Legal counsel to Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) Plc, M. Kunle Adegoke (SAN), has said he refused to believe that the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), would publicly comment on a matter that is subjudice and sit in judgement over an order given by a court of competent jurisdiction. He said an order of a court does not expire except the court pronounces so.
Adegoke reacted yesterday to a report published by an online medium alleging that the management of BEDC Electricity Plc had expired because the order of an Abuja High Court on the matter had ceased to exist after 14 days.
In the report, Malami allegedly said that the ex-parte orders of the Federal High Court issued in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2022 – Vigeo Power Limited v. Fidelity Bank Plc & 7 Ors. on the 8th July, 2022 had expired after 14 days.
The online report was published on August 23, 2022, saying that, “The attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), believes that the refusal of the sacked managing director of the BEDC Electricity Plc to vacate office is acting beyond her legal power or authority.”
It said, “Malami cited the recent restraining order paraded by the ousted BEDC boss, which she reportedly obtained from an Abuja High Court, as lawless, ultra vires, and of no effect as the 14 days granted by the Federal High Court had slumped to vacate her from the office.
“In his opinion on the matter titled: ‘Legal opinion on the possession and management of BEDC Electricity Plc, dated August 18, 2022, with reference number LE/14/1.7/95, the attorney-general cited Order 26 Rule 10(1-3) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019 which states in part to buttress his advice.”
Adegoke said that, “In the unlikely event that the opinion indeed emanated from his office as reported, then we would describe it as unfortunate, in bad faith and an invitation to anarchy.”
According to him, “An order of court does not expire until the court so pronounces. Were the opposite to be the case, as seemingly proclaimed by the AGF, society would be a boiling broth of self-help as every party to a suit would declare any order it finds unfavourable to have expired.”
Adegoke said, “Our attention has been drawn to the opinion published in the social media on 23rd day August, 2022 which purported to have emanated from the office of the attorney-general of the federation proclaiming that the ex-parte orders of the Federal High Court issued in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2022 – Vigeo Power Limited v. Fidelity Bank Plc & 7 Ors on 8th July, 2022 had expired after 14 days.”
He said, “The law is that an order of court does not expire until the court pronounces so. We refer to the decision of the Court of Appeal in Deux Projects Limited v. Access Bank PLC delivered on the 14th day of December, 2020 – CA/LAG/1342/2019 – where the court corrected the impression and held that an ex parte order would not lapse after 14 days until a court so pronounces.”
Adegoke further observed that, “We believe that the opinion credited to the attorney-general is a ploy to confuse matters and coerce the Office of the Inspector-General of Police to carry out illegal operation by using the police or any other security agency to forcefully take over BEDC Electricity Plc without any court order permitting such act.” He added that the opinion credited to the AGF continues the recent worrying trend of abuse of state power by the many agencies of government in connection with this matter.
“We implore all lovers of rule of law to implore all authorities to respect the sanctity of legal proceedings as the matter is still pending in Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1113/2022 between Vigeo Power Limited v Fidelity Bank in which the Federal High Court order in issue was granted,” he said.