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Govt challenges court’s jurisdiction in Bi-Courtney’s suit




The Federal Government has challenged the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court to entertain the suit filed by Bi-Courtney Limited over concession agreement dispute between both parties.

The applicant (Bi-Courtney) is claiming N66 billion as damages arising from an alleged breach of the concession agreement for the redevelopment of the domestic terminal of the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Ikeja.

Defendants in the suit are the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN).

Yesterday, the Federal Government, through its counsel, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), told Justice Ibrahim Buba that the defendants have pending applications namely: motion for stay of further proceedings and the a motion challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

Bi-Courtney, through its counsel, Wale Akoni (SAN), also informed the court of its pending application to amend its originating process.

Ajogwu argued that the court lacks jurisdiction to entertain suit on the ground that the reliefs sought by the plaintiff had been decided upon by Justice Gladys Olotu of an Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The instant suit, he said, therefore constitutes an abuse of court process and should be dismissed.
“The issues have been determined by Justice Olotu since 2012. I urge the court to grant this application and dismiss the plaintiff’s suit,” he said.

Justice Buba adjourned until April 21 for ruling on the application challenging the court’s jurisdiction.

Bi-Courtney filed the suit by writ of summons on February 1, 2013 seeking damages, declarative and injunctive reliefs following an alleged breach of the agreement dated April 24, 2003.

On February 25, 2013, the AGF and FAAN urged the court to strike out Bi-Courtney’s suit or stay proceedings pending when arbitration was concluded.

Last November 9, Justice Buba dismissed the defendants’ preliminary objection on the ground that parties in a sister case were already in arbitration.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, AGF and FAAN filed a notice of appeal dated December 11, 2015.
They aver that unless Justice Buba stays proceedings, the Court of Appeal would be foisted with a fait accompli (an accomplished deed) and its decision would be rendered nugatory.

“It will be in the interest of justice for this court to grant this application. The plaintiff/respondent will not be prejudiced by the grant of this application,” the defendants said.

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