Justice Mohammed Idris

Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday granted Ecobank Nigeria Limited leave to appeal his refusal to recuse himself from a suit by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc and its sister companies against the bank.

The bank, through its lawyer Kunle Ogunba (SAN), had prayed the court for an order granting it leave to appeal the ruling.

The judge had refused to disqualify himself from adjudicating the N5.5billion debt case.

The bank had written the Chief Judge, Justice Ibrahim Auta, asking that the case be re-assigned to another judge.

It filed a formal application before the judge, saying it no longer had confidence in him, but Justice Idris dismissed the application.

The judge said the CJ, in a November 22 letter, had also directed him to continue with the case.

Arguing the application for leave to appeal, Ogunba said his client had a constitutional right to challenge any decision of the court at the appellate court.

“The appeal is borne out of a genuine anxiety that in the light of all that has transpired in this court, we could not expect justice,” he said.

Honeywell’s lawyer, Bode Olanipekun, did not oppose the application.

He said: “Since an appeal is a constitutional right of the applicant, we will not be opposing it.”

Ruling, Justice Idris said: “Since the plaintiff’s counsel does not oppose the application, I shall in the interest of justice allow the application. It is granted as prayed.”

The substantive suit comes up for hearing today.

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