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Court rules on Ararume’s case March 28

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There was drama on Monday at a Federal High Court in Abuja in the N100 billion suit instituted by Senator Ifeanyi Ararume against the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), when two Senior Advocates of Nigeria, Kayinsola Ajayi and Etigwa Uwa, staged a walkout on the court.

The two SANs had appeared before Justice Inyang Ekwo to represent the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited in the suit by Ararume challenging his removal as the chairman of the company.

Ajayi, who led a retinue of lawyers on behalf of the NNPCL, had sought to move three different applications comprising one asking the court to stay proceedings, pending the appeal against the ruling of the Federal High Court delivered on January 11, 2023.

After identifying the processes filed by NNPC against the suit, he argued that the motion seeking a stay of proceedings must be heard separately and a ruling delivered by the judge before any other motion should be entertained.

The judge, however, asked him to move all the applications together and that he would deliver separate rulings in each of the applications to save time.

Although Ararume, represented by Chris Uche (SAN), claimed that the motion for a stay of proceeding had not been served on him, Ajayi stood his ground to move the application separately and that the judge must give separate rulings on it.

However, following the decision of the judge to take all the applications together in line with the provision of the Practice Direction of the Federal High Court, Ajayi and Uwa announced their withdrawal from the suit and immediately staged a walkout.

Later during the proceedings, Ararume’s counsel, Uche, while adopting his final brief of argument, urged the court to invoke the Companies and Allied Matters Act to nullify the removal of his client as chairman of the NNPCL.

However, Buhari’s counsel, Abubakar Shuaib, prayed the court to dismiss the suit against his client on the grounds that it was statute barred at the time it was instituted.

Akeem Mustapha (SAN), counsel for the Corporate Affairs Commission which is the third defendant in the suit asked the court to decline jurisdiction in entertaining the suit.

After taking arguments from Ararume, Buhari, and the CAC, Justice Ekwo fixed March 28 for ruling and possible judgment in the suit.

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