Kogi State Government on Tuesday said the suits filed by Dangote Group before a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja are incompetent and amount to forum shopping.
The state government made this known before Justice Binta Nyako in two separate preliminary objections filed by its counsel Abdulwahab Muhammed, challenging the companies’ originating summons.
In the applications marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1876/2022 and FHC/ABJ/CS/1877/2022 dated November 8 and filed November 18, the state government sought the order of the court, striking out the suits “for want of jurisdiction and/or compsience.”
Justice Nyako had, on October 26, made an interim order restraining the Kogi government from shutting down Dangote Cement PLC at Obajana in the state pending the hearing and determination of the substantive suits.
The court also stopped the state government from disrupting or suspending the activities of Dangote Coal Mines Ltd and Dangote Industries Ltd in Okaba, Ankpa Local Government Area and in Olamaboro Local Government Area respectively.
The judge had given the interim order following two separate ex-parte motions moved by counsel for the companies, Regina Okotie-Eboh, but filed by Rickey Tarfa.
Kogi government and Dangote group recently locked horns over the ownership of Obajana cement factory.
The state government on October 13 gave the cement factory at Obajana 48 hours to shut down in honour of the Kogi House of Assembly which ordered the company to sealed until the conglomerate furnishes it with the requisite documents demanded by the state legislature.
But the companies, in the first motion ex-parte marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/1876/22 sued the Kogi House of Assembly, attorney-general and commissioner for hustice, Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and Mining Cadastre Office as first to fourth defendants respectively.
But in the preliminary objections, the Kogi government challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the suits which it described as “incompetent.”
In a 14 ground-argument brought before the court by counsel to the state government, Mr Muhammed, the state said that the plaintiffs had instituted similar suit at a Lokoja division of the FHC.
Muhammed said that the plaintiffs, in a suit number: FHC/LKJ/CS/49/2022, had sued the Kogi House of Assembly seeking the determination of the exact question in the current suit.
The senior lawyer told Justice Nyako that they, however, quickly withdrew the suit when the Lokoja court refused to grant their ex-parte application for interim injunction.
“The plaintiffs have now filed the suit before this honourable court with the intention of obtaining a favourable outcome in the suit.
“The filling of the instant suit before this honourable court is forum shopping, that ought to be discouraged and condemned,” Muhammed argued.
He said premised on the above, the plaintiffs’ suits are incompetent and cannot be entertained by the court.
The judge, who adjourned the matter until January 23 for hearing, said all applications, including the state’s preliminary objection, would be taken.