By our reporter| The supreme court on Friday dismissed an appeal filed by the family of Nigeria’s late dictator, Sani Abacha, seeking access to looted funds stashed in Switzerland and other foreign banks.
A five-man panel of the court headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta dismissed the appeal filed by Ali Abacha, son of the late head of state, for lack of merit.
The lead judgment read by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, held that the appeal was similar to that which was filed by Abba Mohammed Sani, Abacha’s first son, which was dismissed by the court in February last year.
She said, “It is pertinent to state at this juncture that a case with the same facts and issues was decided recently by this court in SC.68/2010 Alhaji Abba Mohammed Sani Vs the President of the federal republic of Nigeria and the attorney-general of the federation.”
“Judgment was delivered on February 7, 2020. It is now reported in (2020) 2-3 SC (Pt. II). Although the appellants are different, the facts and issues in contention are the same. Both had their bank accounts in Switzerland and other countries frozen as a result of the authorisation given to the Swiss law firm by the respondents.
“In the earlier case, the contention was also that the respondents acted outside the scope of their duties under a repealed law and were therefore not entitled to seek refuge under section 2(a) of the Public Officer Protection Act.”
The apex court Judge further held that having been filed outside the three-month period within which the cause of action arose, the suit had become statute-barred.
“It is not in dispute that the suit before the trial court was filed outside the three months stipulated in section 2(a) of the Act.”
“The only issue to be considered was whether, in the circumstances, the action was maintainable. The suit was in no doubt statute-barred and rightly struck out by the lower court.
“Incidentally, R.O Atabo also represented the appellant in Sani Vs the President & another.
“He has not advanced any superior argument to warrant a departure from our decision in that case. This issue is resolved against the appellant. In conclusion, I find this appeal to be devoid of merit. It is hereby dismissed,” she said.