Daily Champion (Lagos)

4 February 2010

Nigeria: 419 - Court Lambasts Televangelist's Lawyer

Lagos — A Lagos High Court, Ikeja, presided over by Justice Mojisola Dada yesterday accused the lawyer to a television evangelist, Prophet Israel Ola-Ogundipe of Celestial Church of Christ of shielding his client from being prosecuted.

This is as the court after much arguments adjourned till March 1, for arraignment of the prophet over the alleged N10 million fraud and she told the defence counsel, Mr. Olusegun Raji that this was the fifth time the court is adjourning the matter noting that by the next adjourned date she would, then know if the lawyer has integrity or not if his client does not come to court.

Justice Dada accused Raji of been more interested in securing the interest of his pocket than to see justice been done by the court, adding that she would listen to his application when he has brought his client to court.

"You are only interested in your pocket and the money you are benefiting from your client that is why you are shielding him from been prosecuted. The case has been seriously compromised and I insist that your client be brought to court to take his plea," she said.

Ola-Ogundipe was arrested by the police over an alleged N10 million fraud and his arraignment in court had eariler been fixed for December last year but he appeared without a counsel but was adjourned but he was still absent to take his plea at the next adjourned date and the court issued a bench warrant against him.

Ola-Ogundipe was charged to court by the Lagos State Ministry of Justice led by Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbesan from the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) for allegedly duping a woman identified as Olaide Williams-Oni on the pretence of using the money for religious purposes.

The prophet was charged on a three-count charge of stealing, obtaining money by false pretence and forgery. The offences are contrary to Section 390, Section 419 and Section 467 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap C17, Vol. 2, Laws of Lagos state.

The judge also told the defence counsel that he does not know what it means to be a minister in the temple of justice, adding that lawyers should not because of money drag the noble profession to the mud.

Sequel to the adjournment, at the resumed hearing of the case the prosecution counsel, Mrs. Olabisi Ogungbesan told the court that the defendant is yet to be located and that they have written several letters to the police stations including the s-squad Panti without any response.

Ogungbesan also requested that the Commissioner of Police should be summoned to court so he can tell the court why a single individual cannot be brought before the court.

Responding, Mr. Raji said his client is still at the s-squad Panti that they are assisting the court to achieve justice. He told the court that they have a pending application before the court, stating that the court that the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the matter.

He said that his client was not above the law but that the Ministry of Justice was at fault by bringing the defendant before the court while boasting that he had handled over 150 cases, 100 at the High Court, 50 at the Appeal Court and qualified to appear before the Supreme Court. But while faulting Raji's court appearances jokingly called him a learned SAN.

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