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Allegation of Bias: Businessman Petitions  NJC to Order Judge to Hands off His Case 

A Lagos businessman Mr Patrick Illo has renewed his request of transfering his case pending before a Lagos Federal high court judge Rilwan Aikawa to another judge by a petition sent to the Chairman,National Judicial council NJC
Mr Illo’s lawyer Barrister Gboyega Oyewole SAN had earlier filed an application before the court accompanied by  affidavit sworn to by Mr Illo seeking the order of the court referring the suit  instituted against him and his company Petrocam Trading Nigeriay Limited  by Union Bank of Nigeria to the Chief Judge of the Federal high court for reassignment to another Judge of the Federal high court.

The petitioners are alleging likelihood of bias.

In the latest petition dated 8th of August, 2018,written to the Chairman National Judicial council, NJC following   an earlier Petition written to NJC dated 7th of May,2018.The Petitioner alleged that upon the exfluxion of 14 days of the order made by the court frozen their accounts, rather than adjourned for a brief period because of far reaching nature of the order, his lordship adjourned for 7weeks,After filling an application to discharge the order which render the order spent, several of their bankers have so far held on to their funds thereby rendering their business comatose.

Consequently their lawyer, Mr Gboyega Oyewole SAN was mandated to write to the Chief Judge for the case to be transferred from Justice Aikawa on the ground of likelihood of bias which was premised on an earlier petition written against the judge to the National Judicial council, which was followed by filling an application before the court to have the file referred to Chief Judge for reassignment to another judge.

However the petitioner, alleged that it regrettable to inform the NJC that in furtherance of the determination of Justice Aikawa to ruin their business interest, after arguments were taken with respect to their application to have the matter referred to the Chief Judge of the Federal high court for reassignment on 22nd June, 2018, Justice Aikawa  inspite of plea of their counsel for earlier ruling, the judge adjourned the matter for three and half months 4th October, 2018 for ruling on the pretex of the impending court vacation which  was not due for another three weeks from the date the motion was heard.

The petitioner Was surprised that in view of the petition pending sent to NJC and other several petitions the court still needed three and half months on whether to refer the matter back to the Chief Judge or not  is a confirmation of their  earlier petition to NJC.

Consequently the petitioner urged the NJC to investigate this matter.

Mr Patrick Ilo and his company Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited had earlier  filed an application before a Federal High Court in Lagos urging the presiding Judge Rilwan Aikawa to refer the suit filed against them by Union Bank of Nigeria Plc to the Chief Judge of the court for reassignment to another judge of the court in the Lagos Division.

The defendants have expressed their loss of confidence in the court in determining the matter without any form of bias.

Petrocam Trading Nigeria Limited, its Managing Director Mr Patrick Ilo alongside South African counterpart, Petrocam Trading South Africa had earlier dragged Union Bank Plc before a Lagos State high court, urging the court to direct the bank to credit or reverse the wrongful debit on the Petrocam’s account maintained with the bank for the funding of the letter of credit totaling the sum of N6,704,918,533.71 arising from  the bank’s breach of its duty to the company.

However, while the case was still pending, Union Bank filed another case before a Federal high court in Lagos against the company and its Managing Director claiming the sum of N10,062,643,928.72, thereafter securing an order of the court to freeze all the accounts of the company in all commercial banks in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, in the accompanying affidavit verifying the petition sworn to by Mr Patrick Ilo, and filed before the court by Barrister Gboyega Oyewole SAN the deponent averred that six orders were made against them to freeze the account of Petrocam Company and adjourned for seven weeks, while effectively shutting down all their business, the order destroyed all their good will and their business connections.

 

Mr Ilo averred further that in spite of the potential harm the order may cause, no undertaken was given as to damages in the event that the orders ought to have been made.

Consequently, an application was filed to discharge the order and follow with a letter of urgency, to the acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court seeking his intervention in securing an early date, with the intervention of the acting Chief Judge, Justice Aikawa now fixed the hearing of the matter for 4th of May, 2018 at which date Union bank counsel did not appear in court but wrote to the court that he has travelled to England for his 60th Birthday celebration.

Mr Ilo then urged the acting Chief Judge to use his good office to investigate this matter for appropriate action, to prevent reoccurrence.

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