Backdropped against the rising tide of appeals by well-meaning Nigerians, both home and abroad, the Doyen of Maritime Journalism and Publisher of foremost maritime journal, Shipping World, Elder Asu Beks, yesterday formally withdrew the case against suspended Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman and the Chairman of the NPA Board, Chief Emmanuel Adesoye.
In the Suit No: FHC/L/CS/485/2021- Elder Asu Beks & 2 Ors V The President Federal Republic of Nigeria & Ors, they had prayed the court to quash the re-appointment of Hadiza Bala Usman for a second term in office without having served out her first term. It also asked the court to quash the appointment of the NPA Board which negated the provisions of the NPA Act.
In a letter dated 15th November, 2021 and addressed to Mike Ozekome, SAN, Counsel to the Plaintiffs, Asu Beks stated inter-alia:
“On behalf of my humble self as Lead Claimant and other Claimants on record in the above suit, I hereby wish to convey our joint resolve not to pursue further prosecution of this case.
“In the circumstance, may I respectfully request that you formally discontinue same by the filing of a Notice of Discontinuance, etc”.
He thanked Ozekome for standing by them while the whole saga lasted.
“I wish to thank you immensely for standing by us and remain grateful to your Honourable Chambers for work done on our behalf,” he stated.
The letter was copied to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; the Registrar of the Federal High Court; Counsel to Hadiza & Adesoye, Emma Ogboji & Co.
Recall that the first hearing for the suit came up in July 5, 2021 at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi Lagos with Justice Tijani Garba Ringim as trial judge. At that hearing, Counsel for Hadiza and Adesoye made no appearance in court. Thereafter, Justice Ringim checked his diary and adjourned the case to 4th November 2021 ostensibly to give both parties enough time to prepare themselves for the battle.
Alas! When the case came up for hearing on 4th November, to the utter consternation of the Plaintiffs, lawyers and Journalists present at the court premises, they were informed that the case had been moved from 4th November to 3rd November contrary to verifiable court records and that Hadiza’s Counsel was present in court on that day.
After this rigmarole came to light, the Media tagged it, “Judicial Robbery” while several online media platforms fingered the office of the Court Registrar for the malfeance.
Miffed by the incident, the lead Claimant, Asu Beks, threatened to get justice by taking the matter to the National Judicial Council (NJC) but was prevailed upon to perish the thought!
According to usually reliable sources, the withdrawal of the case has put an end to endless speculations by maritime industry stakeholders.
Speaking expressly about the withdrawal of the case against Hadiza, a lawyer based in Warri noted that the decision to do so was “very pragmatic” and hailed Asu Beks for his courage and audacity!
Credit: Sylvanus Ekpo