The Federal High Court in Abuja has awarded the cost of N20, 000 against the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami for failure to respond to court processes in due time.
Justice M. O. Olajuwon of the Federal High Court, Abuja (Court 8) awarded the cost in the matter between the attorney-general and Sesugh Akume with suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/43/2021.
In the suit, Akume challenged section 84 Sheriffs and Civil Procedure Act (SCPA) 2004, “asking the court to determine whether it makes meaning, whether it is lawful for the law to provide that after a person wins a case against the government where it is to pay, and such a person (the judgement creditor) is required to go to the same government (specifically to the attorney-general of the state or the federation) to get consent before a valid court order is obeyed?
“Whether doing so does not put the court under the attorney-general to decide whether or not to obey a valid court order? Etc. We ask the court to nullify such an unconstitutional, obnoxious, and vexatious provision of the SCPA 2004.”
The Office of the Attorney-General replied by saying Akume does not have the locus standi (the right to sue) in the matter; that the provision is constitutional, etc.
He said after several adjournments to hear the case, the case came up for hearing on Monday (adoption of written notices). However, rather than going on with the case as slated and closing it to await the judgement, the prosecution lawyer, J. I. Gbim-Gbande Esq. notified the court that the respondent had a process to regularise.
“The respondent (the attorney-general) was served the court processes since March 2021 and they did not respond within the 30 days allowed. Having filed out of time, they more or less have nothing before the court.
“The opportunity our attorney gave them was to correct this defect. The respondent’s counsel had not paid attention to this until it was pointed out. They, therefore, asked for time to put their house in order.
“Whereas our counsel did not oppose adjourning the matter for them to correct the defect, he asked for a modest 200,000 naira in punitive costs, on the grounds that the attorney-general as leader of the bar in Nigeria and chief law officer cannot be sloppy to the extent of not respecting the court by answering to suits as and when due, and not pursue cases diligently, it is a betrayal of public trust and of high office.”
The opposing counsel was said to have countered the issue on untenable grounds but the court awarded N20,000 in costs. The matter was been adjourned to October 12 for hearing.