Court suspends ruling in N156bn suit over petition

Justice Akintayo Aluko of a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, at the weekend, suspended the reading of two rulings in an alleged N156.026 billion debt recovery suit following a letter by Wahab Shittu, SAN, urging the Chief Judge to transfer the case.

Justice Aluko noted that the rulings in two different suits were ready and scheduled to be delivered the same Friday, but that he was constrained not to proceed, pending the Chief Judge’s decision on Shittu’s letter.

Some of the parties in the suit marked FHC/L/CS8/2074/2023 are United Bank of Africa, UBA, as plaintiff, represented in the suit by Mr Temilolu Adamolekun against Stallion Nigeria Limited and its subsidiaries as defendants.

Shittu is a counsel to the 1st, 2nd, 5th to 11th defendants, UBA is seeking to recover the N156 billion from Stallion Nigeria Limited and has appointed a Receiver over the mortgaged property of Stallion and its subsidiaries in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano, in line with the mortgage Deeds.

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At the resumed hearing, weekend, Adamolekun announced an appearance for UBA, but Stallion was represented by a counsel from Shittu’s chambers.

Justice Aluko informed the parties that he had been notified by the Chief Judge that Shittu had written a letter asking that the case be transferred from his court.

The judge explained that Shittu had alleged that the judge had been delaying the case with unwarranted adjournments.

The allegation, the judge added, was entirely false. Adamolekun and even other counsel in the matter expressed shock at Shittu’s allegation and confirmed that contrary to the falsehood in Shittu’s letter, the matter had enjoyed expeditious hearings.

Coincidentally, Femi Falana, SAN, was in court and promised to “take up” the matter with Shittu, SAN.

Justice Aluko noted that the last applications heard included an application for a stay of proceedings in the matter, which must first be taken before hearing the substantive originating summons.

Expressing shock at the letter, Adamolekun told the court that Shittu’s approach of communication with the Court, this time, the CJ without copying other lawyers in the matter is contrary to the rules of professional conduct.

Another lawyer from the office of Mr Babajide Koku, SAN, also expressed his surprise and said the step taken by Shittu was rather unfortunate. He said he had a lot of respect for him.

At the penultimate adjournment, Shittu, who made the allegation of delay was absent in court.

Responding to submissions by counsel in the matter, Justice Aluko stated: “For the court to await the decision of the Chief Judge on the letter, this case is hereby adjourned till July 19, 2024.”

Falana SAN, who spoke as Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) also expressed shock at the allegation raised in Shittu’s letter and the approach. He promised to intervene and take it up with Shittu.

The 1st to 4th plaintiffs/applicants in the suit are UBA Plc, UBA Cameroon SA, Cote D’Ivoire SA and Romeo Ese Michael.

The 1st to 11th defendants/respondents are Stallion Nigeria Limited (In Receivership), Von Automobile Nigeria Limited, Popular Farms And Mills Limited, Havana Nigeria Limited.

The other defendants are KRBL Food Industries Limited, Qingqi Motorcycle Manufacturing Limited, Stallion Auto Keke Limited, Stallion Motors Limited, The Honda Place Limited, Yokohama Construction Limited and Mr. Sunil Vaswani.


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