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Ripples In Cross River Community Over N21M Auction Proceeds

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January 09, (THEWILL) – Trouble appears to be brewing in the Traditional Council of Chiefs, comprising other sub-authorities in Effi village of Okuni, in Ikom LGA of Cross River State.

The crisis is between the Council of Chiefs and a legal practitioner, Elder Icheri Imo Okim, over N21 million said to be proceeds from the auctioning of a property situated in the community.

The community alleged that the legal practitioner auctioned a property belonging to a private company, MikeWood Plant Industry, and allegedly diverted the reported proceeds, which they claimed ought to have gone to them.

In addition, they said Elder Okim refused to disclose full details of the auction transactions and avail them of the court judgment, which authorised the auctioning.

An environmentalist, Odey Onyama, on behalf of the royal conclave of the community, accused the lawyer of “gross negligence of duty to the client” and alleged misconduct, which conflicts with rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners.

Oyama threatened to drag Elder Okim before the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) disciplinary committee, for alleged misconduct and denial of the client’s benefit of access to specific judgment in their matter.

“We have written several letters to Elder Icheri Imo Okim, who is also an indigene of our Effi village and who claimed he had power of attorney to act as our community lawyer, to avail us the said power of attorney, as well as full transaction details of the auctioning of the said property that belonged to MikeWood Plant Industry, which reportedly amounted to N21m but he has refused to do so,” he said

Oyama alleged that the legal practitioner used his position to access facts about the firm, which he allegedly manipulated as the community lawyer when a court ordered auctioning of its property.

But in an interview, Elder Okim denied all the allegations by Oyama, who purportedly represented the royal conclave.

He said, “I am under no obligation to disclose or divulge a client/solicitor brief to any person or purported conclave. Rules of professional engagement prohibit me from such.”

Elder Okim disclosed that the only money he got was the judgement fees from the auction and threatened to slam legal action against Oyama for falsehood.

“What my brother has alleged is not true at all. Oyama has been acting on rumours. I am a lawyer with 30 years of practice. I had acted as solicitor to the community and got judgement against the said company. We held several meetings with Elders and Chiefs of the community over the auction,” he said.