Apr 15, 2019

I Am Being Prosecuted For Professional Fees | Paul Usoro SAN


While speaking with Tunde Oyesina in an interview reported by The Nigerian Lawyer, Paul Usoro SAN once again responded to the allegations of fraud brought against him the EFCC. 

The Learned Silk and Honourable President  of the NBA has always maintaned that the EFCC is prosecuting him for the professional fees received from the Akwa - Ibom Government. 

Find the Excerpts below:

" You are the first ever NBA President to face corruption charge, any update on the matter?

I had presented to you during our 6th December, 2018 NEC meeting the facts of this charge. Those facts have not changed howsoever. The Proof of Evidence which was subsequently served on me does not contain any fact that contradicts the position that I presented to you, to wit, that I am being prosecuted for (a) professional fees totaling N1.1 billion that were legitimately earned and paid to Paul Usoro & Co (“PUC”) by Akwa Ibom State Government (“AKSG”) between 2015 and 2016; and (b) professional fees totaling N300 million that were paid to PUC by Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State for the benefit of our colleagues who provided professional services to the Governor.

The PUC Bank Statement of Account that forms part of the Proof of Evidence clearly shows that the N300 million was duly paid to those colleagues of ours who rendered those services to the Governor. The N1.1 billion was not and is not the property of AKSG and nobody, apart from the EFCC, has claimed otherwise.

The N300 million to the best of my knowledge was not paid from the coffers of AKSG and no one apart from the EFCC has so claimed. As the trial unfolds, we will keep our members duly informed. I must thank all our members, from the depths of my heart, for the overwhelming support and solidarity that Mfon and I have enjoyed and received from all of you across the nation.

You have seen this persecution for what it is: a struggle for the soul of our profession and means of livelihood and not just the persecution of Paul. We are so very touched by your faith in us and your show of love, from telephone calls, personal visits, text messages and other forms of communication. I must also thank most sincerely, my team of lawyers, led by our past President, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), for all their work on my behalf. We cannot repay you for this show of faith and love for and in us. Our prayer is that the Almighty will reward you all abundantly. We feel confident that our collective effort would be rewarded and truth will ultimately out and we will all be vindicated.

Perhaps, I need to mention here that my current persecution is not isolated. As a profession, we are under siege. For the very first time, both in our country’s history and in the history of our association, the NBA elections of 2018 has been the subject of purported investigation by the EFCC. I do not believe that such an investigation is within the purview of the EFCC, seeing as there was no financial or economic crime that was alleged. I am also not aware that the EFCC has taken as much interest in the activities of other professionals and their associations as it has taken in our profession and our association, particularly in recent years. To put it mildly, our profession and indeed the justice sector, I repeat, is under siege. Even the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission (ICPC) has taken to inviting our past Presidents and Secretaries for questioning over the contract award for the construction of our National Secretariat.

But then, these agencies do not act alone; they act in close collaboration with some of our members. The petition that triggered the purported EFCC investigation into our 2018 elections, for example, was written by one of our members. Indeed, we have taken to reporting ourselves to the EFCC even in internal matters of the association which could be resolved internally. We do need to rethink our ways and reassess our circumstances in this regard, in our collective interest, for our collective good and for the good of our profession and our association." 

Read the full interview Here
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