The Court of Appeal in Abuja has rendered a significant judgment, imposing a fine of N40 million on an Abuja-based lawyer, Ambrose Owuru, for filing a “frivolous” suit aimed at preventing the May 29 inauguration.
The three-member panel of the court unanimously declared that Owuru’s appeal, along with his party, the Hope Democratic Party (HDP), amounted to an abuse of the court process.
In the lead judgment delivered by Justice Jamil Tukur, it was emphasized that the appeal was essentially an attempt to have the court reconsider its earlier decision, which was impermissible.
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Justice Tukur pointed out that the issues raised in the appeal had already been addressed and determined by the court while acting as an election petition court after the 2019 election, with a judgment issued on August 22, 2019.
Furthermore, it was noted that the Supreme Court had also reviewed and pronounced on the case, delivering a judgment on October 28, 2019.
Justice Tukur unequivocally stated that since the case had been litigated up to the Supreme Court, it constituted an abuse of the judicial process for Owuru and his party to attempt to re-litigate the matter.
Consequently, the court upheld the January 30 judgment of Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which had initially dismissed the case on the grounds of it being an abuse of the court process.
Additionally, the court dismissed the appeal and ordered Owuru to pay each of the respondents, namely President Muhammadu Buhari, the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), and Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a sum of N10 million as costs.
Owuru’s Claims and Supreme Court’s Dismissal
Ambrose Owuru’s appeal, along with the HDP, stemmed from the January 30 judgment by Justice Ekwo, which dismissed their suit seeking Owuru’s inauguration as President Buhari’s successor.
Owuru argued that he had won a referendum purportedly conducted during the postponement period of the 2019 presidential election, asserting that based on this victory, no other person should assume the presidency until he completes his tenure.
It is worth noting that Owuru and the HDP raised similar issues in a petition filed against the 2019 presidential election, which was ultimately dismissed by the Supreme Court due to jurisdictional constraints.
In its judgment on August 22, 2019, the election petition court specifically highlighted that the issue of a referendum, as raised in Owuru’s petition, did not provide a valid ground to challenge the election outcome.