A Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Emeka Ozoani, has distanced himself from a media report, alleging that he was in the United Kingdom recently to represent billionaire businessman, Benedict Peters, at the ongoing proceedings in the Southwark Crown Court involving a former Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The legal luminary, who made this known in a disclaimer on Monday, addressed to the editor of the national daily, stated that the contents of the report in all material respects were inaccurate, false and misleading, stressing that he did not act for, represent, or attend the court on the said day for or on behalf of Benedict Peters or any other person connected with the case.
According to Ozoani, his presence in England was fortuitous and coincidental. He stated that his attendance at the court on that day was purely out of personal interest in a high-profile case involving the former Minister of Petroleum Resources that has been very widely publicised.
He stated that as a Senior Nigerian lawyer with no experience in the practice of English Criminal Law, it would have been crass and implausibe to offer a view of the sort reported on a matter about which he does not have the requisite professional license and competence. He insisted that he did not speak with or offer to anyone – especially any journalist, whether from the the newspaper or otherwise – any views on the case or the proceedings.
Ozoani said he was consulting English lawyers to take such further steps as may be necessary to address this entirely unprompted injurious aberration, to protect himself from any additional damage or opprobrium that the utterly unacceptable, conjectural and speculative publication has caused him and others.
The notice of disclaimer, dated November 5, 2023 and addressed to
the Editor of the Lagos-based newspaper, read in part, “My attention has been drawn to The Guardian publication of 05 November, 2023, 3:51am, https://guardian.ng/tag/bribery-allegations/, entitled: “Bribery Allegations: Anxious Diezani asks for prayers”, credited to one Tunde Oyedoyin, London, therein he allegedly published a purported account of events that were alleged to have occurred after the hearing on 30 October 2023, at the ongoing proceedings in the Southwark Crown Court involving Mrs Alison-Madueke, a former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum.
“The account suggests that I claimed to have travelled to the United Kingdom to represent Benedict Peters who, from every indication, is not a party in the case, and that I offered a view about the prospects or outcome of the case. This account is inaccurate, false and misleading. First, I did not act for, did not represent, and did not attend the court on that day for or on behalf of Benedict Peters or any other person connected with the case. I am neither an English Barrister nor solicitor and do not have right of audience in England and could not, therefore, represent anyone in the case. For the avoidance of any doubt, I hereby categorically state that I was not instructed to represent Benedict Peters in the said case, and neither did I appear as counsel or representative of Benedict Peters in the case or in any other capacity whatsoever.
“Any such suggestion is false and malicious and same is hereby outrightly refuted. My presence in England was fortuitous and coincidental and my attendance in court on that day was purely out of personal interest in a high-profile case involving a former Nigerian Minister of Petroleum that has been very widely publicised. Second, at no time did I speak with or offer to anyone – especially any journalist, whether from the Guardian Newspaper or otherwise – any views on the case or the proceedings. As a Senior Nigerian lawyer with no experience in the practice of English Criminal Law, it would be crass and improbable to offer a view of the sort reported on a matter about which I do not have the requisite professional license and competence.
“The publication is false, malicious, malevolent and deliberately constructed to sensationalize such a subject of inherent sensitivities given the high profile of the individuals named in the publication. I use this medium to make it abundantly and categorically clear that the comments falsely attributed to me did not emanate from me and are wholly rejected and denied.
“The publication of the false report has caused me considerable professional and personal embarrassment immeasurable proportions. I am consulting English lawyers to take such further steps as may be necessary to address this entirely unprompted injurious aberration and to protect myself from any additional damage or opprobrium that this utterly unacceptable, conjectural and speculative publication has caused me and others.”