A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Friday struck out a suit filed by five lawyers against the immediate past Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu.

Justice Aloysius Katsina-Alu

An octogenarian, Pa Tunji Gomez, and four others had urged the court to order Katsina-Alu to reverse the award of the Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) title to 30 lawyers in July 2011.

His co-plaintiffs are Messrs. Foluso Fayokun, Seth Amaefule, Peter Okoye and Chief Andrew Otokhina.

They challenged the constitutionality of the Legal Practitioners Act from which the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) derived its power to grant the SAN award.

Other respondents in the suit were the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, NBA Secretary General and the Registered Trustees of NBA.

Justice Mohammed Idris, in his ruling on the preliminary objection filed by the AGF, held that the plaintiffs did not comply with the court rules.

“The plaintiffs did not comply with the provisions of Sections 97 and 98 of the Sheriff and Civil procedure Rules as regards the signing of the Writs of Summons.

“The non-compliance, as regards the service of court processes on the Attorney-General in Abuja, which is out of jurisdiction and without the endorsement of the registrar, renders the suit incompetent,’’ he said.

The judge noted that though it was the duty of the court registrar to ensure that service outside jurisdiction was marked, “it must be monitored by the counsel involved in the matter”.

“Counsel also has a duty to ensure that the rules are complied with in order not to waste the time of the court,’’ he said.

Idris, who held that the case was an abuse of court process, said that the court lacked the jurisdiction to hear it.

He, however, awarded N5,000 cost against the plaintiffs.

Reacting to the ruling, counsel to the plaintiffs, Dr. Tunji Braithwaite, said that the judge made “some errors” by confusing the writ with the exhibits attached to the suit.

“The plaintiffs will, however, make some adjustments and re-file the suit rather than appeal against the decision of the court,’’ Braithwaite stated.