By Magnus Effiong, Calabar
Chiefs and leaders of Effi community in Okuni, Ikom local government area of Cross River State, have faulted claims made by Calabar based environmentalist, Prince Odey Oyama, that a legal practitioner, Elder Icheri Imo Okim, pocketed N21m meant for the community.
Recall that Prince Odey Oyama, who claimed to speak on behalf of the community had alleged that the lawyer was keeping over N21 million from auctioning of property that belonged to a private company and which ought to have been given to the community,
He had alleged that the lawyer refused to disclose full details of the auction transactions, refused to avail them the court judgment that authorised the auctioning as well as the power of attorney purportedly given to him.
Oyama alleged further that the lawyer, having once worked for Kanu Agabi chambers in Calabar, who once were clients to the defunct firm, MikeWood Plant Industry situated in the community, had used his position to access facts about the firm with which he allegedly manipulated as community lawyer when a court ordered auctioning of its property.
But in their reactions, the chiefs said Oyama erred over the matter.
Spokesperson for Effi community, His Highness Okim Emmanuel Enya Agbor, described the allegation as false, baseless and calculated attempt to tarnish the good image of the legal practitioner and bring Okim’s reputation to disrepute.
“We were shocked when we read the said publication alleging that our community lawyer who had been of immense assistance for over two decade diverted the said amount into his private pocket. Our lawyer never sold any property that worth the amount.
“What he auctioned were only movable items from the said plant which worths about four million one hundred and fifty thousand naira and handed the money to the community which is being ploughed in execution of a town council project. The only money we gave to Okim was his legal fee.
“We just can’t explain where this spurious allegation is coming from, our lawyer is the one who had been assisting us to resolve various community issues and at no point had we found him wanting. All we seek for is peace and not trouble”.The monarch maintained.
Also speaking, the community head, HRH Ntui Ojong Nyambi, said the purported publication by the aggrieved environmentalist may have been generated to malign their lawyer Barr. Okim, with erroneously believe that the lawyer was the one who ill-advised the monarchs to publish a disclaimer regarding ownership of power of attorney on community forest.
“Let me state categorically here that at no time did Barr. Okim advise us, the chiefs of Effi village on the disclaimer. Okim has nothing to do with the disclaimer.
“If anyone is claiming that our lawyer, who we so much cherished, sold a property worth N21m, we don’t know if there is a document to that effect,” Effi village head chief maintained.
Unconfirmed reports alleged that part of what caused the anger of the chiefs against Prince Oyama was the environmentalist’s request that the community chiefs should have tendered a written apology letter to him regarding the disclaimer letter.