A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, issued a N20 million fine against Chuks Nwachukwu, a lawyer representing five FCT citizens in a petition seeking an order to stop the swearing-in of President Bola Tinubu.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a decision, knocked down the complaint on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked locus standi to bring the matter.
“I make an order striking out this action on grounds of lack of locus standi of the plaintiffs, lack of jurisdiction of the court and failure of the plaintiffs to demonstrate to this court that similar subject is not pending before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal which proceedings are on-going,” he declared.
Justice Ekwo consequently ordered the lawyer to pay the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, listed as 1st and 2nd defendants in the case, the sum of N10 million each.
He directed that until Nwachukwu paid off the N20 million fine, no further action should be taken on the matter.
The judge, who condemned Mr Nwachukwu’s comments in the media, said with his interview, if the lawyer was in the courtroom, he would have been barred “from practising until he appears before the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee to determine whether he is fit to practise the profession.”
“But since he is not in court, I made an order, directing the registrar to forward all the processes to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee to determine whether he is fit to practise the profession,” he declared.
Additionally, he ordered that the AGF, the Nigerian Bar Association, and the chief registrar of the Supreme Court all receive notice of the court’s order.
Five residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Anyaegbunam Okoye, David Adzer, Jeffrey Uche, Osang Paul, and Chibuike Nwanchukwu, had requested a court order to halt the inauguration of Tinubu and his vice, Sen. Kassim Shettima, scheduled for May 29.
The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit on their own behalf as well as on behalf of other FCT citizens who were registered to vote.
The plaintiffs claimed in the lawsuit with the file number FHC/ABJ/CS/578/2023 that Tinubu fell short of receiving at least 25% of the votes cast in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
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They, therefore, sought an order of court restraining the CJN, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, and any judicial officer and/or any authority or persons from swearing in any candidate in the Feb. 25 presidential election as president or vice president, among other prayers.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwo said upon reading the affidavit attached to the application, “I can discern that the averments thereof are merely the voice of Esau and the hands of Jacob.
“It means that the said Chucks Nwachukwu of counsel for the plaintiffs instigated this suit and merely got the plaintiffs to stand in as parties while he handles the suit as a lawyer.
“This is an unprofessional conduct on the part of the said Chucks Nwachukwu of counsel of the plaintiffs.
“It is unfortunate that lawyers like Chucks Nwachukwu of counsel to the plaintiffs continue to engage in this sort of activity by procuring innocent citizens to act as fronts in litigations which are actually their personal cases.”
According to the judge, “in my opinion, this action was willfully initiated to not just circumvent but to overreach the on-going proceedings of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal.
“The aim thereof which cannot be denied, is to plunge this country into unprecedented constitutional anarchy capable of causing bloodshed and genocide.
“The plaintiffs and their lawyer ought to be deprecated in the strongest term for this type of adventure and I so do,” Justice Ekwo declared.
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