March 7, 2024

FCT High Court strikes out N1b suit against ex-minister Malami, others

FCT High Court strikes out N1b suit against ex-minister Malami, others

By Fortune Eromosele

The FCT High Court in Kubwa has ruled to strike out a N1 billion lawsuit against Abubakar Malami, former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, during his tenure in office.

The legal action also targeted Ms. Asabe Waziri, a civil servant, alongside the office of the former minister and the Federal Ministry of Justice. 

The lawsuit was initiated by Abuja-based property developer, Mr. Cecil Osakwe.

Justice Oluyemisi Adelaja, presiding over the case, made the decision on Thursday, citing Mr. Osakwe’s lack of diligent prosecution as the reason for striking out the matter. 

Justice Adelaja emphasised that the claimant failed to appear in court without providing a valid explanation for their absence, leading to the dismissal under Order 32 Rule 4.

“The claimant is the one who filed the action and is required to be seen diligently prosecuting the same, but they are not in court, and there is no reason for their absence before the court.

“They have, therefore, been absent without reason, and consequently, upon Order 32 Rule 4, this case is ordered struck out for want of diligent prosecution,’’ Adelaja ordered.

Recalling events from June 2022, the Federal Government had filed a two-count charge (FCT/HC/CR/244/2022) against Osakwe, accusing him of advance fee fraud amounting to N130 million. 

The charges also included allegations of criminal intimidation against Waziri, a Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation staff, citing threats from Osakwe to her person and reputation with the intent to cause harm, even death.

Waziri, reportedly, had acquired a two-bedroom property from Osakwe for N130 million in Maitama, an upscale district in the Federal Capital Territory.

In response to the charges against him, Osakwe initiated a lawsuit against the former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. 

Additional parties joining the legal action were the Federal Ministry of Justice and Ms. Asabe Waziri.

Osakwe, through his counsel, Mr. Victor Giwa, sought various reliefs, including an order directing Malami to pay N1 billion as punitive damages and a joint and several order for the defendants to pay N100 million as general damages.