Braithwaite expresses frustration over adjournment on environmental pollution suit

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By Abdulwahab Abdulah
Lawyer and rights activist, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite yesterday expressed disgust over adjournment of trial by an Ikeja High Court in the N10 billion suit, he filed against Standard Chartered Bank over a building erected by the bank.

Braithwaite had dragged the bank to court accusing it of erecting a building in a residential area, and constituting problems for residents in the area.

In the suit, Dr Braithwaite is seeking an order declaring as illegal, the erecting a 15-storey commercial building by the bank in an otherwise residential area in Victoria Island, Lagos.

More worrisome for Dr. Braithwaite is that the bank has installed giant industrial generators directly opposite his house “with fumes and noise shattering their air and serenity.”

At the resumed hearing of the case yesterday, the trial judge Justice Doris Okwujobi had adjourned till June 27, 2014, to rule on an application filed by the bank seeking for striking out some paragraphs of the claimant’s reply to the Bank’s amended statement of defence.

However, Dr Braithwaite, who according to him took some times off from the ongoing National Conference for the expected commencement of trial along with some experts witnesses complaint bitterly when trial on the matter could not continue, following the bank’s application.

Expressing his frustration over the delay in the four- year old suit, the octogenarian urged the court to ensure that trial on the matter commenced early by delivering her ruling timeously on the “frivolous” application.

He said that the claimant has taken time to respond to the defence’s application filed on Friday even when he had eight days to ensure that the trial was not truncated by the defence.

He said further that the defendant is capitalizing on the delay to continue to dissipate the res, (subject of the case) as they are continuing building up to the 13th floor.

The defence counsel, Adeniyi Adegbonmire in his submission, refuted the claims that the defendant was consciously delaying trial, saying that he had already started cross examining the witness before the plaintiff sought for the amendment of his statement of claims.

The lawyer who said it is the rights of the bank to build, stated that the matter had delayed so far because the plaintiff decided to seek injunctive reliefs rather than pursuing the trial.

He said the motion on notice filed on Friday, May 8, was predicated on the fact that the plaintiff decided to introduce new facts that should have been in its statement of claims in the reply to their amended statement of defence.

He therefore urged the court to strike out some paragraphs of the plaintiff”s reply,on the ground that, allowing them will amount to foreclosing them from responding to the new fact.

He therefore urged the court to strike out the paragraphs containing such averrement and hold that the plaintiff include them in their amended statement of claims.

But in opposing the motion, counsel to the plaintiff, Razaq Okesiji stated that the contents of the claimant’s reply to the defence statement and witness statement on oath are relevant to the subject matter of the suit and necessitated by the averements in the amended statement of the defence as well as the documents introduced by the defence, which were not in existence at the time of filing the amended statement of claims.

He also stated that the claimant had neither departed, contradicted nor added new item to its claim, which should prejudice the defendant.

Ruling on the application has been fixed on June 27, 2014.

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