A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Aikhunegbe Malik, has sued his client, Hon. Francis Agbo, over unpaid N15 million professional fees. He is praying the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja to order Agbo to pay him the sum.
Agbo currently represents Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo constituency of Benue State at the House of Representatives and is seeking re-election for a second term.
Malik said he represented his client in an appeal numbered CA/MK/PE/03/2022 between Agbo vs Aida Nath Ogwuche and two others.
The plaintiff is also demanding N5 million professional fees for the preparation and completion of the draft Notice of Appeal to challenge the outcome of the judgment in the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/778/2022 between the same parties. He is also asking N10million against the defendant, being the cost of the suit.
The plaintiff, through his counsel, Mr. Jibrin Okutepa (SAN), said the defendant is a politician and member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the parliament.
According to his pleadings, Agbo took part in the party primary held on May 23, 2023, but he was announced to have lost and another person was declared the winner. Aggrieved by the outcome, he decided to challenge it. He briefed Malik to represent him, first orally and later confirming the instruction in writing.
The SAN said he accepted the brief and filed a case at the Federal High Court, undertaking several trips from Abuja to Makurdi with his team of lawyers to represent the defendant in court. A ruling was eventually delivered on the case, and the defendant directed Malik to file an appeal.
“It was agreed between the claimant and the defendant that the professional fees for handling the appeal will be a discounted sum of N15 million,” the claimant said. He explained that while pursuing interlocutory appeal, a judgment was delivered in the substantive suit, and he also filed an appeal for Agbo.
The SAN said he demanded a deposit payment in respect of the appeal against the final judgment and full payment in respect of the interlocutory appeal.
“The defendant, however, left the claimant’s office and did not return to make good his promise to settle his outstanding professional fees,” Malik said.
Rather than reach out to the claimant to sort out the issue of the outstanding professional fees, the defendant took the draft notice of appeal prepared by the claimant to brief another law firm to prosecute the appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, Makurdi Division.
The plaintiff said he confirmed that the Notice of Appeal eventually filed by or on behalf of the defendant against the judgment was substantially or virtually the same as the final draft prepared by the claimant and shared with the defendant.
Malik said, following his client’s refusal to pay him, he issued a demand letter alongside a bill of charges detailing the work done and professional fees due.
“Despite the service of the claimant’s letter of demand on the defendant, the defendant deliberately refused, failed and neglected to settle the claimant’s professional fees,” the claimant said. He, therefore, prayed the court to order the defendant to pay the fees. No date has been fixed for the hearing of the case.