Ile Arugbo: We’ll decide on next action this week, Saraki’s counsel

…says striking out order not end of case

By Mumini Abdulkareem
One of the counsel to the former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki in the ongoing trial of the Ile Arugbo case, Barrister AbdulAziz Ibrahim has said that they will decide their next line of action against the State Government on the issue this week.
Ibrahim while speaking with National Pilot on the issue, reiterated the options available to the claimant (The Sarakis) at this stage of the trial.
According to him, they are considering the choice to appeal the judgment, apply for it to be relisted or re-file the suit before another judge.
The trial Judge, Abiodun Adewara had refused to recluse himself from the case as demanded by Saraki’s counsel when the case resumed last month in the court.
“We are still re-strategizing and have not concluded but the options before us is to file for the relisting of the case, appeal the ruling or we may even re-file the case to be handled by another judge”, Ibrahim, who is supporting the lead counsel in the case, Barrister Akin Onigbinde (SAN) who was absent in court on Tuesday.
The Kwara State High Court in Ilorin, on Tuesday had struck out the suit challenging the demolition of property and the acquisition of the disputed land by the Sarakis.
Adewara in his ruling accused the claimant, Asa Investment, acting for the Sarakis of lack of diligent prosecution. The claimant had sued the state government and its relevant agencies.
While the trial lasted on Tuesday, Ibrahim told the court that he had filed an application to substitute the late second claimant, Baba Eleku, with one Abubakar Oluwatoyin and further sought an adjournment of the case to enable him file the statement on oath of the newly proposed second defendant.
He added that he was unable to continue the hearing due to the absence of the claimants’ lead counsel, Akin Onigbinde, whom he said was bereaved.
But defence lawyer, Salman Jawondo, opposed the application for adjournment adding while he sympathized with Onigbinde over his mother’s death, his absence cannot stall the continuation of the trial.
The judge rejected the application for adjournment and asked the claimants’ lawyer to call their first witness.
But Ibrahim rejected adding the judge wants to stampede to go into trial on the issue. Defence lawyer, Jawondo then urged the court to strike out the case and adjourn for the hearing of the state government’s counter-claim.
The judge aligning with Jawodo’s prayer struck out the suit and adjourned till to March 17 for the hearing of the defendants’ counter-claim.
While addressing journalists after the proceedings, Ibrahim said “The situation is simple and there is no cause for alarm. The lead counsel is not in court today and will go and brief him who will in turn brief his client for next line of action. It is true the matter was struck out but that is not the end of the case. We have options either to appeal against the order to strike out the case or to come back with another application for relisting of the matter.
“The case was struck out not on merit because it has not been heard. The situation is very pathetic. We informed the court on Monday of the death of the second claimant and applied for an adjournment to enable us bring application for substitution, hold meeting with the family of the deceased to give us further instruction. But that same day we informed the court, it struck out the name of the second claimant. This is not in accordance with the rule of the law. And we endeavored to file application for substitution today and by rule after the granting of order of substitution, we suppose to amend all the processes to reflect the name of the person brought in and we asked for an adjournment to enable us do that but it was refused.
“The court wants to stampede us into hearing when the matter is not even ripe for hearing because facts and circumstances of the case has not called for hearing today because of the instances. We will all die one day as mortals…”, he added.

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