Shina Abubakar – Osogbo
Justice Peter Lifu of a Federal High Court sitting in Osogbo, Osun State on Tuesday chided Counsels to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, M. S. Usman and the Vice-Chancellor, Osun State University, S. B. Ayeni over flagrant disobedient of a court order.
The duo had appeared before the court in a case with suit number FHC/OS/CS/44/2020 brought before it by Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institution of Osun State University branch, seeking an order of the court to compel first respondent, (EFCC) to investigate and prosecute the second respondent, Professor Labode Popoola, the Vice-Chancellor of the university on the allegation of misappropriation of the N100 million university fund and siphoning of money among other allegations
At the resumed hearing, counsel to the applicant, Kanmi Ajibola said the application for judicial review was brought before the court pursuant to order 34 rules 1, 2 and 3 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) of 2019, sections 6(6) (B), 251(I) (O) and (R) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
According to him, the Motion on Notice dated November 11, 2020 was filed on November 12, 2020 and duly served on the respondents same day and urged the court to hear the motion
However, counsel to EFCC and Popoola sought relief of the court to adjourn the sitting to allow it to respond to the application before the court on the ground that the filed motion on notice was handed to them on Monday.
Ajibola while opposing the application for adjournment said the applicant must not be made to suffer for the respondent’s decision not to respond to the application, saying they were served early enough to respond to it.
He added that in case the court would be acceding to their request, they should be made to pay the applicants the sum of N100,000 each as a cost for the inconvenience the applicant was made to suffer. However, Usman acceded that the order of the court was clear but in the interest of fair hearing their application for adjournment should be granted
Justice Lifu while seeking clarification from the respondent’s counsel on why he should adjourned the matter, said it is unfortunate that counsel disregarded a clear court order and wanted the court to act with impunity because they (respondent’s counsels) failed to do what was expected of them.
He warned that the problem of the administrative bottleneck of their organisation should not be brought before the court as it (court) is bound by law and refused to swallow his order or act with impunity.
However, ruling on the application for adjournment, Justice Lifu held, “the application for adjournment in this instance as made by the respondents is unmerited, being without cogent, compelling or convincing recourse. Fair hearing has been adequately expended to the parties in this case. Adjournment is not granted as of course, it must be based on sound legal principles, justifiable by good course. In the absence of that good course, it will amount to traversery of justice to grant one.
“However, since the inconvenience can be assuaged or compensated, I bend backward to reluctantly accommodate the respondents by granting next adjournment to the 25th of November, 2020 for definite hearing as agreed by parties. Since an adjournment has been granted thereby preventing the hearing of this case today, I grant the cost of N20,000 each against the respondents but in favour of the applicant”.