A man who had practised as a lawyer for five years in Anambra State, Mr. Richard Ikenna Udeozo, was on Wednesday remanded in prison custody by the magistrate, S. K Kadurumba, in charge of magistrate court 11 in the state high court in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
He has been accused of fraudulently parading himself as a lawyer, whereas he is not.
In his defence, Udeozo said the original of his Call to Bar certificate fell inside water, hence his inability to present it.
The suspect was arraigned by the Police, in conjuction with the Owerri Branch of the Nigeria Bar Association, for impersonation and forgery, among other charges preferred against him.
Some of the charges preferred against him were that, on March 23, 2017, in the office of the chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Owerri branch, Udeozo presented a forged certificate of Call to the Bar as a lawyer dated November 20, 2012, as a proof of his Call to Bar and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 467 of the criminal code.
The certificate reportedly bears the name of one Richard Ikenna Amanoh.
The prosecution said, “That you, Richard Ikenna Udeozo, on the same date and place in the aforesaid magistrate district, did present a forged qualifying certificate from Council of Legal Education of November 20, 2012, which bears Richard Ikenna Amanoh, and presented it to the chairman Nigeria Bar Association, Owerri branch as proof of having attended the Nigerian Law School and qualified to be called to and thereby committed an offence punishable under Section 467 of the Criminal Code.”
The accused was also said to have presented a forged change of name which was published in the Vanguard newspaper of September 24, 2012, to the chairman of NBA, Owerri branch, as a document changing his name from Richard Ikenna Udeozo to Richard Ikenna Amanoh.
The document was said to have also been forged by him.
The Owerri branch NBA chairman, Lawrence Nwakaeti, who announced his appearance for the NBA, told the court that the accused was a serial bail jumper who had jumped bail in Anambra State on the same matter.
Nwakaeti said, “In the interest of our legal professional which is going down everyday, my lord, I Implore you to refuse the accused bail.
“He had jumped bail in the past in Anambra State. He was exposed there some years ago, but he ran to Imo and continued his criminal activities of parading himself as a lawyer when he is none.”
The Police prosecutor, S. N Onwuchekwa, urged the court to exercise restraint in granting the accused bail because allowing him to walk out as a free person would put the lives of those who will testify in the court in jeopardy, saying that the accused fake lawyer had been threatening to deal with them.
The accused, who defended himself because no lawyer agreed to stand in for him, told the court that his certificate of Call to Bar fell inside water, pleading not guilty.
The presiding magistrate, Kadurumba, while ruling on the matter, ordered that the accused fake lawyer be remanded in prison custody until May 10, 2017 when the matter would come up for hearing.
Nwakaeti, told our correspondent that he lured the accused to his office into the waiting hands of Police when investigations proved that he was not a genuine lawyer.
Our correspondent learnt that Udeozo had jumped bail in Uli, Anambra State years back and ran to Imo State, where he had been practising in the chambers of Ifeanyi Udeagwu & Co. in Owerri Town, until he was apprehended on March 23, 2017.