Court Bars Lawyer from E-Customs Suit Against Federal Government

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Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has barred the law firm of Nnoli and Okoye from participating in a suit on E-Customs Project instituted against the Federal Government by Bionica Technologies W.A. Limited.

The law firm was disallowed from making representation in the suit following the dismissal of its request to take over from another law firm.

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Nnoli and Okoye Chambers had on July 15, 2022, filed a motion on notice pursuant to Order 9 Rule 35 of the Federal High Court asking that the law firm of Ahmed Raji be ordered to stop representing Bionica Technologies West Africa Ltd.

In place of Ahmed Raji law firm, Nnoli and Okoye Chambers sought to take over legal representation for Bionica Technologies allegedly on the instructions of two directors of the company.

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Nnoli and Okoye claimed it was briefed and engaged by Dr Jummai Umar Ajijola Zainab and Alhaji Ahmadu Saleh.

An affidavit claiming that they have been briefed to take over the legal representation from Ahmed Raji was deposed to by Godson Okoye on behalf of Jummai Umar Ajijola Zainab and Ahmadu Saleh.

The bid was however, vehemently countered by another Director of Bionica Technologies, Alhaji Umaru Tanko Kuta who claimed to be the Managing Director of the Company.

In his counter affidavit, Kuta claimed that at no time did the Directors meet and passed a resolution to change the legal representation of the Company from Ahmed Raji to Nnoli and Okoye.

He averred that the two meetings conveyed by the Directors of the Company were not attended by Jummai Umar Ajijola Zainab and Ahmadu Saleh and the duo could not have acted on behalf of other Directors of the Company.

In his finding, Justice Ekwo held that the counter affidavit to the notice of change of counsel was deposed to by Umaru Tanko Kuta who signed the letter of appointment of Ahmed Raji dated June 3, 2022.

The Judge said that the averment by Umaru Tanko Kuta is evidence from an officer of both the 1st and 2nd plaintiffs while the same cannot be said of the evidence of Messrs Nnoli and Okoye whose entire averments were deposed to by Godson Okoye on a purported instructions of Jummai Zainab Umar Ajijola.

Justice Ekwo said that the evidence of Nnoli and Okoye cannot attract probative value since it cannot be vouched for having been based on hearsay.

In dismissing the bid for change of counsel, Justice Ekwo said that it is the party that appoints a counsel that can change such.

” Messrs Ahmadu Saleh and Umar Ajijola Jummai Zainab who were not part of the meeting that appointed the firm of Ahmed Raji to act as legal practitioner in this case do not have the power to change the legal practitioner in the E-Customs suit.

“The representation of Messrs Nnoli and Okoye in this suit is hereby set aside. Consequently, all processes filed by Messrs Nnoli and Okoye are hereby dismissed”, the Judge ruled.

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