FHC Judge fumes, Rejects Lawyer’s Plea, Awards N16m against Plaintiffs seeking to stop Tinubu’s inauguration
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Friday dismissed an application seeking to stop the inauguration of president-elect Bola Tinubu, warning lawyers who file “frivolous” suits to desist from it.
Recall that the Court of Appeal had on Thursday slammed a N40 million fine on the 2019 Presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic party, Chief Ambrose Albert Owuru, over his ‘baseless’ application to stop the May 29 inauguration ceremony.
Before the Federal High Court, Messrs Praise Isaiah, Paul Audu and Anongu Moses filed a motion asking Justice James Omotosho to halt the May 29 inauguration pending the determination of petitions before the Presidential Election Petitions Court in Abuja.
In their main suit, they accused Tinubu of perjury, saying he lied about his citizenship and date of birth.
The judge, however, asked the plaintiffs to address him on jurisdiction and whether their claims are already before the Tribunal.
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On Friday, after taking arguments from counsel, Justice Omotosho said his court had no jurisdiction to entertain a post-election case.
He dismissed the case for being frivolous, adding that the court of first instance in such matters is the Court of Appeal.
After his verdict was passed, lawyers representing Tinubu and the All Progressives Congress led by Lateef Fagbemi SAN urged the court to impose a heavy fine on the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Oliver Eya, citing the N40 million imposed on an appeal that challenged the May 29 inauguration at the Court of Appeal.
Reacting to the development, Justice Omotosho, who was visibly angry said “I am not happy with all these suits!”
The judge said a few days to inauguration, the plaintiffs’ lawyer filed a motion to stop it when he knew that “this court has no jurisdiction.”
He threatened to refer lawyers who bring frivolous suits to the disciplinary committee of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA.
“In certain societies, your licence is seized,” the judge told the plaintiffs’ lawyer.
Responding, lawyer to the plaintiff apologized to the court for filing the case at the first instance.
He urged the court to treat dismissal of the suit “as a warning to the plaintiffs” but the judge interjected, saying lawyers must also be deterred from filing such cases.
“I have taken judicial notice over the avalanche of frivolous suits before this court,” the judge said while slamming the plaintiffs with 16 million naira fine altogether.
The judge added that interest will be added to the fine annually if the plaintiffs fail to pay it within stipulated time.
The ruling by Justice Omotosho is coming about 40 minutes after the Supreme Court dismissed another suit filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking to void the candidacy of Tinubu and the Vice-president elect, Kashim Shettima.