The police in the Area F Command, Lagos State, have commenced investigations into the circumstances that led to the alleged assault of a lawyer, Mr. Issa Adedokun, by his senior colleague, Mr. Bartholomew Aguegbodo.
The police said the assault was not unconnected with the rivalry between two factional groups of the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, to which Adedokun and Aguegbodo respectively belonged.
PUNCH Metro learnt that Adedokun had reported to the police that some people broke into the association’s Bar Centre in Ikeja to hold a party and four policemen followed him to the centre.
It was learnt that Aguegbodo confronted him for involving the police in the issue, which resulted in an altercation and the subsequent assault.
Adedokun said, “At exactly 12pm on Monday, December 19, the Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, Ikeja, Mr. Adelana Ogunlana, called me on the telephone that four persons broke into the secretariat of the NBA branch.
“Being the acting secretary, I was asked to meet with other members of the executive to lodge a formal complaint at the Ikeja Police Station. Four policemen followed me to the secretariat, where those suspected to have broken into the building were about to hold a party.
“On getting to the Bar Centre, the policemen asked me to point at the four persons, which I did. Immediately I did that, Mr. Bartholomew (Aguegbodo), challenged me for bringing policemen to arrest fellow lawyers. I didn’t respond to him. The next thing he said was, ‘you this mad man; you want to polarise the bar.’ He called me a mad man three times.
“He said I was not only a mad man, but a bastard. I asked him to withdraw the statement, but he repeated it three times. I told him that I would respond accordingly if he called me such again. He called me a bastard again and I said, ‘you are a bastard.’ The next thing I felt was a heavy blow on my face and I fell. The policemen rescued me from the scene and I went to make a statement at the Area F. The police asked me to go to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, where I was given some drugs.”
On Friday, our correspondent awaited Aguegbodo for over three hours on Bar Centre premises to get his own side of the story to no avail.
He said, “I am still on the Island. Just give me 30 minutes. I will call you back and give you my exact position.”
He, however, did not call back, while subsequent calls put across to his line rang out. He had also yet to reply to a text message sent to his phone since Friday.
“Sir, I have been waiting for you at Ikeja for over three hours and I’m about leaving. I will appreciate if you can send your reaction to my mail – firstname.lastname@example.org – or I will rely solely on your Facebook post as regards the incident,” the message read in part.
Responding to colleagues’ inquiry on the incident on Facebook, Aguegbodo said he regretted his action, and admitted that he had breached the professional ethics.
“I ordinarily wouldn’t want to join issues on this. There are always two sides of a coin. I wouldn’t also want to justify anything. I quite agree that it has not degenerated to this (sic). The whole thing is actually regrettable.
“I let myself down on the high standard I had always maintained, as well as a lot of people who look up to me as a role model. I should have had a better control no matter what happened. I owe a whole lot of people apologies for jettisoning my role as a model. It is quite unfortunate and regrettable that this happened,” the comment read.
He, however, later deleted the comment.
A security official, who claimed to have witnessed the incident, said Adedokun initiated the verbal exchange, before Aguegbodo resorted to assault.
“What the lawyer (Adedokun) did was wrong. I was serving drinks at the party when the policemen arrived and he started pointing at people. He abused the other lawyer (Aguegbodo). The man got angry and punched him in the face,” the guard said.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, SP Dolapo Badmos, said the case was under investigation.
“I confirm the case of a barrister that assaulted his colleague. It is a case of two factions having altercation over who controls the association. Area F Police Command is investigating the case,” she said.