Justice Kezziah Ogbonnaya of FCT High Court, Kubwa, on Monday, ordered the British American Tobacco Company to pay N25,000 cost to the FCT Minister for seeking unnecessary adjournment.
Mr. Ogbonnaya gave the order at the resumed hearing of a land suit filed by the company against the FCT Minister and the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA)
Mrs. Ogbonnaya, in her ruling, frowned at the constant adjournments at the instance of Ayokunle Adesomoju, the company’s counsel which has stalled the proceedings.
According to her, asking the court to adjourn a matter that was ripe for hearing since January to September would not be tolerated in any country.
She said every lawyer’s reputation is at stake and being patriotic to their country should be the top most priority.
“Mrs Damilola Awesu, counsel to defendants, was right to have asked for cost as the court had earlier in January granted an order of injunction on the property in dispute, in the favour of the plaintiff,” she said.
“Since then, the plaintiff’s counsel has not filed anything even after the matter was adjourned for an accelerated hearing on March 13, 14 and 15.
“Yet, counsel to the plaintiff is asking for a September date; the plaintiff cannot delay this matter if it is in their country, and a Nigeria was asking for such adjournment.
“They can pay you, yes, but you must remain patriotic to your country first.
“If at the next adjourned date counsel to the plaintiff does not do the needful, this court would dismiss the suit,’’ she said.
Mrs. Ogbonnaya however adjourned the matter to June 19, for definite hearing.
The plaintiff filed the suit against the FCT Minister, Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) and Abuja Development Control over a land dispute.
At the resumed hearing, Mr. Adesomoju, counsel to the plaintiff prayed the court to grant him a date for adjournment in the new legal year because his sole witness in the suit was transferred to Kenya.
He also said he was unable to file anything because the new witness was also not currently in the country to sign his statement on oath.
A long date, he said, would allow for all the necessities to be done.
However, Ms. Awesu, counsel to one of the defendants asked the court to order the plaintiff counsel to pay them N25, 000 for cost.
Similarly, F.E Etula, counsel to another defendant, asked the court to allow the defendants to open their case if at the next adjourned date the plaintiff is unable to do so.