A Division of the High Court of Justice of Kogi State sitting in Lokoja, the state capital, has restrained the Federal Government from its planned concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited (ASCL) and the National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO) at Itakpe. Both companies are located in Kogi State.
The FG had commenced the concession process for the two companies with an advertisement.
However, in a suit with number HCL/211M/2023 filed by the Attotney-General of Kogi State, on behalf of the government and people of the state, the court was asked, through a motion experte, to give an order for a stay of action on the concession process pending the determination of the substantive matter on it before the court.
The motion experte was brought pursuant to Order 11, Rules 7 of the Kogi State High Court (Civil Procedure Rules) 2006.
Leading seven other lawyers, M. Y. Abdullahi, SAN, drew the attention of the court to the affidavit of urgency deposed to in the application while seeking the orders. He sought two orders:
“An order for interim injunction restarting the Defendants/Respondents, their agents, representatives, officials and whosoever acting for them, or through them, or on their behalf, from proceeding with the concession of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company”.
This was supported by another seeking injunction of restraint against
defendants “carrying out any of the itemized functions or activities as contained in their publication published in the Daily Trust of Friday, 21st April, 2023”, including the virtual pre-qualification for conference or interview slated for May 4, 2023, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.
Delivering his ruling, Hon. Justice Josiah Majebi, the Chief Judge of the state and presiding judge of the High Court 1, found substance in the motion and granted the application.
He said the affidavit of urgency deposed to by the claimant clearly established that he “has a prima facie case on a claim of right to the 5th and 6th defendants (ASCL and NIOMCO) and that except the court intervenes at this stage to prevent the defendants from proceeding with their plan on concession of the 5th and 6th defendants, their action will foist a state of helplessness and hopelessness”.
He said it will also lead to the “loss of his (Applicant’s) cause of action leading to his right and interest extinguished completely (and) that the defendants would have completed the process of the concession in less than 30 days which is before the period of 30 days allowed by the rule of court for the defendants to file their defense.”
He therefore ruled:
“In the circumstance, I hold that the grant of order of interim injunction is appropriate and necessary to preserve the res in this case as a matter of urgency and to prevent a situation of irreparable damage to the applicant as one having interest in the 5th and 6th defendants pending the determination of the motion on notice.” He consequently granted the application accordingly.
The defendants in the matter are the Attorney-General of the Federation, the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the Bureau of Public Enterprise, Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company.
The motion on notice has been scheduled for hearing on 4th May, 2023.