By Vivian Okejeme
Justice Sylvanus Oriji of the Federal Capital Territory High Court, Apo, Abuja, has fixed May 24 for hearing on a suit filed by Victor Uwajeh against Senator Andy Uba.
At a resumed sitting on the matter, Counsel to Senator Uba, Mahmoud Magaji, SAN informed the court of an application he filed on March 25, 2017 in respect of the suit.
Reacting, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Anthony Agbonlahor, opposed the motion on notice on the grounds that it was filed and served on him on March 26, without seal and stamp of the Nigerian Bar Association.
More so, Agbonlahor pointed out that the second prayer on the motion paper “is a deeming order but the seal on the statement of defence served on us has expired since March.
“In view of this My Lord, the process is not competent before the court. Perhaps it’s a mistake on my side for not checking properly because the process was served on me at night.”
However, the defence counsel insisted the process is competent, arguing that the NBA has not provided legal practitioners with the recent seal.
He went ahead to display as evidence, a receipt issued by NBA, showing payment for the seal, just as he cited a case; Today’s Motors Ltd vs Lannasco Associates and others 2016, wherein the Court of Appeal held that a court can receive a process where the evidence of payment of NBA stamp and seal has been shown.
At this point, Agbonlahor confirmed that the NBA has not issued his own stamp and seal even though he has equally paid, adding, “the NBA has sent SMS messages indicating they will make the stamp and seal available in no distant time.”
Aside the issue of NBA stamp and seal, the plaintiff’s counsel said he needed time to go through the motion on notice of the defendant served on him on March 26.
However, Justice Oriji said he would not make any restrain order but instead cautioned parties to refrain from any act or comment that would prejudice hearing of the matter.
In a short ruling, the court held that there is evidence of payment of fees for stamp and seal of NBA, and therefore processes bearing an expired seal or no stamp at all cannot be said to be invalid.
“The untidiness of the NBA secretariat cannot be visited on the defendant. Therefore, processes filed by the defendant are competent, and the defendant having served his motion on notice on March 26, the plaintiff is hereby given 14 days to respond.”
Consequently, the matter was adjourned to May 24 for hearing.