An Appeal Court sitting in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has imposed N40milion fine on an Abuja-based lawyer, Ambrose Owuru, for filing a suit seeking to prevent the May 29 inauguration of the Nigerian President -elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, and Vice President -elect, Senator Kashim Shettima,GCON.
The Appeal Court held that the suit is frivolous and an abuse of court process.
Delivering judgment, Justice Tukur who read the lead judgment of a three-member panel of the court, held that Owuru committed a gross abuse of the court process by filing a frivolous, vexatious and irritating suit to provoke the respondents.
In the suit marked CA/CV/259/2023 and filed in April, Owuru challenged the outcome of the 2019 elections and asked the court to declare the president’s seat vacant and swear him in as the authentic winner.
He also prayed the court to prohibit President Muhammadu Buhari, Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), from going ahead with Tinubu’s inauguration.
He argued that he was the winner of the 2019 presidential election and had not spent his tenure.
He reckoned that President Buhari usurped his tenure of office since 2019 because the Supreme court has yet to determine his petition challenging the election’s outcome.
In its ruling, the court held that Owuru’s grievances against the 2019 presidential election were not only strange but uncalled for because they had been pursued up to the supreme court and were dismissed for want of merit.
The appeal court held that Owuru’s bid to resuscitate the case that died in 2019 was aimed at making the lower courts go on a collision course with the supremacy of the apex court.
The court then ordered him to pay N10 million each to President Buhari, the AGF, INEC and Tinubu — the first to fourth defendants in the suit.
In a judgment on Thursday, a three-member panel of the court was unanimous in holding that the appeal by Owuru and his party, the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) amounted to an abuse of the court process.
In the lead judgment, Justice Jamil Tukur held that the appeal was an invitation for the court to review its earlier decision and reverse itself which it cannot do.
Justice Tukur said the issues in the appeal had earlier been determined by the court while sitting as an election petition court after the 2019 election, with a judgment given on August 22, 2019.
He equally found that the Supreme Court had also heard the case and pronounced it with a judgment given on October 28, 2019.
Justice Tukur held that the case, having been litigated up to the Supreme Court, it was an abuse of the judicial process for Owuru and his party to seek to want to have the matter relitigated.
He upheld the January 30 judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja which earlier dismissed the case for being an abuse of court process.
Justice Tukur proceeded to dismiss the appeal and ordered Owuru to pay each of the respondents N10million in cost.
The respondents are President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The appeal by Owuru and HDP was against the January 30 judgment by Justice Ekwo, dismissing their suit in which Owuru had sought to be sworn in as Buhari’s successor.
Owuru claimed, among others, that he won a referendum purportedly conducted within the period of the postponement of the 2019 presidential election.
He argued that by the victory he recorded in the 2019 referendum, no other person should occupy the office of the president until he serves out his tenure.
Owuru and the HDP raised similar issues in the petition they filed against the 2019 presidential election, which petition was dismissed by the Supreme Court for want of jurisdiction.
The election petition court, while dismissing Owuru’s petition in its August 22, 2029 judgment, held among others that issue of referendum raised in the petition did not form a ground to challenge the outcome of an election.
Is this a country with a constitution or a lawless jungle where the strongest drug lord as in the lion is the ruler?