Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Mike Ozekhome, has denied the claim that he jumped into the case of the two detained sons of the late MKO Abiola without being briefed to do so.
In a statement on Monday, Ozekhome said contrary to the claim allegedly made by another law firm, he was properly briefed to file a fundamental rights enforcement suit on behalf of the Abiola boys by their Cameroonian mother, Mrs. Olive Abiola.
He added that the boys’ stepmother, Mrs. Adebisi Abiola, who allegedly instigated their arrest by the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad, was not joined as a defendant in the suit, in order not to polarise the family left behind by the late MKO.
The Abiola boys, Kassim and Aliyu, were arrested by SARS operatives in their father’s house at 42-46 MKO Abiola Crescent, Off Toyin Street, Ikeja, on September 2, following a robbery incident at the house in the wee hours of the same day.
Ozekhome’s law firm had filed an N100m fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, contending that the arrest of the boys and their detention in the police custody was unlawful.
In a statement on Monday, Ozekhome rejected the claim that the suit he filed had prevented the amicable resolution of the matter by the family and was responsible for the continued detention of the boys by the police since September 2.
The statement was titled, “Our measured response to the press release made by Debo Adeleke, Esq, on behalf of maritime, commercial and immigration law chambers.”
Countering the claim that he was not briefed to file the suit, Ozekhome said, “We were personally briefed to handle the above brief through a series of telephone calls on Sunday, 6th and Monday, 7th September 2020, by Mrs. Olive Abiola, the very Cameroonian mother of the duo, who lives in Zimbabwe, and who told me she sought and got my numbers through a Nigerian friend of hers and through the Internet.
“We never knew her in person and have never met her before the said brief, and up till now.
“It is therefore professionally unfair and extremely preposterous for anyone (let alone a law firm), to suggest, imagine, or even daydream that at our level, we would ever jump up and take up a matter we have not been properly and adequately briefed on to handle.
“The two detained young men gave our lawyers further full verbal briefing, in addition to that already given by their mother via a series of telephone conversations.”
On why the boys’ stepmother was left out of the lawsuit, Ozekhome said, “The facts, as copiously given to us by both mother and detained children, were so ugly that we could easily have joined Mrs. Adebisi Abiola as the second defendant in the matter of the fundamental right, a move we however advisedly and cautiously discarded.
“We did this because the undersigned (Ozekhome) was a close ally of the late Chief MKO Abiola and his children, especially Hafsat, in the long-drawn battles of the June 1993 struggle to reclaim his stolen presidential mandate.
“Everyone in Nigeria knows that Abiola paid the supreme redemptive price for our democracy. Only very few Nigerians have, perhaps, written or participated in issues surrounding Chief Abiola and the June 12 struggle, as much as the undersigned has done. This is all so evident on the Internet. It was to skillfully manage this delicate situation that we sued only the Commissioner of Police, Lagos State, who is directly illegally holding onto the two children in the SARS custody. We also did this to prevent any schism in the Abiola clan.”