Justice Chuka Obiozor, the trial judge in the over N2bn fundamental rights suit against Air Peace and four others, has returned the case file to the administrative Chief Judge of the Federal High Court in Lagos for reassignment.
A businesswoman, Nneka Ogbonna had filed the suit marked FHC/L/CS/1206/2020 against the airline and a pilot with the airline, Captain Horace Millar-Jaja, the Inspector-General of Police, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria for accusing her of being a terrorist and hijacker.
Ogbonna, in the suit, sought an order of the court directing Air Peace Limited, NCCA, FAAN and Captain Millar-Jaja, to pay her the sum of N500m each, as damages for the alleged multiple infringements, violations and breaches of her fundamental human rights including her right to dignity, freedom of movement and for the cost of instituting the suit.
She also urged the court to direct the airline, NCCA, FAAN and Captain Millar-Jaja, to pay post-judgement compound interest on all sums awarded by the court at the applicable Central Bank of Nigeria minimum rediscount rate or such other commercial interest rate as the court may deem fit to be applied from the day of the judgement of the court until full and final payment by the respondents.
Responding to her application, Air Peace in a counter-affidavit deposed to by one Judith Obi, an air hostess with the airline, urged the court to refuse the reliefs sought by the applicant, on the grounds of being malicious, frivolous, vexation and gold-digging in a desperate move to make fortune out from nothing.
Obi further debunked all the claims of the applicant in her counter-affidavit.
At the resumed hearing of the matter, counsel to the applicant, counsel to IGP, Joseph Nwadike, informed the court that while the matter was pending, counsel to the applicant, Ngozi Akandu, wrote a petition captioned “RE: attempt by Inspector Danjuma Obii and Joseph Nwadike (Esq), to subvert and pervert the course of justice and to occasion a miscarriage of justice in an on-going purely civil court proceedings in favour of AirPeace Limited’, urgent petition for intervention and investigation”.
Upon inquiry by the judge, the applicant’s counsel admitted doing the same on the instructions of his clients but explained that it is was not about the case before the court.
However, the judge, who was not comfortable with the development, recused himself from hearing the matter and returned the case file for re-assignment to another judge.
He also recused himself from entertaining the criminal charges filed against the applicant by the IGP’s counsel.