Justice Jude Okeke of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Maitama, on Tuesday ordered the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to pay Mr. Samuel Okutepa (SAN), the sum of N180 million as his professional legal fee.
Okeke gave the order in a judgement he delivered Tuesday on the suit filed by Okutepa against the PDP over disputed unpaid legal fees.
The judge said Okutepa deserved to be paid the money for handling several cases for the party. He said that the defendant claim that they did not give the plaintiff job to do, as no legal agreement was signed by the parties, was an afterthought because the then Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam briefed the plaintiff.
The plaintiff suit succeeds and “the defendant is directed to pay the claimant N180 million being the earned professional fee for defending and prosecuting their cases listed out in the applicant’s statements of claims.’’
The court also ordered PDP to pay N50, 000 to Okutepa for successfully handling the cases.
The judge held that it was not right for the PDP not to pay for the work they knew was well handled by the plaintiff.
The judge said that in the records before the court, the applicant was given the brief by the former Governor of Benue, Gabriel Suswam, and the Attorney General of Benue.
He further held that the Constitution of PDP recognised a state governor as a high officer who can give instructions on behalf of the party.
“The instructions given to the applicant to handle the matter is binding on the PDP.
” The defendant was aware that the applicant conducted the cases and never questioned the instructions of the governor.
” The defendant kept quiet and benefited from his services, permitted and encouraged him to labour only to claim that a legal contract was not signed.
” The defendant is not in denial that the applicant did not handle the cases, but they claimed they did not engage him, ” he held.
Some of the cases handled by Okutepa that the fees became subjects of litigation were between Terver Kakih Vs PDP and three others that went up to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court.