The Supreme Court has dismissed a complaint filed by the Sani Abacha family trying to gain access to the stolen funds they and the late Nigerian head of state stashed in foreign bank accounts.
The case was dismissed by a five-man tribunal headed by Justice Sylvester Ngwuta for lack of merit.
The Supreme Court panel held in the lead judgment prepared by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun that the case of Mr. Ali Abacha was not different from that of his brother, Abba Mohammed Sani, who was also rejected by the apex court on February 7, 2020.
Justice Ejembi Eko, who read the lead judgment prepared by Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, said,
It is important to state at this juncture that this court in SC recently decided a case with the same facts and questions. 68/2010 The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Attorney General of the Federation, Alhaji Abba Mohammed Sani Vs.
The judgment was released on 7 February 2020. It is now documented in (2020) 2-3 SC SC (Pt. II).
Although the appellants are unique, the facts and problems at issue are the same. As a result of the authorisation provided to the Swiss law firm by the respondents, both had their bank accounts in Switzerland and other countries frozen.
It was also argued in the earlier case that the respondents behaved beyond the scope of their duties under the repealed law and were thus not entitled to seek asylum in compliance with section 2(a) of the Police Officer Security Act.
Justice Ekun also held that the lawsuit of Ali Abacha had become statute-barred and incompetent because it was not brought before the trial court within three months of the incidence of the alleged litigation, thereby violating section 2(a) of the Public Officer Protection Act.
It is not in question that, beyond the three months provided for in section 2(a) of the Act, the case before the trial court was brought.
The only thing to be answered was whether the action was, in the circumstances, sustainable. The case was no doubt barred by the statute and correctly struck down by the lower court.
Incidentally, R.O Atabo, in Sani Vs the President & Another, also represented the appellant.
In that situation, he did not advance any superior claim to justify a deviation from our decision. This question against the appellant has been resolved.
I find this appeal, in conclusion, devoid of merit. It is dismissed hereby.