A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed a suit filed against the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke, challenging her appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan over alleged fake National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, on Friday, dismissed the suit in its entirety, and awarded N150,000 as costs against the plaintiffs, Messrs Makelemi Erhuvwurotu and Afri Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, a non-governmental organization.
Kolawole equally awarded N75, 000 costs in favour of Jonathan, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, who were joined as defendants in the suit.
The plaintiffs, in the suit No.FHC/ABJ/CS/614/2011, had asked the court, via an originating summons filed on June 28, 2011, to determine the eligibility of Allison-Madueke to be nominated for ministerial position.
In a 39-paragraph affidavit in support of the originating summons, the first plaintiff, Mr. Makelemi Erhuvwutotu, averred that the minister committed a criminal offence contrary to Section 13 of the NYSC Act by failing to report for service or make herself available for service as required by law, having been born on December 6, 1960, and attended the Howard University Washington DC, USA, between 1983 and 1987, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree at the age of 27.
However,Allison-Madueke, through her counsel, Mr. Etigwe Uwa [SAN], urged the court to dismiss the suit with substantial costs, contending that the plaintiffs’ case was hopelessly and irredeemably misconceived.
She posited in a notice of preliminary objection filed on July 5, 2011, that besides the fact that the plaintiffs lacked the locus to institute or maintain the action against the defendants, the suit was filed without compliance with the provisions of Section 20 of the NYSC Act, 1993, and that the suit was statute-barred as it was not filed within three months from the date her certificate of exemption was issued by the NYSC, in contravention of the provisions of Section 2 [a] of the Public Officers Protection Act, Cap P41, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
After about seven adjournments, counsel to the plaintiffs, Mr. Oliver Ilori, formally filed and served the defendants a notice of discontinuance shortly before the court sat for the resumed hearing of the suit on Friday.
But the application was vehemently opposed by counsel to Allison-Madueke and the NYSC, Uwa, who argued that based on Order 50 of the Federal High Court Civil Procedure Rules, an application for discontinuance was required to be made only upon leave of court sought by way of summons or motion on notice, where such an application is brought after 14 days of service of the defence.
Justice Kolawole stated that the conduct of the plaintiffs in filing the action a day before the Senate sitting for screening and confirmation of ministerial nominees and the publicity given to the matter, was at best an abuse of court process which was improper. He further noted that on the last date of adjournment, the plaintiffs had further asked for an adjournment, and suddenly developed cold feet.
SOURCE: Vanguard Nigeria