Delta: 'Slain Lawyers May Have Been Killed Over N60m Botched 'Deal'
BEVERLY HILLS, CA, April 08, (THEWILL) - Indications have emerged that the two lawyers allegedly killed by gunmen last week may have been killed over a controversial N60million 'legal fee' for a high profile kidnap case they were handling.
The lawyers were defending some prime suspects in a lingering kidnap case involving Markson, the son of the Secretary to the Delta State Government, Comrade Ovouzorie Macaulay.
The two lawyers of the Whytfort Jurisconsult Law Firm located in Udu, Delta State were on their way to court when they were waylaid and killed in a questionable circumstance along Olomoro/Otor-Owhe, Isoko North Local Government Area.
Eguono Dafiaghor Esq.
was a principal counsel defending the kidnappers while his second, Samuel O.
Ekuwangji Esq, was a junior lawyer in the chambers.
Before they was allegedly murdered in cold blood, Dafiaghor, it was learnt was highly involved in a 'deal' amounting to N60million.
The 'deal', it was learnt, was not part of the primary case of HCZ/9C/2013 The State Vs Sunday Ugbebo & Anor which was a two count charge suit of conspiracy and kidnap, involving the kidnap of Mackson.
Impeccable sources alleged that the deceased lawyers had allegedly priced the 'deal' to the tune of N60million of which all the gang members and family made a contribution of N400,000 each.
In order to raise the money, sources said some of the gang members went ahead to kidnap more persons including one Mrs Obonyano from Uzere.
Ogaga, one of the suspects who was also killed was said to have revealed the identify of other members of the gang who were subsequently contacted by the counsel to make their own contribution or be prepared to face the music.
Ughelli was the meeting point between members of the kidnap gang and the principal lawyer who sources alleged had assured the gang that they would devise a means to save them from the litigations.
Giving a graphic details of the incident, a source who craved anonymity said; The kidnapping case has been on for some time now and as the case was going on, it became obvious that there was no hope for the suspects and Mr.
Dafiaghor was said to have been approached by some other gang of the kidnappers to devise a very fast means of saving their members.
At this point, Mr.
Dafiaghor was alleged given some money running into millions of naira and he was said to have promised and assured the gang that he was going to approach the father of the victim which is the SSG for the case to be settled out of court.
"But after all the promises and assurances, there was still no hope.
It was at this point that the gang was said to have later discovered that Mr.
Dafiaghor was playing a fast one on them when he allegedly used parts of the money given him to buy a Camry car for his wife and bought for himself a Jeep.
" The source continued: "More so, the lawyer was 'blackmailing' other members of the gang whose identity were revealed to him by Ogaga to provide their own share of the money or he would reveal their identity to the police.
This we gathered infuriated the gang and on the next adjourned court sitting day, they mobilised to the road where he was murdered in cold blood.
According to persons who went for farming around that area, after killing Mr.
Dafiaghor, the gunmen drove off but few minutes later they came back and killed the second lawyer ostensibly because he must have recognised them hence they shot him at close range.
"Ask lawyers and policemen in the state, they all know that late Mr.
Dafiaghor has always been a defense counsel to kidnappers and other criminals in the state.
" Prior to this incident, two other principal suspects in the case, one Ogaga Enueme and Efe Edeki who were being conveyed from police headquarters, Asaba were also ambushed and killed in a questionable circumstance by unknown gunmen at Oboh-Ogwashi.
Sources said Edeki (also known as Ekpenyong), an indigene of Owhelogbo in Isoko North LGA was the one who brought the 'deal' to kidnap Mackson to the kidnap gangs but the 'deal' failed following the rescue of the victim and their inability to collect demanded ransom.
It was learnt that Ogaga Enueme, one of the suspected gang member came into the picture after he was fingered in court and was subsequently arrested on February 12, 2014.
Ogaga Enueme, an Urhobo who was allegedly arrested later while the case was already in court was said to have revealed most of the gang members to the lawyer, who then urged the suspected kidnappers to do his biding, our source said.
It was reliably gathered that the two lawyers were on their way to the High Court of Justice, Ozoro for the ruling in a habeas corpus application in Suit No: HCZ/M/2C/2014 Ogaga Enueme Vs Commissioner of Police, to secure the release of the detained suspects, when they were ambushed at Emevor by gunmen.
It was gathered that Justice O.
Onojovwo later struck out the suit involving Ogaga since the applicant and lawyer are dead and later symbolically 'wash his two hands" off the case, calling for its transfer and reassignment.
Meanwhile, human right lawyer, Oghenejabor Ikimi, has raised a three point poser to the case and urged the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar to immediately launch a comprehensive and an impartial investigation into the alleged assassination.
Ikimi who is the National Coordinator of the Forum for Justice and Human Right Defence, noted that the above dastard murder once again underscores the worsening level of insecurity nationwide.
While describing the killing of the lawyers as senseless, barbaric and satanic, Ikimi noted that the lawyer prior to their death had several occasions in open court complained about several threats to his life via phone calls and text messages to withdraw from the case.
Ikimi said that the case was a dangerous precedence for lawyers, judges as well as State Counsels nationwide who are now "vulnerable targets" saying "Nigerians are tired of cases of unresolved murder pervading our polity.
The Delta State Police Command has since commenced investigations into the death of two lawyers, as according to the Police Public Relations Officer of the command, Mrs Celestina Kalu, saying 'It was too early to determine the cause of the death but investigation is still on because they were found dead inside a vehicle.
However, the Delta State Government has expressed its condolences to the Nigerian Bar Association and the families of the victims.
A statement issued by Mr.
Charles Ajuyah SAN, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, condemned their killing, saying government has ordered full and painstaking investigation into the matter with a view to bringing the perpetrators of the dastardly and heinous crime to book.
In the same manner and in defence of their murdered colleagues, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Warri Branch has also petitioned the Inspector-General of Police (IG) over the gruesome killing of the lawyers.
Lawyers in the state had on Tuesday joined the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Warri Branch to carry out a peaceful mass protest, calling for justice and the police to unravel the circumstance surrounding the gruesome murder of their two colleagues by unknown gunmen.