BEDC faults Malami’s alleged opinion on expiration of court orders
Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) Plc has reacted to the alleged opinion of Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, which reportedly proclaimed that the ex-parte orders of the Federal High Court issued in Suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2022 – Vigeo Power Limited vs. Fidelity Bank PLC & 7 Ors. on July 8, 2022 – had expired after 14 days.
A media report, on August 23, 2022, claimed: “The AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), believes that the refusal of the sacked Managing Director of BEDC Electricity Plc to vacate office is acting beyond her legal power or authority.”
It had added: “Malami cited the recent restraining order paraded by the ousted BEDC boss, which she reportedly obtained from an Abuja High Court as lawless, ultra vires, and of no effect as the 14 days granted by the Federal High Court had slumped to vacate her from the office.
“In his opinion on the matter titled: ‘Legal opinion on the possession and management of BEDC Electricity Plc, dated August 18, 2022, with reference number LE/14/1.7/95’, the Attorney General cited Order 26 Rule 10 (1-3) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 which state in part to buttress his advice.”
According to him (AGF), “an application to vary or discharge an order made ex-parte may be made by the party or person affected within 14 days after service and shall not last for more than 14 days after the application has been argued unless the court otherwise directs and where a motion to vary or discharge an ex-parte order is not taken within 14 days of its being filed, the ex-parte order shall lapse unless the court otherwise directs in the interest of justice.”
Malami, therefore, allegedly noted that the interim order being relied upon by the Managing Director was granted on July 8, 2022, while an application to set it aside was filed on July 22, 2022.
REACTING to the development, the legal counsel to BEDC, Kunle Adegoke (SAN), observed: “Our attention has been drawn to the opinion published in the social media on August 23, 2022 which purported to have emanated from the office of the Attorney General of the Federation proclaiming that the ex parte orders of the Federal High Court issued in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2022 –Vigeo Power Limited vs. Fidelity Bank PLC & 7 Ors. on July 8, 2022 had expired after 14 days.
“We refuse to believe that the Attorney General would publicly comment on a matter that is sub judice and sit in judgment over an order given by a court of competent jurisdiction. In the unlikely event that the opinion indeed emanated from his office as reported, then we would describe it as unfortunate, in bad faith and an invitation to anarchy.”
He added that an order of court does not expire until the court so pronounces.
Adegoke continued: “Were the opposite to be the case, as seemingly proclaimed by the AGF, society would be a boiling broth of self-help as every party to a suit would declare any order it finds unfavourable to have expired.
“The law is that an order of court does not expire until the court pronounces so. We refer to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Deux Projects Limited vs. Access Bank Plc delivered on December 14, 2020 – CA/LAG/1342/2019 –where the court corrected the impression and held that an ex-parte order would not lapse after 14 days until a court so pronounces.”