A social Media user have shared a horrifying experience of a young lawyer before a High Court in Portharcourt Rivers State. The Young Lawyer, Mgbowaji Kelvin Benson Esq, was remanded to 3 months prison for the inability of his client to pay a cost earlier awarded by the Court.
Below is the full story as shared by Afam Anijekwu
On The 18th Of July, 2019,(Yesterday), A Young Lawyer Of About Five (5) Years At The Bar And A Member Of The Nba, Port Harcourt Branch By Name Mgbowaji Kelvin Benson Esq.( A.K.A M.K. Benson) Was Convicted For Contempt And Sentenced To Three(3) Months Imprisonment By The High Court Of Rivers State Of Nigeria (Port Harcourt Division) Presided Over By Honourable Justice Nwogu.
Ingredients/Contents Of The Offence Of Contempt: It Is Gathered That The Court Had Awarded Cost Of 100,000.00 Naira Against His Client On A Previous Date(20th Of June, 2019), When The Matter Came Up For Hearing Of A Preliminary Objection Filed By The 1st Defendant’s Counsel Challenging The Jurisdiction Of The Court To Entertain The Matter, On The Ground That Parties Have Not Explored Arbitration Before The Matter Was Brought To Court, Based On An Application For Adjournment By The Senior To M.K. Benson Esq. Who Had Led Him In Court On That Day. Consequently, The Office Of M.K Benson Esq., Took The Hint And Filed A Notice Of Discontinuance On The 12th Of July, 2019, In Order To Explore Arbitration.
Yesterday(18th July, 2019), When The Matter Came Up For Hearing Of The P.O, M.K Benson Esq., Informed The Court Of The Notice Of Discontinuance Filed Before The Court, But Was Objected To By The Counsel To The 1st Defendant On The Ground That The Claimant Has Not Paid The Cost Earlier Awarded Against Her. The Court Then Sought The Response Of Mr. Benson On The Issue Of Cost. Mr. Benson Then Informed The Court That Yes It Is True That The Claimant (His Client) Has Not Yet Paid The Cost Earlier Awarded Against Her.
However, That By The Provision Of The Rules, It Is At The Discretion Of The Court Whether To Grant Him Right Of Audience Or Not.
At That Point, Court Insisted That Counsel Must Pay The 100,000.00 Naira Awarded Against The Client Or Be Committed To Prison. Mr. Benson Applied To Go Out Of The Court Room As The Court Was Still Sitting In Order To Call His Principal In Chambers About The Development But Was Refused By The Court And He Was Detained In The Court Room. Though Counsel Sent Text Messages Which Were Yet To Be Replied.
By The Time The Court Wanted To Rise And The Money Hadn’t Come, M.K Benson Was Sentenced To Prison For Three Months For Contempt Of Court.
However Mr. Benson was saved by the branch chairman, Mr. Sylvester N. Adaka, and Secretary, Tonye Sipoto-Pepple before he was allowed to go home.
The drama continued as His Lordship requested that Mr. Benson should provide the money on the 19th of July, 2019, or face bench warrant against him.
Mr. Benson however on 19th July, 2019 avoided the court premises as his client have not been able to pay the cost awarded against them.
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