FHC Judge Court ‘Recuses’ Self From Lekki Estate Excos’ Suit

Justice Akintayo Aluko of a Lagos Federal High Court, has recused himself from hearing of the different suits brought before him by the factions of the Incorporated Trustees of the Divine Homes Residents Association (ITDH) Lekki, Lagos.

Justice Aluko withdrew from hear of the suit, last Thursday, following an oral application for the judge’s recusal, made Chief Abdullai Tony Dania, counsel to one of the parties in the suit.

At the resumed hearing suit numbered FHC/L/CS/642/2022, between Tunde Adisa Friday vs Incorporated Trustees of the Divine Homes Residents Association, and FHC/L/CS/1136/2023, between Honourable Uche Nwabuze Vs. Tunde Adisa Friday, respectively, Chief Dania argued that the judge was biased against his Clients. 

Chief Dania also argued that even if the Court wants to investigate the capacity of Counsel to represent the parties, it should be at the time of filing the suit in June 2023, and not the updated status of the Incorporated Trustees of the Divine Homes Residents Association in 2024, more so when same suit is a substantive issues pending before both Justice Lifu and Justice Lewis-Allagoa, both of the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, Lagos. 

He further informed the court that there was no suit before him, when even he delivered Judgment on the Suit on January 5, 2024, even though the Suit was originally assigned to a substantive judge, Justice Aneke, but that Justice heard the matter on the 5th of January, 2024, as a vacation Judge, whereas, there was obviously no urgency in the case, he delivered the Judgment in issue, after he struck out the Originating Summons dated June 27, 2023, with which the suit was commenced, that that was the end of the case/suit, but the Judgment was delivered upon a fresh Originating Summons on the same Suit No FHC/L/CS/1236/2023 filed on January 4 2024, whose Prayers or orders sought therein were outrageously different from the one struck out and there was no application filed and granted to re-list the Suit struck out.

He stated further that the said fresh Suit filed on January 4, 2024 was heard on January 5, 2024, the Counsel Barr Olawale Ashimu who claimed to represent the Incorporated Trustees of the Divine Homes Residents Association, (IT-DHRA) filed no response and he informed the Court to enter Judgment against the Association. 

Chief Dania referred to the Biblical wisdom of Solomon. 

Chief Dania concluded that there was no suit before the Court. He also made some remarks that he appreciate judges but does not envy them, but the Judge interjected and scolded Chief Dania who profusely and repeatedly apologized and explained that he didn’t mean it the way the Court took it. 

However, Barr Daniel O. Yeri, who announced appearance for the same ITDH, vehemently opposed Chief Dania, and urged the Court to go on with the business of the day, which was the hearing of all applications before the couet.

Yeri also informed the court the he had filed form 48 contempt of Court against Chief Dania and his clients. Adding that the members of the BOT of IT-DHRA that briefed Chief Dania have been suspended and removed, so, Chief Dania was not briefed.

Justice Aluko, after taking submissions from counsel, recused himself and ordered that the case files of the 2 Suits be taking to the Administrative Judge of the Federal High Court for re-assignment.

Meanwhile, prior to Justice Aluko recusal from hearing of the two suits, Chief Dania had petitioned the National Judiciary Commission (NJC), accusing Justice Aluko of misconduct and abuse of office.

Also, in a separate letter written to the Administrative Judge of the court, the lawyer urged the Admin Judge to retrieve suits numbered FHC/L/CS/642/2022 and FHC/L/CS/1236/2023 and assigned them to another judge.

In the petition dated March 15, 2024, the lawyer accused Justice Aluko of judicial misconduct in the way he handled several suits involving his client, who are members of the BOT of the Incorporated Trustees of the Divine Homes Residents Association, Thomas Estate, Ajah, Lagos State, aka BOT IT-DHRA.

The petitioner stated that the way and manner the Judge exercised his judicial discretion has caused very serious consequential avoidable damages to his clients and have encouraged the negative exploitation of normal judicial procedure/proceedings to foist illegalities and conspicuous injustice on innocent Nigerian Citizens, and has created the impression that the Courts can be used to undermine justice.

According to the lawyer, one Uche Henry Nwabueze, via Originating Summons, filed a suit against the IT-DHRA,.FHC/L/GS 4237/2021, which was and is still pending before Hon Justice Peter Lifu of the Federal High Court. 

While the suit was pending, Uche Nwabueze allegedly arranged one Adisa Tunde Friday to file a fresh Suit, via Originating Summons, against himself and the same IT-DHRA as co-defendants at the same Federal High Court, FHC/L/CS/642/2022, which was before Justice Aluko. 

However, in the fresh suit, the Originating processes meant for his clients, (the ITDHRA), were not served on them. 

He stated “Our clients were not aware of the suit. Uche entered appearance for both himself and our clients. He was not authorized to do that. He deliberately filed a very feeble defense for himself and purportedly on behalf of our clients; and judgment was delivered only on the validity of the Constitution of DHRA. 

“Uche wrote to both the Police and the banks of our clients, purportedly in execution of the Judgment, whereas he was supposed to be a defendant in the suit and whereas the said judgment is not “executable” been a declarative order. When we got to know about the suit, we immediately filed a motion to set it aside for deceit, non-service of Originating processes”.

According to the Petitioner, while the second suit was pending, Uche filed yet another suit marked FHC/L/CS/1236/2023 on the 27th of June, 2023, via an originating summons, wherein, he made Adisa Tunde Friday the first defendant and IT-DHRA the second defendant.

He stated the the suit was assigned to Hon. Justice Aneke as the substantive judge, and it was adjourned to sometime in January 2024. However, the originating processes were not served on his clients, but they were received by both Ashimi and Uche. 

He added that Justice Aluko, as a vacation judge at the material time, for whatever reason, heard the matter on the 5th of January 2024.

“Uche formally informed Justice Aluko of the existence of the second suit, where Tunde Adisa Friday was the 1st defendant in suit number 3. There were 3 different Originating Summons processes in the file, with exactly the same suit no, but with different prayers, the one filed on 27/06/23 No.3, the other two were filed on 04/01/24 No.3a and the 3rd one filed on the same 04/01/24, No.3b. 

“On January 5, 2024, my Lord, Honourable Justice Aluko sat on this matter, instead of returning the file back to Justice Aneke, because there was no obvious urgency in the matter, at the instance of Counsel in the Court, he struck out No,3, he granted judgment in No.3b, because Counsel for Adisa Tunde Friday and Barr Olawale Ashimi who claimed to be Counsel for AIT-DHRA, informed the Court that they have no objection for Judgment to be entered against them. This is a very strange practice. 

“Justice Aluko ought to have checked Suit No.2 after Uche formally informed him of its existence. He ought to have cautioned himself when the Defendants asked him to enter Judgment against them. He ought to have checked the affidavit of services. He knew or ought to know that there was no application filed to amend the content of No.3, yet suits numbers 3a and No.3b were filed as fresh originating summons processes, yet he allowed it, whose content was outrageously different from the one filed on the 27th of June 2023.

“We know the welfare of Judges need to be addressed and I appreciate  how Judges go through a lot of personal sacrifices to do their jobs, low welfare, a poor salaries, poor logistics, poor accommodation, low medical, even lack of a electricity during working hours; but all that cannot prevent Justice Aluko from I appreciating simple elementary judicial procedural issues that naturally robbed him of jurisdiction to hear or continue to hear matters that he has pronounced dead.

Consequently, he urged the NJC  to investigate Justice Aluko for judicial misconduct.