‘Hardship pushed me’, says fake lawyer jailed for impersonation

A High Court in Otuocha, Anambra State, has sentenced a fake lawyer to 90 days imprisonment for impersonation.
Otuocha is a community in Anambra East Local Government Area of the state.
The convicted fake lawyer, Obinna Oraezue, was arrested in the courtroom on 13 June while representing a litigant in a land case.

Viral video clip
A video clip which showed Mr Oraezue being interrogated by the judge, Justice Okechukwu Onunkwo, went viral recently on social media.

In the clip, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, the fake lawyer was being questioned by Justice Onunkwo, who was surprised by his inability to present his case at the court properly.

“No lawyer will do this,” the judge said of Mr Oraezue’s conduct at the court.
The fake lawyer was dressed in a wig and gown.

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“Officer, there is an imposter here. This man is not a lawyer,” the judge said to an armed police operative at the court.
“Remove your wig and gown. This man is not a lawyer. And I hereby order his arrest in my court,” he declared.
The fake lawyer was consequently handcuffed and arrested by the police operative, who a plain-clothes police officer assisted.

Mr Oraezue was subsequently arraigned on Wednesday for contempt, Punch newspaper reported.
Upon interrogation by Justice Onunkwo, the fake lawyer confessed that he did not study law in the university but political science.
He stressed that he has a passion for legal practice, explaining that he had just spent about a month at M.T Olisaeke, a law firm that hired him.
Mr Oraezue claimed that he had not represented anyone in any Nigerian court in the past.

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While pleading for forgiveness, the fake lawyer blamed economic hardship in Nigeria for his action, adding that he had worked as a contract staff at the Onitsha South Local Government Area of the state.
He appealed for leniency, saying he has five children and an unemployed wife to take care of.
Delivering judgement, Justice Onunkwo held that the fake lawyer was guilty of impersonation and subsequently sentenced him to 90 days imprisonment with hard labour.

The judge said the sentence took effect from 13 June when the convict was arrested and argued that the sentence was mild because the court considered the convict’s pleas.
He said the sentence would serve as a deterrent to others who may wish to indulge in such an “ignoble” act.
He recommended investigation and disciplinary actions against the law firm for hiring the impersonator as a “junior lawyer” without proper checks at the Onitsha branch of the Nigerian Bar Association.
Meanwhile, the convict, Mr Oraezue, was remanded at the Onitsha Correctional Centre in the state.
Reacting to the judgement, a legal practitioner, Uzochukwu Ozumba, said the court was lenient enough because the convict had shown remorse.
Mr Ozumba advised those who may wish to commit similar crimes to desist from it as the court might not be lenient again.
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