Rights group wins case against justice minister, gets damages

March 31, 2019
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A Federal High Court has awarded N50,000 damages in favour of a rights group that sued the justice minister in a bid to ensure  diligence in the Malabu oil scandal.

HEDA had gone to court to compel the Nigerian authorities to bring into public domain all transactions involving the Malabu oil block allocation which involves multinational companies and local officials said to have been bribed with cash running into millions of dollars.

The Malabu case has already assumed international dimension with Shell, Eni and their officials being prosecuted at a Milan court for their roles in the scandal.

In his ruling on Friday, Justice Muslim Hassan of the Federal High Court adjourned the case after arguments by both sides, but not without awarding damages in favour of HEDA.

The 1st Respondent applied for an adjournment because they are just appearing in the matter for the first time adding that they require some time to study the processes to enable them enter the matter properly.

On the adjournment, applicant conceded on the ground that the preliminary objection be taken with the originating motion, referring to Order 25(2) of the Federal High Court Rules, 2000 and also applied for cost of N600,000.

The 2nd respondent said that they were not opposed to the adjournment but stated that the applicant was yet to respond to its preliminary objection since December 13, last year and urged the court to uphold its pronouncement of the February 25 that the preliminary objections be taken before delving into the originating motion.

The 3rd respondent conceded to the adjournment in the interest of fair hearing stating that the court upholds its ruling of last month to hear the preliminary objections before the substantive suit.

The court pronounced that the February pronouncement remains the position and that the case is adjourned till May 24 this year for the hearing of the preliminary objections.

The court also awarded the cost of N50,000 in favour of the applicant against the Attorney General of the Federation.

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