Board Chair: NNPC Fails to Stop Ararume’s N100bn Case against Unlawful Removal
* As two SANs storm out of proceedings
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The newly-incorporated Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, on Monday failed to halt the hearing in a N100 billion suit instituted against President Muhammadu Buhari over alleged unlawful removal as Board Chairman, just as two senior lawyers representing the oil company in the suit stormed out of the proceedings.
Hearing in the matter filed by Senator Ifeanyi Ararume at the Federal High Court, Abuja had been stalled on two previous occasions by the NNPC.
The plaintiff, Senator Ifeanyi Araraume, had instituted a N100 billion suit against President Buhari, over his alleged unlawful removal as non-executive chairman of the newly-incorporated NNPC Limited.
Besides President Buhari, the NNPC Limited and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) are second and third defendants respectively.
Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, had on January 11 adjourned the matter to January 23 for definite hearing.
When the matter up on Monday, the judge directed parties to identify and adopt their processes as their brief of argument in the matter.
Reacting, the lead lawyer to the NNPC, Prof. Koyinsola Ajayi (SAN), drew the court’s attention to a motion for stay of proceedings challenging the January 11 of the court, which had declined to take the NNPC Limited’s motion of preliminary objection to the substantive suit.
Ajayi was of the opinion that the application for stay be taken and the court takes a decision one way or the other before progressing with the case.
Responding, Justice Ekwo declined, insisting that the court would take all motions together, including the substantive suit.
After several attempts to make the judge take the application for stay first failed, Ajayi, while observing that the position of the court has placed him at an uncomfortable position, asked the judge for permission to withdraw from the proceedings.
Responding, Ekwo reminded the lawyer that he was not the one who engaged Ajayi and as such the senior lawyer was at liberty to take whatever decision he seems good.
At this juncture, Ajayi withdrew from the proceedings and walked out of the court and was followed by Etigwe Uwa (SAN), who represented NNPC at the January 11 proceedings.