It was 3/12 hours of legal fire works today at the High Court NO 32 JABI ABUJA ,as Senior counsel to the Plaintiff made a futile attempt to move the court for the consolidation of all Pending contentious motions with the substantive suit.
The senior counsel on The side of the defence and other learned counsel appearing in the suit took time to vehemently oppose The application citing various authorities to butress their arguements.The combined firework of yunus Ustaz Usman,Akinboro,Eleja, Tetengi and Okutepa (All SANS) with the concurrence of Abdul-Rasheed and OloKe for the Defendants made chief Emeka Ngige sweat profusely to the point of losing his temper.The court was over crowded with lawyers who came to appear for the parties and others who were in Court to witness the proceedings . Below is the watered-down synopsis of the volatile proceedings
SYNOPSIS Of Proceedings OF
8th November 2016
Chief Nnaemeka Ngige,SAN with O.J EHRABOR with 15 OTHERS for the Plaintiff.
:Yunus Ustaz Usman,SAN with Olumuyiwa Akinboro,SAN&7OTHERS for the 1st – 5th(Members of NBA Registered Trustees.
Dr.Garuba Tentengi,SAN with 4others.For 6th Defendant (Registered Trustees of NBA)
K.K Eleja,SAN with 5others (For KenMozia ,SAN and members of the Electoral Committee 8-12th Defendants)
J.S . Okutepa,SAN &6 OTHERS (For the 13th Defendant )
Tejumola Abiola-Oloke with
Olobayo Oluwatomi Eureka and4 Others FOR THE 14 DEFENDANT:(PRESIDENT AUGUSTINE. I.ALEGEH ,SAN
Muritala Abdul-Rasheed,Esq with Barbara Omosun and Patrick Abang,Esq.FOR THE 15TH DEFENDANT (A.B MAHMOUD SAN)
Chief Nnaemeka Ngige SAN.: My Lord this matter is in relation to an election matter although not an election petition. Parties have filed one process or the other. Some motions are non-contentious. If my Lord permits, we shall apply that the non-contentious matters be taken first.
Court: I will take all non contentious applications and give a consolidated ruling.
Counsel to the 1st- 15TH Defendants moved their Applications for extension of time to file statements of defence
Court.All Applications granted as prayed.
Chief Nnaemeka Ngige SAN: My Lord, the contentious issues bother on our motion to restrain the 15th Defendant from being sworn in as the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and another motion seeking to set aside the swearing in pending the determination of the substantive suit. Because of the time sensitive nature of this case, we apply for consolidation of all the applications challenging the jurisdiction of the Court with the substantive matter for the following reasons:
The trend and the attitude of the Supreme Court is that election matters or matters brought by originating summons are better taken along with the substantive suit so that the Court can take its decision on jurisdiction and the substantive suit on the merit together. The effect of which is l that when a matter proceeds on appeal, the Court of Appeal will give its decision on the issue of jurisdiction as well as on the substantive matter to encourage a situation that once the appellate Court has determined the two consolidated decisions there will be no need to go back to the lower Court for continuation of the hearing of the issues. We rely on the case of Amadi V. NNPC (2000) 10 NWLR Pt. 614 pg 76. We submit that all what is contained in the Defendants’ Preliminary objection is also contained in their statements of defence. All Preliminary Objections should be taken together and the Court’s ruling should be reserved.
Counsel to the 1st- 15th Defendants one after the other but in alliance stated that there are instances where Applications are consolidated with the substantive suit and it involves particularly where the rule of Court provides for it. They also distinguish between the case of Amadi v. NNPC and this instant suit. They submitted that the Supreme Court has reiterated in a plethora of cases that once the issue of jurisdiction is raised, it must be settled first. NDIC V. CBN (2002) pt 766 AJAYI V. ADEBIYI (2012) 11 NWLR PT. 1310 pg 137, 181-182( referred)
Court: I will give a brief ruling. It is the responsibility of the Court to ensure that matters before the Court be determined fairly to ensure justice is not delayed. I know as a matter of fact that some matters are consolidated because of the issue of time. I have listened to the heavy weather made on the case of AMADI V. NNPC and read clearly the decision of the Supreme Court. In Amadi’s case no matter was brought before the Apex Court concerning a consolidation of Motions with Substantive Suit . The Comment was made obiter. The aim and essence of a preliminary objection is to terminate at infancy without decimating unnecessary energy on the substantive suit. It forecloses the hearing of the matter in order to save time. It is the duty of the Court to take the issue of jurisdiction and give its ruling before any substantive suit can be taken. I hereby order and direct that all preliminary Objections bothering and challenging the jurisdiction of this Court be taken together first for this Court to give its ruling.
Chief Nnaemeka Ngige, SAN: My Lord there are two motions filed by the Counsel to the 7th Defendant, we have joined issues with the one that was withdrawn. We hereby pray this Honourable Court to give us a short adjournment to file our reply to the second motion.After 20 minutes of another round of legal fire works on whether or not to adjourn the matter the Court ordered.
Court: matter adjourned to the 1st day of December 2016 for hearing of all the preliminary objections.