[highlight]A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, Lagos Island has ruled that it would hear two contending applications in the case of Ajibola Aribisala who was recently suspended from using the rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).[/highlight]
Presiding Justice Oludotun Adefope-Okojie said she would hear the application filed by Mr Aribisala along with another application, a preliminary objection filed by Fidelity Bank which is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.
Mr Aribisala had in his preliminary application dated March 7, 2013 asked the court for a Mandatory Injunction restraining the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC) from stripping him of the rank of SAN.
At the resumed hearing of the suit, counsel to Mr Aribisala, Tunji Ayanlaja urged the court to take the application for a Mandatory Injunction against the LPPC and the preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court together.
Mr Ayanlaja submitted that taking the two applications would save time and speed-up hearing and determination of the suit.
He further submitted that in line with a judgment of the Supreme Court, delivered in 2009, the court is expected to take the two contending applications together and deliver just a ruling adding that any of the parties who is not satisfy could then appeal against it.
But, counsel to Fidelity bank, Seyi Sowemimo urged the court to hear the application challenging the jurisdiction of the court first before considering any other application.
Mr Sowemimo argued that the preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court is the only application that is ripe for hearing.
The trial judge, Justice Adefope-Okojie in a bench ruling held that the two applications would be heard together and a joint ruling delivered on them.
She thereafter fixed May 7 for hearing of the two applications.
Mr Aribisala had in his suit instituted against the LPPC and Fidelity Bank Plc prayed the court to reverse the verdict of the committee.
While the LPPC did not file any response to the suit, Fidelity Bank in its preliminary objection, challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suit.
The bank specifically noted that by the nature of the case, only the Federal High Court was mandated to hear it.
But, Mr Aribisala in his Motion on Notice dated April 9, 2013, asked the court to dismiss the preliminary objection filed by Fidelity Bank challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear his suit against the bank and the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee (LPPC).
He contended that the mere mention of the federal legislation or of matter in the Exclusive Legislative list does not make the case proper for the Federal High Court to have exclusive jurisdiction to entertain.
Mr Aribisala in his statement of claim, asked the court to nullify his suspension from the use of the rank of SAN with its accompanying privileges, which decision was taken by the second defendant on February 26 despite the pendency of an application dated October 19, 2012, which is seeking a restraining order of interlocutory injunction against the second defendant in that regard, pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
He is also asking the court for an order of mandatory injunction directing immediate restoration of parties in this suit to the status quo ante bellum as at October 22, 2012, when the first and second defendants were served with the originating processes including the Motion on Notice dated October 19, 2013, seeking a restraining order against the second defendant pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suit.
Mr Aribisala had his rank stripped by the LPPC after a petition from Fidelity Bank accusing the lawyer of withholding illegally some funds he helped the bank recover from its debtors.