Friday, November 27

Oduah’s lawyer’s absence stalls bulletproof cars case hearing

Oduah's lawyer's absence stalls bulletproof cars case hearing

The hearing of a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by a former Minister of Aviation, Mrs. Stella Oduah, was stalled on Tuesday due to the absence of her lawyer, Mr. Ajibola Oluyede, in court.

Oduah sued the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission; the Attorney General of the Federation; and the Inspector General of Police.

She is seeking an order restraining the defendants from probing her over the purchase of two armoured BMW by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority under her watch in 2013.

At the resumed proceedings before Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Tuesday, Oluyede's junior, Mobolaji Akintunde, said his principal was not in court because he had gone for another matter before the Ibadan Division of the Court of Appeal.

The junior counsel applied for an adjournment to enable Oluyede appear in person.

Following the consent of the other parties, Justice Abang adjourned the case till December 1, 2015 for hearing.

Oduah had on August 26, 2015 secured an order of interim injunction from Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the same court barring the defendants from taking any action against her pending the final determination of the suit.

Oduah, who is now a serving senator representing Anambra North, alleged in her suit that the Federal Government was about to use the defendants to unleash repression against her and other prominent members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.

She claimed that the ruling All Progressives Congress government had perfected plans to try prominent members of the PDP, including herself, on trumped up charges in a Lagos State government-controlled court.

She urged the court to stop the defendants from being used by the Federal Government to persecute and humiliate her under the guise of anti-graft war.

But the AGF and EFCC have urged the court to dismiss Oduah's suit for lacking in merit.

In its preliminary objection, the EFCC described Oduah's claims as baseless and speculative, arguing that the ex-minister failed to place enough material fact before the court to justify her claim that she was about to be invited or arrested.

On its own part, the AGF said Oduah failed to establish any cause of action against it, having not proved that she had been invited, arrested or detained by the AGF.

Besides, the AGF challenged the territorial jurisdiction of the Lagos division of the Federal High Court to hear Oduah's suit on the grounds that the alleged rights violation did not take place in Lagos.

A counsel from the office of the AGF, T.A. Gazali, contended that by virtue of Section 46(1) of the constitution and Order 2 Rule 1 of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure, only a court within the state where Oduah's rights were allegedly violated could hear the case.

He said, "From the whole of the applicant's averments, there is nowhere she mentioned that her right was or is being breached by the respondents within the territorial space called Lagos.
"There is nothing to show that the applicant was invited, arrested or detained in Lagos by any of the respondents in the suit.

"The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos cannot assume jurisdiction to entertain alleged breach of fundamental rights that did not take place in Lagos State."

Gazali further contended that Oduah did not file her suit in conformity with Order IX of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Rules 2009.
"The applicant's case for the most part is hypothetical and speculative," Gazali said.

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