© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
How Lagos lawyer seeking his client’s bail ended up in prison himself
Chris Elisha, 49, has practised as a lawyer in Nigeria for the past 15 years, but it was a single wrong move on Tuesday while trying to move a bail application for a client that blew his cover.
Elisha had quoted a section of the constitution while moving for his client’s bail and in the process he went off the line, and unfortunately for him, another sharp lawyer, Nnamdi Nwafor, was listening and spotted the obvious mistake, which a ‘real’ lawyer should not have made.
The incident took place at the Ojo Magistrate’s Court, Lagos.
Nwafor confronted Elisha after the court proceedings and the argument that ensued attracted other lawyers and police officers.
Consequently, Elisha was taken to the police station for interrogation, and he confessed that he had not been called to the Nigerian Bar even though he studied law in Ukraine.
The Police said that when a search was conducted at Elisha’s house, several legal paraphernalia, including wigs, gown and documents, were recovered, but he could not present the Ukrainian law certificate he claims to have.
“Chris Elisha has been practising as a lawyer for the past 15 years without being spotted. However, nemesis caught up with him on February 6, 2018, at the Ojo Magistrate’s Court where he appeared on behalf of an accused but found it difficult to move a motion for the variation of the bail condition of his client,” said Chike Oti, Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer.
“His predicament did not go unnoticed by one Nnamdi Nwafor, who challenged his qualification. The hot argument between both men attracted the attention of other lawyers and the court duty policemen.
“The officers took the suspect to the nearby Ojo Police Station where he confessed that he was a mere charge and bail lawyer, who had been practising for the past 15 years.
“He claimed that he was more into corporate law practice and did little of litigation. He stated further that he read law at Eastern Ukrainian University, in the former Soviet Union, but had no certificate to show for it.”
Oti said the suspect was being held at the X-Squad section of the state police command in Ikeja, pending when he would be charged to court at the conclusion of investigation.
He reiterated the commitment of the Lagos State Police Command, under the leadership of Edgal Imohimi, the new Commissioner, to “apprehend anybody perpetrating illegality, no matter how highly placed they are”.