In what was clearly seen in local parlance as a case of “trouble dey sleep, yanga go wake am”, the Court of Appeal in Abuja Thursday ordered former presidential candidate of the Hope Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2019 elections, Ambrose Owuru, to pay a fine of N40 million for filing a frivolous suit to stop the inauguration of the President-elect, Senator Bola Tinubu.
Owuru, who said he contested the 2019 presidential election, added that he was not satisfied with the way and manner the Supreme Court resolved the case.
He, therefore, went to the Federal High Court in Abuja and asked the court to declare the president’s seat vacant and swear him in as the authentic winner.
However, in January, the court dismissed the suit, describing it as “baseless, frivolous, irritating, and vexatious in its entirety.”
Still not satisfied, he proceeded to the Court of Appeal with an appeal marked CA/CV/259/2023, where he urged the appellate court to prohibit President Muhammadu Buhari; the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami and 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.
Owuru maintained that Buhari has been usurping his tenure of office since 2019 because the Supreme Court did not determine his petition challenging the election’s outcome.
He consequently applied for “an order of prohibitory injunction compelling Buhari, AGF, and INEC, their servants, agents, and privies to preserve and give due cognisance and abstain from any further undertaking or engaging in any act of usurpation of adjudged acquired constitutional rights and mandate as the winner of the 2019 presidential election.”
The appellant also applied for another order directing and placing on notice that any form of handover inauguration organised and superintended by Buhari on May 29 outside the adjudged winner of the 2019 presidential election, subject of the pending appeal, remains and in his viewed as an “interim place holder.”
In an eight-paragraph affidavit in support of the suit, he also asked the appellate court to give it an expeditious hearing before the inauguration of Tinubu.
While it is within Owuru’s rights to go to court, many had wondered why he did not realise that his request was strange, frivolous, an academic exercise and a waste of the time of the courts. Was he not in the country when INEC conducted a fresh presidential election on February 25 and declared Tinubu victorious?
Is it not surprising that he was asking the court to stop Tinubu’s inauguration when he did not even participate in the election where Tinubu emerged victorious?
It was therefore not surprising that the Court of Appeal not only described his suit as frivolous, but as vexatious.
Justice Jamil Tukur, while reading the lead judgment of the three-man panel of the court, held that Owuru embarked on a gross abuse of court process by filing a frivolous suit to provoke the respondents.
The court held that the appellant’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 ordered the appellant to pay N10 million each to President Buhari, the AGF, INEC and Tinubu — the first to fourth defendants in the suit.
Now he would have to cough out a whopping N40million for his misdeed.
It is not clear why the lawyers who allowed themselves to be use by Owuru were not sanctioned. In the past, eminent lawyers who had embarked on a similar foolish journey were dealth with, with huge fines. This is the way to go to serve a deterrent.