Justice James Omotosho of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Friday, ordered plaintiffs who filed a suit before the court seeking to stop the inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Tinubu, to pay a combined fine of N16 million.
Justice Omotosho also declined to issue an order of interim injunction sought by the plaintiffs to stop the scheduled swearing-in of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, as President of Nigeria, on May 29.
The Judge held that the court lacked the requisite jurisdiction to grant the prayer of the plaintiffs which was contained in an ex-parte application that was brought before it by three plaintiffs who identified themselves as Concerned Nigerians.
The court also held that the suit was “unconstitutional, frivolous and vexatious,” adding that since the plaintiffs were bereft of the locus standi (legal right) to institute the action, it equally lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The court stressed that under section 285 (14) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, only an aspirant could challenge the qualification or nomination of a candidate in an election.
It further held that since the election has already been conducted, only the Court of Appeal has the jurisdiction to entertain cases arising from the presidential election.
The Judge declared that the plaintiffs only wasted the time of the court by filing the suit which he described as an abuse of court process, adding that the action was in bad faith because it aimed to expose the judiciary to ridicule.
He also noted that the suit, which sought to stop the inauguration of the President-elect, which was just a few days away, was capable of destabilizing democracy in the country, hence the court would not lend itself to be used as an instrument to destabilize Nigeria.
Justice Omotosho also threatened to refer the lawyers who filed the suit for the plaintiffs to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee for instituting an action “capable of dragging the judiciary to the mud.”
He, therefore, dismissed the suit and awarded a cost of N10m in Tinubu’s favour, N5m in favour of the APC and another N1m to be personally paid by counsel for the plaintiffs, to each of the respondents.
The Judge also ordered that the cost awarded against the plaintiffs would attract 10% interest per annum, pending its final liquidation, adding that he took the punitive measure “in view of the avalanche of frivolous suits” that have been filed by lawyers.
Periscope International reports that the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/C5/657/2023, was filed by the three plaintiffs, namely: Praise Isaiah, Pastor Paul Audu, and Dr Anongu Moses via a motion exparte.
According to them, Tinubu, who was declared the winner of the presidential election held on February 25, lied on oath in the Form EC9 he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, about his qualifications to contest the election.
They contended that Tinubu falsely declared that he was not a citizen of any other country, despite the fact that he was in possession of a Guinean Passport.
The plaintiffs further submitted that Tinubu lied on oath about his educational qualifications, adding that investigations revealed that Tinubu that attended Chicago University in the United States of America, was a female.
The petitioners also alleged that whereas the President-elect claimed that he was born in 1957, it was discovered that 1952 was his actual date of birth.
They argued that Tinubu’s action was in gross violation of Section 117 of the Criminal Code Act, as well as Section 156 of the Penal Code Act.
Accordingly, they urged the court to, among other things, order Tinubu to be arrested, detained, and prevented from being sworn in, pending the determination of cases before the Presidential Election Petition Court.
In addition, the plaintiffs prayed the court to ban Tinubu from vying for any elective position in Nigeria for the next 10 years, claiming that they were voters who participated in the presidential election that Tinubu won.
It would be recalled that the Supreme Court on Friday similarly dismissed a suit filed by the opposition Peoples
Democratic Party, PDP, seeking to stop the inauguration of Tinubu over the alleged double nomination of his running mate, Kashim Shettima.
The apex court had also ordered the PDP to pay a fine of N2 million for filing what it described as a frivolous appeal that was a mere meddlesome in the affairs of the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC’s) internal affairs and thus bereft of jurisdiction.