The Abuja division of the Federal High Court has refused to hear the motion filed by detained publisher of Sahara Reporters and presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC) in the February 2019 elections, Omoleye Sowore, asking it to vacate its order allowing the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to detain him for 45 days.
Justice Nkeonye Maha refused to hear the application on grounds that she did not have the powers to review the decision of a court of coordinate jurisdiction.
Justice Maha who stated that doing so will amount to sitting on an appeal on a decision passed by a court of coordinate jurisdiction.
She equally refused the oral application for bail sought by counsel for Sowore, Femi Falana (SAN) on grounds that she is functus officio.
The judge consequently referred the case to Court 10 presided by Justice Taiwo Taiwo who had granted the order in the first place.
Justice Taiwo had after granting the exparte order adjourned the substantive case to September 21 for hearing.
However, in a motion on notice, Sowore had through his counsel asked the court to set aside its order.
After a prolonged delay in the hearing of the motion, Falana had sometimes last week, approached the court seeking a date for the hearing of the application.
Filed along with his application was an affidavit of urgency seeking an expedited hearing of the suit on the ground that it “is one of fundamental importance that affects salient fundamental rights of the applicant herein.”
The motion brought pursuant to sections 6 (6) (B), 35 and 36(4) of the 1999 constitution and section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 is anchored on the fact that “the said order of the Honorable Court breached the fundamental right provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).”
However, when the case came up for hearing, Falana informed the court of his motion which he said was ready for hearing.
But counsel for the DSS, O.J. Oye told the court that he had just been served in court with a reply on point of law by the applicants counsel and requested for an adjournment to respond to it.
“I have just been served with a copy of reply on point of law this morning in court by 9:15am. It is a copious document with new facts and I need time to respond to it.”
Oye told the court that the idea behind serving him in court was an attempt to shut his client out of the case.
At this stage, Falana stood on his feet and informed the court that the respondent were served with other processes long ago.
He emphatically told the court that his client has been in detention since August and for 20 days, he (Falana) have been trying to get a date for the motion to be heard.
Falana submitted that once there is an ex parte order made against a person touching on his rights to his liberty, the court is bound to hear him within seven days.
He was, however, interrupted by Justice Maha, who, sou moto (on her own), raised reservations about her powers to hear the application.
It was her position that she lacked the powers to set aside the ruling of his brother Justice, Justice Taiwo, when she is sitting as a court of coordinate jurisdiction.
Besides, she referred Falana to a portion of the order made by Justice Taiwo adjourning the substantive matter to September 21 for hearing.
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