Principal Legal Officer In Anambra Justice Ministry, Okonkwo-Okom Accused Of Deceiving Court With Forged Signature
The former governorship candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP) in Anambra State, Dr Ifeanyi Okonkwo has petitioned the Nigerian Bar Association against a principal legal officer with the Anambra State Ministry of Justice, Mrs Chinwe Okonkwo-Okom over alleged forgery and misinformation.
She was alleged to have knowingly in Suit No. A/133/2009 filed a forged signature dated 27/08/2009 on the written deposition of P.O. Obiorah (Director of Estate) Anambra State Housing Development Corporation, a conduct said to have contravened Section 32(1), (3)(a)(e)(h)(1)(J) (k) of Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007.
The petitioner alleged that filing in court a forged signature of the P.O. Obiorah (Director of Estate) Anambra State Housing Development Corporation, knowing same to be false, by Chinwe G. Okonkwo-Okom, can only mean one purpose, “to undermine the due process of law”
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According to the petitioner, Section 32 of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007, ‘Candid And Fair Dealing’ stated that “(1) In appearing in his professional capacity before a Court or Tribunal, a lawyer shall not deal with the Court otherwise than candidly and fairly.
“(3) In appearing in his professional capacity before a Court or Tribunal, a lawyer shall not – (a) state or allude to any matter which he has no reasonable basis to believe is relevant to the case or that will not be supported by admissible evidence;
“(e) intentionally or habitually violate any established rule of procedure or of evidence; (h) in argument, assert as a fact that which has not been proved, or in those jurisdictions where a side has the opening and closing argument, to mislead his opponent be concealing or withholding in his opening argument positions upon which his side intends to rely;
“(i) produce evidence which he knows the Court should reject; (j) promote a case which to his knowledge is false; or (k) in any other way do or perform any act which may obviously amount to an abuse of the Court or which is process of the dishonourable and unworthy of an officer of the law charged, as a lawyer, with the duty of aiding in the administration of justice.”
The petition partly read, “With all due respect, it is my humble contention that Chinwe G. Okonkwo-Okom (Mrs.) of counsel procured the forged document in Exhibit 2- the purported signed signature of P.O. Obiorah with all the ingredients of the offence of forgery such are: (a) that there is a document or writing Exhibit – 2(b) that the document or writing was forged.
“(c) that the accused person forged the document or writing in question.
“(d) That the accused person intended the forged document or writing to be acted upon to the prejudice of the Complainant/victim in that belief that it is genuine.
“I respectfully I urge you to investigate Chinwe G. Okonkwo-Okom (Mrs.) of Counsel – Principal State Counsel, Hon. Attorney-General’s Chambers, Ministry of Justice, Anambra State, Awka, for acts in contravention of the Rules of Professional Conduct for Legal Practitioners 2007, based on this petition and hold that Chinwe G. Okonkwo-Okom (Mrs.) is guilty of professional misconduct and liable for punishment as provided in the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee Rules. See: MAGNA MARITIME SERVICES LTD & ANOR vs. S.A. OTEJU & TOBI (2005) 14 NWLR (PT. 945) 517, Per TOBI J.S.C. at page 541 paras. B-C.”