The federal high court sitting Abuja has set September 23, 2019 to deliver judgement on the case filed against the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) by the Cable Newspaper Journalism Foundation (CNJF).
The foundation had sued the AGF over his failure to respond to a freedom of information (FoI) request on the engagement of lawyers for the recovery of the $321 million stolen by Sani Abacha, former military ruler.
In the suit with number FHC/ABJ/CS/27/2018, the foundation is seeking an order of mandamus to compel the AGF to provide details on the legal fees.
The foundation had sought to know the reason behind the engagement of another set of lawyers to do a job that had already been completed by Erico Mofrini, a Swiss lawyer engaged by Nigeria since 2000.
It also requested a copy of the 2014 agreement that led to the withdrawal of the prosecution of Mohammed Abacha, son of the late military ruler.
In May, Inyang Ekwo, the judge hearing the matter had abruptly adjourned and refused to entertain an argument from Kusamotu & Kusamotu, counsel to CNJF, but on Monday, he fixed the September date for the judgement.
Counsel to the foundation had informed the court that the matter was adjourned at the last hearing date, and that they were ready to proceed subject to the convenience of the court.
In 2016, Oladipo Okpeseyi, a senior advocate, and Temitope Isaac Adebayo, were engaged to do the job the Swiss lawyer had already done.
TheCable had reported how the probe of the lawyers’ fee has been frustrated by the AGF. Apart from refusing to provide the documents requested by the house of representatives ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the matter, Abubakar Malami, a former AGF who hired the new lawyers, also decided to use the courts to stall the probe.
Despite outcry, the federal government, in May, secretly paid the lawyers $15 million fees.
Abubakar Malami, erstwhile attorney-general of the federation, had sued TheCable to court for libel over its reporting of the dubious legal fees — after failing to respond to queries on the details of the deal with lawyers.