The High Court of the Federal Capital Territory on Friday quashed the purported service of court processes served on former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, in the suit instituted against him by his ex-wife and former beauty pageant, Precious Chikwendu.
The decision followed the doubt in the mind of the court as to whether personal service was actually effected on the politician as required by law.
Also, the trial court held that the affidavit of service deposed to by the court bailiff was very clear that he did not see the former Minister personally when he took the process to his Abuja residence.
Although Justice Slyvester Oriji held that there was proof before the court that the respondent was actually in receipt of the court summons, there is no evidence that he was personally served by the bailiff as required by the rules of court.
“The text message from the respondent to the applicant, which reads in part: “I received your summons, we shall meet in court” proves the fact that he has actually received service,” the judge said.
He, however, stated that the police will investigate whether the acknowledgement containing the endorsement with the name of the respondent was actually forged or not.
“The issue of whether the respondent actually signed the document or any other person signed on his behalf is subject of investigation by police and the court cannot make any findings on it.”
“I need to point out that the bailiff did not see the respondent personally as contained in his affidavit of service. Bailiff should have insisted to see him personally and if that was not possible, he could have returned the process to the court.
“In the light of the doubt cast on personal service of the process on the respondent, it is proper to set it aside. The purported service is hereby set aside”, Justice Oriji ruled.
The court, however, refused the prayer made by counsel to the respondent, Adeola Adedipe, for the striking out of the suit.
He ruled that the action cannot be invalidated by reason of non-personal service on the respondent.
SaharaReporters had reported on Thursday that the police in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, grilled Chikwendu, and her lawyer over allegations of forged court papers.
Meanwhile, the court has ordered that the originating motion including a fresh hearing date be served on the respondent and adjourned the matter to April 21, 2021.
In the substantive suit, the former beauty pageant, through her counsel, Enohor Moi- Wuyep, is demanding full custody of their four sons aged five and three.
Chikwendu had explained before the FCT High Court in Apo, Abuja, that Fani-Kayode, her ex-husband beat her up on several occasions even while she was pregnant.
Chikwendu had made the allegations in an affidavit she deposed to in support of an originating motion brought pursuant to Section 69 of the Child’s Rights Act, 2003.
She told the court that “From the early days of our relationship, the respondent (Fani-Kayode) has always maintained a lifestyle of utter disregard to my feelings. This was evident in the way and manner the respondent assaulted me while I was pregnant with our first son.
“The respondent (Fani-Kayode) kicked me several times on my stomach over a petty argument that ensued. It was my friend, Vanessa, who was around at the material time that intervened at the nick of time to save me.
“I had to leave the respondent’s (Fani-Kayode’s) house a few days after this incident. The respondent (Fani-Kayode) repeated the same act when I was pregnant with triplets. This time it was my mother and sister that intervened.”
SaharaReporters, New York