Justice Mohammed Idris of a Federal High Court in Lagos on Thursday dismissed an application by Ecobank Nigeria Limited asking him to disqualify himself from a suit filed against the bank by Honeywell Flour Mills Plc.
The judge, who stressed that no one could intimidate him, described Ecobank’s application as frivolous and dismissed it.
The bank had, in a letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Justice Ibrahim Auta, alleged that Justice Idris had been biased against it and sought the transfer of the case to another judge.
In the said letter by its Secretary, Denike Laoye, and its Chief Legal Counsel, Kehinde Dawodu, Ecobank had said it no longer had confidence that it would get justice before Justice Idris.
The bank claimed that after a number of events that took place in court, it had come to the conclusion that Justice Idris was biased against it.
Commenting on the letter in the open court at the resumed proceedings in the case on Thursday, Justice Idris said, “I was asked: have I read the report? I said, ‘What matter?’ They said Ecobank. I said, ‘I expected that they would write the DSS. I expected that they would write the EFCC.
“I expected that they would write the ICPC. I expected that there will be a sting operation in my house on Monday the 14th of November. I expected and I was waiting. And I am waiting.
“I said it on the last date and I’m saying it today, nobody, no matter who you are, can threaten me. Nobody, no matter who you are, can intimidate me. Idris can never be intimidated. Never! This is a court of law. You don’t do politics in Justice Idris’ court.
“No matter how rich you are, you can’t influence Justice Idris – no matter how powerful you are. Keep your money in your pockets. Don’t come here with your money, I’ll not accept it.
Keep your influence where they are, you cannot influence Justice Idris whoever you are. I’m saying it openly and I am declaring it.”
Earlier, when the case was called on Thursday, Ecobank’s lawyer, Mr. Kunle Ogunba (SAN), had said he was aware that his client had written to the CJ, expressing wariness about the continuous hearing of the case before Justice Idris.
He urged the judge to, based on his client’s reservation, either wait for the decision of the CJ on the petition before proceeding with the case or to withdraw himself from the case, in the interest of justice.