Widow of a former Permanent Secretary, Federal Capital Territory, Ayodeji Omotade, Folashade, has asked the Court of Appeal in Lagos to stay execution of a bench warrant issued for her arrest by Justice Latifat Oluyemi of the Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.
She is also prayed the Court of Appeal for an order suspending the operation of the bench warrant and for a stay of all further proceedings in respect of the contempt proceedings pending the determination of the appeal.
The warrant was issued over her sale of a house located in Omole Phase 1, Ojodu Lagos which the litigant, Grace Omotade claimed belong to the late permanent secretary.
Ayodeji Omotade died in the ill-fated Bellview Air crash of October 22, 2005, which crashed at Lisa Village, Ifo shortly after taking off from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos en route Abuja, killing all 117 passengers on board.
Folashade is a defendant in a suit instituted by Grace, who also claimed to be the deceased’s wife.
Folashade’s appeal was filed by her lawyers led by Professor Taiwo Osipitan (SAN). In her grounds of appeal, Folashade argued that the trial judge erred in law by issuing/ordering the issuance of a Bench Warrant for her arrest on account of non-appearance in court.
She claimed not to have received any hearing notice.
Osipitan said the trial judge erred in law “by assuming jurisdiction over the Contempt proceedings in Civil Suit instituted against the Appellant, and issuing Bench Warrant against the Appellant.”
“The right of the appellant to fair hearing was compromised or is likely to be compromised by the assumption of jurisdiction over contempt proceedings by learned trial judge whose order is alleged to have been violated by the appellant”.
He submitted in addition that the trial judge whose order was allegedly violated cannot be a judge in her own cause,” noting also that ”the exercise of judicial power of issuance of Bench Warrant, for the arrest of the appellant (during the long vacation of the court) compromises or is likely to compromise appellant’s right to personal liberty enshrined by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Folashade however averred in a supporting affidavit she deposed to that the house belonged to her and that she purchased it from one Robinson Omorere in the sum of N60million.
She claimed to have paid for the property in three installments with cheques drawn from her company’s account.
She denied knowledge of Grace as a wife of her late husband and, challenged her to produce legal proof of marriage.
Her counsel, Osipitan argued that the alleged contempt in respect of the sale of the property situated at 5, Kayode Alli Street, Omole Phase I, Ikeja, Lagos State is not a contempt in the face of the court emphasizing that the trial judge lacks the jurisdiction to try a case of alleged contempt which is not in the face of the Court.
He also argued that the trial judge lacks the Judicial power to issue bench warrant of the appellant.
According to her counsels “the position of law is that the bench warrant cannot be executed whilst there is still an application for stay pending before the Court.”