo in the September 9, 2020 proceedings, an attorney unknown to or acquainted with the Bank and not affiliated in any way with any of its outside attorneys.

In the same vein, One Okechukwu Jubilate Obasikene was said to have no authority of Unity Bank and also appeared to Unity Bank in the proceedings.

Upon investigation it was discovered that the said Gold Nwankwo is listed on the letterhead of Messrs. Maxwell Opara and Associates (Adjudication Creditor Advocate), as one of her counsel in the chambers.

that, therefore, it appears that the counsel of the chambers of Messrs. Maxwell Opara & Co. representing the judgment creditor, may have connived to deceive the Court of Appeal by impersonating the counsel seen by CBN, in contravention of the legal practitioners’ rules of professional conduct.

Meanwhile, when the case was called to trial, the prosecuting attorney Ibrahim Bouba informed the court of the absence of witnesses from CBN and Unity Bank in court.

He therefore urged the court to adjourn the session for a short time to enable him to appear before the court.

After the lawyer’s approval, Judge Hamza Mazzou postponed the case to February 1 and 2, 2023, for trial.

Charge marked CR/444/2022, dated August 26, 2022, states:
“You both Attorney Maxwell Okpara and Advocate Gold Nwankwo at some point in September 2020 in Abuja within the Judicial Division of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, FCT, Abuja, have conspired to commit an offense of intelligence: to give false information with intent to mislead a public official and thereby commit an offense in contravention of Section 96 of the Act Penalties for Northern Nigeria as applied in the FCT, and punishable under Section 97 of the same Act.

“You are Advocate Gold Nwankwo on the 9th day of September 2020 in Abuja within the Judicial Division of the Supreme Court of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, you have notified the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja that you are representing the Central Bank of Nigeria during Appeal No. CA/A/18/M / 2017 and agreed to withdraw and revoke the Motion Paper dated 29th August 2020 and filed on 1st September 2020, knowing that the Central Bank of Nigeria never authorized you to represent it in the proceedings and therefore committed an offense in contravention of Section 140 of the Penal Code of Northern Nigeria as applicable in the Capital District Federal, FCT, Abuja, and punishable under Section 140 of the same Act.

“You both Attorney Maxwell Okpara and Attorney Gopilat Obasekin at some point in September 2020 in Abuja within the Judicial Division of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, FCT, Abuja, have conspired to commit an offense of intelligence: to give false information with intent to mislead a public servant and thereby to commit an offense in contravention of Section 96 of the Northern Nigeria Penal Code as applied in the Framework Convention on Combating Terrorism, and punishable under Article 97 of the same Act.

“You are Advocate Gobelat Upasekin on 9 September 2020 in Abuja within the Judicial Division of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, FCT, Abuja, you have already notified the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja, that you have represented Unity Bank Plc during the hearing in Appeal No. CA/A/18/M / 2017, and agreed to withdraw and strike off the proposal paper dated 29th August 2020, filed on 1st September 2020, knowing that Unity Bank Plc never authorized you to represent it in the proceedings and therefore committed an offense in contravention of Section 140 of the Northern Nigeria Penal Code as applicable in Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, and punishable under Section 140 of the same Act.

3 lawyers charged for impersonating CBN and Unity Bank in debt to N52m ruling

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