A High Court of the Federal Capital Territory yesterday deferred hearing on a case instituted against the immediate past Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, SAN, for allegedly abusing his office.
Justice Oluyemisi Adelaja adjourned the case for definite hearing, even as he directed the service of all the necessary court papers on the ex-AGF, Malami, SAN, to enable him to enter his defence in the matter.
He further directed that a proof of service of the suit and hearing notice on Malami, should be made available to the court.
The suit is seeking an order to compel the erstwhile AGF to pay N1billion as damages to an international businessman and property developer, Mr. Cecil Osakwe.
The plaintiff, in the legal action he instituted through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Victor Giwa, told the court that the former AGF, using his office, arm-twisted him to give out two units of three-bedroom flats in one of his properties situated as Mekong Close, Maitama, Abuja to a civil servant, Mrs. Asabe Waziri.
Osakwe alleged that Malami forced him to hand the property worth about N130million to Mrs. Waziri, against a subsisting order of a court of competent jurisdiction.
The plaintiff told the court that Malami, SAN, while in office as the AGF waded into a civil dispute his firm had with Mrs. Waziri and used his position to supervise his continuous harassment by security operatives.
Alleging that his fundamental rights were grossly violated, the plaintiff, said he sued Malami both in his official and personal capacity.
He maintained that the AGF acted with malice and abused his office by raising charge of “collecting money under false pretence’’ against him with a view to ensuring that the property was fully handed over to Mrs. Waziri who was also cited as a defendant in the suit.
According to the plaintiff, Malami took the action, even though he was aware that the 2nd defendant had initially moved into the said property and stayed for over eight months before she was vacated from it by a lawful court order that terminated sales transaction between both parties.
Consequently, aside from praying the court to declare that the AGF engaged in abuse of public office, the plaintiff, urged the court order him to pay N1bn as damages.
Meanwhile, at the resumed proceedings in the matter on Monday, Malami, SAN, was neither present in court nor represented by any lawyer.
Irked by the development, counsel to the plaintiff, Mr. Giwa, contended that the former AGF ought to be in court, insisting that he could not use the office he occupied for about eight years, to pursue his personal interest.
He told the court that the bailiff was duly mobilised to serve the proceesses on Malami, SAN, insisting that he as aware that the matter was slated for hearing.
“My lord, the second Respondent, Malami is not represented in court and the claimant is ready to open his case.
“We mobilized the bailiff to serve all the Respondents in this matter. This case is very important to the claimant. With this case, we need to send message to public officers that they cannot use their office to pursue personal interest,” Giwa submitted.
In his response, counsel to Mrs. Waziri who was cited as 1st Repondent in the suit, Mr. C.J. Abengowe, noted that though the case was fixed for hearing, he argued that since Malami was not represented in court, the matter could not be heard.
After he had listened to the two parties, Justice Adelaja said he was minded to grant the ex-AGF another opportunity to respond to the suit.
The court, therefore, okayed another adjournment of the suit.