Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday stated that he cannot be intimidated or influenced in the discharge of his judicial duties.
The judge also dismissed an application filed by Ecobank asking him to withdraw from adjudicating a suit filed against the bank by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc and its sister companies; Anchorage Leisures Limited and Silaom Global Services.
Ecobank had in a petition asked the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, to reassign the suit to another judge.
The bank said it no longer had confidence that it would receive a fair justice from Justice Idris who is currently handling the case.
But, when the matter came up, Justice Idris told counsel to Ecobank that he will not be intimidated warning that justice will not be done if all judges were to excuse themselves from cases simply because litigants criticised their rulings or judgements.
Earlier, counsel to Ecobank, Kunle Ogunba (SAN), had urged the Judge to either excuse himself from adjudicating on the matter or wait for the decision of the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, in respect of Ecobank’s petition.
In response, counsel to Honeywell, Bode Olanipekun informed the court that he only became aware of the petition written by Ecobank when it was published in a national newspaper.
Olanipekun further argued that the application by Ecobank was a ploy to stall and ambush the trial.
He stated that this has become a consistent pattern with Ecobank’s counsel. Olanipekun reminded the court that Ecobank’s application to reassign the matter has already been determined by the Court of Appeal on 30th March, 2016 when the Court of Appeal (in Suit No: CA/L/1270/ particularly at Pages 11-12) refused to grant relief Number 7 in Ecobank’s appeal.
Specifically, relief Number: 7 in Ecobank’s appeal requested the Court of Appeal to reassign the matter before Justice Idris of the Federal High Court.
Counsel to Honeywell further stated that Ecobank’s application is akin to a stay of proceedings in the matter which the Federal High Court itself had refused on three different occasions.
He further stated that granting a stay of proceedings in this matter would be in breach of the Court of Appeal’s decision directing the accelerated hearing of the matter.
After hearing arguments from both parties, Justice Idris ruled that trial will continue and he will not excuse himself from the case.
Justice Idris stated that if all judges were to excuse themselves from cases simply because litigants criticised their rulings and judgments, the judiciary would soon find itself in a situation where litigants choose the judges to adjudicate on their matters, warning that this is not in the interest of the law.
Consequently, he adjourned the matter to December 1, 2016 for trial.