Court fines ex-presidential candidate N40m for seeking to stop Tinubu’s inauguration
• CJN swears in 39 additional judges for election petitions
• As rights group cautions judiciary against unfair verdicts
The Court of Appeal in Abuja has fined former presidential candidate, Chief Ambrose Albert Owuru, the sum of N40 million for filing a frivolous suit to stop inauguration of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on May 29.
The court, yesterday, ordered the politician to pay a fine of N10 million each to President Muhammadu Buhari, Attorney General of the Federation, Independent National Electoral Commission and Tinubu, whom he made 1st to 4th defendants in the suit.
Delivering the lead judgment of the three-man panel, Justice Jamil Tukur held that Owuru embarked on gross abuse of court process by filing a vexatious suit to provoke the respondents.
The appellate court held that the grievance of Owuru against the 2019 presidential election was not only strange but also uncalled for because the matter had already been pursued up to Supreme Court and dismissed for want of merit.
Tukur said Owuru’s bid to resuscitate the case was aimed at putting lower courts on a collision course with the supremacy of the apex court.
This was Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Olukayode Ariwoola, yesterday, swore in 39 additional judges to resolve petitions from the 2023 elections.
The CJN told the new tribunal members to ensure they rise above failure and humiliation, saying he hoped to hear good testimonies at the end of their assignment.
He said: “This is an enormous national assignment that will literally put the contents of your conscience to test. But suffice it to say that you are already initiating an interaction with history. Whatever action or inaction you exhibit today will serve as your testament in the annals of Nigerian judiciary.”
The CJN noted that as judicial officers, “you may have, one way or the other, trodden this somewhat dreaded terrain, but you must, against all odds, rise above the murky waters of failure and infamy.”
He said: “The onus is on you to keep aloft the banner of honesty and integrity that the judiciary has painstakingly hoisted over the years. Your appointment to serve in these tribunals is well conceived, thus, you should do everything within your ability to justify this confidence.”
Ariwoola cautioned: “There is no doubt that you will be exposed to different forms of temptations and even blackmails but you should know that all are aimed at testing your strength of character, honesty and integrity.”
“My candid advice is that, in whatever circumstance, you should always be mindful of this oath you have just taken because it now stands as an uncompromising witness between you and your creator.”
Meanwhile, a human rights movement, Better Governance for Nigeria, has called on the judicial arm of government to uphold national interest while delivering judgment at the Presidential Election Petition Court.
It urged the court to give all political parties fair hearing, warned that “unfair” verdicts would not augur well for the country.
Convener of the group, Abayomi Runsewe, while addressing journalists during a peaceful protest in Abuja, yesterday, urged the judiciary to consider cases based on merit.
He said: “We want to raise a new consciousness in Nigeria. We want an egalitarian Nigeria; a Nigeria that is pragmatic in nature, where things are judged on merit, and we are urging the judiciary to be above board.”