THE Okpoga Judicial Division of the Benue High Court presided over by His Lordship; Honourable Justice D.E. Igoh has set aside November 17, 2020 for ruling on jurisdiction in a N500 million suit filed against Dangote Mines Ltd by Akpali Community in Ugbokolo Council Ward of Okpokwu Local Government Area of Benue State.
At the resumed hearing on Monday, 19th October 2020, there was an intense argument between D. M. Ujah Esq., the lead counsel to the plaintiffs (Chief Joseph Moro, Akpali Community Development Association and three others) and counsel representing the law firms of Rickey Tarfa (SAN) and Ogwu Onoja (SAN), when they announced appearance for the defendant, Dangote Coal Mines Ltd, a subsidiary of Dangote Group.
Upon the announcement of their announcement, the plaintiffs’ counsel, Ujah vigorously objected to the appearance of Onoja and Tarfa law firms arguing that they are two independent law firms and therefore cannot validly be representing the defendant.
Although counsel to the defendant countered this argument, the Honourable Justice Igo, however upheld plaintiffs’ argument and struck out the appearance and application from Ogwu Onoja Chambers, thereby leaving Tarfa’s law firm as the sole counsel representing Dangote.
Following the determination of the issue on appearance, the defendant’s counsel filed a motion for preliminary objection on the jurisdiction of the court to hear the matter. This, Ujah immediately challenged with a counter motion.
The court also entertained arguments from both counsel on the disobedience of the court’s September 10, 2020 order of interim injunction restraining Dangote Coal Mines Ltd from carrying out further mining activities and exploration in the territory or farmland of the plaintiffs as a result of the contamination of the communal source of water, River Umabe, pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.
After the arguments, the court adjourned the matter to Tuesday, November 17, 2020 for ruling on jurisdiction. The court held that the issue of jurisdiction is of utmost priority at the moment since it has been raised and that it will proceed on the violation of the order of interim injunction if it is decided that the court has jurisdiction.
Related Stories: POISONED RIVERS!