By Innocent Anaba
African PetroleumÂ Plc Shareholders have petitioned the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Dan Abutu, over the conduct of Alhaji Aliko Dangote, whose electionÂ as President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, was nullified weekend, by a Federal High Court, Lagos, accusing him of undermining the judiciary by the various petitions he had written against the judges hearing the suit against him (Dangote).
The shareholders also complained of the conduct of Dangoteâ€™s counsel in the matter.
Counsel to the AP shareholders, Mr Onyebuchi Aniakor in the petitionÂ whichÂ Â wasÂ also copied to the Chief Justice of Nigeria and Chairman of the National Judicial Council, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu, said â€œon the instruction of our client, we write to respectfully bring to your attention, the calculated, premeditated and continuing, but highly condemnable attempt on the part of one Alhaji Dangote, the 11th defendants in this suit and/or his counselÂ to undermine the hallowed institution of the judiciary and our justice administrationâ€.
He said, â€œwe are constrained to bring this complaint by recent developments in this suit, culminating with the events which unfolded today (Tuesday) when this matter came up, upon application of this defendantâ€™s pending notice of preliminary objection and plaintiffsâ€™ motion for injunctionâ€.
The petition recalled the history ofÂ the case, adding that the matter first came up on July 31, 2009, but the court refused the applicantsâ€™ application for injunction and adjourned hearing to August 4. On August 4, counsel to Dangote brought a preliminary objection, which was filed that same day, and despite being served with the objection that day, he (Plaintiffs counsel) said he was ready for the matter and what his application forÂ injunction heardÂ alongsideÂ the objection, but Dangoteâ€™s counsel insisted on the objection being heard first, while the court in a short ruling, adjourned the matter to August 11, to hear the objection and motion for injunction together but ordered parties to maintain status quo.
But when the court on August 11, following an application by the shareholders informing the court that Dangote had been elected Nigerian Stock Exchange, NSE, President despite the order for status quo to be maintained, the judge, Justice Mohammed Liman insisted on hearing the application for the setting aside of Dangoteâ€™s election. But before the court could hear the application, Dangoteâ€™s counsel petitioned the judge, accusing him of bias, following which the case was re-assigned to Justice Lambo Akanbi.
But after Justice Akanbi heard and dismissed other applications by Dangote, seeking to stop the hearing of the application to set aside his election and after counsel to parties argued the application and the court, last Friday, ruled and nullified Dangoteâ€™s election, his counsel, yet again petitioned against the judge, saying that he ought not to have heard the matter since he will soon be going on transfer outside Lagos.