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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Court imposes heavy fines on litigants attempting to halt Tinubu’s inauguration

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Justice James Omotoso of the Federal High Court in Abuja has levied a fine of N17 million on three litigants and their lawyer for filing a lawsuit aimed at preventing the inauguration of president-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. The court imposed these fines on Praise Ilemona, Pastor Paul Issac Audu, and Dr. Anongu Moses, who jointly initiated the suit seeking an order to halt Tinubu’s swearing-in ceremony on May 29.

According to the court’s ruling, the three litigants are required to jointly pay N10 million to President-elect Tinubu and an additional N5 million to the All Progressives Congress (APC), one of the defendants in the case. Justice Omotoso also ordered that an annual interest rate of 10 percent be applied to the judgment debt until it is fully settled.

In addition to the fines imposed on the litigants, their lawyer, Daniel Elomah, who filed the vexatious suit, was directed to pay N1 million each to Tinubu and the APC. Elomah’s suit was deemed frivolous by the court, leading to the imposition of these penalties.

During the court proceedings, Elomah pleaded for leniency on behalf of his clients and advised the court to counsel them against pursuing baseless lawsuits in the future. However, legal luminary Prince Lateef Fagbemi SAN, representing Tinubu, argued that the suit should be dismissed on the grounds that the three plaintiffs lacked the necessary standing to institute it.

Fagbemi, in his argument, highlighted that none of the plaintiffs had participated in the primary election that resulted in Tinubu’s nomination. Instead, they opted to harass, intimidate, and vex Tinubu through their frivolous legal action. Fagbemi further contended that the litigants had engaged in an abusive pattern of multiple cases against Tinubu and the APC in various courts, despite lacking any valid cause of action.

This court decision closely follows another recent ruling by the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which imposed a N40 million fine on presidential candidate Chief Ambrose Albert Owuru. Owuru had also sought to halt Tinubu’s inauguration, claiming he won the 2019 presidential election and should be inaugurated in Tinubu’s place.

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