A judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, Evelyn Maha, on Friday recused herself from hearing a case against Nigeria’s Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, following a request for her to do so by a lawyer, Johnmary Jideobi.
Mr Jideobi had approached Ms Maya’s court to demand the removal of Mr Malami after PREMIUM TIMES reported that Mr Malami defended the decision of the federal government to detain former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, despite court orders for his release in July, 2018.
Mr Jideobi made his request in a complaint written against the judge after a court hearing on October 28.
He made the request following an argument which ensued between him and Mrs Maha where Mr Jideobi viewed that the judge reached a conclusion regarding his interim request in the matter, before entertaining the request.
Mr Jideobi’s complaint against the judge followed an interim application by the lawyer challenging the decision of Mr Malami to use lawyers paid by government to argue his motion.
But before hearing the application, Ms Maha asked Mr Jideobi to explain his reasons for appearing before her, if he believed his complaint against Mr Malami had nothing to do with his office as the AGF.
She added that as a judge, her court lacks jurisdiction in the matter, except if Mr Malami was brought before her court in his capacity as the justice minister.
Mr Jideobi then noted in his motion dated October 29 that Ms Maha should have waited to entertain arguments on whether or not her court had jurisdiction before announcing her decision.
He argued that the declaration of the judge in open court on October 28 has cast some doubt in his faith that the court would entertain his motion on the basis of its merits.
With the return of the case file, Mr Jideobi’s request will await further directive from the Chief Judge of the court, John Tsoho.
Citing a publication of an interview conducted with the Voice of America and published by PREMIUM TIMES on July 19, Mr Jideobi had said that the submissions of Mr Malami regarding Mr Dasuki’s detention as shown in the said interview amounted to an embarrassment of his office as justice minister and a violation of constitutional provisions.
Mr Dasuki is facing trial for alleged diversion of funds meant for the war against terror while he was NSA.
According to the AGF, while speaking in the July 19 interview, “Mr Dasuki’s right to freedom cannot be compared to the rights of many Nigerians, who suffered from the effects of fraudulent activities allegedly perpetrated through Mr Dasuki’s office as NSA.”
Mr Malami in response to Mr Jideobi’s application, however, denied supporting Mr Dasuki’s detention.