Federal High Court in Lagos Suspends Rulings in ₦156bn Debt Recovery Case Following Transfer Request

The Federal High Court in Lagos, on Friday, suspended the delivery of two rulings in a ₦156 billion debt recovery suit after receiving a letter from Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Wahab Shittu, requesting the case be transferred to another judge. Justice Akintayo Aluko, who was set to deliver the rulings, stated that he was obliged to halt proceedings pending the Chief Judge’s decision on Shittu’s transfer request.

The case involves United Bank of Africa (UBA), represented by Mr. Temilolu Adamolekun, seeking to recover ₦156 billion from Stallion Nigeria Limited and its subsidiaries. Shittu, representing some of the defendants, had accused the court of causing unnecessary delays through unwarranted adjournments—a claim Justice Aluko refuted as false.

At the court’s last sitting, Adamolekun appeared for UBA, while Stallion Nigeria Limited was represented by a counsel from Shittu’s chambers due to Shittu’s absence. Justice Aluko informed the parties that Shittu’s letter to the Chief Judge requested the transfer of the case based on alleged delays.

Justice Aluko clarified that the rulings on the two applications were ready but he was instructed by the Chief Judge to pause further action until a decision was made on Shittu’s transfer request. The applications included one for a stay of proceedings which needed to be addressed before hearing the main originating summons.

Justice Aluko emphasized, “Rulings in these two applications are ready to be delivered. However, counsel to the 1st, 2nd, 5th to 11th defendants, Wahab Shittu SAN, had written a letter requesting the transfer of the case to my Chief Judge, alleging delay and unwarranted adjournments. This allegation is entirely false.”

The judge also mentioned that he had provided comments on the allegations to the Chief Judge as requested. Prominent lawyers present in court, including Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, and the prosecution counsel, Adamolekun, expressed shock at the incident and confirmed that the case had been progressing with expeditious hearings contrary to Shittu’s claims.

Justice Aluko reiterated his stance, stating, “The two rulings slated for today are ready. However, I cannot go against the directive of my Chief Judge, which instructed me to stay further action pending his decision on the matter of the letter for transfer written to him by Shittu SAN. The allegations of Wahab Shittu SAN that the hearing of this substantive matter has been delayed because of unwarranted delays or adjournments are not true.”

This development marks a significant pause in the ongoing legal battle, with the next steps dependent on the Chief Judge’s review and decision regarding Shittu’s transfer request.

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