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Lawyers Accuse Gombe Governor, Inuwa Yahaya and APC Of Owing N40Million Legal Fee For Election Cases After 15 Months, Threaten Legal Action



According to letters from Steel Attorneys obtained by SaharaReporters, the governor and the party have owed its lawyers N40 million for the election cases handled for him for over 15 months.

The Gombe State Governor, Inuwa Yahaya and his party, the All Progressives Congress, have been accused of owing their attorneys who represented the party in court at the governor’s behest for the pre-election cases filed against him and the party by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

According to letters from Steel Attorneys obtained by SaharaReporters, the governor and the party have owed its lawyers N40 million for the election cases handled for him for over 15 months.

SaharaReporters in November 2023 reported how the Court of Appeal sitting in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, affirmed the election of Governor Yahaya.


The Independent National Electoral Commission had declared Yahaya the winner of the governorship election after getting 342,821 votes to beat his closest rival Jibrin Barde who polled 233,131 votes.


The first letter obtained by SaharaReporters from the lawyers which was addressed to the governor and dated August 17, 2023, was titled, “RE: Letter Of Engagement To Represent The All Progressives Congress In Suit Nos: FHC/ABJ/CS/1301/2022: CA/ABJ/CV/109/2023; AND SC/ / 2023 between; Peoples Democratic Party & 2 Ors. Vs Independent National Electoral Commission & Ors. Demand For The Negotiated Forty Million (40,000,000.00) Naira Only, Being Payment For Professional Fees (Court Of Appeal) In The Above Referenced Case.”


The letter read, “As you will recall, via personal meetings held at the Gombe State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, phone and WhatsApp conversations and letters of engagement dated 31st August, 2022 and 23 January, 2023 respectively, you had engaged our firm to lead a consortium of seasoned Legal Practitioners to represent the 2nd Defendant (Respondent) in the above referenced suit and the subsequent appeals at the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Nigeria. (Further details of which are not necessary at this juncture).


“Our firm effectively carried out your instructions- and in a judgement delivered on Wednesday, the 24th day of January, 2023, the Federal High Court, Abuja per Honourable Justice B.F.M. Nyako upheld our notice of Preliminary objection by declining jurisdiction in the Plaintiffs’ case and in so doing, struck out the case of the plaintiff and accordingly entered judgement in our favour.


“Dissatisfied with the above judgement, the Plaintiffs appealed the said judgement in CA/ABJ/CV/109/2023. This appeal we also successfully defended the party in and in a judgement delivered on Thursday, 23 February, 2023, the Court of Appeal found for us and dismissed the Appeal. Recall our previous briefings to you and your lieutenants on these successes.”

The August 17, 2023 letter was signed by Monday Akpomiemie, LP, for Principal Partner, Steel Attorneys.

In another letter from the lawyers dated November 7, 2023, the attorneys wrote, “RE: Letter Of Engagement To Represent The All Progressives Congress In Suit Nos: FHC/ABJ/CS/1301/2022: CA/ABJ/CV/109/2023 and SCL /2023 between PDP & 2 Ors. Vs INEC & Ors. A Soft Reminder To Pay The Negotiated Forty Million Naira ( Only Being Payment For Professional Fees In The Above Referenced Case.


“The above subject matter refers please. As your Excellency is no doubt aware, it’s ten months since you briefed us and nine months since we effectively represented and defended your interest in the above referenced suit.


“As an ardent Muslim and a true believer, we are conscious of the fact that your Excellency, is fully conversant with the provisions of Quran 7: 85 which mandates; ‘Nor withhold from the people the things that are their due.’ Indeed, the Holy prophet in a Hadith also posited, ‘I am the adversary of a man who employs a worker but does not pay him rightful wages.’


“The Bible also contains similar injunctions. In 1 Timothy 5; 18, God Almighty had mandated; We are by this correspondence officially making a demand for the payment of our negotiated professional fees which parties had agreed as forty million (40,000,000.00) naira only.


“As stated in our previous communications to you, the other Attorneys engaged in this brief have ran out of patience’ and have been bandying threats against our principal partner.


“By this correspondence, Your Excellency is required to facilitate the payment of the agreed sum of forty million naira (40,000,000.00) within seven (7) days of the receipt of this correspondence using the following bank details;     TAKE NOTICE that upon failing to meet the above demand, we shall be left with no choice than to resort to all legal means possible to recover the full and total sum including cost and damages from you. Whilst looking forward to your expeditious positive action, please accept as usual our warm professional regards always.”


The letter signed by M. Abubakar, LP for Steel Attorneys, further read, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain… the labourer is worthy of his wages. It is similarly provided in, Leviticus 19; 13; ‘And you shall not keep for yourself the wages of a labourer until morning.’ Equally in Deuteronomy 24: 15, it was enjoined upon us: ‘Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it: lest he cry out against you to the LORD, and it be sin to you.’


“Your Excellency, today makes it 260 days since we, as diligent labourers completed our job but without our just wage, we had pleaded and supplicated for it. Severally informed you and your aides of pressing needs and challenges we are facing yet we have been ignored, leading to untold inconveniences, hardship and unjust depravation to us.


“Give the worker his wage before his sweat dries up, and inform him of his wage while he is still working.’ Is the express instruction of the Holy Prophet but our sweet has since dried up and that wage we have been denied.


“Without prejudice to our earlier correspondence dated August 17, 2023, we have restrained from taking legal steps to recover the wages due to us because of personal relationship, our profound love for you, your interest, name and reputation and because we do not intend to burn bridges.


“We shall appreciate if your Excellency reciprocates this gesture by obliging us and paying our due agreed sum or call our principal and lead counsel; Marshal Abubakar, LP to sort out any grey area.


“We are in urgent need of the professional fee for the job completed as each member of the team has urgent and pressing needs the money is direly needed to sort, please. We once again beseech your Excellency to mandate the payment using the following account details please.”

In another letter addressed to the governor and dated March 28, 2024, titled, “Final letter of demand to pay the Negotiated Forty Million Naira Only Being Payment For Professional Fees In The Above Referenced Case,” the law firm threatened to sue the governor if the fee is not paid within three days.

However, the Gombe Government House has denied that the governor or the APC in the state ever engaged the law firm.

Ismaila Uba Misilli, Director-General, (Press Affairs), Gombe Government House told SaharaReporters: “There exists no record of the engagement of a firm named Steel Attorneys to represent either the All Progressives Congress (APC) or the Governor at any judicial level – be it the Tribunal, Appeal Court, or Supreme Court.

“Law firms representing our party, the Governor, and his deputy were issued with engagement letters. For emphasis, we have never retained the services of a firm of solicitors/barristers by the name – Steel Attorneys. All counsels engaged by us at all levels of election proceedings are duly remunerated according to terms mutually agreed upon.”

Misilli described the allegations made by the law firm as media blackmail and warned that the governor might seek legal redress.

However, in two separate letters of engagement sighted by our correspondent, dated March 7, 2023 and August 31, 2023 respectively, and addressed to the Principal Partner, Steel Attorneys, the party engaged the firm to represent it in the quoted suits from the Federal High Court to the Supreme Court. Regarding professional fees, it was clearly stated, “Kindly note that Muhammed Inuwa shall be responsible for the payment of your professional fees.”

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