The Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit challenging Femi Gbajabiamila’s eligibility to contest the recently-concluded speakership election of the newly-inaugurated 9th House of Representatives.
The Court’s records sighted by our correspondent on Tuesday showed that Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the suit following the decision of the plaintiff, Philip Undie, to discontinue the case.
Undie had filed the legal action on May 21, 2019, asking the court to remove Gbajabiamila as a member of the House of Representatives and disqualify him from contesting the leadership election of the House of Representatives.
He had anchored the suit on the alleged conviction of the lawmaker for fraud and dishonesty by the Supreme Court of the State of Georgia in the United States of America in 2007.
But a new lawyer engaged by the plaintiff, Mr. S.D Okoro, appeared in court on Monday, to adopt a notice of discontinuance of the suit earlier filed.
In response, Gbajabiamila’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Adedeji, of the law firm of Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said he had no objection to the application for the discontinuance of the case.
But Adedeji prayed that his client, having joined issues with the plaintiff by filing a counter-affidavit against the originating summons and a preliminary object, the suit should not be struck out, but should be dismissed so that it would not be re-filed in the future.
He also prayed for a cost of N1m to be awarded against the plaintiff.
Ruling, Justice Ekwo dismissed the suit as prayed by Gbajabiamila’s lawyer, but refused to award cost against the plaintiff.
The judge said, “On the last day of hearing of this case, Mr. Okoro appeared for the plaintiff but there was no processes before the court showing that there was a change of counsel before the court.
“Today (Monday), I take notice of a process titled ‘Change of counsel’ by Mr. Okoro dated June 20, 2019.
“Therefore, I am satisfied that Mr. Okoro has authority to represent the plaintiff in this case and therefore entitled to conduct the case in accordance with the law.
“Now, Mr. Okoro has adopted the notice of discontinuance dated June 17, 2019, and this is happening after issues have been joined in the substantive matter. Mr. Okoro is praying that the matter be struck out.
“I have listened to Mr. Adedeji, counsel for the 1st defendant, and on the consequential order to be made at this stage.
“It is the law that when parties have joined issues and the plaintiff seeks to withdraw the case, the proper order is that dismissing the suit.
“It is in this like that I agree with the learned counsel for the 1st defendant, and I hereby make an order dismissing this suit.
“On the issue of cost, I will not make any order as to cost since parties decided to end the matter peacefully.
“I allow them to go home without grudges against each other.”
In the suit, the plaintiff had alleged that Gbajabiamila, as a practising lawyer in the State of Georgia in the US, “was convicted and sentenced for fraud and dishonesty in relation to the sum of $25,000” belonging to a then client of the lawmaker.