BY AHMED TUKUR LAFIA – Controversy over who should settle the legal fees in an election petition case has landed a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) House of Representatives member, Abdulkarim Usman in Court for alleged breach of contract.
The lawmaker is currently at loggerhead with his party on account of unsettled bills while defending his victory both at the Election Petition Tribunal and the Court of Appeal
In a twist of events, his counsel, Barrister Hassan Yakubu, has dragged Abdulkarim, representing Wamba–Akwanga and Nasarawa Eggon Federal Constituency in the lower legislative chamber, before the Nasarawa State High Court to face allegations of abusing trust and non-payment of agreed legal fees.
A suit filed at the Nasarawa State High Court, Akwanga has the plaintiff accusing Hon Usman of deliberately refusing to settle legal fees incurred from the Election Tribunal up to Court of Appeals where his electoral victory in the 2019 House of Representatives contest was challenged by the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) candidate, John Mark.
Mark had approached the Tribunal challenging the election outcome on the grounds that his party’s name and logo were wrongfully excluded from the ballot paper used during the National Assembly polls held on Saturday, February 22, 2019
In the suit No NSD/Akw/17cv/2020, the aggrieved lawyer is seeking an order of court to compel the PDP lawmaker to pay him the sum of 17 million Naira as legal fees and general damages.
As plaintiff in the case, Barrister Yakubu is seeking “An order awarding the sum of twelve million Naira (N12,000,000.00) only, as professional fees for defending the defendant before the National and State House of Assembly election tribunal and before the Court of Appeal in Makurdi, the Benue State capital.
“An order awarding the sum of five million Naira (N5,000,000.00) only, to the plaintiff against the defendant as general damages”
When contacted on the matter, the federal lawmaker claimed that Barrister Yakubu is not his personal lawyer but a counsel who represented PDP in the said case.
However, a letter dated March 20, 2019 from the PDP, titled “RE; EPT/NAS/NS/REP/01/2019 MR. JOHN MARK VS INEC and 2 others” and addressed to Barrister Yakubu, presented a contrary position when it said the professional fees shall be settled by Hon Abdulkarim Usman.
For now, the court papers cited by Forefront indicate that the legal fireworks would fully commenced on January 13, 2021 which has been fixed as the date for hearing for the case