A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ozekhome and counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Rotimi Oyedepo, clashed at the Federal High Court in Lagos wednesday.
The disagreement was over the representation of four companies that pleaded guilty to laundering $15.5million allegedly belonging to former First Lady, Mrs. Patience Jonathan.
While Ozekhome is claiming to have been validly appointed to represent the firms, another lawyer, Luke Aghanenu, also claimed that he was briefed by the companies to represent them.
The companies are â€“ Pluto Property and Investment Company Limited, Seagate Property Development and Investment Company Limited, Trans Ocean Property and Investment Company Limited and Avalon Global Property Development Limited.
The EFCC arraigned them with a former Special Adviser on Domestic Affairs to President Jonathan, Waripamo Dudafa, a lawyer Amajuoyi Briggs and a banker, Adedamola Bolodeoku.
Unlike the companies, Dudafa, Briggs and Bolodeoku pleaded not guilty to the 17-count charge.
Aghanenu filed a motion for change of counsel, praying the court to hold that he was validly appointed by the companiesâ€™ directors to represent them, not Ozekhome.
The motion was argued before Justice Babs Kuewumi.
While Ozekhome urged the court to dismiss the application for change of counsel, Oyedepo said he was not opposed to the motion.
There was a heated exchanged between Ozekhome and Oyedepo when the SAN accused EFCC of trying to determine which lawyer would represent the companies.
Ozekhome said EFCC being the prosecution should not be interested in who represented the companies.
He said: â€œBecause we want to set aside the guilty plea of the companies, they arranged with the EFCC to change counsel. Weâ€™ll not allow that to happen. Theyâ€™ll continue to contend with my face.
â€œIt already show your interest, that you (EFCC) have an interest in who represents the defendants youâ€™re prosecuting.â€
But, Oyedepo described Ozekhomeâ€™s comments as prejudicial, saying they were unfair to him and EFCC.
â€œThe allegation made by the learned SAN is totally unmeritorious. It is not in the interest of justice. Itâ€™s prejudicial to us. Itâ€™s unfortunate.
â€œThis is not the only case we are both involved in, so why would I not want to see his face? My prayer is that he should be busy, that people should contact and give him briefs,â€ he said.
Oyedepo said it was wrong for Ozekhome to â€œscandaliseâ€ him, but the SAN insisted that the EFCC had a preference for the lawyer who would represent the firms.â€