Court Dismisses Lulu-Briggs’ Suit Challenging Ownership of Moni Pulo

Wale Igbintade

Justice James Kolawole Omotosho of the Federal High Court in Abuja has dismissed a suit by the Chairman of Platform Petroleum, Chief Dumo Lulu-Briggs and three others, challenging the decision of the late Kalabari High Chief, O.B. Lulu-Briggs to transfer his shares in Moni Pulo Limited to his wife, Dr. Seinye O.B. Lulu-Briggs, his daughters and the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation.

Justice Omotosho held that Dumo’s suit, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1481/2021, was the same as FHC/ABJ/CS/1576/2019, which was discontinued by Justice Taiwo Taiwo (retired) on September 30, 2021, and which is pending on appeal before the Court of Appeal.

The judge held that Dumo’s fresh suit constituted an abuse of court processes and did not deserve further hearing by his court.

The 1st to 4th plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1481/2021 were Senibo Lulu-Briggs, Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Sofiri Lulu-Briggs, ‘Chima Onimin Lulu-Briggs.’

The defendants were Mrs. Seinye Lulu-Briggs, Incorporated Trustees of the O.B. Lulu-Briggs Foundation, Rachael Lulu-Briggs, Solate Ovundah-Akarolo, Moni Pulo Ltd and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

The defendants, through their lawyers, challenged the plaintiffs’ claims.

They asked the court to consider if: Having freely, unequivocally and fully transferred their entire shareholding to the late High Chief O. B. Lulu-Briggs in two settlements and having received consideration which the plaintiffs acknowledged as valuable and sufficient for such transfer ($3million to Dumo Lulu-Briggs in 2003 and the other $5million to Dumo Lulu-Briggs, Senibo Lulu-Briggs and Sofiri Lulu-Briggs in 2004), whether the plaintiffs could rightly turn around to impugn the said share transfer.

They also asked the court whether the action was not statute-barred by virtue of the provision of Section 11 of the Limitation Act, having been filed 12 years after the date of the consent judgment on 18th May 2004, and, “whether by virtue of the pendency of Appeal Nos. CA/ABJ/CV/859/ 2021, CA/ABJ/CV/681/2021 and CA/ABJ/CV/29/2022, the suit did not constitute a gross abuse of the process of court.”

The defendants also urged the court whether it has the jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Justice Omotosho, in a February 15, 2023, ruling, “I hold without hesitation that filing a fresh suit on a subject between parties on appeal is an abuse of court process.”

“The fresh suit as in the instant suit is nothing than to overreach and make the outcome of the pending appeal nugatory…Filing this instant suit on the same subject matter and reliefs and against the same parties is vexatious and nothing more than a gross abuse of the process of the Court.”

Justice Omotosho further agreed with the argument of the 1st to 5th Defendants that the suit was an abuse of court process.

He added: “This court will not allow its processes to be used in such as frivolous and vexatious manner. Consequently, the instant suit before the court is hereby declared to be an abusive process and as such, it is dismissed.”

“Having dismissed the suit for being an abuse of court process, the other issue formulated goes to no issue.”

The plaintiffs had asked the court to annul an earlier agreement between Dumo, his two brothers and their father, the late O.B. Lulu-Briggs.

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