Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday refused to hear a suit filed by WhitePlains British School against First Bank Plc.
Justice Ojukwu declined hearing the matter on the ground that a sister Judge, Justice Babatunde Quadri, had started hearing the matter and it was only proper for him to continue.
Both Ojukwu and Quadri are vacation judges.
“The case is not on my cause list and I am not going to hear it. We have met and decided that once somebody has started hearing a case, he will continue to the end.
“Another Judge has started hearing this case and he will conclude it,” Justice Ojukwu insisted.
In her ruling after hearing counsel to parties in the suit, Justice Ojukwu said “I am not given to too much talking. I have made my mind and there is nothing anybody can say that would make me to change my mind.
“I will not hear it, somebody has started it and I can’t do anything here,” she declared.
Earlier, Counsel to WhitePlains British School, Mr. Chukwuma -Machukwu Ume (SAN), had pleaded the court to hear the matter, giving that the summer activities of the school have been disrupted by the closure.
“My lord, because of the curious development on Sunday, July 8, 2018, when a school was closed against a valid court order, the court had on July 16, 2018 ordered that this matter be heard during vacation.
“Justice Quadri who made the order equally adjourned the case for today, Tuesday, July 24 for hearing.
“All these orders and other processes have been served on the respondents, who have filed their counter affidavits, so the case is ready for hearing today.
“Although Justice Quadri did not seat today, since your court is equally sitting as a vacation court, it is only proper that the matter be heard my lord, giving that all the parties have filed their processes and are present in court,” Ume submitted.
Reacting, counsel to First Bank Plc, Soji Toki, informed the court that Justice Quadri who had adjourned the matter till today (July 24), could not seat and the matter was further slated for August 8, for hearing.
Toki wondered why the applicant’s counsel hurriedly decided to come before another Judge to hear the case.
In a further and better affidavit of urgency filed in support of the motion, the deponent, Genevieve Okereke, averred that the respondents embarked on the illegal action two weeks ago while forcefully attempting to take over the school under the guise of staged loan default.
She told the court that First bank officials , Mr. Bola Olotu ( Receiver), some armed police officers and masons on Sunday , July 8, 2018 chased out staff of the elites school worth over N6bn from the school premises in Jabi district of Abuja.
She stated that the respondents went to work and sealed the two entrances and two foot paths with blocks while trying to enforce a N630m loan default judgment which the school claimed was obtained through a forged document.
The school told the court that the Tripartite Legal Mortgage which the bank used in misleading the court to grant their prayers was forged as the school never entered a tripartite agreement with the bank.