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Enugu Lawyer Drags Resident Doctors to Court Over Contract Breach

From Ignatius Okpara, Enugu

ENUGU, NIGERIA (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – An Enugu based lawyer, Ikechukwu Maximus Ugwuoke has dragged the National Association of Resident Doctors of Nigeria (NARD) to court over alleged breach of agreement.

The writ for summary judgment filed at the Enugu State High Court in Suit with reference No E/767/2017, borders on what Ugwuoke claimed to be deliberate refusal, failure and neglect of the doctors to keep to terms on their agreement with his law firm.

He claimed in the suit that he was at the moment handling over 11 cases, involving the body.

The suit has the lawyer as plaintiff carrying on legal practice in the name and style of El-Maximus Ugwuoke & Co, Hakuna Matata Chambers.

The defendants are National Association of Resident Doctors, NARD, being sued through Dr. Ugochukwu Chinaka and Dr. O.V Nnadi, the incumbent President and Secretary of the Association as the 1st and 2nd Defendants respectively

Dr. Onyebueze John Ugochukwu and Dr. Aneke Emmanuel, the immediate past President and Secretary of the Association were listed as the 3rd and 4th defendants, respectively.

In the suit obtained by newsmen in Enugu on Thursday, the lawyer is seeking an Order of court compelling the Defendants to pay him the sum of N18,450,000 (Eighteen Million Four hundred and Fifty thousand naira) only, “being the outstanding legal fee which the defendants are owing the Plaintiff’s law firm for the 11 cases they were briefed to handle for the Defendants pursuant to clause 5(ii) the memorandum of understanding between the said Law firm and the Association.”

Speaking with newsmen, Ugwuoke said that he had discharged his obligation under clause 5 (ii) of the said MOU which entitles his firm to the fees.

“Under Clause 5 (ii) of our MOU, the association is under obligation to pay us our fees upon filing of their cases or entering of defence for them as the case may be.

“We have fulfilled that requirement and had written series of demand letters to the association notifying them of our intention to file action against them, but the association has neither replied any of our letters nor deemed it proper to even communicate us in any manner.

“We even wrote a formal complaint to Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) as the umbrella body of Doctors in Nigeria over the same issue.

According to him, “the last communication we had from our clients, National Association of Resident Doctors was during the regime of their immediate past EXCO and the current EXCO are either indifferent to our course or they have just chosen in their wisdom or lack of it to ignore our demands in a most despicable manner.”

The Lawyer who recounted his efforts and sacrifices to the success and peace the association is enjoying today in so many areas stated that the association has been very unfair and inconsiderate to him and his legal team by abdicating their financial obligation to them.

“It is unprofessional for us to beg for our legal fees,” he said, adding “the ethics of our profession forbid it, that is why we always reach a fee agreement with clients from the onset, and agreement are meant to be obeyed.”

Ugwuoke said he doesn’t care if the Association debriefed him or not as his fees were well secured under the MOU.

He stated because of his relationship with the association, he didn’t yet want to file any claim for damages against the Association for now but warned that “if the association continues to delay in making good their payment to them before the end of this month, they shall in addition to this suit, file a claim of N100,000,000 general and exemplary damages against the Association.”

When contacted, the first NARD President, Chinaka denied knowledge of the suit, even as he declined to make further comments until he was served.

His predecessor, Onyebueze said he was aware of the suit, explaining that before he handed over, he had put a payment plan on ground for the settlement of the legal fees.

The court is yet to fix a date for the hearing of the suit.


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