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Lawyer sues estate surveyor for allegedly collecting legal fees

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A LEGAL practitioner, Chijioke Ojukwu has sued an estate surveyor, M.I. Okoro before a Lagos High Court, Igbosere for allegedly demanding and collecting legal fees illegally and rents from tenants in ASPAMDA Plaza.
The Plaza is located within the Ojo Trade Fair Complex in Lagos.

Okoro, who is carrying on business in the name and style of M.I Okoro and Associates was alleged to have without lawful authority, negotiated with tenants in the ASPAMDA Plaza and collected rents totalling N124.688m and equally went ahead to charge five percent legal fees on the rents.

The ASPAMDA Plaza is owned by the Registered Trustees of Auto Spare Parts and Machineries Dealers Association.

The applicant had claimed that he was appointed by the Association as the lawful attorney with instruction to handle all legal correspondences and general legal services regarding collection of rents due to the Association from tenants in the ASPAMDA Plaza at a board resolution dated September 1, 2014.

The said board resolution was attached as exhibit to the suit.

The applicant added that in furtherance of the power of attorney granted to him by the Association, he wrote to the tenants to notify them of his authority to negotiate with them over and concerning the renewal of their lease and payment to the Association through him.

According to the applicant, his letter was ignored. He stated that it later came to his knowledge that the first defendant (M.I Okoro) had negotiated with the tenants on the ‘pretext’ that he had 10 years power of attorney donated to him by the Association in the year 2000.

However, the applicant insist that the Association did not donate 10 years power of attorney to the respondent, and that the rush by the respondent to negotiate and collect rents from the tenants was purely made to overreach the lawful authority given to him by the Association.

He said: “The first defendant, not only collected rents from some of the tenants, but in fact also prepared Deeds, evidencing the said leases which were executed between the Association and some of the tenants, despite the fact that the first defendant is neither a Legal Practitioner under the Legal Practitioners nor his name enrolled on the scroll of the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

“I know as a fact that it is unlawful for a person who is not a Legal Practitioner called to the Nigerian Bar to proceed with preparation of a Deed evidencing a lease transaction between parties.”

The applicant is therefore seeking an order setting aside the lease agreements prepared by the first defendant, and another order mandating other tenants who are yet to pay their rents to pay through him as the duly appointed attorney of the Association.

He is also asking for an order excluding the first defendant from collecting the rents due to be paid on the ASPAMDA Plaza and another order mandating the said first defendant to remit all legal fees he had illegally received to him.

The applicant is also praying the court to direct the first defendant to render account of all rents he had collected from September 1, 2014 as well as an order mandating the first respondent to pay him N2m as the cost of the suit. The suit is yet to be assigned to a judge for adjudication.


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