Abuse: Court orders fresh service of processes on ex-minister
A federal high court in Apo, Abuja, has ordered that fresh court processes be served on Femi Fani-Kayode, a former aviation minister, with respect to a suit filed by Precious Chikwendu, his estranged wife.
Chikwendu had instituted the suit marked CV/372/2021, seeking custody of her four sons — Aragorn, Ragnar, Aiden and Liam.
The mother of four is praying the court to direct the former minister, who is the sole respondent in the matter, to pay the sum of N3.438 million monthly towards the maintenance and upkeep of the four children, “with the possibility of a review of the sum every two years upon an application to the court”.
At the last adjourned date, Sylvester Oriji, the judge, had ordered that hearing notice should be served on the respondent.
However, at the court session on Friday, Adeola Adedipe, Fani-Kayode’s lawyer, said his client never received court processes, and that his purported signature acknowledging service was forged.
He said the only reason the minister was present in court was out of protest, and not because he received the notice.
Adedipe prayed the court to decline jurisdiction in hearing the matter, or in the alternative, set aside the earlier purported service of the processes filed by the plaintiff on his client.
He added that the issue of the purported service and forged signature is being investigated by the police.
Responding, Enohor Moi-Wuyep, counsel to Chikwendu, prayed the court to dismiss the application of the respondent.
Moi-Wuyep said the former minister was duly served, and he had sent a text message to the applicant acknowledging receipt of the court process.
“I received your summons. I thought we were making progress and the matter can be resolved amicably in the interest of the children. What a pity. We shall meet in court,” the lawyer said, quoting the respondent’s text message.
On the issue of jurisdiction, the counsel argued that it was the court that would decide on whether to decline jurisdiction or not.
In a short ruling, the judge held that the bailiff had admitted that service was not effected personally on the respondent.
He said the bailiff should have insisted on serving the respondent personally, noting that the fact that the bailiff did not see him in person “raises the question of invalid service”.
“The issue is not that he has not received it, but that it was not served on him personally,” the judge said.
“In the light of the doubt on personal service, what is left for the court to do is to set aside the service.
“The purported service of the processes is hereby set aside.”
Oriji refused the prayer to decline jurisdiction over the matter and fixed April 21 for hearing.
He issued an order directing that fresh hearing notice, along with the originating motion, be served on Fani-Kayode.
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