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Ararume Vs Buhari: Two Senior Advocates Walk Out On Court




Lawyers of the Nigeria National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) in the N100 billion suit filed by Ifeanyi Ararume against President Muhammadu Buhari walked out of the court on Monday.

Naija News understands that counsels to the NNPCL, Professor Kayinsola Ajayi (SAN) and Etigwa Uwa (SAN) walked out at the Federal High Court in Abuja during the hearing of the case.

It was gathered that Ajayi, a professor of law who led the team of lawyers for the NNPCL, and his fellow senior advocate during the hearing announced their withdrawal from the suit and immediately staged a walkout from the court.

Hitherto to the walkout drama, Ajayi had sought to move three different applications, which include asking the Court to stay proceedings pending the appeal against the ruling of the Federal High Court delivered on January 11, 2023.

Ajayi, after identifying the processes filed by NNPC against the suit, 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.

It was learnt the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo asked Ajayi to move all the applications together in other to save time, explaining that he would deliver separate rulings in each of the applications.

However, counsel to Ararume, Chris Uche [SAN] claimed that the motion for a stay of proceeding had not been served on him, but Ajayi maintained that a separate motion of the application, saying the Judge must give separate rulings on it one way or the other before any other issue.

However, Ajayi and his fellow senior advocate announced their withdrawal from the suit and immediately staged a walkout from the court following Justice Ekwo’s insistence to take all the applications together in line with the provision of the Practice Direction of the Federal High Court.

The two senior lawyers were reportedly joined by their juniors in leaving the court immediately after the Judge ordered them to move their three applications together.

Naija News recalls that Ararume had dragged President Buhari to court to challenge his removal as the chairman of NNPCL, saying it was illegal, unlawful and unconstitutional and that it is a total breach of CAMA law under which NNPCL was incorporated.

The aggrieved former chairman of the oil company along with seeking his reinstatement as the chairman also demanded N100 billion as compensation for the damages he suffered nationally and internationally in the unlawful way and manner in which his removal was carried out by President Buhari.

Making case for his client 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 (CAMA) to nullify the removal of his client as the Chairman of the NNPCL.

He argued that President Buhari acted outside the law to remove Ararume after incorporating the oil company in his name and was billed for inauguration in the capacity.

But counsel to President Buhari, 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.

Shuaib specifically argued that Ararume’s suit offended Section 2(a) of the Public Officers Act and as such was incompetent.

Also speaking during the proceedings, counsel to the Corporate Affairs Commission [CAC] which is the third defendant in the suit, Akeem Mustapha (SAN) asked the court to decline jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

The Senior lawyer argued that his client did not play any role in Ararume’s disputed removal apart from incorporating NNPCL as a limited liability company based on the document submitted to it.

Mustapha pointed out that Ararume’s appointment was political and that President Buhari has the power to hire and fire, adding that the appointment has nothing to do with CAMA law.

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After taking arguments from counsels for Ararume, President Buhari, and Corporate Affairs Commission, Justice Ekwo fixed 28 March for ruling and possible judgment in the suit.