Supreme Court to hear Abuja property suit March 28

According to The Nation, the Supreme Court will on March 28 hear an appeal over a dispute on an Abuja property.

Former Nigeria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Shehu Malami and businessman Sir Emeka Offor, are in dispute over an Asokoro property.

A Nigerian-American Businessman, Mr Imokhuede Ohikhuare, is also claiming the property.

The property, a two-wing duplex on Plot 1809 Asokoro, valued at over N1billion, was taken over  from Ohikhuare following a judgment by an Abuja High Court in a suit by Malami.

However, in a unanimous decision delivered on May 28, 2015, the Court of Appeal, Abuja restored the ownership of the property to Ohikhuare on several grounds, including the fact that Ambassador Malami “had divested himself of any interest in the property” through an irrevocable power of attorney he donated to Offor before he instituted the suit at the High Court.

Since Offor was not part of the High Court proceedings, the Court of Appeal also ruled that there was no proper plaintiff at the lower court, hence the verdict of the court below was invalid as it stood on nothing.

The appeal at the Supreme Court, which has been heard three times, is scheduled for another hearing on March 28.

The last two adjournments were forced on the Supreme Court by open disputes over who among the two young lawyers – J. C. Njikonye and Shaka Awaliene – had Ambassador Malami’s brief to represent him in the matter at the Supreme Court.

While Njikonye claimed that he was appearing for Malami and Offor as joint Appellants in the suit, Awaliene insisted that he had Malami’s sole brief to represent him in the case, insisting that Ambassador Malami had no interest in pursuing the matter at the Supreme Court and therefore, wants his name struck off the suit.

Both Njikonye and Awaliene tasked the patience of the five-man panel of Supreme Court justices to the fullest depth possible on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 when the matter came up for hearing as the duo traded claims and counter claims on holding brief for Ambassador Malami.

A similar situation truncated the hearing of the matter on May 17, 2016 when the apex court directed Mr Joe Agi (SAN), who, like Njikonye, announced his appearance for Ambassador Malami and Sir Offor at the May hearing, and Awaliene to resolve the controversy of Malami’s brief.

At the last hearing in November, the Supreme Court gave a stern warning to Njikonye and Awaliene, and directed them to sort out the Malami brief issue before the next hearing of March 28, 2017 failure for which the Supreme Court said it would refer both lawyers to the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) for disciplinary action. Both Njikonye and Awaliene elected to go and resolve the Malami brief saga before the forthcoming hearing.



Culled from The Nation

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