An Appeal Court in Abuja has sanctioned a former presidential candidate of the defunct Hope Democratic Party, HDP, Chief Ambrose Owuru, a forty million naira (N40m) fine, over his application to stop the swearing-in of the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, on May 29.
In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel, the court described the request application as frivolous, as it ordered the appellant to pay damages to the tune of N10m, to each of the respondents in the appeal.
President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, as well as the President-elect, Tinubu, were the first to fourth respondents in the suit.
Delivering the lead judgment in the matter, Justice Jamil Tukur, held that the erstwhile presidential candidate, Owuru, engaged in gross abuse of the judicial process.
The appellate court held that the “strange” suit he filed to stop Tinubu’s inauguration as President, was not only vexatious but all aimed to irritate the respondents.
The court held that issues Chief Owuru raised against Tinubu’s swearing-in, bordered on the presidential election held since 2019, which it noted was previously dismissed by the Supreme Court for want of merit.
It held that the attempt by the appellants to resurrect the case that died in 2019, was aimed at pushing the lower courts to embark on a collision course with the Supreme Court.
It, therefore, dismissed the appeal and awarded punitive damages against the appellant.
It will be recalled that the Federal High Court in Abuja had on January 30, also dismissed the suit that Chief Owuru, who is also a legal practitioner, filed to remove President Buhari from office.
In the judgment that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, the trial court maintained that the legal action was baseless, frivolous, irritating, and vexatious, adding that the suit had become statute-barred since it was based on the presidential election held four years ago.
Justice Ekwo further held that the suit was a direct affront to the supremacy of the Supreme Court which had earlier decided a similar request by the plaintiff.
Specifically, Owuru, who was the presidential flag-bearer of the HDP which has since been de-registered by INEC, had approached the court, praying it to sack President Buhari from office, insisting that the election through which he won his re-election in 2019, was fraught with manifest irregularities.
The plaintiff urged the court to declare that he was the authentic person that ought to have been sworn in as President instead of Buhari who contested the said election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC.
He had among other things, contended that INEC assisted President Buhari to manipulate the outcome of the election against him by shifting the earlier date it fixed for the poll.
Owuru prayed to the court to determine the legality or otherwise of INEC’s decision to postpone the election date from February 16 to March 23, 2019.