Lawyer accuses judge of bias in case against AGF Malami

Abubakar Malami
Abubakar Malami

A lawyer has accused Justice Evelyn Maha of the Federal High Court in Abuja of being biased in her treatment of a suit filed against the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

Johnmary Jideobi, who is the plaintiff and also the lawyer representing himself in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/807/18 had filed it against Mr Malami challenging the refusal of the Nigerian government to release a former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, despite valid court orders granting him bail.

Mr Dasuki is standing trial for illegally disbursing billions of naira provided for the purchase of arms by the Federal Government.

On December 20, 2018, the AGF, after his defence on the prolonged detention of Mr Dasuki, backtracked and distanced himself from the action.

The minister during the hearing of the case brought against him by Mr Jideobi denied defending the decision of the Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to continue detaining the former NSA despite court rulings ordering his release.

In an affidavit deposed by a staff of the justice ministry, Ballah Ali, on behalf of the AGF in response to Mr Jideobi’s suit, Mr Malami claimed he had never defended the failure of government to comply with court orders for the release of Mr Dasuki

“The defendant did not at any time defend the alleged refusal of the federal government to obey six different court orders directing it to release Colonel Sambo Dasuki,” he said.

However, when the matter came up on October 28, Mr Jideobi said that he filed a motion that morning wherein he is asking for an order of the court to strike out the entire processes filed on behalf of Mr Malam in the suit for being incompetent.

According to Mr Jideobi, the AGF’s processes before the court were all filed by lawyers “who were incompetent under the law to represent him”.

Mr Jideobi also asked for an order of the court to stop any lawyer in the employ of the Federal Government of Nigeria or any of its agencies from further filing any process or appearing in defence of Mr Malami in the suit.

Argument

Justice Maha engaged Mr Jideobi in an argument as to whether the suit was brought against the AGF in his personal capacity or official capacity.

The judge also asked the lawyer if the Federal High Court has jurisdiction to hear the complaint against Mr Malami.

Justice Maha then adjourned the matter to November 1.

However, Mr Jideobi, filed another motion alleging that the trial judge “has already decided in the open court the question of jurisdiction” before she slated the hearing for November 1.

The lawyer said he,”believes that his appearance to argue his pending applications or oppose the motion filed by Mr Malami in the matter especially on the issue of jurisdiction on November 1, would amount to a mere formality since without being heard; the judge has already determined the issues raised in the pending motions against him.

“The plaintiff believes that by this prejudicial assertion, the Honourable Presiding Judge descended into the arena of conflict to argue the case of the defendant for him against the plaintiff in a manner that betrays a preconceived opinion, a predisposition to decide a cause an issue in a certain way on the part of the presiding judge.”

Mr Jideobi further stated that he is “of the firm view that the judge would not approach the hearing of the motions slated for November 1, with an open mind as her mind is already made up on the applications pending before her even before the parties have been given the opportunity to argue same.

“I know, as a qualified Legal Practitioner, that a judge must keep his mind totally free in the judicial process, and this means that he must disabuse his mind of all possible prejudices and antagonisms.”

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