Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court in Lagos, yesterday struck out a suit filed by the federal government seeking recovery and forfeiture of over N70 trillion allegedly hidden in 29 banks’ accounts by top government officials.
The applicants, the federal government and the Attorney General of the Federation, had in suit number: FHC/L/CS/968/2021 sued 17 banks, Nigerian Agip Oil Company Limited and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
The matter had suffered several adjournments due to changes of Applicants’ counsel.
The court had on March 7, 2022 adjourned to March 31, 2022, for ruling. Since then, it has been adjournment upon adjournment.
Delivering ruling yesterday, Justice Lifu noted that ever since the court vacated the ex parte application, the case had been back and forth with various excuses and applications for adjournment at the instance of the Plaintiffs/Applicants counsel.
The court held: “I have carefully and painstakingly gone through the entire processes filed in this case. This case was instituted through an Ex-parte Motion dated and filed on 5th August, 2021. An Interim Order was made by my brother Ringim J. during vacation on the 6th of August, 2021.
“Upon resumption from annual recess, this case was re-assigned to this Court on the 22nd of September, 2021 and on 24th November, 2021 all parties were heard and ruling delivered on the 27th of May, 2022 where the Ex-parte Order of Ringim J. was vacated for failure of the Plaintiffs/Applicants to comply with the ex-parte order so granted after over nine months.
“Ever since, it has been back and forth, with various excuses, applications for adjournment at the instance of the Plaintiffs/Applicants counsel, Mohammed Ndarani.
“From all indications, the instant case has clearly lost its stance as the Plaintiffs/Applicants seems not to be interested in the matter any longer having failed consistently to be present in Court since 9 December, 2021.
“The Chambers of Femi Falana that just filed Notice of Change of Counsel on the last adjourned date has suddenly withdrawn appearance today.
“Going through the Originating Process filed by Mohammed Ndarani Esq. which is no longer extant as the ex-parte order was set aside on 7th May, 2022. There is nothing left again for this court to adjudicate upon.
“It is amazing that the Plaintiffs/Applicants Counsel from Ndarani SAN to Falana SAN has suddenly developed cold feet over this alleged public interest case which has generated so much public interest on the issue of an alleged N70 trillion hidden in some accounts, allegedly belonging to some public officers.
“In the circumstances of this case therefore the application of the Learned Counsel for NNPC, M. T. Danzaki Esq., and Access Bank Plc, I. S. Etefia Esq., succeeds. This case is hereby struck out for want of diligent prosecution and I make no order as to cost”.