The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission says the president of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Paul Usoro (SAN), told detectives during interrogation that the N1.4bn which was paid into his account by the Akwa Ibom State Government was for the tribunal case which Governor Udom Emmanuel won.
The EFCC said this in a statement by its acting spokesman, Mr. Tony Orilade, while reacting to a speech delivered by Usoro at the NBA’s National Executive Committee meeting, which held on Thursday.
The EFCC said, “Indeed, the EFCC had invited Usoro in June this year, to explain his role regarding the inflow of N300m from the Akwa Ibom State Government’s account into the account of Paul Usoro Chambers.
“Under interrogation, Usoro had claimed that the various sums of money received from the Akwa Ibom State Government under the administration of Governor Udom Emmanuel, were payments for legal fees to him and other eminent members of the Inner Bar and a host of other members of the Outer Bar that he had engaged to work with him in respect of the election petition matter involving the governor.”
The commission said Usoro further stated that the payments were independent transactions and that the Akwa Ibom State Government’s payments-on-account were “in respect of my firm’s professional services to the state, while the payments to the senior counsel were made by me for and on behalf of Governor Udom Emmanuel, at his request.”
The anti-graft agency said rather than explain why he received such huge sums of money, Usoro raised the issue of “client-lawyer privilege,” arguing that “judicially and historically,” the “issues of fees, as between a lawyer and his client, is a matter of privilege.”