A contractor, Mr Christian Igbo, on Tuesday prayed an FCT High Court, Abuja to dismiss an application by the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) seeking an order setting aside its judgment against the corps and others.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Edward Okpe had on June 22 in a judgment, ordered the NSCDC to pay Igbo over N29 million balance of the contract sum legitimately awarded and executed by him.
The judge also restrained the NSCDC, its Commander-General (C-G), Ahmed Audi; and others from further harassing the contractor over a completed contract.
But in a motion on notice marked: CV/2115/2023 filed by its Director of Legal Services, Umar Mohammed, the corps sought an order setting aside the judgment delivered on June 22 directing them to pay Igbo his balance (N29, 360, 697.00) of the contract sum.
Giving six grounds why the judgment should be vacated, Mohammed argued that the court gave the judgment without jurisdiction.
When the matter was called on Tuesday, Evelyn Charles-Iyanya, who appeared for NSCDC, moved the motion on notice filed by Mohammed dated July 20 and filed July 25.
She urged the court to set aside Relief 4 as contained in Igbo’s originating motion on the payment of the judgment sum of over N29 million, having been delivered without jurisidtcion.
But Igbo’s counsel, Pascal Obioha, prayed the court to dismiss Charles-Iyanya’s application on the grounds that the court had become functus officio to vacate the judgment it delivered.
The lawyer maintained that the court had jurisdiction to have given the June 22 judgment and that the court as at this time, lacked the powers to either review, revisit or set aside its own judgment, as doing so would amount to the court sitting on appeal over its own decision or judgment.
Obioha, in a counter affidavit he filed, argued that Igbo’s originating motion was dully served on the respondents which enabled them to put up several appearances before the court, but they decided not to file counter affidavit to oppose their application.
He said the court gave them several opportunities to defend the suit or raise objection as to the jurisdiction of the court, where necessary, but they waived their right to do so.
The lawyer, who submitted that the court gave the judgment on merit, said by the content of the said judgement, the court had become functus officio in the matter.
“That I know as a fact that when a court becomes functus officio, that court cannot be expected to review its judgement or sit on appeal over its own judgment when the court’s jurisdiction was properly invoked,” he said.
He said the NSCDC’s motion was grossly incompetent and constituted an abuse of court process.
The lawyer, who averred that the motion was strange and alien to law practice, the rules of the court and legal jurisprudence, said it was brought in bad faith.
“This application is vexatious and a ploy to frustrate the applicant from reaping the fruits of the judgment in his favour,” Obioha said, urging the court to dismiss the motion.
Justice Okpe, after listening to the parties, reserved ruling on a date to be communicated to them.
NAN reports that Igbo had, in an originating motion on notice marked: CV/2115/2023 and filed by Obioha, sued the NSCDC, the C-G, and some agency’s officials.
Others joined as respondents include Fabian Ejezie (Finance), Mpamugo Ifeanyi Bartholomew, Victor Olarenwaju, M. Kukuyi (Accountant General Staff in Charge of CPO) and Chukwuemeka Okeke.
Igbo, a businessman and managing director of Davenchris Ventures LTD, IB-Technicals Ltd and Chrisreubben Enterprises, had sought seven reliefs which include an order to enforce his fundamental human rights of freedom, personal liberty, fair hearing and human dignity as guaranteed by Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution.
The judge, while delivering the judgement on the suit filed in January, held that where an application was not controverted by a party, averments therein would be deemed to have been admitted by the party.(NAN)