A suspected fake lawyer, who has practised for five years in Anambra State, Richard Udeozo, was on Wednesday remanded in custody by a magistrate, S. K. Kadurumba, in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
It was learnt that Udeozo had jumped bail in Uli, Anambra State, some years back, after he was arrested for impersonation.
He allegedly ran to Owerri, where he started practising as a lawyer in the chambers of a private firm, until luck ran out on him.
The Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Owerri branch, Lawrence Nwakaeti, invited the police, who arrested him on March 23, 2017.
He was subsequently charged with impersonation, forgery, among other offences, punishable under the country’s criminal code.
The charges read in part, “That on March 23, 2017, in the office of the Chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association, Owerri branch, you presented a forged certificate of call to bar, dated November 20, 2012, which bears Richard Ikenna Amanoh, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 467 of the criminal code.
“That you, Richard Udeozo, on the same date, time and place, in the aforesaid magisterial district, did present a forged qualifying certificate from the Council of Legal Education, which bears Richard Ikenna Amanoh, and presented it to the Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association, Owerri branch, as a proof of having attended the Nigerian Law School and qualified to be called to bar, thereby committing an offence punishable under Section 467 of the criminal code.”
The accused was equally said to have presented a forged change of name, which was published in a national daily.
The NBA Chairman, Owerri, Nwakaeti, who announced appearance for the association, told the court that the accused was a serial bail jumper, who had jumped bail in Anambra State over the same matter.
He said, “In the interest of our legal profession, which is going down every day, I implore this court to refuse the accused bail.”
The police prosecutor, S. N. Onwuchekwa, urged the court to exercise restraints in granting the accused bail, saying allowing him to walk out as a free man would put the lives of those who would testify against him in court in jeopardy.
The accused, who defended himself because no lawyer agreed to stand in for him, told the court that his certificate of call to bar fell into water.
He pleaded not guilty to all the charges and elected summary trial.
The magistrate, Kadurumba, ordered that he should be remanded in custody until May 10, 2017, when the matter would come up for hearing.