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Court strikes out N1BN suit against ex-minister, three others



The FCT High Court sitting in Kubwa has struck out the one-billion-naira suit brought against a former Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, during his tenure. 

 Also named in the suit were civil servant, Ms. Asabe Waziri, the office of the former minister and the Federal Ministry of Justice. 

The lawsuit, initiated by an Abuja-based property developer, Mr Cecil Osakwe targeted the former minister in his personal capacity along with Waziri and the two others

But Justice O.I. Adelaja on Thursday struck out the matter, citing lack of diligent prosecution by Osakwe. 

“The claimant is the one who filed the action and is required to be seen diligently prosecuting same but they are not in court and there is no reason for their absence before the court. 

“They have, therefore, been absent without reason and consequent upon Order 32 Rule 4, this case is ordered struck out for want of diligent prosecution,’’ Adelaja ordered. 

It will be recalled that in June 2022, the Federal Government had filed a two-count charge with suit number: FCT/HC/CR/244/2022, against Osakwe for advance fee fraud to the tune of N130 million.

The suit also alleged criminal intimidation of Waziri, a staff of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, saying that Osakwe had threatened Waziri with injury to her person and reputation with intent to cause her harm and even death. 

Waziri was said to have purchased a two-bed property from Osakwe to the tune of N130 million at Maitama, an up-market district of the FCT. 

In response to the charge against him, Osakwe, filed a lawsuit against the erstwhile attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice.  Others joined in the suit included the Federal Ministry of Justice and Waziri.

Represented by his Counsel, Mr. Victor Giwa, Osakwe sought reliefs, including an order directing Malami to pay the sum of one billion naira to him as punitive damage.

The developer also sought an order directing the defendants to pay jointly and severally, the sum of one hundred million naira to him as general damages.

A high-ranking official from the Ministry of Justice commented that such legal manoeuvres are often used by individuals to evade criminal accountability and to intimidate and to malign the Federal Ministry of Justice.  

The Ministry clarified that it does not investigate crimes but prosecutes cases transferred to it by the police, as in this instance.