Counsel sued for pocketing GH¢30,000 refund on property

From Alfred Adams, Takoradi

A Takoradi-based Senior Legal Practitioner, Mr. Samuel Erickson Abakah, of Gaizie Zwennes Hughes & Co, a law firm owned by the former Speaker of Parliament, Begyina Sekyi Hughes, has been hit with a GH¢30,000 embezzlement charge by a client and seven others.

Elizabeth Addo, and seven other family members, have filed a summary suit at the Sekondi High Court, praying the court to compel the legal practitioner to pay back GH¢30,000 paid through him for onward transfer to another court.

The decision by the client to resort to a court action followed the failure of the Western Regional Ghana Bar Association (GBA) to settle the matter when the plaintiff filed a complaint with the association.

According to the plaintiffs, another Sekondi High Courtm presided over by Justice Kwaku Saedm delivered a settlement judgment in a case in which a house belonging to Elizabeth Addo and her family was wrongly purchased by one Adjoa Birago.

Elizabeth Addo and the family filed a suit to contest the purchase of the said property purchased by the defendant.

When the case went to court, the purchasing agreement was nullified. As a result, the court ordered that the purchasing amount of GH¢30,000 should be returned to the defendant (Adjoa Birago), in addition to a compensation package of GH¢20,000.

The court ordered that following the settlement, Adjoa Birago should have no claim whatsoever to the said property.

The judge further ruled that payment should be effected on or before June 30, 2010, through the Registrar of the court.

In line with the directive by the court, Samuel Okantey, son of Elizabeth Addo, paid a total sum of GH¢30,000 on June 20 to Lawyer Erickson Abakah for onward transfer to the court. But, the said money was never lodged with the court, as instructed.

Elizabeth Addo engaged another counsel, Mr. Kweku Sam-Amoah, who wrote to Mr. Abakah in an effort to retrieve the money to defray the debt owed Adjoa Birago

Under the heading ‘PAYMENT OF MONEY TO ADJOA BIRAGO PURSUANT TO COURT SETTLEMENT,’ the letter stated: “I have my client’s instruction to take further action at the close of this date.”

But the lawyer at the centre of the embezzlement complaint fired back in response: “I am at a loss as to the source of your instruction, since neither Elizabeth Addo, nor the seven others, or their authorised attorney could have fed you with such erroneous, false, and libelous information.”

Though Erickson Abakah admitted receipt of the money in contention, he claimed that “the sum of GH¢30,000 paid to him, for which a receipt was issued, was a deposit against other expenses, as well as the balance on Adjoa Birago’s GH¢50,000.

He said, out of the total amount of GHc¢30,000 paid to him, the complainant took back GH¢9,000 in two cash cheques.

Counsel Abakah stated further: “Finally do convey to your clients that whatever amount is outstanding on the GH¢30,000 paid to me would be taken as lieu against my fee of 15% on the property.”

But counsel for Elizabeth Addo and the seven others insisted that Abakah could not claim to take 15% of the sale of the property, whilst he had collected GH¢6,000 as legal fees.

It was amid the claim and counter-claim that Elizabeth Addo, through her new counsel, fired the summary suit before a Sekondi High Court praying the court to compel the former counsel to refund the money.

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