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Counsel mother’s ill-health stalls hearing

Ogbonnaya said that the date was suggested by the counsel to the defendant, who wrote a letter to the court.

Court gavel

The judge, Justice Kezziah Ogbonnaya, adjourned hearing in the matter until April 27.

In the letter, the counsel said she needed time to take care of her mother who was on admission in an undisclosed hospital.

The judge said that the court, as an instrument of justice and posterity, treats the issue of health with caution.

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” It is in courts record that the defendants’ counsel cut short her annual leave to attend to this matter.”

If the court should write to the defendants to send another counsel to replace her, the new counsel would need time before he or she can do anything and that would waste more time.

” A short date is not convenient for the court and may not be convenient for the defence counsel as well.” I do not see anything wrong in the counsel leaving everything to take care of her mother.

“Everyone has a mother; should she abandon her mother for a suit that would not start or end today?’’

The defendants, 1, 503 traders, are seeking N500 million compensation each, against the FCT Minister and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), for allegedly denying them access to shop allocations.

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The fresh suit which was filed in December 2016 by their counsel, Sepiribo Peters, they are seeking a declaration that they are entitled to occupy and use allocated shops at the Wuye Ultra Modern Market.

They are also seeking for an order, directing the defendants to pay each plaintiff N500 million, a compensation and exemplary damages for illegal and unlawful denial of access to the shops.

The plaintiffs claimed that they were formally at Wuse Central Market, and were given letters of provisional offer of shops and spaces by the defendants in 2001.

The amount paid ranged from N2,000, N8,000 and N12,000 depending on the shop category.

The plaintiffs claimed they were later denied the allocation, which led to an earlier suit no CV/ 440/12, filed before Justice O.A. Musa of FCT High Court, Apo in 2015.

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At the resumed hearing, Peters, counsel to the plaintiffs, told the court that the business for the day was for definite hearing.

He, however, told the court that he received a letter while in court from the defence counsel, informing him of her inability to be in court, citing her mother’s sickness as the reason.

Peters urged the court to grant a short adjournment, and suggested April 7.

“The letter should indicate that if the counsel cannot make it, then FCDA should send another counsel to take over the matter so that we do not receive another excuse, ” Peters said.

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