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Atta family vs Dangote industries: Court adjourns mining lease lawsuit

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Atta Family, Dangote Industries, and Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development’s case with suit number FHC/LKJ/C5/25/17 has been adjourned till June 27, 2023, by a Federal High Court in Lokoja, Kogi State. The case involves Prince Mahmud Sani Atta, Abdulmaliki Atta, Mohammed Sadiq Atta, and Mohammed Shaibu Onochu Atta, who are the plaintiffs, and Dangote Industries Limited, Dangote Cement Plc, and the Federal Ministry of Mine and Steel Development as defendants.

The plaintiffs filed a suit in 2017 over the alleged granting of mining lease 2541 ML with No 00001103 dated 1st February 2008 to the 1st defendant by the second defendant and 3rd defendant without compliance with the provision of Nigeria Mineral and mining Act 2007. The defendants are AICO, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Mining Cadastre Office, Dangote Industries Limited, and Dangote Cement Plc.

During the hearing of the case, the plaintiff’s legal counsel, Mathew Onoja, moved an oral application for a motion for hearing. However, Imen Edem-Nse, the counsel to the 1st, 4th, and 5th defendants, objected to the plaintiff’s legal counsel, arguing that Mathew Onoja cannot move such a motion because other legal teams in the case have not been properly served the motion on the change of legal counsel. Edem-Nse drew the attention of the trial judge, Justice S.B. Onuh, to High Order 9 rule 35, stating that if there is a need for a change in legal counsel, such a motion must be appropriately served, and therefore it must be done according to the rule.

Onoja, in response, told the court that they had complied with the rule by filing an application for the change of counsel and had duly served the court and defendants. He also stated that the plaintiffs had told him that the application was filed on 11th October 2022, and the registry should bail them out. However, when the judge asked for an application from the registrar, it could not be found in the court records. The plaintiff’s counsel then informed the court that he would serve them a fresh application to allow the hearing of the substantive suit before the court.

In his ruling, Justice Onuh granted the oral application by the plaintiff’s counsel to properly serve the defendants and court the notice for the change of legal counsel. The judge adjourned the case for hearing till June 27, 2023. This case demonstrates the importance of adhering to the rules and regulations guiding legal proceedings in Nigeria. It is imperative to note that proper service of legal documents is crucial to the outcome of a case.

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