A Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday refused the request by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi for a suit against him to be heard on Thursday or Friday this week.
There is a suit against the minister on the award of contracts for Cargo tracking.
The court declined the request on the grounds that it can no longer lawfully sit as an Easter vacation court to adjudicate the matter.
Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed declined to grant Thursday or Friday this week for a compulsory hearing of the suit on the reason that his mandate as Easter vacation Judge ends on April 25.
The Judge in a ruling on an application for April 28 or 29 compulsory hearing of the suit said, doing so, would amount to a flagrant disrespect to the order of the Chief Judge of the Court mandating him to hear the case during Easter vacation.
A former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Akin Olujimi SAN had prayed Justice Mohammed to grant Thursday or Friday for a definite hearing of the suit.
Olujimi who is lead counsel to the 2nd defendant (BPP) in the suit predicated his request for Thursday on the ground that the country was losing huge revenue and that the delay in hearing is impacting negatively on the security of the country.
He accused the plaintiffs in the suit of unwillingness to have the case heard during Easter vacation through the action of the lead counsel in going for lesser Hajj.
The senior lawyer asked the Judge to compel the appearance of the plaintiff’s lawyer against Thursday through phone calls, text messages and e-mailed issuance of hearing notice.
At Monday’s proceedings, plaintiff counsel, AbduHakeem Mustapha SAN had in a letter dated April 19 and addressed to the Chief Judge indicated that he would not be available during Easter vacation for the hearing of the suit that had earlier been slated for May 9.
Justice Mohammed in the ruling said the plaintiff’s letter that he would not be available for the matter during Easter vacation had been made available to him by the Chief Judge.
“As I said earlier, the request was for this matter to be heard during Easter vacation and it can only be heard during the period in compliance with the order of the Chief Judge.
“It is a fact that vacation ends today and this court will resume full work tomorrow. My mandate as Easter vacation Judge ends today.
“I am therefore unable to grant the request for Thursday or Friday hearing of this suit. To do so will amount to flagrant disrespect to the Chief Judge’s directive.
“I make an order returning this case file to court 6 where the substantive matter is pending”, the Judge held.
Justice Tsoho had in a letter dated April 7, 2022, written by his Special Assistant (SA), Ambrose Unaeze declined Amaechi’s request for a suit transfer which he made in March 31, 2022 letter through his lawyer, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).
But, in a fresh letter dated April 14, 2022, Justice Tsoho acceeded on reasons of extreme urgency and agreed to transfer part of the case marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1587/2021 to Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed.
The suit is challenging Amaechi’s handling of the process for the award of the contract for operators of Nigeria’s International Cargo Tracking Note (ICTN) to a new judge.
A civil group, the Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER) instituted the suit against Amaechi, alleging manipulation of the contract process in favour of two local and inexperienced firms – Medtech Scientific Limited and Rozi International Nigeria Limited.
The plaintiff prayed the court to void and set aside the disputed process of the contract award.
Meanwhile, a hearing in the matter is expected to hold on May 9, 2022, before Justice Donatus Okorowo.