INVESTIGATION: Lawyer Indicted for Fraud in the UK Nominated as Judge of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal

by Nicholas Ibekwe,

On February 22, the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, published the names of 12 lawyers it said had been shortlisted for appointment as Court of Appeal judges after an intensive two-day screening exercise that involved 187 lawyers.

In a statement announcing the shortlist, the NBA explained that the exercise was in response to the call by the President of the Court of Appeal for it to nominate “suitably qualified candidates” to be considered for appointment as judges into the second highest court in the country.

A PREMIUM TIMES investigation has revealed that one of the finalists, Rita Chris-Garuba, formerly Rita Kuku, in 2000, was indicted for a series of professional misconduct, including putting clients’ funds to her own use, and a £250,000.00 mortgage fraud in the United Kingdom where she worked as a solicitor.

After an indictment, the Law Society of England and Wales described Mrs. Chris-Garuba as lacking the “integrity”, probity and trustworthiness” expected of a legal practitioner, and subsequently struck her name off the Roll of Solicitors.

The Law Society is the professional body of solicitors in England and Wales. It regulates conducts of solicitors as well as protects the public from dishonest practitioners.

Mrs. Chris-Garuba was admitted to the Nigerian bar in 1980. She moved to the UK in 1995.

After practising as a registered foreign lawyer in the country for a while, she qualified as a solicitor in August 1998. But barely six months after she was admitted as a solicitor, she ran into trouble after she, alongside her partner, Axel Nares, was charged with fraud, and “conducts unbefitting of a solicitor” before a three-person tribunal of the Law Society chaired by J.C Chesterton.

A record of the trial obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from the Law Society showed that the charges against Mrs. Chris-Garuba and Mr. Nares were filed by Peter Cadman of the Office of the Supervision of Solicitors on January 27, 1999. Mr. Cadman further presented a supplementary list of allegations against the duo on February 20, 2000. Read full in PremiumTimes