Justice Adeniyi Ademola at the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday struck out the Bayelsa State Government’s suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to remit the money it recovered from its former governor, Mr. Diepreye Alamieyeseigha.

This was as a result of the discontinuance application by the state government filed through its Attorney-General.

The contentious fund was said to be in two parts ? N1.4bn and $1.3m. The money was recovered from Alamieyeseigha upon his conviction by a Federal High Court in Lagos on July 26, 2007.

The state government had mandated the Managing Director of Panic Alert Security System, George Uboh; and a lawyer, Anthony Agbonlahor, to help recover the funds.

The EFCC and its Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, were the defendants in the suit.

A lawyer, I. M. Akhame, appeared for the plaintiff for further hearing in the suit, only for him to be informed by the presiding judge of a pending application for discontinuance filed by the Bayelsa State Government?s A-G.

Akhame said he was not aware of the government?s decision to withdraw the case, saying he was disappointed that state government did not keep him posted.

He insisted that he was going to proceed with the case, arguing that the state?s Attorney General lacked the power to discontinue a civil case without the knowledge of the private lawyer engaged by his state.

Though he conceded that the Attorney-General could discontinue a criminal case at will in line with the provision of Section 211 of the Constitution, he said the A-G had no power to discontinue a civil case instituted for the state by a private lawyer without the knowledge of the lawyer.

But Justice Ademola held that under Order 50 Rule 2 of the Federal High Court (Civil procedure) Rules 2009, a plaintiff was at liberty to discontinue his or her case without the leave of court.

He said since the case was instituted in the name of Bayelsa State and its Attorney-General had written to discontinue it, the court had no justification to continue hearing it.

?The notice of discontinuance automatically terminates the case and the court is to make the final order. It is settled law that the plaintiff can discontinue before hearing. The plaintiff, represented by the Attorney General of Bayelsa State, has a right to discontinue this case. The case is struck out without cost,? the judge held.

The state had asked the court to among others, order EFCC to pay 21 per cent interest on the money from November 1, 2013 until when judgment would be delivered in the suit.


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