B-R-E-A-K-I-N-G: Buhari Makes U-Turn, As AGF Takes Over Hadiza Usman’s Defense
BY EGUONO ODJEGBA
There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may have decided to offer suspended Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms. Hadiza Bala-Usman a soft landing,as it has opted to take over her defense in the legal suit that challenged her purported premature re-appointment, ahead of her suspension.
Above development is coming on the heels of the withdrawal of Barrister Ogboji A Emmanuel, counsel handling her case based on a purported directive by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami.
Barrister Ogboji explained that NPA which secured legal sis services asked him to withdraw in view of the said decision of the AGF to take over up her defence and that of the board; despite her official suspension from office over allegations of corruption.
It will be recall that President Buhari through the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation in July this year denied granting her tenure extension, noting that Hadiza Usman no longer enjoy the benefit of the office as the authority’s helmsman, as part of the legal firework to dismiss a suit by Elder Asu Beks.
The denial which came on the heels of a law suit (FHC/L/CS/485/2021) by Elder Asu Beks and two others, challenging her alleged premature re-appointment by President Buhari, six months ahead of her due term; took a twist when the president via the AGF distanced himself from the controversial reappointment.
Although there are no reasons given for the latest development, legal pundits say the latest twist is capable of undermining the integrity of court processes in view of the AGF earlier interventions in the same case; in which he said Hadiza was no longer in the employ of NPA.
The Motion of Notice by Barrister Ogboji to the Federal High Court Ikoyi, a copy of which was sighted by our reporter, reads:
“Take notice that this Honourable court will moved the 3 Day of Nov 2021 at the hour of 9:0clock in the forenoon or so soon thereafter as counsel may be heard on behalf of the 3rd and 4th defendants for:
- Grant the counsel of the 3rd and 4th Defendant permission to withdraw his appearance and other processes filed in this suit due to the intervention of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
- And for such further or other orders as this Honourable court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.
The motion dated 12th August 2021was served on Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), representing Asu Beks and two other plaintiffs in the matter.
In his supporting affidavit before the same court, Emmanuel Ogboji further averred that the NPA which contracted him to defend Hadiza Usman and Emmaneul Adesoye informed him that the AGF is taking over the case, hence his withdrawal of appearance.
The affidavit reads as follows:
“That I am the Solicitor representing the 3rd and 4th Defendant in this suit and by virtue of the position, I am conversant with the facts of this case.
That Nigerian Ports Authority that instructed me to defend the 3rd and 4th Defendant has informed me that the Attorney general of the Federation has intervened in the suit
That the Attorney General and Minister of Justice being the Law Officer of the Federation, I have to withdraw from the Suit.
- That the Defendants will not be prejudiced by this application.
- I depose to this affidavit in good faith believing same to be true and in accordance with the 0ath Act.
Also, in his support address of the Motion On Notice, Ogboji said:
“My Lord, Our Law Firm, E.A. Ogboji & Co. was briefed on the 9 of July, 2021 to represent the 3 and 4h Defendant in the above Suit.
“Consequently on the above, we entered a conditional appearance on behalf of the 3 and 4th Defendant and thereafter filed a preliminary Objection on behalf of the 3 and 4h Defendant on the 19 day of July, 2021.
“My Lord, due to the intervention of the Attorney general of the federation, we have to discontinue our further appearance in the Suit.
“My Lord, we apply that our Lordship grant our application to withdraw our further appearance in this Suit.”