Saturday 23rd September, 2017
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S'Court rules Friday on typo error in disputed Abuja property suit

S'Court rules Friday on typo error in disputed Abuja property suit

The Supreme Court has set aside Friday, June 23, 2017, to rule on whether a typographi­cal error of date on a search report issued by the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS) constitutes fresh evidence in a disputed property in the Federal Capi­tal Territory (FCT).

Parties to the suit are So­koto Prince and former Ni­geria’s Ambassador to South Africa, Alhaji Shehu Mala­mi and business mogul, Sir Emeka Offor, as appellants, and a Nigerian-American businessman in Diaspora, Mr. Imoukhuede Ohikhuare, who is the first respondent.

Before the typographical error came up in the mat­ter at the apex court, both Malami and Offor had lost the case at the Court of Ap­peal, Abuja Division on May 28, 2015.

At the last hearing on the matter on March 28, 2017, counsel to both Malami and Offor, Joe Agi (SAN), had claimed before the Supreme Court that the error consti­tuted fresh evidence in the legal tussle.

The AGIS document has been available to Malami and Offor when the case started at the Abuja High Court and the Court of Appeal.

When the apex court’s panel led by Hon Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour (JSC) asked Agi if he did not spot the typographical error through hearings at the High Court and the Court of Ap­peal, Agi said that he did not represent Malami and Offor at the lower courts.

But, one of the lawyers who appeared alongside Agi and deputises for him when he is absent from court at the Supreme Court, Mr. J. C. Njikonye, was on the Mala­mi/Offor legal team from the inception of the case at the lower court headed by Justice A.S. Umar.

As a tradition, the apex court does not consider evi­dence tendered at the lower courts as litigants who ap­pear before it only present fresh evidence hitherto un­available at the courts below.

Before the case assumed this dimension Ambassa­dor Malami had sought to withdraw from it through another lawyer, Mr. Shaka Awaliene, a move, Offor op­posed.

While ruling on Malami’s bid to opt out of the appeal, the Supreme Court had ac­cepted Agi as counsel to both appellants in the mat­ter, insisting that the Sokoto Prince would have to appear in person before it to disown Agi and tell the court that he would rather abide by the Court of Appeal verdict on the case than continue at the apex court.

The disputed property, a N1 billion two-wing duplex is located on Plot 1809 Aso­koro, Abuja. The appellants took possession of it from Ohikhuare four years ago based on the judgment of Justice Umar, in a suit filed by Ambassador Malami.

In a unanimous decision delivered on May 28, 2015, the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division restored the own­ership of the property to Ohikhuare, a verdict which is now on appeal at the Su­preme Court.

The Appeal Court had declared the High Court judgment legally deficient because Malami “no lon­ger had the power to initi­ate proceedings at the lower court for himself because it is settled that an irrevocable power of attorney given for valuable consideration robs the donor of power to exer­cise any of the powers con­ferred on the donee.”