Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the consolidation of 12 suits filed last year bordering on the status of the Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
While eight of the suits are seeking Magu’s removal from office by virtue of his rejection by the Senate, the rest are asking the court to valid his tenure as a substantive Chairman of the EFCC.
The decision to consolidate the suits was sequel to an application by the Solicitor-General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr. Dayo Apata.
Moving the application, Apata, who represents President Muhammadu Buhari and the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami in the suits, argued that his was predicated on the provisions of Order 11 and 26 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules 2009.
He urged the court to consolidate the suits in order to avoid conflicting judgments from different judges of the court.
On his part, Magu’s counsel, Mr. Wahab Shittu, moved a similar application which was also granted on Monday.
One of the 12 consolidated suits filed by a lawyer, Mr. Wale Balogun, had before Monday, been heard and adjourned for judgment by the court.
Balogun, who appeared for himself, on Monday, urged the judge to deliver judgment in his case and should not allow the request by the AGF office for the consolidation of the rest of the suits to cause further delay.
Balogun alleged that the letter by the AGF was aimed at “arresting” the judgment.
But Apata who denied the allegation, said the AGF had, long ago, sent a letter dated July 5, 2017 to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court requesting the consolidation of the suit.
Justice Ibrahim Auta (retd), who is the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, had on August 3, 2017 acknowledged the AGF’s letter requesting that the parties to the suit exercise patience to enable the court to take steps.
Apata said he had in another later dated January 29, 2018 wrote a reminder letter to the Acting Chief Judge, Justice Abdu Kafarati, who took over from Auta.
“So the issue of arresting judgment does not even arise. We were waiting for the directive of the Chief Judge. But it seemed there was a breakdown in communication between the court and the AGF,” Apata said.
Justice Binta Nyako agreed with Apata that the AGF office could not be blamed, also noting that the information for the consolidation of the suits from the Chief Judge only reached her after Balogun’s case had been heard.
She therefore reopened Balogun’s case to enable the President and the AGF, both represented by Apata to make their input to the suit.
Other lawyers who appeared for the various parties, including Mr. Innocent Da’agba who represented the Senate, did not oppose the request for consolidation.
The judge then ordered the consolidation of the 11 suits with the one filed by Balogun.
She fixed June 27 for mention of the cases directing that every lawyer must before then file all the necessary papers.
She noted that the date for the definite hearing of the case would be fixed when all parties appeared on June 27 and thereafter judgment would be delivered in a date in the new legal year that would commence in September.
The consolidated suits include, FHC/YL/CS/14/2017, between Barrister Bello Bakari v. Hon. Attorney General of the Federation &3 ors, holden at Yola Judicial Division; FHC/ABJ/CS/278/2017‚ between Abubakar Sani v. The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, holden at Abuja Judicial Division (before Justice A.R. Mohammed); and FHC/ABJ/CS/318/17‚ between Jibrin Samuel Okutepa (SAN) v. the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 4 ors, holden at Abuja Judicial Division (before justice G.O Kolawole).
The rest are:
*FHC/ABJ/CS/227/2OI7‚ Ahmed Tijani Yusuf, Esq & anor v. Ibrahim Magu & 5 ors, holden at Abuja Judicial Division (before Justice A.R. Mohammed)
*FHC/ABJ/CS/374/17‚ Lady (Barr) Chidimma Udebani v. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria &. ors, holden at Abuja Judicial Division (before justice A.R. Mohammed)
*FHC/ABJ/CS/378/17‚ The lncorporated Trustees of Justice Mission International v. Attorney General of the Federation, holden at Abuja Judicial Division (before justice A.R. Mohammed)
*FHC/KN/CS/S9/ZOl7, Barrister Ali A. Jamilu v. President, Federal Republic of Nigeria & 4 ors, (before justice A.R. Mohammed).
*FHC/ABJ/CS/296/17, Emmanuel Esero v. Ibrahim Magu, holden at Abuja Judicial Division (before justice A.R. Mohammed)
*FHC/ABJ/CS/225/2017‚ Registered Trustees of African Patriotic Youth Assembly v. Mr. Ibrahim Magu &6 ors, holden at Abuja Judicial Division (before justice A.R. Mohammed) Suit No. FHC/ABI/CS/8OZ/l7
*Wale Balogun v. The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria & 4 ors holden at the Abuja Judicial division.