A Federal Supreme Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, imposed a fine of twenty million naira against Chuks Nwachukwu, a lawyer representing five FCT residents in a lawsuit seeking an order to block the inauguration of the President Bola Tinubu system.
Justice Anyang Eko in a judgment dismissed the suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs lacked locus standi to prosecute the matter.
“I order the proceedings to be dismissed on the grounds of the plaintiffs’ lack of locus standi, lack of jurisdiction and failure of the plaintiffs to show before this Court that a similar subject matter is before the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal is not pending before which proceedings are ongoing,” he announced.
Accordingly, Judge Eko ordered the Advocate to pay the sum of ten million naira to both the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), who are listed as the first and second accused in the case.
He directed that until Nwachukwu pays the twenty million naira fine, no further action should be taken on the matter.
The judge, who condemned Nwachukwu’s comments to the media, said in an interview that if the lawyer had been in the courtroom, he would have been barred “from practicing until he appears before the Legal Professionals Disciplinary Committee to determine whether is fit to practice the profession.”
“But since he is not in court, I have issued an order directing the Registrar to refer all proceedings to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Commission to determine whether he is fit to practise,” he stated.
He also directed that the court order be served on the registrar-general of the Supreme Court, the AGF and the Nigerian Bar Association.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that five FCT residents; Anyaegbunam Okoye, David Adzer, Jeffrey Uche, Osang Paul and Chibuike Nwanchukwu, had filed the case through their lawyer, so that the court ordered to stop the swearing-in of Tinubu and his deputy, Senator Kassim Shettima, which is expected to take place on May 29.
The plaintiffs had sued for themselves and on behalf of other residents and registered voters in the FCT.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/578/2023 and filed on April 28, the plaintiff claimed that Tinubu failed to secure at least 25 percent of the votes cast in the FCT.
They therefore seek a court order prohibiting the CJN, Judge Olukayode Ariwoola and any judicial officials and/or any authority or individual from swearing in as President or Vice President in the February 25 presidential election, among other prayers.
Delivering the judgment, Justice Ekwu read the affidavit attached to the application and said, “I can understand that his claims are merely the voice of Esau and the hands of Jacob.
“This means that the said Chucks Nwachukwu by the counsel for the plaintiffs instigated this suit and simply made the plaintiffs join as parties while he was handling the case as counsel.
“This is unprofessional conduct on the part of said Chucks Nwachukwu, plaintiffs’ attorney.
“It is unfortunate that lawyers like Chucks Nwachukwu of the plaintiffs’ counsel continue to engage in this kind of activity by urging innocent citizens to act as fronts in disputes that are actually their personal affairs.
“It is being done with such impunity and without fear of consequences to the chagrin and ruination of the reputation of the justice system in this country.
“This is so because the learned lawyer convinces himself that he can flout the rules of professional conduct for legal practitioners without consequence.
“Overall, I believe that this action is based on recklessness, frivolity and complete ignorance of the elementary principle of law in relation to the Constitution and the Electoral Law of 2022,” he said.
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.
“His unmistakable goal is to plunge this country into unprecedented constitutional chaos that could lead to bloodshed and genocide.
Judge Ekwo stated: “Plaintiffs and their attorneys should be denied in the strongest possible way for this type of adventure and so should I.
NAN reported that Nwachukwu gave media interviews accusing the judge of avoiding a verdict on his lawsuit.
The lawyer, who accused the judge of deliberately abandoning his duties, threatened to sue him all the way to the Supreme Court.
But Judge Ekwo, before delivering judgment, said he could not hear the case on May 26 because he was on official duty.
NAN previously reported that the judge was absent for a few days due to an official appointment.
This forced the court to adjourn cases, including high-profile cases and election-related issues.
This was also contrary to rumors circulating that Judge Eko’s absence from hearing the lawsuit on May 26 was a ploy to comply with the alleged standing order issued by the FHC Chief Justice, Justice John Tsoho, to all divisional judges of the court by directing them not to hear cases related to the presidential election or Swearing to Tinubu and Shtima.
NAN reported that a sister court, presided over by Justice James Omotosho, had on May 26, delivered judgment in another suit filed by three petitioners that the swearing-in of Tinubu as the fifth democratic president of Nigeria on May 29.
An attempt was made to stop the takeover.
The judges awarded a total of seventeen million naira to the three candidates, praising Ilemona Isaiah, Pastors Paul Isaac and Dr. Anongu Moses, and their attorney Daniel Elombah for filing a lawsuit deemed “frivolous, disruptive and in violation of court proceedings”.