N250bn Lawsuit: Court adjourns Otedola’s action against Lawan indefinitely

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A lawsuit filed by billionaire businessman, Chief Femi Otedola against the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and the former chairman of the House Ad-hoc Committee on Fuel Subsidy, Farouk Lawan has been postponed indefinitely.

The suit filed at an Abuja High Court was asking the defendants to pay Otedola the sum of N250bn as damages for allegedly harassing, intimidating and causing him to suffer loss of patronage in his business.

The suit resulted from Otedola’s allegation that Lawan had demanded a bribe of $3m in order to strike the name of his company, Zenon, from the listed of companies indicted in the subsidy fraud by the ad-hoc committee.

However, proceedings in the matter were suspended indefinitely by the trial judge, Justice Peter Kekemeke after Lawan filed a suit challenging the jurisdiction of the court at the Court of Appeal.

Kekemeke had on January 30, 2013, held that his court had  the power to entertain the suit against the two lawmakers.

Lawan’s suit insisted that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the case and thus, filed a motion on notice for a stay of proceedings at the trial court.

His suit also claimed that both he and Tambuwal had immunity, as they could not be prosecuted for any action they took on the floor of the House.

The lawmakers also asked the court to dismiss the suit for being too hasty because the House of Representatives had not adopted the report on the subsidy probe and a White paper on it had also not been issued.

The lawmakers added that, being agents of the House of Representatives, they could  only be sued at  the  FHC  because the House is an organ of the Federal Government and as such no AHC  has jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

His counsel, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju, of the chambers of Chief Afe Bebalola, yesterday, said the former committee chairman   was not satisfied with the AHC’s   decision to hear the case against him.

He informed the court that a notice of appeal had already been filed at the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal, and thus asked the AHC to stop further hearing in the suit pending the decision of the appellate court.

Justice Kekemeke, in a brief ruling, held that the first defendant (Lawan) had met the conditions for a stay of proceedings, and as a result, postponed the case indefinitely.

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