Suspect sues judge over substitution of counsel

appeal-courtA suspect, Tope Atobatele has filed an action against a Judge of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja for allegedly debriefing his counsel, Kabir Akingbolu without his consent.

Atobatele who is being tried in a criminal matter before the female judge said she appointed another counsel for him to prosecute his defence.
The applicant said the judge debriefed his counsel and appointed another one for him from the Office of Public Defender (OPD).

As a result, Atobatele filed an action against the judge and four others to seek redress over the alleged denial of his constitutionally guaranteed right to fair hearing.

Joined, as co-defendants in the suit are, the Attorney General of Lagos State, the Chief Judge of Lagos State, the Prosecutor in charge No ID/37C/2011 and one Temitayo Agbelu.

Among other relief’s, the claimant is praying the court to declare that the court does not have the power to debrief the counsel of the claimant without his consent.

Besides, the claimant is praying the court for an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants in the suit from taking any further step in charge No ID/37C/2011, between The people of Lagos State and Gabriel Opewumi and others without the counsel of the applicant taking part in the proceeding.

The application is supported by a 14-paragraph affidavit deposed to personally by the applicant who averred that from the inception of the case he had briefed Mr. Kabir Akingbolu to handle his defence.

The deponent averred that his co-defendant in the criminal trial also approached Mr. Akingbolu and briefed him to take up his defence.

According to the deponent, the defence counsel, sometime in 2014, on behalf of the two of them filed an application asking the court to disqualify itself from the matter.

“The court took the said application to disqualify itself since June 2014 and for reason known to the court, it fails to deliver ruling on the applications.

“That on 12 March, 2015 when the matter came up before the court, my counsel Akingbolu was not in court but sent a letter for adjournment, informing the court of the demise of his father and mother and that he had traveled to Ekiti for the burial which was scheduled to take place around that time.

“That the court however unilaterally appointed another counsel for me even when I informed the court that I do not need a lawyer, that I have my own lawyer who has sent a letter for adjournment to court, giving reason for his absence,” he stated.

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