Abuja F/High Court strikes out case against NSIA, others
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has struck out a case to probe the operations of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and the suspension of its chief executive officer, Uche Orji from office.
The ruling was sequel to the withdrawal of the case by an Abuja based lawyer, Johnmary Jideobi who had filed the case seeking the sack of Orji, and a forensic audit of the organisation.
The lawyer had also in the suit canvassed the declaration of the establishment of organiation as illegal and against the country’s constitution, and a forensic audit conducted to determine the use of the resources allocated to the NDIA.
The NSIA Act 2011 was signed into law by the then President Goodluck Jonathan with the organisation saddled with the responsibility to receive, manage and invest some of the Federal Account special funds to cushion the impact of the economic downturn on the country in case of fall in global oil prices.
The plaintiff had filed the suit on May 22, 2020, arguing that various provisions of the NSIA Act violated the provisions of sections 80 and 162 of the Nigerian Constitution which created the Federation Account/Consolidated Revenue Fund Account and provided that all revenues accruing to the Federal Government must be paid into them and shared by the tiers of governments.
He also argued that the National Assembly lacked the power to make a law like the NSIA which he contended authorised the violation of the provisions of Sections 80 and 162 of the Constitution.
However, in a sudden volte-face, the plaintiff on July 6, 2020, filed an application for the withdrawal of the suit.
While he did not disclose the reason for the application for the withdrawal of the suit, he urged the court to strike it out.
At the hearing of the suit on July 7, Adegboyega Awomolo, counsel to NSIA and its chief executive urged the court to rather dismiss the suit instead of merely striking it out as the plaintiff requested.
The counsel asked the court to dismiss the suit with a cost of N1 million against the plaintiff because the application for the withdrawal of the suit was belatedly filed after his clients were made to go through the rigour of filing their defence in the case.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed in his ruling on Monday struck out the case in accordance with the rules of the court.
He held that contrary to the argument by the defendant counsel plea, the plaintiff did not require the leave of court to withdraw the suit because the application for its withdrawal file on July 6, 2020, was filed within 14 days of serving the suit on the defendants on July 1.
The court, however, ruled that the two defendants having been made to file their defence before the application for the withdrawal of the suit was filed, were entitled to N150,000 cost to be paid to them by the plaintiff.
He ruled that the plaintiff must pay the N150,000 cost to the two defendants before taking any future steps which might include refiling the suit on the same subject matter against the same set of defendants or their privies.
The defendants in the suit included the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan; the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; the National Assembly, and its clerk, among others.