Court of Appeal Judge Azizah Nawawi has recused herself from hearing former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appeal to reinstate his lawsuit against former attorney general (AG) Tan Sri Tommy Thomas.
On Wednesday (Oct 4), Justice Azizah disclosed to the court that her husband, Datuk Nik Suhaimi Nik Sulaiman, was the Appellate and Trial Division head during Thomas’ tenure as the AG from June 2018 to February 2020.
“I’m minded to recuse myself from the case as my husband was directly under (then) AG Thomas.
“And on the basis that this is a public interest matter so better we have a higher threshold on the matter,” Justice Azizah, who chaired a three-member panel, said.
The other two judges on the bench were See Mee Chun and Lim Chong Fong.
Justice Azizah made the decision to recuse herself after hearing arguments from lawyers representing Najib and Thomas.
“I have sought instructions from my client (Najib). We thank you for Your Ladyship’s disclosure.
“On that basis, I would like to respectfully invite Your Ladyship to recuse yourself,” said lawyer Datuk Firoz Hussein Ahmad Jamaluddin.
Thomas’ counsel Alan Gomez argued that there was no reason for Justice Azizah to recuse herself as there was no real danger of bias.
Gomez, who was met after the hearing, said: “There must be a real bias. Where is the real bias?
“Just because the husband was the head of the division, that doesn’t demonstrate real bias.”
Case management for the appeal is set to be made at a date next week, followed by the hearing.
The Court of Appeal was supposed to hear on Wednesday (Oct 4) the application made by Najib to reverse the High Court’s decision allowing Thomas’s application to strike out Najib’s lawsuit against him last November.
In the suit filed on Oct 22, 2021, Najib said the charges against him were part of a move that had been planned in advance by Thomas and it was also in line with the Pakatan Harapan government’s plan at the time.
He is seeking a declaration that Thomas had committed misfeasance in public office as well as RM1.9mil in damages, including negotiation fees for the audit team to review documentation for the preparation of facts to deal with the prosecution against him.
Also present at the court on Wednesday were several of Najib’s supporters and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor. – The Star